Saturday, January 30, 2016

"Gulls, Ducks and a fabulous pair of tits"........

Myself and fellow "togger" Peter Morgan decided to have a go for the 1st winter Glaucous Gull found a few days ago by Ceri Jones (great find Ceri) at The Knap in Barry and then on to Cosmeston CP in Penarth for the drake Lesser Scaup which has returned for something like it's 7th year.
We met up at Sarn (Junc 36 on the M4) and were soon rocking up at The Knap at about 8.30am, it was decidedly overcast and the light was not great but on the plus side we found the gull straight away in flight over the beach.
We were soon joined by Steve Hinton and scattered some bread and although reluctant at first the gull eventually came down to feed.......

The bird was quite mobile and we followed it down to the opposite end of the beach where it perched on the rocks for a short while allowing us both to get some shots.....

Just as we were about to leave for Cosmeston we bumped into Paul Denning and the light started to improve as the bird flew over us......

The light had vastly improved by the time we got to Cosmeston, we had hoped that the Lesser Scaup would be close in by the cafe boardwalk but unfortunately it was the other side of the East Lake.
We walked around and got reasonably close to the bird which was with a group of Tufties but from our position we were fighting the light and the glare off the water, still we managed some shots which was better than nothing.........
Having got our two target birds quite easily we had plenty of time left in the day and so decided to head for Gloucester in the hope of connecting with the two male Penduline Tits which are currently favouring Horsebere Pool opposite the Premier Inn on the A417.
I had only seen Penduline Tit once in the UK at Slapton Ley in Devon several years ago and Peter also just once at Newport Wetlands which I annoyingly "dipped on" a couple of years back.
We got to Gloucester by 12.30pm but the two birds had disappeared across the dual carriageway to a thicket that they apparently frequent and so we played the waiting game during which time the light deteriorated and we encountered some hail and rain.
After about an hour though the weather improved and the sun came out and the birds returned to feed in some sallows between the road and the pool, we couldn't believe our luck as the birds showed quite well at times although it was difficult not to get a twig in the way of a shot........
The light if anything was too harsh, you just can't please us "toggers" and I "clipped a few highlights" and lost some pixels although I'm not complaining, the birds then flew to the pool and fed on their staple diet of reedmace.........

The birds fed for about ten minutes and then flew back into the sallows before again disappearing over the dual carriageway and out of sight......
We decided to call it a day both agreeing that we were unlikely to get any better opportunities and also agreed to call in at Aust Warth on our way home in the hope of a Short-eared Owl, it hasn't been a good winter for them at Aust ( I think that they are all on the Welsh side of the Bristol Channel !!) and after about 20 minutes of seeing nothing other than a Kestrel we headed over the bridge for home.
What a cracking day out, all target birds seen well and for once a mainly sunny and dry day just for a change, happy days.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"Get on your perch"..........

Wasn't to sure what to do today and thought about another go for the Snow Buntings on Gower or one of the local Great Grey Shrikes but given that it was another grey, drab day I thought I'd have a go at getting a perched up shot of one of the Short-eared Owls at Rumney Great Wharf, Cardiff.
I haven't been to Forest Farm for almost a year since when the Little Bunting was in residence and as I had plenty of time I thought I'd call in and get myself a few Kingfisher snaps, the hide was reasonably quiet and the male Kingfisher duly obliged.....

I only stayed at Forest Farm for half an hour or so and pushed on to RGW bumping into Geraint Parry and his friend who was just leaving, there were already three Shorties out hunting as I crossed over the reen from the road and I set myself up in the first field where I had seen on two previous occasions one of the birds perch up on a post.
I considered a position as near the post as some cover would allow but decided against it and moved further down the field to get a wider field of view and set up my camo netting, low and behold within 10 minutes a the bird hunting the field landed on the post, I managed some shots that I was reasonably pleased with given the distance, but sod's law had intervened and if I had set myself up in the first position I had thought of I would absolutely have "nailed the shot"..........
Didn't quite get the shot that I wanted and got beaten by the poor light, still it gives me an excuse to have another go although it will have to be a day when the light is a lot better.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Snow Buntings : Whiteford, Gower

It's been a few years since I've visited Whiteford Point and I certainly haven't since the sea wall has been breached and the new marsh created.
Three Snow Buntings were found a couple of weeks ago feeding along the strand line of the beach and ones and twos have been reported sporadically since.
Two were seen yesterday, a male and a female, by Dan and his RSPB colleagues which was good news as myself and fellow "togger" Peter Morgan had decided to visit today hoping to refind the birds and get some photos.

