Garth Peacock
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Slim pickings for a month.

Monday 14th January 2019

Last one for 2018

Tuesday 11th December 2018

A week to remember

Monday 3rd December 2018

A couple of trips to norfolk

Friday 16th November 2018

Deer and more Deer

Thursday 15th November 2018

Some activity at last.

Saturday 3rd November 2018

Welney Widlife Trust Norfolk

Monday 22nd October 2018

It's all still very hard work

Wednesday 17th October 2018

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

View Blog Archive >>
Monday 14th January 2019

Slim pickings for a month.

I didn't go out at all during December after my last blog. Visiting family in Munich and the usual preparations for Christmas, together with some very iffy weather conspired together to take birding trips off the agenda. so here I am, a month later to report on - well, not much.

For three of my trips out during January, I either didn't take a photo or trashed the few that I had taken as not being up-to-standard.

I did visit the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Welney. Although in Norfolk, it is just across the border and just a shortish drive for me. A reasonably rare American species of Duck, Ring-necked Duck had been there for a few days and it was a new one for me. Initially, it was not visible so I busied myself with shooting the resident Canada Geese flying around, just to get me eye in - so to speak.

The usual Pochard were everywhere, predominently males as the females tend to over-winter further south in France.

Just a few Whooper Swans were there as they were mainly out in the fields feeding but a juvenile stood out for me.

And to the main reason for my visit. It appeared but never came close so what shots I took were very distant and heavily cropped.

Still, my first ever views and photos of the species.

Today I just needed to get out but did not fancy anything too strenuous so I visited the hide at the RSPB Head Office in Sandy, Bedfordshire. Quite frankly, with one exception, I saw the same species that regularly come to my garden feeders. Very disappointing. The species I would have expected, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, never showed up at all so I relieved my boredom with the Grey Squirrels.

and then a single visit by a Nuthatch.

Well, it made a change from the house!!!

Tuesday 11th December 2018

Last one for 2018

Christmas seems to get earlier and earlier each year - or is it because I am getting older, it just seems like it!!! Anyway, with visiting relatives and preparing for the big event, I doubt that I will manage any more photos until the new year.

I have managed to get out a couple of times over the past week or so with a trip to Norfolk on the 4th. i was hoping for some better photos of the Twite on the old posts at Thornham and probably drinking and bathing in the large puddle in the car park. I parked the car in the prime position to shoot from it but after an hour or so there was no sign of them. I then noticed another photographer that I knew and he went straight to the posts where one appeared almost immediately. Sods law strikes again so I joined him but no further sign until they came to drink just near the car. All I managed was a few distant shots.

Later on, I noticed a Linnet perched on a stalk but into the sun - well backlit is the thing to do these days!!!

After that, contrary to the weather forecast, the clouds came in. Too dark for anything reasonable so I went home early.

Yesterday, I went to one of my localish reserves, Welney to see if the reported White-fronted Geese and Bean Geese were around. Unfortunately they had moved to the RSPB reserve at Ouse Washes where they are usually too distant to photograph so I drew a blank there. With the weather alternating between dark clouds and brightish sunshine, I concentrated on the local Pochard population, mostly male with just the odd female. Haven't photographed a Pochard for a couple of years so about time.

There was the usual group of Greylag Geese. I ignored them until they started to create a racket. A couple were fighting (or probably mating - difficult to know which) with others looking on creating the noise. It resembled a prize fight.

and then the victor decided to announce it's presence.

That's all for 2018. Lets look forward to some action in the new year.

 

Monday 3rd December 2018

A week to remember

Last week was quite astonishing in many ways, not in numbers of species taken but the ease of getting them.

First trip out was to the Cam Washes, quite local to me although, surprisingly, I have never been there. The attraction was a Slavonian Grebe, a winter migrant and relatively rare to Cambridgeshire. The weather was cloudy and dull so far from ideal but the bird was not in the least bothered about people so came quite close. I took some shots in the greyness and then some more when the weather brightened, and then some more.....

Nearly 700 photos later, and all of a bird that I had photographed at length during my trip last year to Iceland, I had some work to do to edit them.

It is interesting to compare these photos of the bird in winter plumage with the same species in summer breeding plumage.

The difference is quite staggering.

To end the week, I ventured out with my friend Neil on Friday 30th November. We had noticed that a bird neither of us had ever photographed before, a Black-throated Diver has been reported on a lake in Essex. This species is stunning in summer plumage but this was winter plumage but beggars can't...you know the rest.

It is also called an Arctic Diver or Loon (American) so this indicates where it spends most of it's time during the summer migrating south during the winter.

