Monday, 14 July 2014

Pitstone, Corn Bunting

Last year, when I first bumped into the Corn Buntings at Pitstone, I vowed to myself that I would take on the opportunity to photograph them, and express their true beauty amongst the fields of corn, which provide a perfect back drop. So in the winter of 2013 I set up a project of my own. Unfortunately it failed dismally, I only managed to get one possible record of one fly over Corn Bunting in 5 trips! Then last week, I went to Ivinghoe to see the Dark Green Fritillaries, along with the butterflies I also saw that the Corn Buntings had returned. So now I have relaunched the project and I hope to photograph them in the next few weeks. Tonight I took a tester to see how well I could do, the light was fading and had been extinguished by the clouds, but the Corn Buntings didn't fail to show. The views weren't anything special, but the birds were.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Another bulk update

Well then I've once again left it for too long and I need to write a bulk update about the last few birding trips. If I remember correctly, my last trip was to Ivinghoe Beacon. Ivinghoe Beacon is a prominent part of the Chiltern Hills, filled with lush grassland and has hilly terrain. The purpose of the trip was to see and photograph Dark Green Fritillaries. Once we arrived, there was no problem in locating them, they were very flighty and we didn't see one land until we had already been looking for an hour or so. After that we saw a few settle down, but by the slightest sign of disturbance or wind or even sun, they flew back up. Once again, not great for photography. However, on the way back we did manage to see a Corn Bunting, which showed well for scope views, I tried my luck with photography and received worth while shots. We then moved onto Pitstone Hill, here we hoped to see a Quail, a rather elusive species which eludes both my life list and I can imagine many other birders. Whilst there we did hear up to 7 individuals calling, possibly more. However, seeing one was a complete other matter.

Corn Bunting

Dark Green Fritillary

Moving on to the more recent, today I made a "twitching" trip with Chris, Paul and Samuel. Our hopes where for the Stilt Sandpiper to reappear, and head up in the direction. Unfortunately our hopes were not answered and we were left with the option of Wood Sandpiper at Carlton Marshes, Suffolk. When we arrived the directions seemed a little vague, but after some help from some locals we were well on our way. At the scrape we had distant views of the Wood Sandpipers, 5 individuals in total! No pictures but a life tick. After our success the White-winged Black Tern at Abberton Reservoir seemed promising and that was the next stop on the list. Once we arrived it only took us a few minutes before we were on the bird, conveniently with a Black Tern flying around with it. We then went to the visitors center, were it looked as if the bird was regularly flying past. From the visitors center we realized we had been mislead, but the views were still better than from the causeway. After a successful day we headed back home with high spirits.

The Tern showing too distantly for any good shots

After my GCSE photography course I found black and white photography and colour photography need completely different exposures, contrasts and composition. There for I have taken a few shots differently, and edited them on Lightroom, I think the results have been decent, what would have been rubbish shots in colour are interesting abstract shots in black and white. Have a look for yourself and make your own decision.




Common Tern

Common Tern


Friday, 11 July 2014

Everything from Short-toed Eagle to Rose-coloured Starling

It's the end of my exams! I won't have to talk about them and you won't have to listen to me talking about them for another whole year. Since I've finished I've already gone on three different birding outing, twitching and general birding.
On Saturday a while back, I drove down with Chris, Brendan and Dave to Ashdown Forest, where the long staying Short-toed Eagle had taken refuge. Whilst down there we saw it eat 3 separate snakes (one of which was in fact a slow worm). I don't think this bird will be in any rush to make the trip back over the channel to Spain. Especially after their crushing defeat in the world cup.
We had on off views of the bird, however it never made a fly by and was always very distant. Obviously this proved difficult when it came to photography, however I tried my best, but nothing came of it. The sun was blazing for most of the day and I was ready to drop by the time it struck midday, we still soldiered on and did a short unsuccessful raptor watch for Honey Buzzard. The day ended at around 4 o'clock.
On Thursday I made an evening visit to Chobham Common, with the usual, me, Chris, Paul and my brother. We arrived a little after 9 and walked straight to the spot, the rain had dampened our spirits for any chance of Nightjar (apologies for the pun). But they were soon lifted once we heard our first one churring closely to Chris's usual spot. Not long after we had short flight views of over 4 Woodcock which quickly brightened the mood. Waiting at the spot we were eaten alive by midges which we had mixed feeling about, they provided food for our target bird, but we provided food for them. At around 21:30 our first Nightjar of the evening showed itself and perched in a tree not to distantly, this provided decent scope views and we had now seen both our target species, the pressure was off. The rest of the night was a great bit of entertainment with Nightjars flying only a few feet away from us. We left and arrived back home at 23:30 with high spirits and bite marks.
The plan was to twitch the Bridled Tern on the Farne Islands, however the plan fell through when the likely hood of seeing it seemed small and the trip daunting. Instead we leveled for something a little less mega.
A usual early morning start for me, Chris and Paul. Swallowtails at Strumpshaw fen and Rose-coloured Starling at Lowestoft were the target species. After a short wait we connected with the Starling which had decided to have a little nap. We then cracked on when a report of a Red-backed Shrike came in on the pager, the trip to the Shrike only took about half an hour, we were presented with a large open expanse for us to cover (Winterton dunes) and search for the Shrike on our own. Luckily we were joined by another birder who managed to locate the bird and get us on it to. We stayed with the Shrike for a little longer than the Starling, before pressing on to Strumpshaw. At Strumpshaw we managed to see a load of hawkmoths including Convolvulus, Elephant, Poplar and Eyed. Other moths which had been captured included Buff-tip, Ghost and Peppered Moth. Looks like I'm going to follow my brother into the dark pit of moth trapping. No Swallowtails were seen for many reasons including, the wind was to strong, it was raining, there was no sun and it was getting a little late in the year. However, we did see a late cuckoo still calling which was a nice addition to the day list. On the way home we stopped off at a Stone Curlew sit were we encountered 4 adults and 4 Juveniles.

Red-backed Shrike