Garth Peacock
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It's not getting any easier

Saturday 6th October 2018

A stormy week

Sunday 23rd September 2018

It's all still very hard work

Sunday 16th September 2018

Bits and bobs over the last 10 days

Sunday 9th September 2018

Another update

Monday 27th August 2018

About time for an update.

Friday 10th August 2018

Bitterns and a Hobby

Tuesday 17th July 2018

The Danube Delta - a busy final day

Saturday 14th July 2018

The Danube Delta - Day 5

Wednesday 11th July 2018

The Danube Delta - Day 4

Thursday 5th July 2018

The Danube Delta - Day 3

Wednesday 27th June 2018

The Danube Delta - Day 2

Friday 15th June 2018

The first afternoon

Tuesday 5th June 2018

A long journey to......

Sunday 3rd June 2018

Week ending 11th May 2018

Thursday 17th May 2018

The last few days - local trips.

Monday 7th May 2018

Local trips.

Tuesday 24th April 2018

Scotland - the last three days

Wednesday 18th April 2018

View Blog Archive >>
Saturday 6th October 2018

It's not getting any easier

The last couple of weeks were interspersed by an extended weekend in Munich visiting family and that reduced my time in the field to just a couple of trips. Just before we left, I tried to take advantage of the cracking weather on Tusday 25th September and spent the afternoon at Titchwell RSPB.

It is possible to get some great photos at Titchwell late afternoon with the sun out, light or no wind and the water level just right. Rather more breezy than I would have liked but two out of three isn't bad.

First visit was the track to the beach. A couple of Juvenile Spoonbills on Thornham Marsh were interesting

but I was really disappointed that there was a heat haze so nearly all of my shots were destined for the trash can.

On the beach, with the tide out, I found my first Knot of the winter.

but the only other bird of interest was a bathing Reshank - a common bird but at least it was doing something!!!

Back in the hide, there were very few birds close enough to photograph - Teal but I have load of photos of them - and Ruff - also loads of photos of them too. So I concentrated on finding Ruff flying around.

and bathing.

Not much to show from the trip.

After the weekend, on Wednesday 3rd October, a friend and I travelled to Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire as some interesting stuff had been reported. Shortly after leaving, it started to rain (definitely not forecast) and that continued for most of the morning.

Arriving at the site, it quickly became apparent that there was only one scrape with water in it, the areas around the main two hides being bone dry.

Taking the car to the smaller car park near the sea wall, we noticed a Snipe feeding in a channel. Dull cloudy conditions and drizzle are not really conducive to good photos but Snipe are usually difficult to get close to out in the open so worth a crack.

500 lens, 2x converter, ISO 3200. That will mean something to those that are familiar with DSLR cameras so I was not expecting anything exciting but was very pleased with the result. Just shows that it always worth a punt.

With nothing else around, we made our way home, calling in at Kings Dyke reserve at Whittlesey but nothing of interest in the menu.

Good weather forecast for next week - hope things improve.

Sunday 23rd September 2018

A stormy week

Last week suffered from the results of Hurricane Ali with strong south-westerly winds during the last half of the week. I decided to stay at home but the weather on Thursday looked much better than forecast so after a quick phone call to check it was still there, I went to the Wildlife Trust reserve at Welney to try to see the juvenile Pallid Harrier that had been there for a few days.

I was assured that it regularly flew past the Observatory in the afternoon and a fellow photographer showed me some excellent photos to prove it - except that it didn't and was not seen all afternoon. Call it Sods Law.

All I managed of any interest was a Greylag Goose taking off

and a Mute Swan landing, both in the strongish breeze.

So I resolved to go back the next day, Friday, to see if I could do any better, arriving just after opening time. My friend and I spent some time in the observatory with the only highlight being a small family of three Common Cranes that landed a distance away but still worth a punt with the camera and the 2x converter, despite the strong wind.

Surprisingly, there was a pair of Whooper Swans, very early for these winter migrants, but we were informed that this pair were residents and unable to fly. This proved to be the case, despite strenuous efforts on their part with no success.

We then moved to another hide from where our target bird has been seen earlier, before the reserve had officially opened. It was very busy with other birders/ photographers with very little happening for a while except for a close flypast by a male Marsh Harrier.

A family of Mute Swans kept my interest for a time. I was hoping for a shot with the adult and all four juveniles with their heads up but they did not play ball.

Then our target was spotted but it quartered the grassland very low to keep out of the wind and kept it's distance, making it very difficult to get anything other than record shots.

Pallid Harriers nest in far Eastern Europe and migrate south into the Middle East so this juvenile female was way off it's normal migratory route.

Still, apart from only seeing a male some some years ago that was several hundred yards away, this was my first proper sighting so worth the trip. A very beautiful bird.

It was last seen heading towards the observatory, so we quickly headed there but it had not been seen and we did not see it again.

All that attracted me to excercise my trigger finger was a drake Mallard that was bathing and ended with a colourful wingflap in the one odd moment of sunlight.

We stayed until closing time.

 

Sunday 16th September 2018

It's all still very hard work

Last week was one of mixed fortunes but still very hard work and lots of luck needed to achieve anything to post on this website.

On Monday 10th September, I visited Lackford Lakes Suffolk hoping for some decent shots of Green Sandpiper and Kingfisher. There was no water at all where the Green Sandpipers usually feed and the Kingfisher refused to play ball so no photos at all for the day.

On Wednesday 12th, I decided to make a quick visit to Fen Drayton Lakes. A week ago, I spent a very enjoyable hour or so photographing House Sparrows busily feeding on a blackberry bush. They were still there so I could not resist another session.

