Garth Peacock


Iceland Day 1

Tuesday 20th June 2017

May Summarised

Wednesday 31st May 2017

Another Norfolk trip

Tuesday 2nd May 2017

Minsmere RSPB Suffolk

Tuesday 4th April 2017

Two visits to West Norfolk in one week

Wednesday 29th March 2017

The UK's most easterly point

Tuesday 28th February 2017

Fortunes improved - finally

Tuesday 21st February 2017

Last week in not-so-many pictures.

Monday 30th January 2017

My first day out in 2017

Thursday 26th January 2017

Locally based for a couple of weeks

Friday 23rd December 2016

Last weeks events

Tuesday 22nd November 2016

Testing the new camera

Tuesday 15th November 2016

The good and the not so good

Tuesday 8th November 2016

Once again - the last couple of weeks.

Tuesday 25th October 2016

A couple of weeks to update

Monday 10th October 2016

Was the Pectoral Sandpiper still there?

Saturday 24th September 2016

Littlle Stints on the agenda

Sunday 11th September 2016

View Blog Archive >>
Tuesday 20th June 2017

Iceland Day 1

Last Friday, 16th June, I returned from a 12 day photographic trip to Iceland, a country I have never visited before. This was a trip organised by Natures Images.

Monday 5th June and I was on my way to Heathrow to catch a lunchtime IcelandAir flight to Reykjavik, arriving mid-afternoon local time (1 hour behind us). There were 8 tour participants with two leaders, Danny Green and Paul Hobson, split between two minibuses.

Our first journey was to Selfoss, about a couple of hours drive, book into the hotel, a quick dinner at a nearby burger bar and then out to the main objective of this part of our trip, Floi Nature Reserve.This is a large coastal wetland reserve and all we expected on the first evening was a recce to see what it was like.

There is a long access road through farmland, mostly grazing land and the surrounding posts and hillocks provided the first photographic opportunities from the minibus. Redshank very common

and Snipe not as common but still available.

Entering the reserve itself, a walk through, at times, ankle deep water led to various pools but the cloudy conditions were not really helpful for photos on water. However, almost every pool had its resident Red-throated Diver sitting on eggs.

I decided that much better photo opportunities would come as we had two full days here but this was a decent start. This proved to be the correct decision as I took over 2000 images before we moved on. They will take some time to process!!!

Wednesday 31st May 2017

May Summarised

This is my second attempt at writing this blog. My last one appears to have been hacked into rubbish and a few entries added to the photo section that were also rubbish. All now deleted but it makes one think what mind set these people have. Can't have much of a brain beyond computing if hacking into an innoccuous wildlife website gives them pleasure!!!

Anyway, rant over so here goes with the second write up.

At the beginning of the month, a friend and I went to Woodwalton Fen in Cambridgeshire as Bitterns had been reported as 'showing well'. We arrived at the first hide with nothing of interest although a drake Garganey flew in with a flock of Teal but too distant for effective photography. After chatting to a couple that arrived later, and with nothing of interest, we moved to the second hide where we were treated to a couple of Hobby's hawking over the mere. Light nothing special so only so-so images.

After lunch, we moved back to the first hide. Shortly after arriving, a pair of Common Terns flew in and occupied the tern raft. Their behaviour indicated that they has just arrived on migration, especially when a mating attempt was made, although unsuccessful.

The north hide produced the usual Marsh Harriers, although distant and with deteriorating light, we called an end to the day.

Getting home, I received an e-mail from the couple we saw in the first hide. Just after we had left, a Bittern flew across the mere, landing in front of the hide, and proceeding to feed for a while. An excellent photo opportunity missed as his own photos proved. B***** it!!!

In the middle of the month, my wife and I enjoyed a 10 day holiday in Cyprus, an island that we know well. Not a birding holiday so I took my 7DMK2 attached to the 100-400 lens (just in case) and the 24-105 for landscapes. I have no ability with landscapes - just cannot see the potential for a decent shots but I wanted to practice in readiness for my forthcoming photo trip to Iceland. Few birds around anyway except for Crested Lark that were very common, especially at our favourite walking place, Cape Drepano.

