Wednesday 30 December 2020

South Wales for Sparrowhawk - 17 December

My third visit of the year to Ian Howells' great Woodland hide in South Wales. Fortunately it was just before the latest Welsh and now English Covid-19 lockdowns. 

The main aim of this visit was to photograph the male Sparrowhawk that I'd seen previously as an immature in July and then moulting in August. For this visit the moult was complete, and the bird was looking very smart indeed!

However it took its time to appear - not until 11:45 - I had been there since shortly after 07:00!

Click on any of the captions below for larger images. 

Also go to this gallery for all my photos of this bird from this session and the two earlier ones. 

Click here to enlarge

Crop of shot above

Suddenly alert, the bird had spotted a movement and was about to dash off in hot pursuit!

The bird was facing away for almost the whole time during its three visits. Just once it arrived and faced the other way very briefly.

A rare frontal view

This female came in once and chased off the male before abruptly departing. Fortunately the male came back shortly afterwards.

Female just after chasing off the male

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Buzzard Hide, near Swindon. 10 December

My earlier session at this hide - a new one for me - was cancelled due to the national lockdown 2, but fortunately I managed to re-book for December 10, after it had ended. 

This hide, bookable through Wildlife Photography Hides, is high on the Downs near Swindon. It is operated by David White a local farmer who is also a keen photographer.  To minimise disturbance you are required to be in the hide well before first light and to remain there until dusk. It is made very clear that under no ordinary circumstances are you allowed to leave the hide, as this would scare off the birds. A 600m walk in the dark up a track is required on arrival, but David was able to take my photo gear in his vehicle which he drives to the hide. This 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!

With these bookings, weeks in advance, it is pot luck over the weather and unfortunately it wasn't good at all for me with dismal light all day and some rain for a good proportion of it. The Buzzard and Kite activity started quite early and continued with birds present until 13:30 when the last flew off. Other birds included pesky Crows and Magpies, which frequently got in the way of the Buzzards, as well as the odd Raven that seemed interested but I didn't notice one land. 

After 13:30 there was then nothing until dusk. 

At its peak, there were four Buzzard on the ground at once tucking into the food provided with others nearby on posts.

For a gallery of all my photos from this session, go to this page on my website

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

Getting stuck into the food

On one of the surrounding posts

Buzzard in the light rain

Head on view

As the food supply began to dwindle, some arguments started. These were challenging to capture in the dull conditions but a few are worth showing here.

The larger and darker bird on the right is the dominant one

Certainly bullying it here - but the subordinate one managed to fly off after a few minutes

Sizing each other up?

Red Kites were also around, and flew past from time to time dipping down to grab some food. Just once, one came in and landed pretty close to the hide, affording a nice view:

Close Red Kite on the ground

This place would be pretty special on a sunny winter's morning but unfortunately it now appears Covid restrictions will prevent my planned revisit in January.

Sunday 6 December 2020

Woodland Birds - 5 December

 Trying to make something of a rare day with some sun! 

As usual, click on the captions for larger images

Marsh Tit
Blue Tit