We arrived at 8.30am and skirting the pinewood made our way across to the top of the beach and then walked the strand line towards the point scanning as we made our way.
I had spoken with Dan on Saturday evening about the birds' location and low and behold we found a single female bird at the exact grid ref location where Dan had seen the two yesterday, Peter took a few "record" shots but before I could get my camera out of it's bag the bird flew about 200m back to where we had walked from.
We decided to push on to the hide as it had started to drizzle and agreed that we would try again for the bird on our return walk and cutting across firstly through the pines and then the marsh we soon arrived at the hide.
It was my first visit to the new hide and it certainly is a vast improvement on it's predecessor, we stayed for an hour or so and picked up two Great Northern Divers as well as the regular Brent Geese, Shellducks, Pintails and Eiders.
Waders seen included Common Redshanks, Knot, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Curlew.
Unfortunately nobody could find any of the Slavonian Grebes seen the previous day.
Martin Bevan, Martin Bell, Phil Hill and Mike Hogan turned up as did the GBC field trip group led by Alan Rosney.
We teamed up with the lads to walk back along the beach as they had not found a Snow Bunting on the walk out and at almost where the path cuts back across the dunes to the reserve entrance "Hawkeye" Bevan spotted a male and female feeding together on the edge of the dunes.
Everybody's cameras clicked into action and I managed to get some reasonable images given the grey, overcast conditions and awful light.

We filled our boots until the birds decided to fly and they flew a few hundred metres back along the beach towards the GBC group who were behind us and a quick phone call to Alan alerted them to the fact and they soon got on to the birds, happy days all round !!
Everyone decided to finish the day with raptor roost at Llanrhidian and we picked up three Great White Egrets and one "ringtail" Hen Haarrier before the cold and the light got the better of us and we headed for home.
A good day out in great company thoroughly enjoyed by both of us.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Glossy Ibis : Ferryside

Although I've seen several in the UK and a few in Glamorgan I couldn't resist the temptation of a trip down to Ferryside this morning in an attempt to get some images of the Glossy Ibis which has been feeding in company with Rooks on the waterlogged fields of the local rugby club.
Apparently according to a villager it's been there for a week.
I arrived at about 9.20am and a quick scan of the field confirmed that the bird was still there and I quickly set about getting some photos, although dry upon arrival it was very grey and overcast, consequently the light was poor and I had to crank up the ISO a little.
Still I did manage a few images that given the conditions I was quite pleased with......

After about 20 minutes the heavens opened and I had to beat a hasty retreat to the Jeep where I stayed for 10 minutes as a heavy shower passed over during which Gary Harper the Carmarthenshire County Recorder turned up.
After the rain had passed we chatted and it was nice to put a face to a name that I'm familiar with from the Carmarthen Bird Club website.
We set off together along the path bordering the fields and I managed a few more images whilst Gary "phone-scoped" some good photos........

As the weather stayed dry we both advantage of the bird's active feeding and then decided to move on with me heading for Kenfig NNR hoping for views of a Bittern, that turned out to be a complete waste of time and the least said about it the better

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Well, on a day like today it would be a shame not to...........

Myself and fellow "owler" a certain Mr Richard G Smith paid another visit to RGW east of Cardiff today in the best weather of the Christmas holiday and we were not disappointed with the display that the Shorties put on for us !!
We picked the right end of the hunting field and both came away with some images that we were really pleased with...............

Nice to chat with Rob Mitchell, Ray King, Jeff Lack and Bob Hopkins as we were packing our gear away and who had also taken up different vantage points around the field, hope they had the same luck as ourselves.