Arriving at the lake side, we were informed that the bird was still there but had just disappeared into a small reedbed. We made our way to the south side of the lake (yes, it was a sunny day) and shortly after we had set up, it appeared on the far side from where we were. Not too bad as the lake was not large. We took some shots and the bird dived... to surface right in front of us, too close to focus. It slowly paddled away from us, getting in focus. This shot is uncropped.

It made it's way to the far corner of the lake and, surprisingly for a Diver, pulled itself onto the shore. Divers are built for, well, diving, so the feet are located to the rear of the bird but this makes it very ungainly and slow on land so they avoid it as much as possible, mainly staying on the sea.

It posed superbly

even preening and wing-flapping.

Once again, hundreds of photos later... A delightful bird, made special because it was a first for us both.

More images in the Recent Additions section.

 

Friday 16th November 2018

A couple of trips to norfolk

9th November and I had an early start (for me that is) heading for the Norfolk coast.

As usual, my first call was at Thornham harbour where Twite had been reported. Twite are a small finch and a winter visitor to this part of the country, breeding in the upland areas of northern England and Scotland and there has been a small flock at Thornham harbour every winter for the past few years. They can be very nervous, especially when there are a lot a people around and Thornham has become very popular with walkers, either with or without dogs.

Anyway, there was one person with a camera already there and he said that the flock had been landing on the upturned old posts in the harbour - just hang around - so I did and he was correct.

Mid-morning, I moved on the Holkham beach where Shorelarks had been reported. This species is also a winter visitor to north Norfolk and an area of the beach had been roped off to protect them from the many birders and photographers - except they had been spooked by a Red Kite and flew off before I got there.

As a consolation prize, there was a small flock of Snow Buntings that were not too distant.

I have photogrpahed them many times before, especially during my summer trip to Iceland so I did not spend too long there which was a pity as the rest of the afternoon proved totally fruitless.

I returned to north Norfolk the following Tuesday but there was no sign of the Twite at Thornham. However, the Shorelarks had returned to Holkham although were distant in the middle of the roped off area.

The flock of Snow Buntings was nowhere to be seen.

Returning to the car, I noticed another winter visitor, Pink-footed Geese. There were two feeding close to the road which is unusual as they are normally very cautious and keep their distance..

No sign of the Twite again at Thornham on the way home but I waited there as the sun was setting with a few photogenic clouds on the horizon. Approching dusk, it is normal for thousands of Pink-footed Geese to fly over to roost on the mud flats in The Wash and I had visions of photographing them against the setting sun.

Well, this is unpredictable wildlife and the geese did not show up!!!

 

 

 

 

Thursday 15th November 2018

Deer and more Deer

It has taken me nearly three weeks to edit the 2000 odd photos I took during the day at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire allowing for other trips in the meantime that I will comment on after this.

There are at least three car parks here and we parked at one of the smaller ones on the north/east side, to be closer to the deer. Entering the park, we followed a track up the hill and found one lone young Red Deer stag. Not to miss an opportunity...

We followed the track over the hill to find a marvellous view, but no deer. Asking another visitor coming in the opposite direction, he told us to walk through the wood and there was a small herd of Red Deer - he was correct - a 12 pointer stag with about seven or eight hinds.

A 12 pointer is called a Royal stag, 14 pointer an Imperial, with a 16 pointer being a Monarch, made famous by Sir Edwrad Landseer's iconic paining, The Monarch of the Glen. Well, this is the closest I have been to a full blown adult stag - a very impressive animal. He had been in a fight during the ruck and his left eye was swollen and mostly closed so it was a matter of concentrating on his better side.

The hinds moved around and he was constantly chasing them to keep them close.

It is so easy to concentrate on getting the better photos and forgetting that these are wild animale, despite them being accustomed to people on a deer park but this stag soon let us know when we were too close. This image is not cropped - he was about 30 feet away..

..so we politely took a few steps back!!!

We were thinking about trying to find some Fallow Deer but a small herd walked up the hill towards us, saving us the trouble.

and then it got interesting. One stag that had jumped up onto a nearby wall tried to get down and another refused to let him so he jumped...

...and then all hell broke loose.

This carried on for over 10 minures before a female started to nose in...

and that ended the fight with one giving way...

..and being chased off.

After this excitement, we walked to another area where there was a much larger herd of Red Deer - one Royal stag and 28 hinds - he will be a very busy lad!!!

We then noticed a Fallow Deer stag laying down under a tree. He did move once and was badly limping and then lay down again. He was the loser from this mornings fight so we took a couple of photos and left him to recuperate.

A fascinating day where still photos cannot do justice to the spectacle.