Friday, 24 May 2013

Things to do with Wood Pigeons

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Seeing the extraordinary in the day to day and common place is something that as I get older I think I am becoming better at doing. This is driven I think by two factors, firstly as I get older I think the sum of my life experiences means that how I see the world is perhaps more nuanced than when I was younger. Secondly and perhaps more importantly I am more restricted now in what I can and can't do by the demands of a young family and full on job, all of which means that I now need to get my birding and photographic kicks much more locally and in much smaller windows of time.
The picture at the top of this blog is an old one of a Wood Pigeon taken a few years ago on a day when I had plenty of time and was wending my way along the north Norfolk coast. I took it with a DSLR and a big lens and very nice it is too. But it wasn't the highlight of my day and I didn't set out with this image in mind, I saw it, I grabbed it, and I moved on.

The next image is the first of three that I want to share with you that show how I have adapted what I do and perhaps in the process become more creative and thoughtful about my photography and birding and perhaps as a consequence I am also producing more interesting images. Taken just after the sun had dipped below the horizon, it is of a Wood Pigeon perched on a post, on top of Hunstanton Cliffss looking across The Wash towards Lincolnshire. I live five minutes walk from this location and I'll often take a 20 minute evening stroll along the cliff tops and see visitors taking pictures of some spectacular sunsets.  But for me on there own most sunset images of sky and sea lack a certain something, a something that this Wood Pigeon image has a little of which is to mind a story and some structure and form.

Both this next image and the ones above and below were taken with a rather nice little digital compact camera a Panasonic Lumix TZ30, my digital notebook, a camera I can have with me at all times and whilst not in the same league as a DSLR a piece of kit that does give me a reasonable amount of control and creative options. What I was looking for here was to develop the use of a bird perched up against the sunset or twilight sky. I had thought I might manage to get a Blackbird, Dunnock or Whitethroat singing and silhoutted in the dusk but on this occasion they didn't play ball. But this Wood Pigeon did.

And this is probably my favourite image of the many that I shot in a ten minute period that evening. I have some where the Pigeon is well exposed but the sunset is then over exposed and a silvery burnt out nothingness. For this image I under exposed to silhouette the bird and used the cameras Sunset fucntion to give it a bit of orange boost. The result I think is quite a dynamic shot which on my Flickr page I christened Wood Pigeon of the Apolcalypse.

Wood pigeons are not in that top drawer of wildlife subjects that get people like me excited, Red Squirrels and Otters for example, but they are common place, and often tame and that means despite the fact that they are wild birds you can start to be creative with them and make images that stand out a little from the crowd.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Conference Centre Birds, Wyboston Lakes, Bedfordshire

Wyboston Lake, Bedfordshire
Just got back home after a couple of days at the Wyboston Lakes conference centre, just off the A1 in Bedfordshire. I hadn't stayed here for a number of years, but remembering that there was a small lake and bit of scrubby woodland I packed my binoculars in case I had end at the start or end of the day for a spot of birding.

On arrival just about the first thing I was told by a friend was that a Nightingale was holding territory on the far side of the Lake. So after work I took a stroll and just for fun made a list of all of the birds that I saw or heard. Over the two days I managed a rather respectable total of 40 species. Highlights were Nightingale, Green woodpecker, Kingfisher, Common Tern, Hobby, Reed, Sedge and Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Chiff Chaff and half a dozen rather smart looking Great Crested Grebes.

Sadly though I didn't hear a single Turtle Dove a species that even six or seven years ago was common in this area.

Great Crested Grebes, Wyboston Lake

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Cemetery Tick and other stuff

Common Buzzard, Rosary Cemetery, Norwich
I had a very enjoyable and productive lunchtime walk around the Rosary Cemetery in Norwich with a work friend today.The fine weather from the weekend was still with us and the cemetery looked wonderfully green highlighting the wonderful glowing red leaves of the Copper Beaches. Chiff Chaff's and Blackcap's were both in song and my friend heard a brief snatch of Swallow song, quite a mega record here.

Overhead I saw my first two Swifts of the year always a great sign of the impending arrival of summer. But the best bird of this short walk was a Common Buzzard high overhead mobbed my a Carrion Crow. Neither of us had a pair of binoculars with us and we wondered for a while whether this might be a Honey Buzzard, but came to the conclusion it was a Common Buzzard, something borne out by the heavily enlarged image above taken on my TZ30 compact camera

Holly Blue, Rosary Cemetery, Norwich
It was also great to see a few butterflies on the wing including perhaps my favourite UK species the Orangetip.

Male Orangetip, Rosary Cemetery, Norwich