Monday, 25 April 2011

Meare Heath waders

The second lagoon from the Ashcott corner car park is traditionally pumped down at this time of year in order to make it more attractive to passage waders. The exposed mud & shallow open water has already attracted Little ringed plover, Ruff, Common sandpiper, Redshank & Black tailed Godwit. Wood and Green sandpiper also drop in, but not so this spring yet.
Early last week a Wood sand was reported on the sos message board as being present. Birders wishing to add this species to there year list visited & the bird was subsequently correctly identified as a Lesser yellowlegs. A breeder in N America, it is a fairly regular vagrant to europe with 5-10 records annually in the UK & Ireland.
I have made 2 visits in the past week. The first resulted in very poor, long distance (150m +) record shots with the 600mm & 1.7x converter.
 This afternoon i returned & a very helpful Sparrowhawk, flushed the congregation of Godwits & Redshank, along with the yellowlegs to a much nearer point on the lagoon.
Below is a shot of one of the Black-tailed Godwits as it flew from its roost to the feeding area on the lagoon.
Two of the three Common Sandpipers present on my first visit.
Meare heath is a part of Natural Englands Shapwick heath NNR in the Avalon Marshes, Somerset.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Bad blogger..........

I know, i know, its been a while! The truth is, i have had very little worth putting on this blog for a couple of months. Its not that i haven't been out, because i have. More very little in the form of subject matter (also if the truth be known, a lack of enthusiasm).
Now the sun has returned (sometimes), i feel a renewed vigour for the natural world.
Migrants have already started pouring to our shores. Wheatear, Ring ouzel, Sand martin to name but a few, have been seen in the area for at least a couple of weeks.
This morning, to my delight, i spotted a very contrasty looking small bird in the back garden. Grabbing my bins from the spare room, I confirmed my suspicions & nailed the male Pied flycatcher, flitting from branches after its insect prey.
 Panic then set in as i raced back to the spare room to grab the camera, already fitted with the 600mm lens. A couple of bankers were taken quickly through the glass. I then inched open the window & managed to grab about 20 shots before it moved to another tree & was lost from sight.
Whilst driving across Tealham moor, on the look out for the reported Yellow wagtail (not seen), I flushed a Wheatear from the roadside verge. This is my first this year & i normally see quite a few over the spring & autumn period. It posed quite nicely on a roadside gate post, allowing a slow approach & a handheld shoot through the open passenger window.

A little earlier this year, also on Tealham, was this Short-eared owl. Up to 3 birds were using the same area & were seen most days during the late afternoon. This particular afternoon, it only approached as close as 100m. This shot has had a lot of post processing & is a fairly large crop of the original. Necessary to get a usable image. The watery winter sunshine & the backlit subject add something to an otherwise standard record shot. It goes to show how an uninspiring image can become something better with a little thought & a bit of computer work.
I recently visited a private nature reserve on Cary moor. The reason for visiting this delightful reserve was to try & photograph the Tree sparrows that have regularly been coming to seed, put down by Bruce Taylor.
Around 6 were present on my visit, but far greater numbers have been seen over the winter. Birders in the county will appreciate that Tree sparrows are scarce in Somerset. A site on the Mendips being the previous best place to see them. Now at Cary moor, you have the luxury of a carpeted hide only meters from the feeding birds. Also present were numerous Reed buntings, Chaffinches & a single Yellowhammer. A shallow pond lies on the opposite side of the hide & attracts waterfowl.
Anyone wishing to visit, should first get in contact with Bruce by email on to get directions, parking instructions & the code to the lock on the hide.

Please remember that this is a private reserve & we can visit due to the kindness of the landowners. Providing we all conduct ourselves in a proper manner & follow Bruces instructions, we will be able to see Tree sparrows for years to come.
More later..........I promise!