Garth Peacock
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That's the end of 2019 for me.

Friday 20th December 2019

Disaster strikes

Monday 2nd December 2019

It's still very hard work

Saturday 9th November 2019

A quiet month overall

Saturday 2nd November 2019

Week ending 11th October 2019

Friday 11th October 2019

A quiet week

Friday 4th October 2019

A week of mixed fortunes

Tuesday 1st October 2019

The final catch-up

Tuesday 10th September 2019

Post Romania

Wednesday 4th September 2019

Romania Day 7 - 14th June 2019

Saturday 17th August 2019

Romania Day 6 - 13th June 2019

Friday 16th August 2019

Romania Day 5 - 12th June 2019

Wednesday 24th July 2019

Romania Day 4 - 11th June 2019

Thursday 18th July 2019

Romania Day 3 - 10th June 2019

Tuesday 9th July 2019

Romania Day 2 - 9th June 2019

Monday 24th June 2019

Romania Day1 - 8th June 2019

Friday 21st June 2019

Great Grey Shrike and others

Thursday 6th June 2019

View Blog Archive >>
Monday 13th January 2020

West Norfolk again to start the new year off

Last Friday, 10th, was my first time out with the camera this year and, in fact, my first for three weeks. A busy Christmas abroad to stay with family, and also around new year staying with family, coupled with adverse weather so I was rather keen to take advantage of the sunny day forecast. Except it wasn't until lunchtime - such is life.

The first effort was to a rather remote part of west Norfolk, Walpole St.Peter, where a rare Lesser White-fronted Goose had been reported. Apparently, it was in a large flock of Pink-footed Geese but they were too distant for photgraphy and even birders with scopes had not seen it.

Next, off to Sedgefield, near Heacham, where a strange Yellow Wagtail was seen. It was reported as an Alaskan Yellow Wagtail but how these people see the difference in the winter plumage of these sub-species is beyond me. Anyway, it showed for a short time but the gloomy weather made photgraphy difficult so only a record shot was possible.

After visits to a couple of the harbours along the Norfolk coast, with nothing of note, I called in to the RSPB  reserve at Titchwell where a Woodcock had been showing. I have never photographed a Woodcock. They tend to be night feeders and roost in damp woodland with their plumage giving such excellent camouflage that it is rarely possible to see them.

This one was on show but deep in scrub. The sun was now shining so deep shade made matters worse but a few attempts resulted in one record shot.

Two new species for the day but record shots only so mixed fortunes.

Friday 20th December 2019

That's the end of 2019 for me.

Poor weather, family commitments and little of interest all conspired for a disappointing end to the year. Not to mention the work we are having done on the house at present.

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In the meantime, I have been spending time on my project - to sort out the photos on this blog and get rid of those that are not up to standard. So far, I have deleted nearly 1000 and I am only half way through. I am also taking the opportunity to re-edit the remaining ones so they present better on this blog so it is a big time-consuming project.

But there was a chink of light last Wednesday 18th December. Sunny morning so I decided to visit Stirtloe, near Huntingdon where a Siberian Chiffchaff was found a few days before. With help from a friend, I found the area it was frequenting and waited.

I tested my camera settings on a Goldcrest.

and got excited to photograph a Chiffchaff

but then saw that is what it was - a Chiffchaff - but the Siberian Chiffchaff soon made an appearance and showed well.

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and even sat on a branch in front of me and preened for a while.

A result as, despite at least a couple of other failed previous attempts, this was my first photos of one.

I then moved on to nearby Grafham Water but the only real opportunity was a Rook on the grass. Common enough but it is so east to overlook good photo opportunities if common species.

The weather was getting cloudy so I went home early afternoon, well pleased with my short trip out.

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So to all readers of this blog, a very Merry Christmas and good health and fortune for 2020. See you next year.

Monday 2nd December 2019

Disaster strikes

A catalogue of bad luck and a disaster in the past three weeks have led to no activity to speak of.

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The first week after my last blog was very poor weather - dull, dreary and wet with very little wildlife of interest. There is little point in wasting time in the field to take photos that are inferior to the ones I already have so I did not bother until the following week.

