Pages

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Long Eared Owl and Peregrine!!

Today I had decided to take a trip to Marton Mere just outside Blackpool to hopefully find and get some pictures of the Long Eared Owls that roost there, and in the afternoon I planned to call in at Newton Marsh on the way home to see the big flocks of Wigeon that spend the winter there. Success on both counts, and at Newton Marsh I was very lucky to watch a Peregrine seriously hunting over the Marsh. But firstly the morning mission to find the Long eared Owls, I had been given a precise location where to find the owls, and having arrived at the spot soon found two roosting in the bushes. I had been told there had been up to four roosting but I could only find the two, one being almost hidden by the foliage and branches but the other was a bit higher and I could get some nearly unobscured pictures, nearly!

Initially it was side on from where I could get a clearish shot.

Photobucket

But almost right on que he turned around for me!!

Photobucket

Stunning birds, and another first for me ticked off, to say I was chuffed is an understatement, in an ideal world a clear unobstructed shot would have been nice, but hey I was well chuffed.

Photobucket

Below is a video clip of the owl, but a little jumpy as it was taken hand held

video

As I mentioned Marton Mere is very close to the centre of Blackpool, but wandering around the Mere below it could have been anywhere, although the view back from the eastern end quickly reminds you were you are.

Photobucket

Photobucket

The only snag is at times you are a fair way back from the Mere and getting shots of the birds on the water isn't always easy but the 500mm lens certainly helps. There was lots of activity on the Mere, with Mute Swans, Teal, Canada Geese, Mallard, Coots, Tufted Duck, to name a few, also lots of Greylags coming in to land on the Mere,

Photobucket

Photobucket

As i walked down to the western end of the Mere there was a Kestrel quartering the longer grass for prey, and as it settled I tried to get closer for a shot without spooking it, took this one before getting closer, whilst making my way through the scrub I flushed out what I think was a Woodcock, may have been a Snipe but this looked a little different, but as I got really close to the Kestrel was just about to fire the shutter on a frame filling shot and it was off, hey ho!!

Photobucket

At the Western end of the Mere is a hide in front of a feeding area, that was alive with all sorts, all the tits, Greenfinch, chaffinch, Reed Buntings, Pheasant, Robins, Great Spotted Woodpecker, the light wasnt great but got some good shots of the long tailed tits

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Then it was off home ward, calling in at Newton Marsh. The Marsh was full of Wigeon, on the water and also feeding on the grass on the marsh. I think after the Eider, Wigeon are my favourite duck, I just love their call.

Photobucket

I had a scan around the Marsh to see if there were any predators about and about half a mile away on one of the electricity pylons found a perched Peregrine Falcon, which I really hoped would be down soon to hunt, I wasnt disappointed.

Photobucket

Not long after leaving his perch the Wigeon sensed his imminent attack and were up, a few first but then all were up and away

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Homed in on his target it was all out attack, the rest of the pictures are not as clear as hand holding the big zoom lens and following the speed of the Peregrine was not easy.

Photobucket

Sensing the chance of pinching a free lunch the Peregrine had attracted the attention of a marauding Great Black Backed Gull who harrassed him for the rest of the hunt

Photobucket

Photobucket

This unsuccessful attack over he rested on the marsh, closely watched by the Gull, the very brave Teal soon re-congregated on the water in front of it, obviously using the addage that if they can see him they are safer.

Photobucket

After a short break he was up again, but the Gull would not leave him alone and he soon abandoned the hunt.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Also on the Marsh were Shelducks, and a group of four seemed intent on killing each other, I have witnessed many species of birds fighting, but never so aggressive as Shelducks.

Photobucket

Photobucket

This poor Shelduck got a double aerial attack!

Photobucket

Photobucket

A superb day, loved seeing the Long eared owls at Marton, and watching the Peregrine was enthralling, and whist sorting the pictures out at night couldnt resist nipping out for some shots of a lovely full moon.

Photobucket

Monday, 25 January 2010

Marsh Tits

Despite the grim weather this weekend, I was determined to try and get some shots of the Marsh Tits that are visiting my feeders, I say marsh tits as they are difficult to differentiate from Willow Tits, but I am confident they are Marsh Tits, unless anyone can tell me different.

Photobucket

Photobucket

I have an old silver birch tree trunk that I have drilled holes in and fill with lard, the tits love it, but the lard was going so quickly I suspected that Great Spotted Woodpeckers had found it, only to find out its a greedy acrobatic female blackbird who kept coming back for great beak fulls!!

Photobucket

Saturday, 16 January 2010

A very wet Martin Mere

Having got my new 500mm lens I was dead keen to get out and use it, but it was a bit of a blow as the weather conspired against me, a really murky morning interspersed with heavy rain, but nevertheless got to Martin Mere and dodged the rain from hide to hide. The only downside to the poor light conditions was only being able to use low shutter speeds which meant the photos were not as crisp as I wanted, but there will be other days. I was hoping to see a Woodcock that had been recently seen there, I am not sure but I think one did fly over me but I couldnt swear if it was or a snipe. Got a fleeting glimpse of a Water Rail, but nothing else spectacular. But I love Martin Mere, and could spend hours watching the Whooper Swans. Got chatting to one of the volunteers who pointed out a Whooper (T47) who has reached the grand old age of 19 and still going strong, thats some going making the annual trip from Iceland and back for the last 19 years.

The morning didnt start well with heavy rain, but the forecast said it would improve!

Photobucket

One of this years juvenile Whooper Swans

Photobucket

The Mere was still mostly frozen over, one way to keep one foot warm!

Photobucket

When they are stood like this they look such a proud bird.

Photobucket

Landing on one of the small unfrozen parts of the Mere.

Photobucket

Lots of Whoopers coming in for the additional lunchtime feed.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Majestic birds in flight

Photobucket

Air breaks on for an ice landing!!

Photobucket

A bit of mutual bonding

Photobucket

Not very easy to slow down when landing on the ice

Photobucket

As I mentioned above this Whooper T47 is 19 years old, she doesnt look it.

Photobucket

Feeding on the grain put out and on the potatoes.

Photobucket

Photobucket

The afternoon saw the weather and light improve slightly, and the sun on this Shoveller really shows off its colours.

Photobucket

Photobucket

As it turned its head you get a real appreciation of a bill developed for its purpose of sifting for its food.
Photobucket

I saw lots of tree sparrows today, but all were skulking in the undergrowth which posed a challenge to get a picture in the poor light, ok but could have been sharper!

Photobucket

Stumbled on this rather tame Pheasant, previous experience has shown me that they are off when they see or hear you coming.

Photobucket

Last photo for this post is a beautiful Duck which posed nicely on the ice for me, a Pintail.

Photobucket