Saturday, 25 September 2010

Ingrebourne and the start of winter

I'll skip the usual 'my blog hasn't been updated for 3 weeks because of...' rigmarole. You don't care. You want to know what I've seen, not why I've failed to see it.

Had a wander round Ingrebourne this afternoon in the sporadic Essex sunshine. Took the camera, but mostly photographed clouds. Plenty of signs of viz mig and impending winter among the birds. Had several groups of Martins fattening themselves up for the long trip home, a flock of about 40 Goldfinches flying bush to bush, and about 30 Teal in eclipse on the lake. Learned a new flight call when a Skylark passed overhead (and I picked up the skylark on flight style, which makes me happy). Also got a nice close view of a male Great Spot, who sat happily in his tree while I got unbelievably close below him.

Apart from the usual Carrion Crows, the bird I saw most of today was Jays, all seemingly flying back and forth between the same 2 locations over and over again, and in one of the better views I got one of them very clearly had a large nut in its bill. Storing up food. It's really not far off now.

Most exciting bird today was a lone Snipe, which I called on flight pattern (basically crazy and all over the place) before it turned to give a decent profile view. It's difficult to get visible and definite signs that your birding is improving, and picking up birds on flight style is something I was never particularly good at so it's quite morale boosting to be doing it reliably at last.

Also, if anyone knows their Fungi, I could use a hand with this one.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Butser Hill

Last weekend I went out with the girlfriend and walked up one of the highest points in Hampshire. It is called Butser Hill, and to be honest it really wasn't all that difficult a climb. Bear in mind this is coming from an Essex boy - Speed Bumps get contour lines round these parts.

Still, it means I could lug camera and tripod up there which was a bit of a luxury. Target bird was Buzzard, and while we saw one from a distance cruising round the summit on the thermals, by the time we reached the top it had scarpered.

Not to be put off, we laid out our picnic stuff and were rewarded with a Kestrel hovering and hunting all round us for a good half an hour. Is wasn't a very good Kestrel, given that we saw it go down at least seven or eight times and come back up empty handed, but its loss was my gain. Nothing is quite as addictive as a hovering Kestrel when you've got a DSLR on burst mode. Great views of a criminally underrated bird. I do wish the buzzard had stuck about for a photo though.

View of the A3 from the top of Buster

Apologies for the appalling amount of noise/compression artifacts on the pictures by the way. They're not like that on my hard drive - must be something Blogger's done during the upload.