After returning, I managed an afternoon at nearby Haddenham where, eventually, the Corn Buntings showed well.

One even landed in front of my camera requiring a quick removal of the teleconverter to get it in the frame.

Not a particularly eventful month but the forthcomimg trip to Iceland should be more fruitful.







Tuesday 2nd May 2017

Another Norfolk trip

It has been a month since my last blog - time flies when son and family visit for 10 days over Easter. Of course the weather was good then but pretty rubbish at other times so, apart from short trips to Fowlmere RSPB and Paxton Pits that produced nothing of note, I stayed at home.

Fair weather photographer? Yep, that's me. Well I cannot see the point in going out in poor weather to end up with photos that are not as good as the ones I already have.

Anyway, with decent weawther forecast for last Friday, 29th April, I had to get out so went to north Norfolk again. I have been having some problems with sharpness on some shots and wanted to make sure that suitable subjects to practice on were available, hence Norfolk. I was sure that it was not my gear so it must be the operator at fault.

Anyway, first visit was to Thornham harbour, arriving just after a high tide. Only a few Avocet feeding. I have loads of images of Avocet but one tempted me as it was feeding with it's head completely under water - unusual for an Avocet.

Driving out, something landed in front of the car on the road- a Whimbrel. It stood and eyed the car as I tried to manoevre sideways to get a shot but soon took flight with 4 others that flew over it.

Later, it settled to feed, allowing a few reasonable shots before again taking flight as the usual dog walkers appeared.

Moving on, visits to the harbours at Brancaster Staithe and Burham Overy Staithe drew a total blank so I arrived at RSPB Titchwell at lunchtime, much earlier that usual, to find it quiet for a Friday afternoon. Surprising. Water levels too high for waders again so I made my way towards the beach.

I have always found Linnets to be extremley flighty and difficult to photograph so, spotting one singing on top of a bush, I fully expected it to fly before I had got into range. Well, it didn't.

In fact it even mover closer so I spent a good half-an-hour taking loads of shots.

I was briefly interrupted by a Swallow landing on a nearby post for just a second or two. Nothing special about the shot except it is my first Swallow of the year.

With the Linnet still showing well, I had had enough and went to the beach with the tide right out. Just the usual species -

and a nice summer plumaged Turnstone.

With loads of gulls flying around, I was able to test the gear for flight shots - yes it was the operator at fault, but I now know what I was doing wrong so it was all worth it.

Returning to the reserve, I called in at Parrinder hide with a Meadow Pipit gathering food for it's young.

and an unusual Goose that was trying to associate with some Greylags but they wanted nothing to do with it. It was feeding on the bank in front of the hide and, at first, I wondered if it was a Pink-footed Goose because of the head colouring but decided, in the end that it was an odd Greylag, possibly a hybrid.

After some more shots of some close in Shovelers,

I made my way back home, satisfied that I had got some better shots of Linnet that I had managed before so the day was worthwhile for that alone.

More images in the Recent Additions section.




Tuesday 4th April 2017

Minsmere RSPB Suffolk

It has been a long time since I last visited the Suffolk coast, Minsmere RSPB in particular, so, last Tuesday, I forced myself to get up for an early start. It is almost a 2 hour drive for me from Cambridge and it was misty but forecast to clear at the coast by 9.00ish.

I arrived at the Minsmere car park at the crack of 9.00am to thickish fog and little wind. I started the usual circuit, past the North hide toward the East hide and could hardly see either side of the path for more than 20 or 30 metres. Not promising. Nothing to see either and the view from East hide was no different. I decided to sit and wait it out.

A Bar-tailed Godwit in moult to summer plumage was feeding in front of the hide, just able to see it in the gloom. A few shots and very heavy contrast in processing helped to make an acceptable shot - just!!!

