Sunday, 21 December 2014

That was 2014.....

Another year draws to a close, but this one has been a real special one for a few reasons.
This was the year that I took the financial plunge and stepped into the Prime lens league, a new Nikon 500mm F4 and 300mm F4, a new D800 body to join the D3, and boy have I been pleased with them.
There have been lots of highlights, many you will see on the Slideshow that I have put together.
2014 Review

But the two that really stand out are the Aviemore Ospreys and the White Tailed Eagles of Mull.

Ospreys are without doubt my favorite bird, everything about them just fascinates me, after a long fight for survival in the UK they are now starting to gain a real foothold again. Every year they make the long migration from their winter home in western Africa to come and breed in the UK, mostly meeting up with their mates whom they won't have seen since they left at the end of the last breeding season.
Amazing beautiful birds that I had the good fortune to watch them down on the Dyfi estuary in West Wales, and up in Scotland at Loch Insh, and also at Rothiemurchas near Aviemore, where I waited 4 hours for this one single chance to get my long waited image of an Osprey fishing. I was blown away by the whole experience, chufted to bits that I got the shot, but more than anything I can't wait until these stunning birds return next Spring.



In late summer we traveled up to the Isle of Mull, with the hope of photographing White Tailed Eagles and Otters. Despite lots of searching we never saw Otters but the White Tailed Eagles were just amazing. We watched from distance a pair high in the conifers next to Loch Na Kiel, spending many hours watching them up in the trees and hunting down on the water line. But the real jaw dropping experience was when we took the Mull Charters boat, and what a morning it was. Both Male and female came down to feed, the female especially circling the boat time and time again, it got to the point were I just put the camera down and watched these stunning birds, and yes they do match their nickname...flying barn doors. Again already excited about getting back up there next year.






Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Hilbre Island

Hilbre Island is a place that I have not visited since I was a kid, located on the mouth of the Dee Estuary, it takes less than an hour to walk out to the Islands at low tide. So on Monday we had a lovely walk over, leaving at 9.45 the tide was already out beyond the islands and with low tide at 12.30 we had plenty of time on the Island. Walking to the northern tip its a great place to see and watch the bird life below on the rocky shore line or to sea watch. Lots of bird life about including Brent Geese, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Turnstone, a variety of Gulls, Shag, Cormorant, Curlew and Seals.





Whilst sat watching the birds, we were intrigued by the behaviour of the gulls, they were picking up various molluscs, looked like Mussels, flying up to about 30ft high then dropping them to smash them open on the rocks below, really clever and something I have only ever see Corvids do.






Monday, 24 November 2014

Nuthatch at last!!

Nuthatches have been a bit of a nemesis, I've managed a few decent shots over the years, but never had a good session with plenty of opportunities. This weekend we had a nice walk around Marbury Country Park, in the woodland they have a woodland hide with feeders there. I had only sat down a few minutes and nuthatches were coming in quite regularly, too close for the big lens, so the 300mm F4 came into action. The light was really poor and most of these were taken with the D800 at ISO 4000, I am getting more and more impressed with this body.
There were also Jays and Great Spotted Woodpeckers about but didn't come in close enough, and also a Goldcrest that I was told about never appeared, but will be returning soon for sure.













Friday, 14 November 2014

Dippers and Tits

A day off from work, two short sessions with the camera, but really enjoyable. This morning we had a little wander down the River Alyn from Loggerheads looking out for the Dipper that we have seen there recently. As soon as we reached the river we noticed him fairly quickly and followed hin down the river as he fed from rock to rock. Dippers are great little birds, this one seems to have settled here, hopefully he stays put here over the winter, these shots were with my 300mm prime and a 1.4x converter, time to get down there with the bigger lens.






This afternoon the clouds cleared and the afternoon sunshine was lovely lighting up the Blue Tits that are now returning to the garden feeders for the winter







Monday, 10 November 2014

Recent Wanderings... Martin Mere and Leighton Moss

I have not really had chance to post recently but have had some nice trips out with the camera, below are a few shots from my wanderings

WWT Martin Mere
One of my favourite places to visit, especially as we reach Winter as that heralds the arrival of the Whooper Swans from their summer breeding grounds in Iceland, such beautiful birds that I never tire of photographing. Also on the two trips I have made recently it was great to see a Kingfisher posing nicely outside the Ron Barker hide.





RSPB Leighton Moss
An early morning start to get up to Leighton Moss to photograph the Bearded Tits that visit the grit trays at this time of year, a busy morning with Autumwatch being filmed at the time of my visit but great to see plenty of these beautiful birds in the early morning sunshine




Never lucky in photographing Wrens but cause this one quite nicely


Monday, 20 October 2014

The Red Deer at RSPB Leighton Moss

One of my favourite places to visit is RSPB Leighton Moss, in the beautiful Silverdale area of north Lancashire. For the first time in all the years I have been visiting, this visit was the first time I have seen all the species that the reserve is reknowned for on one day..... Red Deer, Bearded Tit, Otter and Marsh Harrier. More about the latter three later, but this post concentrates on the Red Deer that inhabit the reed beds, there was no sign of any Deer in the morning but upon returning to the Grisedale Hide in the afternoon, two nice stags and a group of hinds appeared out of the reeds.