Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Friday, 30 October 2009

Thursday, 29 October 2009

At last

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while, will know there has been a bird that has eluded me most of this year. He calls when I walk past, then hides. I wait……..he hides. I walk away, he reappears, calling again. My tormentor. Fleeting glimpses as he ducks down amongst the bushes, ready to ambush me again and again.
The Cetti’s Warbler!

This morning I paid a visit to his lair; Willen Lake. A dull, cloudy morning. Not ideal lighting for pictures, but this was a day off work, so it beat sitting indoors. I walked a different direction for a change, hoping to see some Redwing if they’ve got here yet. They haven’t, or at least I didn’t see any. But I heard my tormentor.

I stopped and listened. Somewhere in the tree in front of me. I strained my eyes, searching the branches. Nothing. He called again. I searched again. A small flock of Long Tailed Tits swooped into the tree, searching for breakfast. They noisily chased each other through the branches, and then left, as quickly as they came. All except one.

I watched as he moved up the branches. This wasn’t a Long Tailed Tit. I slowly lifted my camera, not daring to breath. This was my tormentor.




The Cetti finally revealed himself; although somewhat masked by the branches. I rattled off shot after shot, not daring to stop and check if they were ok. They weren’t that good, but at least I had finally captured him on camera.

This is about as far as I could push this with the editing software, after cropping in.
The day could only get better after this. I’d finally got my bird.


Oh I know they are not good, but indulge me in my moment of triumph.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

A few more pictures

Another mix of some recent pictures.



Wood Pigeon, giving me the eye.



This young Cygnet happily stopped for a picture



unlike this Canada Goose, who couldn’t wait to get going.



A bashful looking Blue Tit, from last month.




The next four are of a Snipe, that I spent some time watching at the weekend. It’s not often I manage to get reasonably close to these, before they decide to leave.

The first one is the only half decent one that came out whilst he was splashing around, taking a bath.

Not much splash in this shot. But what happened next, really surprised me.



He jumped up backwards, out of the water, shaking his wings. I presume to dry them? Never seen anything like that before.



Now all my bird books say the Snipe has a long straight bill. The next two pictures, show its open bill, and......





it’s curved!



I’m confused. Glad I got it on camera though.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Picture time

Well, I’m back. A bit brighter, and a big thank you to everyone who visited and commented.

So, some recent pictures, while I finish sorting myself out.


Fighting Coots. They always seem to find a reason to let off steam.
Usually the best view I get of a Jay!


Coot with a white face.


My favourite bird; a Pheasant.


A bit noisy, but I was pleased to capture this Redwing.

Cygnet preening.
Red Kite. Awesome to watch how they effortlessly ride the thermals.


Great Spotted Woodpecker, male. Sadly, not my garden though.


And I’ll finish with a song, from this Dunnock



Monday, 19 October 2009

a break


Right now I wish I was a bird, and could fly away from everything.

We all have good days, and bad days. The bad days are lifted for me usually by my love of birds, and to just watch them. They give me the kick up the backside I need at times. To get out, and just watch. But sometimes it takes more than a kick. Sometimes the little things that go wrong in life, just keep multiplying, and seem to come to a head.

Things that should be easy, become difficult.
The constant problems at work, that can usually be shrugged off, just eventually wear you down. Time to do the things you want, doesn’t seem to be there anymore.
Little things get neglected; then grow into monsters that seem uncontrollable.
And memories gnaw away, and you begin to slowly collapse from it all from the inside.

I had a pretty good weekend, out with the camera, took loads of pictures and met some nice people. We talked birds, photography; and then I came home, and the same old crap was still here. The blues are here. I’ll get over it. It happens. Things go wrong in other people’s lives, and they cope. Worse things than I have to worry about.
I’m not other people.

Forty five years ago, this coming weekend, my dad died of cancer. I was just a kid, enjoying life. I was on holiday at a friends in Ireland; and when I came back, he died. I didn’t even know he was ill. Didn’t know he was dying. No one told me, till I got back, and saw him in a hospital bed, weak………….

