Thursday, 16 April 2015

Sunny Morning in the Valley

Quite a bit to get through today, so here goes :

Another early morning visit to Far Pasture, this time to see if any Common Whitethroat or Grasshopper Warblers had arrived, both of which were present by this time last year.

Not much singing at all when I arrived (sometimes you can be out TOO early) though a lovely calm and sunny morning so I took a look on the pond where a host of residents are now on site, though I was surprised to see a couple of Snipe close-in, as I thought they would be off to the moors by now for the breeding season.

Snipe, hadn't seen any for a while here . .


. . . then two come along at once.
A bit later and a bit of Goose-stepping

Canada Geese adding to the early morning atmospherics

then some proper Goose-stepping from one pond to the next


Passing close in I notice the subtle difference in the white cheek markings,
might aid identification of individuals.
(or maybe not)

Heron looking around to see if anyone is watching . . .

. . . then a quick sniff of the armpits.

Back outside again, and a Red Fox ran across my path, but then saw me and scarpered, all too brief but still brilliant to see. By now the warblers were in good voice, but no whitethroats or groppers I'm afraid.

Blackcaps though were all over the place, I counted four pairs (seen) and another 3 singing, but trying to get one on camera is proving a bit difficult. These were the best shots I could get.

Damn those pesky twigs !!

Second time unlucky
Willow Tits were much more obliging today, one in particular sat preening right in front of me, too good an opportunity to miss.

Preen 'til I'm clean

Seen me but not that bothered

Strikes a fine pose

Quick impression of a 20th century fascist dictator
(must be all that goose-stepping) 

Back to the preening

And a fine shot to finish

Hirundines were absent first thing but numbers grew as time went on, sand martins especially, and just a few each of house martin and swallow.


Better light for bird on wire photos today, but angles not good.

 Willow/chaffs were out in force too, this one nest building by the wood yard.

Primary projection says chiffchaff but I've never seen one
with legs as pale as this before. 
I walked back along the Derwent Walk to check by the old railway station, which has always been good for Blackcaps as well. I wasn't disappointed, three singing in the area and one sat on an outstretched branch to deliver his song. At last, the chance I've been waiting for!

I got him in focus but as always happens, a small twig was spoiling the shot, so I took two steps back for a clearer view, got him in the viewfinder, but before I could press the shutter my battery symbol (which had been on two bars for a while) suddenly flashed red and the camera just shut down without so much as an excuse me.
Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!   
Couldn't believe it. I put in the spare battery as quickly as I could but too late, he wasn't going to wait around for me, and that was the last I saw of any Blackcap this morning.
It's becoming personal now, and I'm determined to have a clear shot of a Blackcap on this blog otherwise I'll throw my camera in the nearest pond this year, never mind drop it accidentally }:-(

Back home still fuming, I surveyed the panorama from the kitchen window as I drank my much needed cuppa. A red kite was soaring with another stocky-looking raptor over towards the valley, which I presumed to be a buzzard, but was delighted to find it was a Peregrine when I got my bins on them, great stuff, first garden peregrine for about three years. They parted before I could even think about getting the camera out of my bag, and the falcon headed down the valley towards the Tyne.

I spent most of the rest of the day painting in the greenhouse but always had bins and camera at the ready, and one eye on the skies. Plenty more raptor activity, and got a few improved snaps of flyover kites. I'm getting there :-)

The Old . . . .
WT6, one of the originals and now in his
eleventh  year.  


The New . . .
WT H8, one of last year's babies and a regular
garden flyover 
I note the birds sporting last years orange wing tags have the numbers printed also on the underside of the tags now, something I suggested last year after complaining it was nigh on impossible to identify kites unless they were perched, which was frustrating because of the number of flyovers I see locally and would love to be able to record individuals rather than just tag colour.
Not saying it was down to me though . . .

Another kite swooping past the trees

And finally a strikingly marked but otherwise
shit photo of a buzzard.

Phew! That took some getting through. Loving the x-s1 but now it's possible to get half decent birdy photos I can't stop snapping, loving the challenge. Bring on some more . . . . .



 





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