Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Norfolk June 2010: Pre-trip report post

I've just got back from a 5 day trip to the North Norfolk coast, so this is just a kind of pre-post warning that there will be photos appearing once I've processed them. There are approximately a million, some of them without any birds in at all, so it's going to take a while. Managed to year tick the 3 expected Terns (though the guy running the boat trip got me overly excited straight out of the dock by calling a Common as an Arctic), and life ticked a Tawny Owl from Titchwell car park. I also think I may have nailed the difference between Sedge and Reed calls, though I thought that last year as well and turned out to be wrong. Anyway, more of this later. Much unpacking to do in the meantime.

On the plus side, as I set off from the girlfriend's today I glimpsed a Crow mobbing a Buzzard from the car. A year ago I wouldn't have seen that, and if I did I wouldn't have known what a Buzzard looked like without detailed inspection. This makes me happy.

Monday, 14 June 2010

They're back! And they're breeding...

Today I saw one of these:

Which made me slightly suspicious, since usually when they're feeding they perch on top of the wall, or on one of the drainpipes.

Also, it is sitting in the window next to the one in which I saw Kestrel chicks last year. I haven't been checking this window. I've been checking last year's window. It seems I have missed a trick. Because today, when I saw the Kestrel sitting in this spot, I made a point of having a good old peer into the back and what did I find?

Bit embarrassing to have missed them - I mean they're not exactly inconspicuous - but DAWWWWWWWWWTHEY'RESOCUUUUTE. 2 years running. Great breeding record for the site.

Monday, 7 June 2010

On following my own advice, for once

I wasn't going to mention it, because of that whole 'relevance' thing that I know we all care so much about, but I've started playing with Shuttercal, a photo-a-day style site; the idea being that taking one half decent photo a day will force encourage me to be on the lookout for good subjects and will generally help make my brain more naturally disposed to seeing these things.

The other thing it does is give me a reason to carry a half decent camera into work with me, and then take it out as I wander round my little corner of London during my lunch hour. Today, it paid off. Not only did the Grey Heron return for a second helping, the Kestrel made a brief cameo appearance for the first time in a couple of months. It's too late now to hope it'll stay and lay eggs again, but it's nice to know it hasn't forgotten me. So for your delectation, two minor Tower Bridge scarcities, courtesy of Mr Kodak. Mr Pentax will have to wait his turn.

In conclusion: I am learning from my mistakes and, following yesterday's lesson, I am carrying a camera with me whenever I go anywhere remotely interesting from now on. Mostly. Probably.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

More LBJs than I can shake a camera at

Went for a bacon sandwich birdwatching walk round Rainham this afternoon; just round to the Marshland centre and back, since I had the woman over for a trip into London last night and she'd only bought sandals. I have never seen so many Reed Warblers in my life. They were everywhere. Obliging, easy to see, sitting on the same tall exposed perches for 15-20 seconds at a time and generally being perfect for photography. Which was a real bugger, because I'd decided against taking the nice camera since we were only going for a quick walk. Instead, I had the trusty old Kodak Easyshare - fine for record shots, wasted on today's opportunities. With the Pentax, these would have been pin sharp. Gutted:

Still, saw lots, heard even more, and got a nice view of a Sedge for the first time this year (only heard them up to now) which just reminded me how distinctive that Supercilium is. Also had much cuteness in the form of a fluffy little Blue Tit chick, a small group of Cygnets being shepherded by mum, my first Rainham Water Vole of the year and a Little Grebe sitting on a nest. A couple of Redshanks from the Marshland Hide were probably the most interesting things out there birdwise, but they can't compete with fluff.

Speaking of cuteness, arn't baby Coots really ugly?

I'd love to have stayed longer, but it was getting late and the sound of thunder was definitely getting closer as we headed back to the centre. Also, one of the cows was giving me evils and I got slightly scared. Moral of the story: Always take the best camera you can carry, the walk is never 'too short to be worth it'. And yes, I've learned this lesson before, and yes I'm sure I'll do it all again.

'arf moi land you

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Oh look, a bandwagon!

It's that time of year folks. Found this little fellow on the bathroom door this morning, and blocked the landing for 5 minutes while I tried to get a decent shot. I attempted a couple from the hand, but the size of the moth + the low light forced me to resort to tripod. My family looked a bit confused; as, I suppose, they should.

I reckon it's a Mullein Wave, Scopula marginepunctata, which is apparently "Locally abundant in urban parts of the London area". Like here.

I'm not quite at the buying a moth trap and getting up at 5 in the morning stage yet, but don't be surprised to find Lepidoptera making a few more guest appearances before the slow season is out.

In bird news, I've had young brown Starlings all over the garden this morning, along with some young looking House Sparrows. This makes me happy.