Sunday, 28 February 2016

Owl Right on The Night.

Following on from my invitation from Phil Winter to his Kingfisher hide during the week, last night he invited me to photograph his resident Little Owls. Most nights these little characters visit his garden looking for morsels. With a strong, very cold wind blowing into the hide I was hoping this would not put the owls off. It wasn't long before the male paid us a visit with him posing nicely on some tree perches allowing a few shots before he flew away. We did spot the female nearby but she turned out to be a little camera shy last night. Typical woman!!



Little Owl. (Wind ruffling him up).



Little Owl.



Little Owl.

Once again I would like to thank Phil for his kindness in helping me to get these shots and those of the Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail during the week.



Friday, 26 February 2016

Heathland and the Coast.

It's not easy following my last post as those Kingfishers were so special. However, with a couple of interesting trips out this week, the first to Ashdown Forest where Nigel and I were treated to our 2nd Red Admiral of the year a new post calls. Our main target were the displaying Woodlark, of which there were plenty to see and hear. We also came across a rarity in the form of a melanistic Common Lizard. Nigel spotted as it was basking in the sunshine. Being totally black we though at first that it was a newt. However, as I focused in close I could see that the eye was reptilian and then the scales became obvious. We have both seen black melanistic Adders before but this lizard was a first for both of us. I didn't have the macro lens with me but fortunately the telephoto does focus pretty close. More images can be seen on Nigel's blog http://eastsussexwanderer.blogspot.co.uk/
Well into the walk we stopped by a fallen tree to have a cup of tea. I then spotted a Woodlark descend down to the ground nearby. I managed to creep up on it to grab a quick couple of pictures, I was pleased to see it had its crest up. The only problem was that the light was very poor at that moment!!



Melanistic Lizard.



Woodlark.


The following day I decided to do a bit more of a test on the new lens, seeing how it would perform focussing on the Fulmars at Newhaven. I was keen to try and get some images looking down on the birds, preferably with the sea as the background. I managed a few shots that I was quite pleased with, some taken from low down and some from the cliff top.




Fulmar coming in to land.









Fulmar (The shot I was hoping for).


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Magical Kingfisher.

I was very lucky yesterday to be invited by my good friend Phil Winter to attempt to photograph a Kingfisher. Some weeks ago Phil found out a Kingfisher was visiting a lake on private land that he had access to. He then built a hide in the area the bird was visiting without disturbing the bird. Lots of patience and skill was involved in doing this and since completing the task Phil has managed many amazing shots of this fabulous bird. As I've never managed a decent shot of a Kingfisher I couldn't believe my luck when Phil asked me along.
As soon as we had arrived we were surrounded by birds taking advantage of the feeders that Phil had put up. We were also graced by a beautiful Grey Wagtail that was present most of the time we were there.


Male Grey Wagtail.



Grey Wagtail a bit puffed up and calling.


I had the feeling that Phil was starting to get a little worried as the Kingfisher had not been seen for about 90 minutes and we thought that maybe it had moved on looking for a mate. However, suddenly over the other side of the lake the bird appeared, settling high in a tree overlooking the lake. It then flew straight to where we were allowing a few shots.






After catching a fish the bird flew away and all was quiet for a while. After about an hour the bird returned and performed even better. By now the sun had gone in but perhaps the subdued lighting helped create a better picture.








Looking hard for dinner.






Male Kingfisher.


 With plenty of Kingfisher shots it was difficult to decide which ones to post. The bird appeared twice in front of us catching 4 fish. 

The Grey Wagtail then posed nicely in front of us as well as a confiding Wren.



Grey Wagtail.



Wren.

My thanks go out to Phil for inviting me along for a photographic session I will never forget. An amazing, unbelievable experience!!





Thursday, 18 February 2016

Male Windhover.

With a future trip getting near I decided I really needed a new zoom lens for the wildlife I am hoping to encounter. With Pen having a cataract operation today, after dropping her off and making sure she was comfortable I shot up to Park Cameras to make the purchase. With good weather I then headed quickly down to Widewater hoping to get the friendly Kestrel to test the lens out on. With only a short time before I had to get back for Pen the Kestrel was seen a few times at the wrong end. However, just before I gave up I managed to get to the other end and get a few images to work with.



Male Kestrel.



With its eyes on me!!






2 views from behind. Just after this shot the bird dropped down and caught a rodent.



Friday, 12 February 2016

Raptors Galore.

With no opportunities to get out for several days it was a superb day yesterday for a return visit to The Burgh where the weather was stunning with bright sunshine and very little wind. I had only been there a short while when I had my first Barn Owl sighting, at 11.15 am. The bird was hunting along one of the game strips ahead of me. It was unfortunately soon lost to view though. Following this there were plenty of sightings of Red Kite, Buzzard and a couple of Sparrowhawk. My main aim was to try for some better photos of the Short-eared Owls. This was hampered as near the time I was hoping to see them the farmer decided to spray the stubble field which seems to be the most reliable area for the owls. Undecided what or where I should go I spotted another Barn Owl near where I saw them last time I was there, so I headed to this area to hopefully get a shot of this owl. Of course by the time I got there the owl had moved on!! Fortunately the farmer finished spraying the field quickly and had moved on. Although I was not in the position I wanted to be at the top of the field I soon saw a Short-eared Owl and I managed a few grab shots as it flew quite near. I then hid in a bush waiting for it to come back only to see it, and another at the top where I had originally planned to be. A probable 3rd Shortie then appeared but once again didn't come near which was very frustrating as the light was perfect and there was nobody else about. My small reward came in the shape of a Red-legged Partridge which approached really close as I was tucked into the bush. On the way back to the car I had several more Barn Owl sightings (8 in total during the day with possibly 5 different birds) and another Short-eared Owl and many Brown Hares. 3 Peregrines also seen during the day as well as many Kestrel. 



Male Yellowhammer.



Red Kite.



Distant Roe Deer.



Short-eared Owl.



Short-eared Owl.







Red-legged Partridge.


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Glossy Ibis: Take 5.

Having to drop Pen off in Eastbourne again today I decided once again to head for Pett Level to have another go for the Glossy Ibis. This is the 5th time I've tried since the bird turned up in November although the last 2 times the bird did not even appear. As I walked along the top path I saw the Ibis flying towards me and it then settled quite near, actually a lot closer than it has been for me before. A few quick shots before it moved further away. For the next 20 minutes it showed reasonably well, although apparently it was much closer for the 30 minutes or so just before I arrived!! With some better light on the bird it became clear why it is called a 'Glossy Ibis'.



The Glossy Ibis (or is it John Cleese).







Glossy Ibis feeding.


A good search for the White-fronted Geese had produced no sightings until a large group of Geese flying over and landing several fields away. I suspected they were the White-fronts and a photo of them proved they were indeed those with 38 birds seen.



29 of the 38 White-fronted Geese.


Nigel and myself then headed along the Pannel Valley where the main birds of interest were Marsh Harriers and several Buzzards. Heading back towards the car a Wren showed well in a bush giving me a chance to get a few shots.




Wren.


Yesterday I had a look around my local patch where 5 of the Wall Brown larvae were active and I also saw my first Brimstone of the year.