First was a walk around my local RSPB reserve at Fen Drayton Lakes for a few hours on Monday 18th November. It was sunny so I went for the excercise so I only took my 100-400 walk-about lens. I expected very little and got nothing.

The next day, I went to Wicken and Burwell Fen. This is where disaster struck as my camera etc. fell off the shelf in the hide. I knew that the converter was knackered but everything else seemed OK but there was still nothing to photograph and no Short-eared Owls on Burwell Fen either.

I decided to go out on the Friday but this is where my camera packed up completely so off to the Canon repair centre at Elstree. I took it in on Tuesday morning, got a text the same day to say that spare parts were awaited and then another text at the end of the following day to confirm that all was completed and ready for collection. That is service so I collected it all on Thurday morning and returned home £500 lighter. Ouch!!!

So last Friday, I went to Grafham Water to test it out. First on the dam where a Pied Wagtail was feeding.

A Common Sandpiper was around but far too flighty to get a photo. Next to the hide off Mander  for lunch and to see what was around. The usual Cormorants were drying off on the fence.

Three Common Gulls were also perched on the fence.

and finally, a pair of Goldeneye's paddled in front of the hide.

With nothing else around, I went home to check on the computer that all was well with my gear which I think it is.

 

Saturday 9th November 2019

It's still very hard work

This should be the time when the winter migrants are appearing in numbers to keep up the interest levels. Whether it is due to global warming or just unusually warmer weather on the continent I would not like to say but the expected flood of winter migrants is just a trickle.

https://www.reefwatches.com/

Due to family trips and poor weather, I have not been out for 10 days so, in desperation, with decent weather last Monday, on 4th November, with nothing else of real interest, I went up the road for a couple of hours or so to the WWF reserve at Welney. The last time I visited, it was almost dry but this time, in front of the observatory, it was almost wall to wall water with only a couple of Whooper Swans. They were all feeding on Lady Fen due to the high water levels in the washes.

When there is only the usual species to see, I try to achieve something different with my photos, or, at least, rather better than the ones in my catalogue - not always successfully.

A close Whooper Swan.

The usual male and female Pochard.

And the only surprise, a Wigeon in front of the observatory hides.

Nothing at all from the other hides - not an inspiring trip.

So the same problem arose for Wednesday which I had planned for a trip with a friend. Where to go.

We decided to go to Barnwell Country Park in Northamptonshire which we had not visited for many months. If you take your own feeder food, it is possible to attract birds in front of one of the hides. We spent some time setting up the perches from old logs that were available and had some success with the common species. Blue Tit

Great tit

Nuthatch

and Marsh Tit.

For a couple of hours we had the hide to ourselves until a couple came in and told us that three Otters were showing in front of the other hide - quick exit!!!

After a while, one Otter showed distantly but we had fun trying to get good shots of the resident Bank Voles popping out from a pile of logs to grab the food others had placed there.

and a Wren put in a brief appearance.

It became cloudy so, with nothing else around, we made our way home.

Let's hope that the cooler weather brings in something of real interest.

Saturday 2nd November 2019

A quiet month overall

Not much going on as far as photography was concerned during October. Family visits and breaks away, interspersed with poor weather meant that opportunities were few and far between.

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My last blog was 11th October and, since then, I have had just the one trip out, on 22nd, and, again, being away meant that I did not have the opportunity to sort the photos out. However, now completed successfully but with nothing to set the world alight, so to speak.

The trip was a speculative one to Norfolk, in the absence of anything in particular to go for. First visit, as usual, was Thornham harbour, where a small flock of Twite had arrived from their breeding grounds for the winter, posing nicely on the top of the old posts.

There were few Knot in the harbour but no photos worth keeping because there was a couple at the next call, Burnham Overy Staithe, that showed well.

Titchwell RSPB was the next call. It rarely fails to disappoint, as it managed this time again but a small flock of Sanderlings on the beach provided entertainment. They run so quickly it is always great fun trying to catch them on mid-stride.

Even time for a quick doze,

followed by a preen.

Now late afternoon so another visit to Thornham harbour on the way home. The Knot were now bathing and preening.

but, again  with nothing else of interest, it was time to head home.