Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A Retrospective 11th April 2017


Currently immobilised by a badly twisted knee I took the opportunity of trawling through the photos of birds that I have taken over the five or six years since acquiring a digital camera to illustrate this blog.

I should add that I regard myself as a birder that takes photos of birds as a supplement, if you like, to my general all round enjoyment of birds. There are others who view it the other way round and regard themselves as photographers first and foremost and birders very much second. There is of course nothing wrong in that although sometimes I am surprised to find that some possess so little knowledge of bird identification and behaviour. The photo and its composition is the ultimate and achieving their goal often involves manipulation of twigs and branches, the addition of moss as well as other natural embellishments to contrived perches and even attractions to entice birds in, such as peanut butter smeared out of camera shot on the backs of the specially placed perches!

This is not for me although I understand why others take this approach. Rather I prefer to take my pictures ad hoc if you like and hope that some may come out to my satisfaction. While it is nice to get a side on, nicely posed image of whatever bird has taken my interest I get just as much, if not more pleasure from taking images that record birds in poses other than the traditional 'coffee table' ones, where every feather is perfectly outlined and the image has been hugely doctored in photoshop or whatever enhancement programme is available. For me, it is also sometimes nice to make the bird a minor part of the image and show it as part of its natural habitat or environment and then at other times it is just as pleasurable to sit back and look at an image I have taken that records an aspect of a bird's behaviour that is unusual or rarely seen.

As I have intimated it is each to their own and I make no judgement. Everyone now has access to a digital camera and can be a wildlife photographer to  a varying degree. I am by no means a good photographer but use a camera as something that enhances this blog which, itself, really is nothing more than an illustrated diary that I get great pleasure from by looking back through the various posts about holidays, twitches and general birding and reliving the experience.

The following are images that I rather like, mainly taken over the last five or so years, sometimes a bit earlier. They will not be to everyone's taste, certainly not the purist but what the heck....................

