Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nightjars : Llynfi Valley

I've wondered for some time if the high ISO abilities of my camera would allow me to obtain some photos of Nightjar in near darkness so made a "recee" to a local site last Thursday evening without the camera and found at least three birds present.
So after returning home from Somerset yesterday at a civilized time I couldn't resist the temptation of making a return visit to the site with my camera in the hope of getting some shots.
I arrived at 9.20pm and hoped that "churring" would start at 9.45pm as it had done on my previous visit but this time I had to wait until 10.00pm when following a brief period of "churring" a male bird took flight hunting.
I managed to pick up a mint secondhand Canon 70-200mm IS L 2.8 MkII zoom lens this time last year which with a large maximum aperture hoped would give me some extra light.
Employing the well known "spray and pray" technique I managed to get some shots that I was quite pleased with given that they were taken at 16,000 ISO and it was almost dark...........

Somerset Levels

I paid a visit in company with old friend Colin Gittins to the Somerset Levels yesterday and we rocked up at the Ham Wall car park at about 8.40am and decided to explore the Ham Wall side of the massive reserve first.
From the old railway bridge near the car park we saw our first Marsh Harrier a female followed shortly after by another...
We then made our way up to the viewing area where good views were obtained of Bittern and Great White Egret in flight and also Little Egret on nearby open water......
We then visited the fairly new hide out in the marsh accessed by a 200m boardwalk which was very impressive and gave great all round views, more Bitterns,Egrets and Marsh Harriers were seen and there were good numbers of Reed Buntings,Reed Warblers and Cetti's Warblers everywhere....
After a few sandwiches back at the car we moved over to the Shapwick side of the reserve coming across another Great White Egret this time feeding on one of the areas of open water along the main track.....
We moved on to the hide at Noah's Lake where a Hobby hawked dragonflies for a few minutes, one of only four seen during the day and all unfortunately a little too distant and high for any meaningful photos.
We called in next to the Meare Heath hide which again yielded Bittern,Great White Egret and Marsh Harrier.........
Soon it was time to head for home but not before managing to photograph another Marsh Harrier near the car park.......
It's been a few years since I last visited the Somerset Levels and the work that has been carried out to expand and improve the reserves is certainly impressive, the RSPB come in for criticism from time to time but at Ham Wall they have certainly got it right and the reedbeds now hold the largest density of Bitterns in the UK.
We only took a hour and a half eachway so it is a location that I will definitely make an effort to visit more often,
We didn't manage to get a Purple Heron or a Little Bittern but still had a fantastic day out seeing birds that it is difficult to see in South Wales, it just goes to show that if you provide the habitat and manage it well then the birds will come.

Purple Heron : Kenfig NNR

Visited Kenfig Pool last Sunday afternoon after coming home from the caravan a little early hoping to catch up with the 1st summer Purple Heron found there a couple of days earlier.
After about 45 minutes of being in the South Pool Hide and at about 5.00pm it flew from the western reeds halfway across the pool turning back to land and perch in trees on the west side of the pool and I managed a few distant "record" shots......
A county and Welsh "tick" for me so well pleased with my visit.

Spring 2015

Not posted a lot recently so here's a catch up with a few photos from recent months......
Garganey : Parc Slip NR

Grasshopper Warbler : Maesteg

Grasshopper Warbler : Maesteg

Pied Flycatcher (M) : Maesteg

Pied Flycatcher (M) : Maesteg

Wood Warbler : Nr Brecon

Wood Warbler : Nr Brecon

Sunday, March 08, 2015