Sunday, 11 October 2020

Berkshire Downs, 7 & 9 October with the new Canon EOS R5!

I spent some time trying for some flight shots using the animal eye detection auto focus on my new 45Mp toy - the much sought after Canon EOS R5, which I pre-ordered the day after its launch in June. Even then it didn't arrive until mid September. 

This much vaunted AF option struggled to find the eyes but these wheeling Red Kites were pretty challenging subjects. Hopefully it will be more successful on better behaved subjects - a forthcoming session in a photo hide should be a good try out.  

Click on the captions for larger images.

Monday, 31 August 2020

South Wales - 27th August

With three possible raptors to be seen and photographed at close range, it was definitely time to return to South Wales for a session at Ian Howells' woodland hide. 

Again an early start was needed to meet Ian at 07:00. On arrival at the hides, it was surprising to come across a certain Mark Chivers, who seems to have become semi-resident here, in his quest for further Goshawk photos! There were two hides available, so social distancing wasn't a problem. 

The day started quite well with the juvenile male Sparrowhawk coming in first, looking quite different from my previous trip in mid July. It's moult was now well advanced and the characteristics of adult plumage, particularly the grey back, were clear. In a few weeks it could be a very smart bird if it is still showing.

While the Sparrowhawk was around, in came a Buzzard which was great to see and photograph as I'd only had a fleeting glimpse of it previously. 

However from mid morning, the weather became a real problem. The forecast for today had been steadily deteriorating through the week and so it proved with around 5 hours of heavy and persistent rain from mid morning until well into the afternoon. Unsurprisingly during this time no raptors were seen. At one point the forecast was indicating rain for the rest of the day but fortunately it cleared and there was even a little sun and calm conditions from about 16:00 onwards. 

Expectations were then high in both hides for an appearance of the star of the show - the Goshawk. But regrettably it was not to be. 

Only the Buzzard re-appeared which was at least something. Thereafter we thought we had better stay until around 19:30 just in case the Goshawk came in late. So over 12 hours in the hide which was surprisingly cool during all the rain. Still the Buzzard pics made it worthwhile...

For a gallery of all my Buzzard photos from this session, with links to larger images, go to this page on my website

Also click on the captions for larger images of those photos shown below.

And finally a couple of photos of the much changed juv male Sparrowhawk from the morning:

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Bourne, Lincs 5-6 August

Back at the start of August, we had a great 20hr session in the luxurious Pool Hide at Wildlife Photography Hides near Bourne, Lincs. At night, the targets were Otter, Tawny Owl and Grey Heron, which all appeared and showed well. The day was much quieter with the useful activity confined to the very early morning.

It has taken me until now to sort out my photos, although there are still some more that look worthwhile to process!

To see a gallery of more of my photos from this session, go to this page on my website.

Here is a taster to whet your appetites. For each, you can click on the caption to see a larger image. 

The Otters (up to 3) were definitely the stars of the show and the ones we most wanted, and they didn't disappoint, showing several times through the night:

Over at the perches, the attraction was the Tawny Owls that showed much more briefly from time to time, mainly shortly after dusk and then much later just before dawn.

When the Otters weren't present, there was a Grey Heron for entertainment. The still conditions gave some great opportunities for reflection shots, such as this one:

When the dawn arrived, and the night visitors had melted away, the resident Kingfishers appeared. I managed to catch them mating very briefly:

The male turned out to be very tatty, but the female, that showed only early morning, was in better nick. During the day she was apparently incubating her third brood!

To see a gallery of more of my photos from this session, go to this page on my website.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

South Wales - 15 July

Today I followed in Mark's footsteps to South Wales for a session at Ian Howells' woodland hide setup which has started attracting a juvenile Sparrowhawk as well as some other but so far regrettably much less reliable larger raptors.

An early start was needed as I had agreed to meet Ian at 07:00, but it proved to be a good day with four visits from the Sparrowhawk with two of these lasting for more than 30mins. Just as I was about to leave a Buzzard landed momentarily of one of the perches, at a distance of about 4m, before flying off. Unfortunately I didn't have time to adjust the zoom and take any shots. Two days later apparently there was an even better visitor in the form of a Goshawk that actually stayed to have its photo taken by one very very lucky photographer! It hasn't returned while anyone has been in the hide since...

Here is a selection of the photos I took that day, starting with a couple of my attempts at capturing some action (which isn't was most seem to do).

For a gallery of all my photos from this session, with links to larger images, go to this page on my website.


Sunday, 19 July 2020

Kestrels - 27 June

On 27 June, I had a good session in Pete Whieldon's Woodland Hide which is in Otterbourne, near Winchester. Despite the wind and considerable quantities of rain, the Kestrels, that have only recently started visiting this hide, put on a good show in the morning. The afternoon was however less successful with no sightings.

The regular male came in a few times, as did the less regular female and the juvenile (briefly), with two of the three present on a couple of occasions. 

For a gallery of all my photos, with links to hi-res photos, go to this page on my website

Here is a selection to whet your appetite (in each case click on the caption for a larger image): 

Friday, 19 June 2020

Thursley Common: May/June

Amazingly Colin the Cuckoo returned again this year, for his sixth season. Despite the initial lockdown restrictions, and then a bad fire on the Common, with limited other opportunities I visited him on four different dates. My first was on 21 May shortly after the lockdown eased to allow non-local travel (thanks to the Early Birder for the heads up that he was present again) and my last was on 11 June - just a few days before he departed.

I had varying levels of success during these visits, but every one was different, with a variety of weather conditions (from harsh all sun/heat to much cooler, overcast conditions). My first visit was an all day 10-hr marathon, after which I decided on shorter visits starting at around 3pm, to include the key period immediately before any sun moved off the perch.

Here is a selection of the photos I obtained on these visits. For more info on each visit, click here.

For a gallery of all my shots, at higher resolution go to my website page

Friday, 22 May 2020

Farmoor - 22 May

I arrived at just after the 10am opening time to find the car park already surprisingly full and a long convoy of fishermen's cars streaming up the approach ramp to F2. Clearly the gates must open a little earlier than 10!

It was very windy on the causeway with little to see. I spotted a couple of small waders in the distance but by the time I had reached their location I was told they were 2 Sanderling and a Ringed Plover which had flown off in few minutes earlier and were very wary.

I had been hoping that some of the lovely full summer plumage birds, seen earlier this week, would still be around. Unfortunately they had moved on, leaving only two much greyer birds.

On my return a bit later, I was pleased to find the two Sanderling back on the causeway, walking towards me.  One was at least just beginning to show some summer feathers.

This backlit photo from above was all I could manage in this brief encounter.

Sanderling (c) Stephen Burch

Monday, 18 May 2020

West Hagbourne - 17 May

Had bit of luck when I encountered a large (50+) flock of Red Kites feeding on a freshly ploughed field right by the A417. Some were even still there about 1/2 hour later when I returned with my photo gear!

For a larger image, click here 
For a larger image, click here
Red Kites (c) Stephen Burch

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Farmoor - 14 May

Arriving at just after 10:30 at the recently re-opened Farmoor, I was greeted by a message from Badger saying that there had been  a Curlew Sandpiper just minutes earlier but it had flown and was being looked for. Unfortunately as you can read on  Black Audi's Blog, it was not seen again.

However there was definite compensation in the form of a very showy Sedge Warbler that has adopted a particular twig along the river. I spent just under an hour with it, during which time it was remarkably obliging.

Sedge Warbler (c) Stephen Burch

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Saturday, 25 April 2020