Curlew Sandpiper-juvenile
Autumn 2014

Ringed Plover-juvenile
Autumn 2014
These were both at Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire on the same day, when the water level was low and a muddy shoreline was exposed proving very attractive to a number of migrating waders
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Black billed Cuckoo
Spring 2016
This very rare bird from North America arrived on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. I never dreamed I would see one in Britain and it was only by paying for a seat on a very expensive private charter plane that I did, but I will never regret it.
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Black necked Grebe- winter plumage
Autumn 2016
I watched this bird bathing on Farmoor Reservoir but then it swam around with its wings spread for some minutes presumably to dry them. I have never seen this behaviour before but then I do not see Black necked Grebes that often-anywhere!
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Black necked Grebe-summer plumage
Spring 2013
This grebe species occasionally spends a day or two on Farmoor Reservoir in early Spring as it migrates to its breeding grounds.They are often in full breeding plumage and I was very lucky on this particular day as no one else was around and as a consequence this individual came very close to the Causeway at Farmoor
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Bonaparte's Gull- Second calendar year
Spring 2015
A delicate little North American gull that spent a few days at Radipole Lake,Weymouth in Dorset. The lower image shows a comparison with a Black headed Gull which is behind it
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Crested Tit
Winter 2016
A fluke image that I got at RSPB Loch Garten on Speyside, Scotland after waiting over an hour, well away from the photographers with their baited and posed twigs and branches!
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Common Yellowthroat
Autumn 2012
Another rare North American warbler found, as is often the case, in a totally unexpected location, this time near Cardiff in Wales. It was so good I went to see it twice!
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Eastern Black Redstart
Autumn 2011
A subspecies of Black Redstart, very rare and may I say quite beautiful. This bird caused some excitement at Margate in Kent as it was the first to be seen in Britain. It remained for just a few days before moving on.
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Eastern Crowned Warbler
Autumn 2016
This tiny warbler should have been in southern Asia but found itself catching flies in the unlikely surrounds of RSPB Bempton Cliffs  in North Yorkshire. It fed non stop on the day we watched it and was gone the next day and who could blame it.
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Desert Wheatear-male
Autumn 2013
This individual was so tame it hopped over my foot! A typical late autumn vagrant it took up temporary residence on Severn Beach in Avon and was fed mealworms by the delighted visiting birders
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Red Knot-summer plumage
Spring 2016
Another migrating wader species at Farmoor Reservoir and unusual to see such a fully coloured bird
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Garganey-male
Spring 2016
A spring migrant that decided at random to spend a few days at Stratfield Brake near Kidlington, Oxfordshire 
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House Sparrow-female
Winter 2010
Taken from our kitchen window during a period of  severe ice and frost around the Christmas period
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Great Bittern-male
Winter 2016
This individual spent a few days skulking in the reeds of Pinkhill Reserve at the bottom of Farmoor Reservoir. I was lucky and saw it well but others after waiting hours failed to see it at all.
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Great Northern Diver-juvenile
Winter 2015
This diver spent the winter at Farmoor and you could study it closely. Here it is menacing a Coot that had come too close while it was fishing.
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Grey Phalarope
Winter 2015
As usual, ridiculously confiding, it spent a week on a children's tiny paddling pool on the seafront at Hove in East Sussex.
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Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll
Winter 2012
Another very confiding bird feeding on Yellow Horned Poppy seeds at Aldeburgh in Suffolk and that flew between a birder's legs on one occasion.
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Hawfinch-adult male
Spring 2016
The best bird to see in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire in my humble opinion.The males are truly spectacular in breeding plumage, looking like small parrots
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Jack Snipe
Winter 2016
It is unusual to see a Jack Snipe out in the open during the day but birds at Spurn in East Yorkshire seem to specialise in this behaviour.
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Laughing Gull
Winter 2015
We joined the Saturday morning shoppers on the boardwalk at New Brighton on the Wirral, Cheshire to watch this immature North American Gull scooping up the shrimps and bread thrown to it by sundry admirers
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Lapland Bunting
Winter 2009
A ridiculously tame bird frequenting Pagham Harbour in West Sussex that allowed you to virtually walk up to it.
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Little Bunting
Winter 2015
Another confiding bunting but this time at Cardiff in Wales. It was so good I went to see it no less than three times and was never disappointed. Each time I went its plumage had become more colourful
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Little Stint-juvenile
Autumn 2016
Little Stint-juvenile
Autumn 2014
These diminutive waders are incredibly appealing and never disappoint when they turn up like these did on  migration at Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire
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Common Nightingale
Spring 2016
I go every Spring to see the Nightingales that sing at RSPB Pulborough in East Sussex. It is almost a rite of passage for me now and who can resist to be moved by their wonderful song
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Spotted Redshank
Winter 2011
I watched this bird at Thornham Harbour in Norfolk whilst cowering behind a shed in the lee of a freezing cold easterly wind.
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Shore Larks
Winter 2011
Absolutely delightful and always a joy to find this sociable bird feeding on the shingle, this time they were at Cley in Norfolk
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Black Brant-adult (the bird in the centre)
Winter 2011
This North American cousin of 'our' Dark bellied Brent Goose is now virtually annual in Britain.This one was at Holkham in Norfolk.They always look so much smarter than 'our' brent geese.
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Oriental Turtle Dove
Winter 2011
Our very own local 'mega' rarity that spent the winter in a garden in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire and became quite a celebrity.Its story made all the national papers
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Wilson's Warbler-male
Autumn 2015
Only the second of its kind ever to be seen in the UK this tiny North American warbler spent a few days of glorious weather in a garden on the tip of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.
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Cape May Warbler
Autumn 2013
Another hopelessly lost North American warbler, this time on Unst in The Shetland Isles
Like the Wilson's Warbler only the second ever to be seen in Britain.
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Pied Wheatear- first calendar year male
Autumn 2011
A day of constant rain resulted in a very bedraggled vagrant, miles off course at a deserted yacht club near Oldbury on Severn in Avon
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Pink footed Goose
Winter 2005
Tens of thousands of these geese spend the winter in Britain and this bird was seen at Holkham in Norfolk one of their regular wintering haunts
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Pomarine Skua-juvenile
Winter 2015
This bird frequented fields and the seashore at Pilling in Lancashire and was very confiding, so much so that it was seized by a dog but fortunately survived un-harmed to subsequently give much pleasure to me and other birders.
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Razorbills
Summer 2015
A fantastic day out on the Island of Skomer in Wales enabled me to get close to one of my all time favourite birds.The two in the lower image were having a serious fight
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Reed Warbler
Spring 2012
A welcome spring migrant that comes every year to breed in the reeds at Otmoor RSPB in Oxfordshire
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Ring necked Duck-male
Winter 2017
This North American Duck is now regular in Britain and this one was back for a second year at Pitlochry, Perthshire in Scotland
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Rose-coloured Starling-adult
Autumn 2010
My first ever sighting in Britain of this irruptive species from the Middle East. It came at Newhaven in East Sussex where it was eating blackberries
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Ruff-juvenile male
Autumn 2014
Supremely elegant no matter how they contort themselves they are regular autumn migrants to Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire
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Glaucous Gull-juvenile
Winter 2015
A winter visitor to fishing ports in Scotland this one was at Fraserburgh in northeast Scotland
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Siberian Rubythroat-male
Winter 2016
Unbelievably this superb bird spent its winter on an unremarkable housing estate in Holland when it should have been in southeast Asia. I was not complaining and made a day trip with my good friend Badger to see it!
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Snow Buntings
Winter 2014
One of the delights of any winter visit to the North Norfolk coastline. These were at Salthouse in Norfolk
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Squacco Heron-juvenile
Winter 2005
This vagrant from southern Europe frequented a small pond at a public park in Newton Abbott, Devon where it tucked into the goldfish with some relish
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European Swallow
Spring 2013
Grounded by heavy rain, migrant Swallows were forced to hunt flies on foot on the concrete banks of Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire
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Turtle Dove-male
Summer 2016
Rapidly heading for extinction as a breeding bird in Britain, Otmoor RSPB in Oxfordshire is becoming one of the few places left to see them
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Woodlark
Summer 2006
I found, by accident, a crowded nest of this delightful lark containing five youngsters, almost ready to go, near Newbury in Berkshire
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White billed Diver-second calendar year
Winter 2013
The ultimate in divers. Just look at that bill! This one was fishing in Brixham Harbour in Devon
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Puffins
Summer 2015
Well everyone loves Puffins.These were the highlight of a great day out with Terry to the Island of Skomer in Wales.
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