With the fog slowly clearing, I continued on the circuit, passed the sluice to the next two hides and saw nothing at all so I returned to the car and had my lunch, deciding to move on to Dunwich Heath as it is the time of year for Dartford Warblers to be on territory. Also, with the heath being at a slightly higher altitude, the fog may have cleared. Good move as the sun started to show through as I arrived in the car park.

First heading along the lower track, I saw one Dartford Warbler but it was flighty and never allowed a close approach. Returning, a kind birding couple said that one was being co-operative on the the other track where I found another photgrapher who had taken some good shots but the bird had gone to ground. Carrying on up the hill, I found two more pairs, neither of which came close and most long range shots were very soft. Eventually, I found out why. The morning fog had left moisture on the heather which was being lifted by the sun creating a sort of heat haze - not something I can remember coming across before. Only the odd shot was a keeper.

Thinking tjhat the day was going to be a washout, I made my way towards the car to see the original co-operative bird on the top of heather only a few feet from the path. It was side lit and if I had tried to get to the sun side, I would have spooked it so made best use of the light as it was.

Not the classic pose with the erect tail but still a satisfactory result.

After that, the bird flew to the top of low dead bush and perched about a couple of metres from me, in perfect light, ruffled its feathers, gave me a song and flew off, all too close for my gear to focus on - I coudn't stop myself laughing, it was so comical.

Anyway, my main reason for the trip was a success. Must return soon for another try at the classic pose.

Wednesday 29th March 2017

Two visits to West Norfolk in one week

West Norfolk is my fall-back destination when I cannot think of anywhere else to go. It is just over an hours drive for me on a good traffic day and, with decent weather forecast on Tuesday 21st, I headed North.

My usual trip is to Hunstanton cliffs and then Thornham harbour with a possible diversion to Holme Dunes NWT depending on the time of the year. Problem was that the road between Holme and Thornham is currently closed during weekdays for road repairs. My Sat Nav took me to Burnham Overy so a quick call into Burnham Overy Staithe to see if anything of interest was there. Only bird was a Ringed Plover.

so I made my way back to Thornham harbour via Brancaster Staithe harbour which was even more disappointing than Burnham Overy Staithe - zilch!!! The main problem, I think was that there was a strong South westerly wind (not forecast, of course) so the birds were keeping to the sheltered areas

The usual Curlews were at Thornham. Seems surprising to me that Curlews are now considered to be endangered - I must have counted 20 or so in the area, with one posing nicely after a short fly-by to get my attention.

By now it was lunchtime so I decided to spend the afternoon at Titchwell RSPB. The usual Sanderlings on the beach - just cannot resist them despite having loads of photos of them already.

With the strong wind, I decided to try flight shots with the Canon 5dmk4 attched to the 500 lens and a 1.4 converter. Very pleased with the results.

I then relocated to a bench overlooking the freshmarsh - just for half-an hour, I thought, but with the sun on my back and being sheltered from the wind, I stayed there for most of the afternoon, continuing with the flight shots. Tiring with the concentration but very enjoyable never-the-less. Loads of Brent Geese

Flocks of wheeling Knot

and Avocets.

So not a bad day overall.

A friend also wanted to visit the same area so we made our way there on Friday but this time with a strong biting Easterly wind.

Curlews at Thornham still very evident with one, in particular, being very co-operative.

Brancaster Staithe only produced a posing Herring Gull

and Burnham Overy Staithe nothing at all.

Back to Titchwell RSPB with nothing at all of note. Once again, the water levels seem to be much too rolex replica watches  high for any predominance of waders close enough to photograph. On the beach there was just one Sanderling that was very co-operative so I took even more images but with the object of raplacing some of those I took some years ago that really do not cut the quality mustard any longer.

On the way back, my friend noticed a Water Rail that quickly disappeared into some waterside undergrowth. However, patience finally paid off as it re-emerged having caught a Stickleback.

Back to the freshmarsh where the only activity of note was a drake Shoveler landing.

Really, the strong Easterly wind really killed off any chance of good photography so not the best day.

More images from the two days in the Recent Additions section.