Saturday, 6 August 2022

Otterbourne, nr Winchester - 25 July

Pete Whieldon was offering a Tawny Owl evening workshop that sounded really good back in May/June. However my session was unfortunately abruptly cancelled as the bird had suddenly gone AWOL Fortunately it started showing again a month or so later, so I got this rearranged session. This is the first time I've photographed Tawny Owl at his hides and the setup was excellent.

Even though the bird didn't quite live up to expectations, there was a busy 45mins or so after dusk when the bird showed repeatedly, with very brief visits each time. After that, it suddenly went very quiet. Pete speculated that the female had taken the young off into the fields for a hunting lesson. Whatever the reason, there was only one further visit at around 23:00, which I missed completely having setup on the wrong perch! 

Pete provided all the flash equipment needed for the three photographers at this session. Note that the flash didn't appear to bother the birds at all. 

As usual, click on any of the captions for larger images.

Tawny Owl perched momentarily on a mossy post © Stephen Burch

Tawny Owl incoming © Stephen Burch

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Brine Pit Hides, Droitwich - 21 June

There has been a "Kestrel" hide at Brine Pit, near Droitwich for several years, but sightings were generally so infrequent that a session wasn't worthwhile. That all changed suddenly in mid June, which prompted me to make an immediate booking.

Unlike the Little Owl hide, this one faces north east, so by mid afternoon the sun is directly behind the hide. In fact the light for the whole afternoon and early evening was from a reasonable direction but with full sun all day the light was very harsh for much of the time. Not so good all morning of course,  unless you like backlit shots, which I generally don't. 

For this session, the bird visited numerous times; presumably it had some hungry mouths to feed nearby. Another long day, but more satisfying than my earlier Little Owl session due mainly to the better hide direction, combined with the very frequent visits mostly of a reasonable duration.  

As usual, click on the captions for larger images. 

Kestrel with raised wings © Stephen Burch

Kestrel departing © Stephen Burch

Kestrel in flight © Stephen Burch

Kestrel with mouse © Stephen Burch

Kestrel incoming © Stephen Burch

Kestrel portrait © Stephen Burch

Kestrel stare © Stephen Burch

Sunday, 3 July 2022

Red Kites and a Buzzard at Gigrin Farm, nr Rhayader - 30 May

An afternoon trying to photograph the Red Kites from the Large Tower Hide at the Gigrin Farm feeding station, near Rhayder in deepest mid-Wales.  

There were many birds, even at this time of year, but getting photos of them is not as easy at it might seem. Much depends on the light and the wind direction, as the birds always fly into the wind. I always prefer sun for Red Kite photos but unfortunately there was very little of that during this session. 

We found this hide was better than the lower hides we used last year for getting shots either level with the birds or looking down on them. 

As usual, click on any caption for a larger image. For a gallery of all my recent Red Kite photos, click here.

Red Kite passing quite close against a plain green background

Approaching head-on with the sky the background

Red Kite coming up at me! 

Red Kite zeroing in on a snack!

Red Kite close up

Red Kite diving down at speed

Red Kite almost frame filling

Red Kite on a food run

Looking down on a Buzzard! One of a few around.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Brine Pit Hides, Droitwich - 18 May

 A long day out for a nesting Little Owl. As the hides (there are now two, side-by-side) face south or south-east, the light was difficult during the day but better first thing in the morning and in the late afternoon/evening. 

There were plenty of visits by the Owl, but many were very fleeting. Trying for action shots was tricky, but I did think two were worth processing, as shown below.

As usual, click on the captions for larger images. 

Little Owl in flight with mouse & green background © Stephen Burch

Little Owl in flight from one perch to another © Stephen Burch

Little Owl early on in the day © Stephen Burch

Little Owl in middle of day © Stephen Burch

Little Owl in the afternoon © Stephen Burch

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Buzzards and Red Kites close-up! 26 October

In December 2020, I had my first visit to this excellent hide, high on the Marlborough Downs near Swindon. It is bookable through Wildlife Photography Hides and is operated by David White a local farmer who is also a keen photographer.  The hide, like the WPH hide at Bourne, is well equipped with a heater and a toilet in a side room. It even has unlimited WIFI!

Last year, I had very good session with multiple Buzzards close-up and even fighting when the food supply dwindled. Red Kites also showed briefly, but the weather could have been much better as it was heavily overcast all day, with light rain at times.

I was hoping for better conditions this year, but it is always pot luck on the day, as it is necessary to book many weeks in advance. In the event, the weather was only slightly better being marginally less heavily overcast, with one brief brighter spell around midday, and no appreciable rain. There was no chance of the hoped for early morning sun, which I was sure would produce spectacular photographic results. 

As last year, I was required to be in the hide well before dawn (meet time is 1hr before) and to remain there until dusk or slightly earlier if all the birds had left the area.  With the easing of Covid restrictions, I was spared the 600m walk in the dark up a track on arrival, as I was given a lift by David in his 4x4. 

The first Buzzards came in around dawn, and were a constant presence until most of the food had been eaten around midday. Thereafter occasional birds put in an appearance at intervals through the afternoon, usually finding some scraps to pick over. Red Kites were more numerous than last year, and came in regularly to feed on the ground - a relatively unusual sight as they usually just dip down and grab small pieces without stopping.

At its peak, there were at least 5 raptors on the ground at once tucking into the food provided with others nearby on posts. Disappointingly this year there was little "activity" in the way of fighting, nor did anything bathe in the nice pool provided. 

For a gallery of all my Buzzard photos from this session, go to this page on my website. My Red Kite images can be found here.

For larger versions of those shown below, click on the captions.

A spectacular pale Buzzard © Stephen Burch

A crop of the photo above © Stephen Burch

A more normal plumaged Buzzard calling © Stephen Burch

Buzzard looking at the lens © Stephen Burch

Buzzard in flight © Stephen Burch

Frame filling Red Kite on a nearby post © Stephen Burch

Crop of the Red Kite photo above © Stephen Burch

Red Kite on the ground © Stephen Burch

Head on Red Kite © Stephen Burch

Red Kite in flight with the distant countryside behind © Stephen Burch

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Sparrowhawk and others in South Wales - 21 October

It was time for another trip to Ian Howells' hide in South Wales. I was hoping for more photos of the juvenile Goshawk, in better weather than last time! But unfortunately it hadn't been seen for about a week when I visited.  

However the male Sparrowhawk had finished its moult and was looking very smart in the superb light. It was sunny more or less all day. Unprecedented at this site, in my experience! There were also some other attractions which included some momentary Buzzard visits around dawn, as well as woodland birds including very active Jays and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. 

All in all another great day out at this hide! 

For a gallery of all my recent Sparrowhawk pics, click here

Click on the captions for larger versions of each of the images below.

About to depart! © Stephen Burch

On the post © Stephen Burch

On the end of the branch - again sideways on © Stephen Burch

Very close! © Stephen Burch

The stare! © Stephen Burch

One of the very active Jays early on © Stephen Burch

Great-spotted Woodpecker very close in full sun © Stephen Burch