Saturday, 28 April 2012

Bring On The Spring Sunshine Please.

Well what horrid weather we have had for the last few weeks,  with the dawn chorus supposedly at its best there can't be much for the birds to sing about.  With spring migrants slowly drifting in I think it is about time the weather bucked its ideas up and allowed us all to get out in the much needed sunshine.  We all suffer from lack of sunshine blues when the weather is bad.  That said I have had a few wanderings in between the showers taking in Grove and Stodmarsh and managed a few photos. At Grove a surprise sighting was a White Stork flying across the ramp viewing area and looking as if it was going to crash land, it lifted up into the wind and headed out towards the water meadows.  I was out no more than hour so that was pleasing.  Stodmarsh end of the valley is my local area for a wander and there is always something new this time of the year.  Yesterday I spent some time listening to a newly arrived Nightingale. The sound lifted the gloomy weeks history and gave me the challenge and enthusiasm that I needed to try and capture the moment with my camera.  Nightingales are not often seen spending most of their time hidden in dense undergrowth luckily for me some of the bushes are not fully out so I was able to watch it and could easily see it, at times singing its heart out.  After every burst of song there seemed to be complete silence before the next,  wonderful,  one of the best moments you can get in bird land.  I fired off a few photos and hoped for the best before moving on. Birds I encountered throughout the morning included Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, and Garden Warbler and many singing Reed and Sedge Warblers. A pair of Tree Creepers were feeding their brood in an old stump,  they were non stop in their desire to feed the hungry brood.  Along the track back to the car park were several butterflies, ( thanks to all the bloggers who post pictures of them,)  they are looking very smart and ready for the coming season.   Lets hope the rain eases and gives spring and the butterflies  a chance to truly come in to life with some pleasant warm sunshine.

                                                                White Stork

                                                                 Blackcap (female)

                                                                  Blackcap (male)



                                                                   Garden Warbler


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Along The Coast With The Camera.

I managed to part with my 7d camera prematurely back in January and its taken till now to get it replaced. keen to get out with it I set off for the coast together with Steve Ashton to put it to test. We arrived at langdon hole Dover shortly after 0800 and walked along the coastal path. Not much on offer here, a glimpse of a female Black Redstart a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits and a rather tired Wheatear allowing a few shots. We walked towards St Margaret's scanning the sky for a Peregrine but that  proved fruitless so we moved on to Kingsdown near Deal and walked along to the riffle range. Here we watched a few Fulmars flying around allowing a chance of a few flight shots which was the main objective of the day for me .Our last stop was Sandwich bay,  from restharrow we watched Lapwing, Little Grebe,an assortment of ducks and a brief visit of a Whimbrel and a Black Tailed Godwit .Finishing the morning with a walk around the elms also gave the camera action with many Chiffchaff, cracking little birds, shame about the bling. All in all I was  pleased with the cameras performance and enjoyed the morning.

Monday, 9 April 2012

No Gain Without Pain

I looked out of the conservatory window this morning and was greeted with what to expect on a English bank holiday from the weather,squally rain and dull overcast skies.  I wanted to try and see and photograph the male Goosander that has been around for a few days on the cold harbour lagoons at Reculver.Its a very exposed location and the dilemma was did I want to see the bird and risk a soaking. Time for my hobby is precious at the moment with me starting a new job so with my flask made and a bag of mini chocolate eggs I set off via the fisherman's car park by the river Wantsum where I  met Steve Ashton. We endured the weather seeing hardly anything of note let alone photograph and were soon on our way back as there was no sign of the Goosander,  typical of my luck,  maybe I should get out more.  We did see a few Thrushes,  Meadow Pipits and Shoveler Duck for our troubles. So a little wet and with Mike Gould who also had braved the elements we decided a visit to the feast hide at Grove was our best option where we could at least get out of the wet and have a warm cup of tea.  On arriving at the feast hide we did wonder if we should have stayed at home as there was nothing much on show,  a pair of Marsh Harrier,  Coots and a single Mute Swan was about it.  We were aware that there were a few Garganey further up the track at harrison's hide so we walked up as we were already wet for a look,  here we spent the most productive hour or so of the morning. We soon found two male and a female Garganey showing well about half way out,  we watched them with a pair of Gadwall, Teal,  three Snipe,  a few Mallards and two Egret,  all going about their business.  I got my camera out of the bag, wishful thinking perhaps but just in case anything came close,  then to our surprise another two male Garganey dropped in and allowed a few shots. Strangely just after they arrived Mike picked up two Little Ringed Plover,they landed in font of us as well along  with a scruffy Dunlin . We fired off the cameras and it was hope for the best in by now really poor conditions with decreasing light.  .A small group of Shelduck circled a few times and a Marsh Harrier Quartered.  The Garganey up and moved and we soon followed agreeing it was the right decision to visit Grove and not give in to the weather.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

A Day Out In Spring Sunshine

With the promise of sunshine I was woken as normal this time of the year by the wakey wakey bird as my wife calls it. A blackbird seems to enjoy being in the tree next door and is the prime instigator of the dawn chorus with its prominent song. Sadly there is not a Song Thrush in the bird choir any more, I hope this is just  temporary. I started my day with a visit to Stodmarsh. I met Martin Wilson And Mark Chiddwick walking along the lane looking for spring arrivals, I then made my way to the village  where I was greeted with the welcome sound of Chiffchaff on arrival at the car park .It was not long before a male Blackcap was located along the track to the reed bed hide, he was singing his heart out, no doubt excited as he anticipates the arrival of the females shortly. Much of the norm in the alder wood, the Great Spotted Woodpeckers showed well along with a pair of Stock Doves and spring sound was superb with little wind in the wood, the highlight by far being two male Wrens in competion with each other. Further along the track I bumped into Steve Ashton, we chatted about spring arrivals in bird land and the local Marsh Harriers, we watched several along the Lampern wall either side but not coming in reach of the camera. My first Swallow of the year was next to greet me, by far a sign that spring has sprung. After an hour or so we decided a visit to Oare might be good as high tide was midday and we had just about exhausted what there was on show here. Of interest there seemed to be chiffchaffs every where lets hope its a good year for Warblers. Its a 40 min drive to Oare from Stodmarsh, parking by the east flood I was able to photograph a Black Tailed Godwit that was close to the fence, it did not seem  bothered by the sound of the camera shutter.We spent a good few hours here noting my first Yellow Wagtail, another Swallow, two Wheatear, a few Bearded Tits and on high tide lots of Godwits and Golden Plover in summer plume. The bright sunshine was nice but made photographing difficult however I managed a few shots through the day. Mike Gould arrived for the last hour, the sun slowly shifting behind us gave a warm glow across the east flood.