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