Garth Peacock
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Sucesses and failures in equal measure

Wednesday 13th December 2017

A morning of common birds

Sunday 26th November 2017

Wicken Fen Cambridgeshire

Tuesday 21st November 2017

The past ten days.

Thursday 16th November 2017

Birdguides Photo of the Week

Wednesday 8th November 2017

A week in pictures

Friday 3rd November 2017

Nothing exciting

Tuesday 17th October 2017

An update from the last few weeks

Wednesday 4th October 2017

Iceland - Day 11 - Thursday 15th June 2017

Tuesday 26th September 2017

Iceland - Day 10 - Wednesday 14th June 2017

Monday 25th September 2017

Iceland - Day 9 - Tuesday 13th June 2017

Monday 18th September 2017

Iceland - Day 8 - Monday 12th June 2017

Thursday 14th September 2017

Iceland - Day 7 - Sunday 11th June 2017

Monday 4th September 2017

Iceland - Day 6 - Saturday 10th June 2017

Saturday 2nd September 2017

A quick visit to Norfolk

Saturday 19th August 2017

Iceland - Day 5 - Friday 9th June 2017

Tuesday 1st August 2017

It's the start of the wader season

Friday 28th July 2017

Back to Norfolk

Friday 14th July 2017

View Blog Archive >>
Wednesday 13th December 2017

Sucesses and failures in equal measure

The last couple of weeks have seen highs and lows for me. It all began on Tuesday 28th November with a visit to Santon Downham in north Suffolk. A flock of Parrot Crossbills were feeding in the area and I had never photographed them before.

They are very similar to Common Crossbills but slightly larger and with much deeper bills. They breed in northern Europe in pine forests and only occasionally migrate to the UK during winter.

There were loads of birders around so it was easy to find them but they never came close so only distant shots were possible but at least it was a new species for me. The males are quite reddish in colour with the females a pale green.

So that was that - a partial success.

After that, I had two trips out - to North Norfolk and to Fen Drayton Lakes with all images being deleted so two failures - well that is wildlife photography for you.

Finally, I revisited Santon Downham on Friday 8th December for another go at the Parrot Crossbills. This time we changed tack and went to another car park with puddles. All Crossbills feed on the seeds of pine cones so must drink regularly so the thought was that they would come to drink in the puddles.

Arriving, there were several people already there and they confirmed that about 10 had been to drink about 10 minutes before but there was a larger flock around and they arrived shortly after we had parked allowing decent shots of both males

and females

After they had left, we decided to wait for another session and this was where the trouble started. The flock arrived in nearby trees, but so did loads of birders/photographers that really had no idea of what was going on - walking in the puddles they wanted to drink in, hanging around without thought for anyone else except themselves and certainly no consideration for the birds. Absolutely disgusting behaviour by both birders and photographers so that the whole session was a complete waste of time as the birds did not come down to drink in these puddles.

After that, we made our way to the picnic area to park and have lunch. It is close to the River Little Ouse where Otters had been reported. We soon found a lone Otter, probably a male, near the far bank

that decided to fish in front of us.

So, overall, a decent successful day to make up for the previous failures.

 

Sunday 26th November 2017

A morning of common birds

Last week was a strange week. I was busy on sunny days and nothing to do when the weather was not conducive for photography, except for Friday - sunny and calm - but with nothing out of area to make a trip worthwhile, I decided to revisit Wicken Fen to see if I could improve my stock of photos of common wildfowl.

Sometimes, we overlook the enjoyment of trying for better of shots of everyday subjects.

The previous Friday, Charlies Hide produced some encouraging results so I returned there for another session, hoping to fill in some gaps from last week.

Although very slow this time, a drake Gadwall eventually made an appearance

a drake Shoveler also paddled into the frame.

Even Mallard were worth a shot - much underrated because of there commonality - but looking very striking in the sunlight.

Finally, a drake Teal posed.

with nothin else of note, after lunc, I moved acreoos the lode to Burwell Fen to see if any Owls were in evidence - unfortunately no - but a male Kestrel was a substitute.

Nothing really exciting, but an enjoyable day never-the-less.

A few more imaged in the Recent Additions section

Tuesday 21st November 2017

Wicken Fen Cambridgeshire

Life is full of surprises.

