Sunday, 31 January 2010

Bewick Swan

These images are of the wild Bewick Swans at Slimbridge. They have migrated in from Russia a distance of approximately two thousand five hundred miles to escape the harsh Siberian winter.
We have experienced a hard winter this year but nothing to what they would have suffered if they had stayed there experiencing a temperature of minus 50 with a wind chill factor on top.
Another fact is that forty per cent of all Swans carry lead shot even though they are protected.
Please click on the images to enlarge
Torvill and Dean

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Slimbridge Saga

I have called this blog the Slimbridge Saga as it may go on a bit. This is our third trip to Slimbridge and we decided to concentrate on the wild and free species rather than the pinioned resident birds. The residents are fantastic with really close views and you can practise (as we have done in the past) your photography.

The highlight of the trip was the Bewick Swans and they were interesting to compare with our Drift Whooper Swan. The numbers of wild species was mind blowing, with a couple of interesting facts imparted by the keeper at the wild bird feeding station, the peng observatory.The hides are well positioned as most of the birders will know, although photography was difficult at times due to the dimensions of the viewing slots with the gap narrower than my lens. Also we had to contend with gloomy weather and sometimes rain ( excuses, excuses). However we did our best so I will start off with Barnacle Geese photographed at the Holden hide, a two storey hide looking out over the fields running down to the river Severn. The gear used was the Nikon D300 and the 300mm f2.8 lens coupled with a 2 times converter f stop was varied between f5.6 and f10 for depth of field.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan At Drift Dam today.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Cattle Egret 2

I hope the repeat isn't boring but I had to revisit the Egrets with my DSLR, the weather was better this time. The first image I have called the Udder one is the Cattle Egret or pull the Udder One.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Coolpixed Cattle Egrets

The images below of the Brew Farm Cattle Egrets are all from the Coolpix P90. Low light conditions with fog and at four to four thirty in the afternoon made life difficult, as on full magnification the camera gave me shutter speeds of 1/60th and 1/100th of a second with the aperture fully open. These shutter speeds make hand held photography difficult to say the least and compounding the matter I try to keep the ISO as low as possible to reduce grain so I adjusted the ISO switching between 200 and 400 ISO.The other item I use to stabilise a camera is a sandbag. I find this tool excellent, stabilising the camera enough for effective photography at low shutter speeds. Finally the Cattle Egrets were obliging enough to momentarily freeze.
The camera used on the previous post was my Nikon D300 DSLR
Ten out of ten to Bob Sharples for spotting my botched attempt at cloning away a small part of a Canada Goose in the second image of the previous blog. I only use cloning to erase distracting bits and not add items.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Nikon Coolpix P90

I do not normally profile camera equipment but I recently had a birthday gift of a Nikon Coolpix P90 purchased from South West Optics in Truro. I wanted a light weight camera to carry with me every day and for our longer walks. The camera is certainly a powerful tool with a 24 times zoom with image stabilisation, 12 megapixels and the normal easy shoot settings with manual override that includes aperture priority which is the setting I usually use. The P90 has a rear screen that can be tilted and what I found amazing when looking through the viewfinder the camera acts like a SLR , you actually view what is captured through the lens like a SLR. It is possible to capture bird flight shots ( see the Bittern at Marazion) if I had been switched on at the time I would have nailed it much closer getting a better shot, however it shows what this gear is capable of. The only downside is there is no RAW function. My opinion is that for a compact this is a powerful tool and Ideal for the mobile birder.


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Odds and Ends

A few more shots from the weekend. The Lapwing fought over food during the freeze, life was very competitive. I think the beneficiaries were the Raptors with the amount of Lapwing, Thrushes and Golden Plover around, the Buzzard was diving on the Lapwing. I have been using the Nikon 300mm F2.8 Lens without the teleconverter and with the aperature wide open at f2.8. When shooting with the sun behind me I usually adjust the exposure compensation to -0,7 to -1.0. Please click on the image to enlarge

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Glaucous, a Garden Tick

We had the Glaucous Gull on the roof today and a Mistle Thrush in the garden so two new garden ticks today.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Field Fare festival

Today was interesting, the garden was full of birds all struggling to survive the arctic weather. We had 12 Field Fares competing for the food. The Cotoneaster was the attraction with all of the FF' feeding continuously on the berries. I had a photo festival with this species today and I am pleased with the shots. Plenty of success in amongst the 320 images I captured. One good thing I did a few days earlier was to prune the Cotoneaster on the public foot path side and scattered the berry laden cuttings around the garden. The garden looked untidy as hell but who cares, it paid dividends and feeds the birds. I also hunted out a few hibernating snails and they where very much appreciated by the Song Thrush. We also went out to Bottallack and was amazed at the numbers of Redwing, Field Fare, Golden Plover and Lapwing sheltering on the cliffs witnessing a constant movement of birds. we flushed a Woodcock and saw a Raven with a snipe in its beak, I guess the snipe had succumbed in the cold weather and I suspect that this extreme weather will have a massive impact on the bird population on the whole so keep feeding in your gardens. We also noted Redwing in flying off the sea from some distance. As previously mentioned I took a high number of photographs today and i will post them over the next couple of days.
I don't normally list but today Lisa and I decided to list the garden species and they are 12 Field Fare, 6 Redwing, 2 Meadow Pipits, 4+ Blackbirds, 3 Songthrush, 1 Male Black Cap, 2 Robin, 2 Dunnock, 5 Blue Tits, 4 Great Tits, 2 Wren, Chaffinch (numerous), 11 House Sparrow, 1 Pied Wagtail, 3 Collared Doves, 1 Rook ,1 GS Woodpecker, 3 Starlings,. A flock of Snipe over, Lapwing over and 1 Peregrine over. Please click on the images to enlarge

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A Room With A View

Lisa had a few hours watching the garden and the field behind us today and came up with a Glaucous Gull ( 1st winter) and Snipe in the field viewed from the bedroom window and the Field Fare from the Kitchen.