Monday, 10 September 2018

G is for Goshawk

Most mornings before work, you can probably find me walking down the BTO's Nunnery Lakes Reserve, and although usually I don't see or photograph anything of note, just occasionally it is worth lugging the 200-500mm lens around every day. This morning, as I walked down a track, a gamekeeper drove his Landrover across the far edge of a neighboring field, scattering the pigeons and partridges in my direction, and with it this/chasing them, was this stunning juvenile Goshawk. The hawk dashed across right in front of me, banked and as soon as it was there it circled back and was gone across the fields, thankfully I was quick enough on the draw to grab some shots!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Snow day

Last week a Snowy Owl was seen by a member of the public near North Wooton, on the edge of the Wash, and then on Friday was relocated on the north coast on Scolt Head.  Due to commitments at a conference, yesterday when the owl had been showing all day at Titchwell, albeit very distantly, I wasn't able to go and with negative news this morning, I had given up hope of seeing this bird and as the rain began to fell, I started doing domestic chores.  At lunchtime, the owl was amazingly relocated not far from its original location, at the south end of Snettisham RSPB reserve and once I had seen a couple of chores and had seen some pictures on Twitter of it showing much closer than on previous days, it was a bit too much to resist.  Leaving a bit later than ideal at 3pm, we got there just after 4pm and began the long walk from the car park to the far end of the reserve.  Thankfully the owl was still present when we arrived and had conveniently left the tussock it had been sat on and was sat in full view on a fence post only 80m away giving quite stunning views completely unconcerned by the throngs of birders.  We stayed until dusk when it flew a short distance, with a couple of Barn Owls hunting nearby, often in the same 'scope view as the Snowy.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Back for more

After last Friday's amazing afternoon watching Short-eared Owls on the Nene Washes in Cambridgeshire, I was itching to go back for another go and with the sun shining today, I was able to take the afternoon off for a return visit.  Despite it being midweek, when I arrived shortly after 2.30pm, the car park was already full and the bridge crammed with birders and photographers, but already at least 2 Short-eared Owls were out hunting, and a Red Kite passed overhead, though I wasn't quite prepared to get any decent shots before it drifted off.

Over the next 90 minutes, at least 5 Short-eared Owls quartered over the grassland, coming much closer than they did on Friday, and being out earlier the light was so much better.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

An afternoon with owls

Any day you see an owl is a good one! They have to be my favourite bird family, and having seen on RSPB in the Fens Twitter feed about some Short-eared Owls showing regularly by the Eldernell car park on the Nene Washes in Cambridgeshire, I couldn't resist a visit.   Thankfully being more diurnal than most owls, Short-eareds can be seen at all times of the day, though late afternoon is usually the best time to watch them as they ghost across rough grassland and pounce on unsuspecting rodents in the grass.

Arriving at the car park at just after 2pm, there were already several photographers waiting on the bridge for the owls to show.  Distant Whooper and Bewick's Swans, a couple of Marsh Harriers and a group of Roe Deer kept us occupied but the wait continued.  It was nearly 3.30pm when the first owl appeared, distantly at first but then came closer and was joined by at least two others, occasionally coming fairly close but most times keeping their distance.  Photographing them in flight was a challenge with the light fading all the time while still trying to get used to the autofocus options on my new camera produced a mix of results.


Just as we were about to leave, a Barn Owl began hunting by the car park, but the light really had gone for photography by that point.

Monday, 8 January 2018

More local Otters

Having just treated myself to a new camera, it was only right to get out and try it out on some more local Otters.  Although the Thetford ones from a few years ago are now only seen occasionally, there have recently been a up to 4 along the river at Santon Downham which are becoming well known and very popular with photographers.  Toni and I spent a couple of hours with one of the Otters, though as always seems to be the case whenever I photograph Otters, they show best when the light isn't that great, and even on sunny days, will invariably show best in the shadiest stretches of the river.  They also seem to have a fondness for hunting around fallen trees and so getting shots without branches covering the face can be tricky but can usually be got with a bit of patience.  I'll no doubt be back to see these animals a lot more times this year, especially as this stretch of river is one I survey for the Waterways Breeding Bird Survey, but for a first visit, this particular Otter performed well for the small appreciative crowd.

There were also many Little Grebes along the river here, and unusually for this species, were remarkably photogenic.