Some things you never get over; time’s a great healer they say, and it’s usually true.
You move on in life, but you never forget.

I might not be about so much this coming week. Apologies for that. I need to get some order in my life, and scrape myself off the floor. I need to colour these blues a different colour.
This little bird has far more problems to face in his short life, than I ever had.

I just gotta learn to hang on, like him.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Some recent stuff

Just a few from recent visits this last week or so, until I can hopefully get out at the weekend.

Keeping an eye out for trouble
How trees get damaged.
Admiring the handiwork
And to round off, a few gulls






Have a great and safe weekend


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A moment from today

For a few years now, I’ve done some garden work for a very nice family near to where I live. A few hours a week, before my main job, or after, depending on what shift I’m on. It’s a very big garden surrounded by trees; and plenty of birds and other animals.
The lady of the house was looking after her granddaughter this morning, and she was playing with her dolls and pram. She’s about 3; we’ll call her Emily.

The sun was shining on my back, as I was on my hands and knees, clearing some fallen leaves from one of the many borders. And by my side, gently serenading me with his little song, was a Robin. Less than 12 inches away, and occasionally darting in to pick up any insects that were unearthed. I call him ‘my Robin’, because whenever I’m working on this part of the garden, he comes by, and sings while I work.
I stopped for a moment, and just watched him as he watched me, waiting for something to be uncovered, so he could nip in and take what was on offer.

It doesn’t get better than this.’ I thought to myself, as I admired his trusting little ways.

What are you doing?’ a little whisper said next me.
It was Emily, down on her hands and knees, next to me.

Watching my little friendly Robin sing.” I said quietly.
She watched for a moment, and then in a hushed tone said, “Why is he singing?”
I turned my head, and her little eyes were wide open, staring at the little songster.
Because he’s happy.” I smiled.
Not taking her eyes off the little bird she asked, “Why is he happy?”

I thought for a moment, and replied, “Because you’ve come to watch him sing as well, and now you’re his little friend too.

She smiled, and said, “I like my little friend.”

The day did get better.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

A catalogue of errors……..

There’d been reports of a fairly large flock of Golden Plover at Tring Reservoirs recently, so today I paid an early morning visit. It’s not far from me, been there before, and I’ve never seen Golden Plovers before, so………..

The weather could have been better. It could have been much better. Dull, cloudy, and a light intermittent drizzle. Not very good for pictures, most definitely. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the car park ticket machine has been fixed, so in went all the change I had in my pocket. Didn’t fancy the £60 fine.

So I’m wandering round the reservoirs and it suddenly dawned on me; wrong one!
Wilstone Reservoir had the sightings. That’s just up the road, on its own, and it’s free to park. Bugger!!

Back in the car, and off I went. I climbed the steps from the small car park, and had a choice. Turn left, or turn right. I turned right, towards the hide, and the mud area favoured by the waders. A Little Egret was up ahead, leant forward, and took off. I swung the camera up, and fired off some shots. Then realised I was set on manual from the previous day, and a little under exposed. Oh……….