Nearby, I noticed a Yellowhammer sitting on a branch minding it's own business. It allowed me a close approach in the car. and that was it.

The next day, I travelled south east to Landguard Suffolk as a rarish bird, a Wryneck was on show. Wryneck is a member of the woodpecker family and only visits the UK on migration. It is a ground feeder with ants in particular on the menu.

Now I do not go on twitches - too many people and an inability to get close to the subject to get decent images. The bird - in fact there were two - had been there for nearly a week so I thought it would be quiet with the initial rush over. No such luck. A semi-circle of birders and photographers with the bird showing occasionally and too distant for anything to shout about.

The same story with another couple of species - a Whinchat and a Lesser Whitethroat

However, there was another migrant, a Wheatear, that proved to be particularly co-operative allowing a very close approach.

So not a particularly good week. As I said at the top of this blog - hard work!!!

 

Sunday 9th September 2018

Bits and bobs over the last 10 days

My last trip for August was to nearby Grafham Water for the fourth time recently to try to photograph one of the adult Yellow-legged Gulls.

I started on the dam early morning where the only bird worth noting was a juvenile Linnet.

Nothing in the harbour or from the first or second hides but on returning through the nature reserve woods, someone pointed out to me a small copse where trees have been cut down. Spending some time there, several Chiffchaffs were fltting about, one particularly scruffy.

A juvenile Willow Warbler made a brief appearance.. A very pleasant and fun hour or so. Another failed attempt to photograph a Yellow-legged Gull.

With nothing about of interest, I made my way home, on the way calling in at Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB. On the access road, I noticed some activity on a blackberry bush - a family of House Sparrows feeding up and being very co-operative.

My next trip was to north Norfolk on Monday 3rd September. Should have known better - bright and sunny, last few days of the school holidays - and packed out with people so my usual haunts were a waste of time. So I went to Titchwell RSPB where I spent the whole afternoon and into the early evening.

On the beach, very little except for the usual Black-headed Gull for a head on shot.

Water levels outside the hide perfect, weather perfect, not too many people, the only downside being a north-east wind coming straight into the hide. I was hoping for flight shots but birds take off and land into the wind so they were always going away from me. However, some nice reflection shots of common birds were available in the calm conditions.

The highlight was a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper with a Ringed Plover showing well

On the way to the car, I could not resist a roosting Wood Pigeon in the half light - ISO5000 for those in the know.

On Friday 7th, I returned to north Norfolk. Fewer people but still very disappointing. Travelling east along the coast road, and calling in to the usual harbours, there was nothing on show. I ended up at Cley Marshes WWT and went to the first hide - nothing close enough for a photo except for some recently arrived Wigeon.

It then started to rain so I made my way back to the car for lunch and with the rain getting heavy, decided to re-trace my steps on the way home. I called in at Morston Quay where the weather eased up a little and a Greenshank appeared in the channel.

Another call into Brancaster Staithe harbour - another Greenshank.

By this time, the weather was improving so I called in at Titchwell RSPB again - almost a total waste of time. Only a few Teal close enough to photograph.

After leaving home at 8.00, I was back home by 5.00. Not the best trip I have ever had!!!!

 

Monday 27th August 2018

Another update

Once again, a longish time since my last update, mainly due to an intervening holiday at Lake Garda in Italy. It was to celebrate an important birthday for my wife and the holiday was a present from our two sons and families, all of whom were there, together with a long standing friend from Zurich who joined us for a couple of days.

A great time was had by all.

Now, apologies over, down to the real business of this blog.

Before the holiday, I tried to relieve some boredom at home with a couple of hours at nearby Fowlmere RSPB, only to get more boredom as there was very little happening. There was a largish flock of Greylag Geese, most of which were asleep except for one that did amuse me by measuring itelf against a depth marker in the mere.

I decided to try something new and see if the combination of the Canon 5D MK4, the 100-400 lens and the 1.4 converter was quick enough for flight shots. It became overcast and nothing was flying but just as I was thinking of leaving, the flock started to wake up and took to flight giving me some opportunities to try it out.

Not bad considering the weather but, overall, not a very exciting visit.

Last Friday, with a friend, I went to the RSPB reserve at Frampton Marsh in south Lincolnshire where a Stilt Sandpiper had been resident for a few days. This species is from North America and a visit to the UK is a rarity. As a result, I had never seen one.

We arrived early at just past 8:00am and quickly found it, amongst other waders but about 200 metres away. This bird is the size of a starling so impossible to photograph at that range so we went to the main hide and was surprised to find very little water due to the recent dry spell and the water had nothing on it at all. This was disappointing.

So we decided to make the long trek to the East hide but most of that was dry too. There were a couple of juvenile Little Ringed Plovers so I took some shots to get at least something for the day.

We then moved back to the main hide, checking out the Stilt Sandpiper on the way - it was still there and still distant. From the main hide, there was a Snipe feeding in what water there was.

After a while, as we were leaving we picked up on the bird news that the main reason for our visit had moved and was being seen from the path to the East hide so back we went. It was much closer, probably half the distance than before but still too distant for decent shots. To make matters more difficult we were facing into the sun, and the wind was rising as the clouds came in. Taking distance shots with a telephoto lens in blustery winds is never easy but we took loads of record shots, hoping that the odd one was worth keeping.

I apologise for the poor quality but at least it is a new species for me. By lunchtime, the weather was closing in so we left to get home early to avoid the holiday traffic.