I have photographed this species before and as the local birders will know they overwinter year on year in Mounts Bay and their principle roost is close to Battery Rocks and the swimming pool and they feed on the small beach.
The Purple Sandpiper Breeds in the high arctic tundra with one or two breeding pairs in Scotland and are classed as amber status, in other words under threat, the site is kept secret to deter egg thieves. The location of their overwintering area in Penzance is the area that the Isles of Scilly steam ship company along with the local authority want to reclaim from the sea, back filling the area and creating a new docking and loading area for the Scillonian. I also saw within 50 metres from the shore a Red Breasted Merganser, one Razorbill,numerous Turnstones on the shore, feeding shags, Oyster Catchers and Curlew. All within one hour. The question is do we destroy important habitat for commerce, or should they look for an alternative site preserving this historic area and habitat for a species under threat.
I took a couple of photographs in the garden. In a previous blog a mentioned how the cotoneaster feeds the birds in the winter and as you can see the black bird is gladly helping herself. They are ravenous with several coming in dailey to feed.
Here is a couple of images from yesterday Sunday 15th November. We went for a walk down through kenidjack valley our local area and we saw the big four of the Raptor family again. Lisa captured these images of a Common Buzzard taking off from a rock face near the coastal end of the valley. I think a Buzzard is always worth a shot and these two are amongst the best we have taken so far.
I went back to Newlyn in the Afternoon of Saturday the 14th of November and how different the weather was from the morning. Here is a few more images of a immature 1st winter GN Diver that obliged me some close range photography. The yellow reflections are of the mooring ropes above the subject
Newlyn Harbour this morning blowing a gale, raining and not conducive to photography at all, let alone hand held photography. no tripod!!. This is when the 300mm f2.8 with image stabilisation excels. The Great Northern Diver was obliging and swimming in to a reasonable distance for effective photography. The diver plumage is exceptional and close to its summer breeding plumage with the neck collar and checkered mantle, back and spots on the rump visible. The second image looks as though the Diver is catching a flying crab when in fact he was beating the life out of it. Please click on the images to enlarge
Back to reality after the Flycatcher, we have had our first yellowhammer in the garden this year and hopefully more to follow. Last year we had six visiting for a couple of months. The bottom three are photographed in another cottage when I was out looking for the Taiga. You gotta love the residents.
Peculiar dark coloured House Sparrow, do they cross breed with Greenfinches?
Late Friday afternoon the phone rings and its local birder Phil Clark asking Lisa if I am around as he may have spotted a rare Taiga Flycatcher and he would like it photographed to aid identification. Unfortunately I was still at work so Lisa took up,the challenge and grabbed her Camera as the location wasn't far from us. With fading light at 1640 pm Lisa pushed the ISO to 800 and a -1.0 exposure compensation and an aperture of 5.6 at 400mm. This was done to try and raise the shutter speed but even with those settings the shutter speeds achieved reached only 1/80th and 1/60th of a second which is far to slow for a hand held operation and a constantly moving subject. The bird was looked for today by several local experts with myself and camera tagging along without success.
The two shots depicted are the best that could be achieved under the circumstances and according to the more experienced birder they do Identify the defining characteristics of Taiga Fly catcher. The Taiga as most of you experts will know could be an eastern sub-species of the Red Breasted Flycatcher or a species in its own right. The defining features I am given to understand are as follows, a black beak, white fringing of the tertials, black tail coverts and black upper tail coverts. The throat is likely to have a lead grey colouring and would encircle a red patch if adult. The Grey is evident in some of the photo's. If this is a Taiga then it is a first for Cornwall and I think a fourth for the country. The full raw images will be handed out to the experts I know who will hopefully clear up any doubt either way. I emphasise that the species was found by Phil Clark and photographed by Lisa. I did not see the bird and I have now turned to drink!! Comments welcome but please be kind. Hopefully the way I have written this will lead the readers to believe that Lisa new what she was doing with her camera. Please click on the images to enlarge
I returned today for a second slice of the Black Redstarts at St Just Church cemetery. There were five in all including the adult male in near summer plumage. I wasn't pleased with the photography on Saturday owing to the light and distance of the subject. I managed to shoot at 320 ISO although the camera was hand held and not on a Tri-pod. I had to be quick and photograph over the boundary wall..
The image below is an example of how fickle and frustrating it can be photographing birds and wildlife. The only opportunity this male Black Redstart gave me was shots like the one below, I had to shift position to get this but as you can see the branch has obscured its beak.
Sam and Lisa are keen photographers with a particular interest in birds and wildlife in Cornwall. We have always been interested in photography but the improvements to digital cameras have renewed our interest. We hope you will enjoy viewing our photo blog!
Our equipment is as follows: I shoot with a Nikon D300 and D800e Camera and my lenses are a 300mm F/2.8 VR, 2.0 x Nikon Teleconverter,300 to 800mm Sigma Zoom and an 18 -200mm Nikon Zoom. Lisa has a Nikon D90 with HD Video capabilities and the 18-105mm Nikon Zoom. She also commandeers my lenses when needed! I shoot always in RAW format....