Last Friday, the weather was great for photography - calm and still, cold with wall to wall sunshine for most of the morning at least. But where to go.

I spoke with a friend and neither of us could get excited about anything out of area so we decided to meet in Charlies Hide at Wicken Fen, overlooking Bakers Fen. Not a location that has produced much for me before but, there again, I haven't been there recently either.

Quiet to begin with except for some distant wildfowl and screeching Water Rail in the reeds close by. Then a Water Rail made a rapid crossing in front of the hide, too quickly for either of us but a second one followed shortly after and rather more slowly. Never-the-less, the quality of the resulting photos was regretfully poor - operator error!!!

After that, the wildfowl decided to feed in front of the hide with a very attractive backdrop of reflected reeds that glowed in the sunlight. First Gadwall made their way in

then Teal

Then a Kingfisher made a fleeting visit.

A Redshank decided to fly in and land on the water like a duck.

A female Teal flew in

with Wigeon being the last to arrive.

with a drake leaving shortly afterwards.

Finally a Wren appeared in the reeds close to the hide.

Later, another visitor to the hide told us that there were two Bar-headed Geese and a Ross's Goose with a flock of Greylag Geese elsewhere on the reserve so after lunch we found them although distant and feeding among some rushes making it difficult to get any photo of note. Finally a brief appearance that I am only including in this blog as I have never photographed a Bar-headed Goose before.

They are a central asian species known for migrating southwards over the Himalayan mountains. How they got here is a mystery but escapees from a wildfowl collection is the most likely tale.

After that, we went to Burwell Fen but no Owls of any variety were evident. Still, a productive morning - I shall visit again when we get some sunshine.

More images in the Recent Additions section of this website.

Thursday 16th November 2017

The past ten days.

To sum up, the past ten days have been hard work to find anything of real interest but that seems to be 'par for the course' from others I have spoken to. Being able to organise a trip out at this time of year to coincide with decent light is always a problem.

6th November - a visit to Woodwalton Fen - only common birds and everything distant - not really worth reporting on.

10th November - an afternoon visit to Burwell Fen where a friend had recently photographed a hunting Barn Owl late afternoon. All that I saw was a pair of hunting Kestrels, one of which was close enough to get a photo in the late sunlight.

13th November - tried the west Norfolk coast again. As many of you know, first call for me is Thornham harbour where a flock of over-wintering Twite had turned up - well not for me as they stayed in the middle of the salt marsh, too distant!!!

Next to Brancaster Staithe harbour before high tide - a close Herring Gull was just worth firing the camera up for

with the usual Turnstone being co-operative.

Then on to Titchwell RSPB. Last time I was there, the water level on the freshmarsh was too low - this time much too high. Seems they just cannot get it right.

On the salt water marsh, I caught a Little Grebe having a flyby - rather unusual as they normally dive when a human appears

and then to the beach where I arrived about an hour before high tide. The suprise was hundreds of assorted gulls, mainly Herring Gulls feeding in the surf, quite a spectacle that is difficult to do justice to without video.

There were also over a hundred of my favourite photographic subject, Sanderling, buzzing up and down the tide line, running like Olympic sprinters

suddenly stopping to feed

and also flying up and down the beach.

I have loads of photos of this species but just could not resist taking more.

Further up the beach, a flock of preening Dunlin allowed a close approach

With the light fading, I left the beach and took a few shots of a Black-tailed Godwit in the evening light.

.

And then the suprise of the day, just before the car park, perched on the back of a bench was a Jay. Very dark (ISO 3600 to those interested) and it stayed for a couple of minutes or so allowing some shots - very unusual as they are normally very flighty.

So, to sum up, weather good for photography but a real shortage of interesting subjects. Let's hope it improves.

Wednesday 8th November 2017

Birdguides Photo of the Week

Birdguides is one of the main national bird news organisations in the UK. As well as bird news, they have a facility to upload bird photos for members to see. Just lately, I have submitted few photos but decided to upload this image, due to it's rarity value.

This is leucistic, not albino and I had never seen one, or heard of one for that matter so it was very unusual. It was taken at Lakenheath Fen RSPB Suffolk.

It received a few nice comments but I was totally surprised to find that it had been picked out as Photo of the Week from several hundred other submissions. An excellent start to the day.

It makes up for all the days of turning out with very little to show for the effort.