Tuesday 25 October 2011

An hour at Warnham LNR - Nuthatch

Lynne and I went to Chichester today. On the way we stopped at Warnham Local Nature Reserve. I used to be a member and went there regularly but things moved on and I neglected it somewhat! After a cup of tea we did the circuit. The highlight was a pair of nuthatches at the feeding station. They flew in and out regularly, staying just for a few seconds each time. Lynne liked them. A young magpie also enjoyed the seeds left for the smaller birds.

Nuthatch in classic pose.


Treecreeper at Bough Beech

Today I dropped in at Bough Beech after loading scenery for HMS Pinafore into a lorry for a couple of hours!

There wasn't much about. I got talking to a chap over a cup of tea and we decided to follow the woodland trail towards the reservoir. Near the far end I heard some treecreepers and they soon appeared before us. Unfortunately, there was thick undergrowth between them and us. It was quite difficult to get in position for a shot but, eventually, one of them came near to check us out. Here it is. Lovely:


Sunday 16 October 2011

Weekend in the Pyrenees

Lynne and I spent last weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun  7-9 October) with our neighbours in the Pyrenees. The flat was in Les Cabannes, about 600m above sea level. The weather wasn't brilliant but could have been a lot worse. We did some lovely walks in the mountains, especially up the valley of Orlu. Here I took some photos of raptors flying high overhead as well as some marmots. The raptors were difficult to identify on the spot being into the light and very high. At home, examination has revealed that they included a lammergeier (a lifer) and a griffon vulture. They are in the same poor shot, griffon above, lammergeier below.

Griffon vulture above, Lammergeier below
 The marmots are here:

Marmots, Valley d'Orlu, Pyrenees
While getting the morning baguette and croissants, I passed a small group of conifers on the side of the road. One morning, returning from the boulangerie, I heard firecrests. I looked to my right and there was one just a few metres from me at eye level! If I'd had my camera I'd have got a killer shot! I took the bread to the flat and got my camera. Needless to say the firecrests never came as close again. I did get one or two more distant shots though. You will know that firecrests are tiny birds.
In the back 'garden' there was a tree which attracted a lot of birds. One was a middle spotted woodpecker. Here it is, quite heavily cropped, I'm afraid.
Middle spotted woodpecker.
Most of these mountain villages had clear mountain streams near or through them. I was surprised not to see dipper until the last day in Ax les Thermes, when I found one just under a bridge in the middle of town.
The back 'garden' was actually the grounds of a dilapidated 'palace'. Black redstarts were present as well as a flock of serin.
Black redstart - male


Shame it was only 3 days!

Tuesday 4 October 2011

A high crane from a low point

In 2009 a sandhill crane turned up in the Orkney Isles. It was only the third time one had shown up in Britain. I didn't go to see it. It did come down to the Highlands of Scotland but that was still too far.

This year another one turned up in the North of England. Still too far! When it came down to Suffolk it was time to go!

After parking, I had to walk about a kilometre with my camera, tripod, etc. Only 10Kg! Ah, well!  After 100m a car stopped and the occupants asked me about the bird. They were going to the end of the road, about 100m from where the group was. They gave me a lift. Thank you, whoever you were.

The bird was a long way off and heat haze was a real problem. I started walking round to the sea wall to get a better view. On the way I bumped into a group of farm officials who also wanted to know about the bird. I set up my scope so they could see it. The fields were large with deep ditches. I asked if I could go to where a tractor was working up and down. I'm grateful to Richard Parry of A. W. Mortier Farms for allowing me to get closer.

After a few hundred metres I descended into the ditch so as not to be seen by the crane. It was quite hard to make progress along the steep-sided ditch and I kept slipping towards the water at the bottom. Eventually I got to a point where I could lie in the ditch with my camera on top of the bank. The crane was still a long way off. Over the next two hours it came closer. I resisted the temptation to change position when the bird was nearer. Afterwards I made my way back leaving the bird to carry on feeding. Here are the pictures:
Sandhill crane
Sandhill crane showing half of its 2 metre wingspan

Adult sandhill crane
Sandhill crane - detail of head