Sunday, 26 January 2014

Swans from a train and other random sightings

Wild Swans from the train , The Fens.
A busy week with train journey's down to London and also across to Bedfordshire and very little time for birding or photography.

For a while now I have kept a list of birds seen on my regular train journeys from King's Lynn to King's Cross and also from Lynn to Sandy. This week I thought I'd try grabbing a shot of some Wild Swans as the train sped past them feeding in a track side Fenland field. Just managed two shots with the Panasonic Lumix TZ30 of which this is the 'best'. I think that it is possible to make out one Mute Swan to the right of the image and that the rest are Bewick's, based on size and neck / head comparisons with the Mute Swan.

Dead leaf on log, Sandy, Beds
On my visit to the Lodge, I had time to walk up from Sandy Station through the Lodge reserve to the Lodge buildings, very foggy and pretty bird less but I paused for a moment to take this picture of a slowly decaying but still whole brown leaf on a trail side log, a nice moment before going into a long day of meetings.

Coot, St James's Park lake
A couple of days later and I was down in London for a meeting, my route from Green Park tube taking me first across Green Park and then cutting through one end of St James's Park. Lots of Grey Squirrels running between the tourists feet and a couple of the famous White Pelican's swam past me and some presumably wild Tufted Ducks. Also lots of Coots like the one above which in a month or two's time will be nesting on the lake.

Fallow Deer, Ken Hill Wood
At the end of the week I managed a lunchtime walk in Ken Hill Woods, Snettisham, whilst 'phishing' a mixed Tit flock I noticed a movement in the woods and saw a group of five Fallow Deer inspecting me from behind a broken curtain of branches. Today as I drove past these woods I saw five Buzzards in the air together over them.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Enjoying the common place & a postcard from Hunstanton Beach

Blue Tit, Brancaster Staithe

For me it's been a quiet fortnight birdwise, I've seen the odd Buzzard over the various patches of woodland I pass as I drive to and from Norwich and of course the Pink Footed Geese flocks still brighten the start of my commute as I head across country from Hunstanton to Docking en route to Norwich. But most pf the birds I have seen have been the very common place including the Blue Tit picture above, I took this image through my Father in Laws dining room window as it waited its turn to drop onto his bird feeder. Frozen in time like this it really is the most exotic and colourful little bird.

Robin, Ken Hill Wood

I've managed the odd walk around Ken Hill Wood's and seen Common Buzzard's over the woods every time, something that would not have been the case a decade ago and a great sign of these majestic birds of prey reclaiming this part of their range. On one walk I spotted this Robin sitting and and snapped the picture above, I have lots of pictures of Robins which can at some locations such as Titchwell be very tame. What I like about this image is that it sets the bird in a woodland habitat and I think the relatively small size of the image gives a slight sense of a wildness about this individual.

Farrier, Snettisham
I stumbled across this chap at work in Snettisham on Friday, he along with three colleagues was working out of a mobile farriers van complete with portable forge. They were quite happy for me to spend five minutes taking some pictures as they went about their work. This image and the two above were taken using my little Panasonic Lumix TZ30.

Oystercatcher, Hunstanton, un-cropped original

Oystercatcher, Hunstanton, cropped

On Saturday afternoon for the first time in several months I managed a couple of hours on my own with my DSLR [a EOS 5D MK2] and went for a walk under the cliffs in Hunstanton [mainly because they are at the end of my road and a good place to visit when time is tight]. It was a bit of a reunion with the camera reminding myself of the controls and just getting my head in the zone to think ahead, conceptualise and then take images. 

Towards the end of the walk I noticed that birds would when flying away from me wheel around and cut across my line of sight to the cliffs. One way I like to compose images is to show wildlife within the context of their habitat and this seemed to be a chance to try and do this. I didn't get too many chances to try this out but of the shots I took I quite liked the potential of this one on the screen on the back of the camera and at home on the PC I cropped the image into the bottom picture. 

What I like about this image is that it sets the bird against the distinctive red of Hunstanton's cliffs giving a sense of place, the out of focus walkers tells a story of winter walks and human presence and the bird is nicely positioned in the top third of the image and flying into the picture.  Which isn't to say that the picture is perfect and I quite look forward to getting a chance to try and get an even better shot another time.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Catch up - Wednesday 1st to Sunday 5th January 2014

A new year and if I have one resolution it's to try and keep life, whether at home or at work, simple. This is in the belief that I will achieve my personal targets for the year [and if I wish add to and build on them] rather than setting myself up to fail. What's that got to do with this blog? well I'm not entirely sure but I think it will mean less messing about drafting and then not getting around to posting short essays and more short summary's of what I have been up to. This I hope will act as a celebration of life, of what it is possible to see, feel and and think in the midst of a busy life with little bespoke time for birding and photography, but with a mind and eyes accustomed to seeing and taking plenty of incidental opportunities and sharing some of these with you.

Brancaster saltmarsh

My last bird of 2013 was a invisible Robin singing its' plaintive winter song from a bush in a Hunstanton front garden, my first birds of 2014 were Feral Pigeons wheeling in the wind over our street in Hunstanton. New Year's Day was manky [cold, grey and wet] and I spent it with the family visiting relatives in Brancaster, a short walk along the edge of the Marsh followed by an interrogation of my father in law's bird feeders produced 28 species. My favourite birds of the day were the smart little Coal Tits on the feeders.

The 2nd saw me back at work in Norwich and taking a boot around what is in effect my 'lunchtime patch' of the Rosary Cemetery, Lion Wood and part of the River Yare, good for 50+ species in 2014 I reckon. A relatively quiet walk did produce two sightings of Sparrowhawk, a Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a brace of Coal Tits. But perhaps the best bird of the day was on the drive into work when I had a drive by sighting of a Barn Owl just outside Docking.
Lion Wood, Norwich

On Friday the 3rd I had a work related walk and talk at Snettisham and Titchwell, a lovely day with some cracking black and white male Goldeneye at Snettisham and a nice flock of Avocet's at Titchwell, where a female Marsh Harrier spooked the waders and wildfowl and where I photographed the splendid male Pintail below. The day ended with an unseasonal Hedgehog in Snettisham village.

Male Pintail, Titchwell Marsh
Saturday was another wet day, whem the rain cleared mid afternoon I took no 1 son [age 4] 'shell hunting' under the cliffs in Hunstanton, not much bird activity but good to see Fulmar's hanging around the cliffs in some numbers.

Fulmar's Hunstanton Cliffs
Today [Sunday 5th] I was again back in Brancaster with the family, a drive along the coast to get no 2 son [age 2] to sleep gave me a chance to pop into Burnham Overy Staithe Harbour which was very quiet and Brancaster Staithe Harbour where I picked up Rock Pipit for the year. But the most fun was when I stopped to look at some bird feeders and noticed the finches and sparrows bathing in a puddle on the opposite side of the road.

Chaffinch & Goldfinch bathing