Now, I could argue I went for an arty shot, but that would be telling fibs. This is the best that could be rescued. Normally would have been deleted, but I like it; a little.
So, onward to the hide, sat down, and…..nothing. No Plovers anyway. An immature Pheasant was strolling around, so after checking the exposure, I took some shots.
Focused on the body. Head is soft. Never mind, I like Pheasants. I scanned the water, and saw the Plovers. The other side of the reservoir; and through the binoculars, I could see a couple of people looking at them.
I walked round to the other side.
As I walked along the edge, a bird took off from my side, and flew into some trees.
Did you see that?” said the mans voice, standing just along the path with a small movie camera.
Only it’s bum.” I said. “What was it?”
Wheatear. Been filming it.”
I was pleased I hadn’t spoilt his filming; at least he had a record of it. All I had was a glimpse of a birds bum as it disappeared in the trees; I’m still counting that one though.
I carried on towards the Golden Plovers, and as I got near, they all took to the air, circling high. Bugger!!
I stopped and chatted to the couple that had been watching them, and we watched as they circled overhead, and then went in the direction I’d just come from. And settled on the mud.
If I said I didn’t swear, I’d be lying.
I swore.
I walked back, still cursing under my breath. What was going wrong today? Apart from everything?
I got level with my quarry, eventually, and even though they were a long way off, I took some pictures, before they decided to go again.
Well, at least I know what they are! I counted a hundred, at least. I tried cropping the pictures later at home, and this is one.
Bin fodder really, but till I get better ones, they languish on the hard drive.
Then they were off again. Did I swear? Course I did.
So what else could possibly go wrong now?
A Heron sat perched in a tree, and mustering up my best stalking skills, I slowly approached, camera at the ready. He leaned forward, and I fired off some shots.
I learnt a long while ago, that composition of a picture was quite important. If something is looking left or right, (or flying in this case), have some space for it to go.
Not enough space for him to fly into, oh well. And the last one?
Well as I expertly panned with him, I didn’t notice the bush next to me, that carefully blurred his face.


Or that I had clipped his wing!
Yea, I swore!

Had a good day though.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Robin




The Robin is Britain's unofficial national bird, after being voted most popular bird by public ballot in the 1960's.



A small, brown bird, about 5”, with a red breast, makes this an easy bird to identify, although the sexes are similar.

They feed on a diet of insects, snails, worms and small seeds, and can be found in gardens, woodland, parks, waste ground and hedges.

Robins will sing throughout the year; usually one of the first birds to be heard in the morning; and sometimes, even sing through the night, especially in built up areas, around streetlights. Their song is a flowing, melodic warble, clear and rippling. Their 'tick tick' calls are distinctive, especially when repeated quickly, like a clockwork toy being wound up.

There are many superstitions about the Robin. Its position when singing was believed to forecast the weather. If it sang on top of a bush the weather would be warm, while if it sang from within the branches then rain was on the way. It was also thought to be extremely unlucky to kill the bird. According to one superstition, if you killed a Robin your hands would not stop shaking, while anyone who broke its eggs would have something valuable of their own broken.

In the garden, they’ll sometimes follow a gardener at close quarters, swooping down to pick up any insects that may be unearthed, seeming very tame. But in their world, it’s a very different story.

Male Robins are noted for their highly aggressive territorial behaviour. The male marks out the boundaries of his territory by singing loudly, especially in the spring, and will ruthlessly attack other males that stray into their territories, and have even been observed attacking other small birds without apparent provocation. Such attacks sometimes lead to fatalities, accounting for up to 10% of adult Robin deaths in some areas.
Robins are very possessive of their territories; even the female has a territory of her own in winter. In order to defend their winter territories, the females have to sing and display just like males do.

In spring the females have to persuade the males to stop fighting them and start co-operating with them in the raising of a family. To do this, when they encroach into the males territory they behave like young birds begging for food, thus stimulating the males to feed them, rather than fight them.

The nest is built by the female, consisting of a bulky cup of dead leaves, grass and moss lined with hair, fine roots and occasionally feathers. It is usually well concealed in ivy banks, at the base of trees and, occasionally, in garden sheds.

Eggs are laid in April to June, 5-6, white with reddish speckles. Incubation takes 12-15 days by the female only, and beginning when the last egg is laid. She can lay 2-3 broods per year.

Both parents tend the young, initially the female broods and the male brings all the food. Because of high mortality in the first year of life, a Robin has an average life expectancy of 1.1 years; however, once past its first year it can expect to live longer; typically about 2 years. Juveniles are brown, with buff spotting, and no red breast.



After moulting in August-October they look just like adults.


Erithacus rubecula, The European Robin.