Champions of the Flyway!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hammer of the Gods

This morning, belting it out in a heavy frost - what a beauty.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Deer Prudence

A very pleasant jolly into the wilds of East Yorkshire a few days ago (specifically Tophill Low and Watton Ings) was enjoyable on plenty of levels, not least the seemingly unavoidable presence of Roe Deer; this pair were ultimately brave enough to navigate the thin ice, after a little prudent hesitation and testing, at least.....

Meanwhile, the one below didn't seem remotely flustered by our presence.....

.... while this stag was taking no chances.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Unnatural History of London

Recently re-aired on the Beeb and so temporarily available on the iPlayer now, this episode of the long-running natural history series is worth watching if only to enjoy some lovely shots of my then patch, Stoke Newington Reservoirs in Hackney. My Warholian fifteen starts around 16.00....

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Striking Goldeneye

A few shots of a very confiding and entertaining female Goldeneye, unusually on the small freshwater lake of East Lea (and right in front of the hide) on the 18th - a day when rumblings of early spring movement began, including increased wildfowl numbers generally and a Red-necked Grebe in the bay.

It's been relatively quiet locally of late, although I've managed a couple of trips beyond the recording area in the last couple of days - more to follow.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend waders

Well, what a lovely weekend that was. No real birding as such, but that was the intention; the sun shone for the first time in years, the birds sang, our dear friends Eike and Joy came to stay, and we got to show them exactly why we're here.

Which included a deserted Brigg at sunset, and always bewitching Purple Sandpipers - as well as Dunlins, Sanderlings, Knot, Redshanks, Turnstones and Oystercatchers - around our feet as the tide gently rolled in.

The high tide flock on the Country Park today also contained several Knot, including this bird successfully evading a Black-headed Gull trying to steal a hard-earned earthworm.....

.... nice work.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Slavonian Grebe

Not an easy bird to catch up with in any circumstances (let alone on a small freshwater lake by a housing estate), this very lovely Slavonian Grebe was a welcome surprise locally, attracting a fair few admirers to the Dams. Having turned up while I was in Flamborough yesterday, it seemed unlikely to stick around and I was resigned to missing it; but as it turned out, it was good enough to stay, and in the wintry gloom of early morning, was soon acting like it owned the place.

This included provoking minor scrapes with both Moorhen and Mallard, both of which it won (see below), in between bouts of fishing and (especially) snoozing. Some would say that's life in a nutshell around these parts, but that's another story; with the Long-tailed Duck last month (and what a beauty that was), it's good to see the Dams getting its mojo back recently, and bodes well for the spring....

Monday, February 11, 2013

Village Waxwing

A day in Flamborough visiting the folks, and a little ray of pink sunshine as a surprise bonus. We were just approaching my mom's place on Beech Avenue when a muted but unmistakable trilling broke the conversation; looking up, there it was, a vision of loveliness shakily balancing on an overhead cable for a few seconds before cracking on into the brisk easterly.

While it was brief and against the light, I was lucky to bump into one with the camera close by, and happily, it was my first of the year (after the first pulse of invasion last autumn, they've been nigh on impossible to find locally). Beautiful.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Shag Who Spied Me

With apologies for a lack of local updates of late; excuses include crappy weather, no birds, and a week-long cold, which conversely helped focus attentions elsewhere - i.e., towards writing sections for the Yorkshire Bird Report, embellishing and updating my wordpress site, making progress on completing the online avifauna for my beloved ex-patch, and even a little gainful employment nailed from under the blanket (gods bless The Wildlife Trusts.) Pretty much the only time I've left the house was to play a few songs at the local folk club a couple of evenings back, including this one, and a snotty version of Any Way That You Want Me (for the late Mr R. Presley). But there were still a few ignored images lurking on the memory card from last week.....

.... including these Shags, caught in the act (so to speak) off the Brigg; while the conditions weren't great, it was interesting watching and capturing their diving technique - a clear leap and then head-first into the deep.

Unlike this Cormorant nearby, which in contrast lacked any noticeable leap, instead sliding gracefully under the water.

I confess I've seen enough Cormorants to last me many lifetimes (that's what London reservoirs do to you) and even a mention of the word provokes a shudder (after collating and writing the aforementioned YBR sections), but this bird was fascinating to watch hunting at very close quarters in the bay. Other bits and pieces included one of a handful of Red-throated Divers out in the bay.....

and a Snow Bunting on the cliff-top. Unbeatable, really.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Words and Pictures

Which amply describes not only this very photo-journal, but also the various pieces of new content I've added to wordpress site, which is where all my 'proper' writing and projects are housed. The Articles page in particular has plenty of new additions, with more to follow soon. Enjoy.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Mighty Wind

With a howling west-south-westerly battering the land and sea on 30th, Amity and I decided to throw caution to it, enjoying a wet n' wild session out on the Brigg without another soul around. Ostensibly because we could, but also because the conditions looked good for encouraging a storm-blown scarcity towards the shore, most likely (or hopefully) a Grey Phalarope.

No joy sadly, but no matter, a uniquely special walk, as they all are here. So when my phone beeped early the following morning (yesterday) just as we were waking up, I had a good idea what the words on the screen might read......

There followed a quick rationalising session, with the following pro's and con's in the mix: It was early, and the bed was still warm. The tide was high, meaning my preferred route onto the Brigg - along the beach - was underwater. The only alternative would be an exposed, up-hill cycle ride onto Carr Naze, and then a scramble down an increasingly dangerous eroded clay slope, made even more foolish by the wind and the especially slippery surface (due to recent heavy rains). Even then, a scramble along the exposed Brigg, being royally sprayed by the crashing waves en route, may well be entirely in vain.

On the other hand, I had a couple of hours to kill, Grey Phalaropes are (while not strictly rare) absolute beauties, and as an extra nudge, I've been unwittingly cajoled into year-listing (more on this shocking turn of events soon). But more than anything, one of the main reasons I'm here is to seize these opportunities while I'm lucky enough to do so, and after reminding myself of that hard-won mantra, the decision was made.

After breakfast and coffee, that is. Upholding my resolution of injecting a little more zen (and a little less stress) into my local birding (see here), I was at the end of the Brigg perhaps 45 minutes later (as opposed to, say, 25 if I'd have truly rushed), and despite being flighty and sorely tested by the extraordinary conditions, there it was.