Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Sneaky shots

I tend not to take many photographs while guiding (for obvious reasons), but here are a few shots from this weekend. It's no coincidence that these are all big, slow-flying birds, I usually manage to sneak the camera out for a few photos while my guests are watching through their binoculars!

 One of the highlights recently for me was tracking down a few of the reintroduced Cranes. They are often very distant out on the moors, but while watching them this time they were spooked by a tractor and actually flew in towards us and started feeding in a much closer field, a real spectacle!


Great White Egret

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Siberian Chiffchaff, Shapwick

It's been an excellent few days birding/guiding on the Somerset Levels, and i've plenty of photos to post up here, but first here's a few shots of a rather lovely little Siberian Chiffchaff from this morning. It showed well at Shapwick Heath NNR, next to the benches that overlook the Meare Heath scrape, feeding down low at the base of the line of trees. I was first alerted to its presence by its call, a plaintive heet, much flatter than the inflected hooeet or hweet of Common Chiffchaff. On seeing the bird, the cold plumage tones were immediately noticeable, with it frequently looking very grey, and the underparts a dirty white with no yellow, and closer inspection showed slight buffy tones to the cheeks and supercillium, and nice bright green fringes to the primaries and tail feathers.

The video below is hopeless for seeing the bird, but crank up the volume for a recording of the call

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Greylake Peregrines

With a few hours free this afternoon and the light much nicer than last week, I popped back over to Greylake RSPB for another look at the wintering ducks and their 'following' of predators. There was no sign of any Peregrines in their favourite tree on my arrival but presumably they had been sat down low out of the bitter wind, as after an hour or so of waiting a sudden approach by two Peregrines and a Marsh Harrier sent the ducks to the skies in a mad, whistling frenzy.

After a few fast low flights across the marsh, including one stunning pass over the hide, the falcons seemed to give up and disappeared from view. The Marsh Harrier hung around a while longer, looking for Water Rails in the reedy channels at the back of the reserve but also left unsuccessfully. 
Loitering Marsh Harrier

Peregrines causing havoc!

Shoveler showing off its bottle green head

Shoveler just as smart in flight with that lovely powder-blue wing


Reed Buntings showing nicely at the feeders in the car park

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Greylake Ducks

The RSPB reserve at Greylake is absolutely heaving with ducks at the moment with water levels looking perfect, unlike the metres of water the site was under during the horrendous floods this time last year. Wigeon and Teal make up most of the numbers with a scattering of Shoveler and Gadwall and surprisingly good numbers of Pintail.

Just a small part of the flock

1 of 3 Peregrines looking for a meal