Friday, 29 August 2008

Sky Watch Friday

I took these photos on my trip down to Portland last week. These were taken at an RSPB bird reserve in Weymouth on the south coast of England.
The clouds seem to have such energy! I can't decided whether I prefer it portrait or landscape!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Portland day out

On probably one of the nicest days of this summer, I went down to Portland on the south coast for a day of birding with two friends.
The birding turned out to be pretty quiet, but it was just so lovely to be out in some decent sunshine.
I did see one year tick today, but no photo as these Common Scoter were only to be seen through a scope whilst sea-watching!

Other birds seen today were quite a few Northern Wheatears starting to make their migration south and one lone Yellow Wagtail. Shorebirds consisited on many Ringed Plover and Dunlin and one Curlew at Ferrybridge.
My camera is playing up at the moment, so the only photographs I was able to take today were with my normal 16-55mm lens. There were some fabulous cloud formations, some of which I shall save for Sky Watch Friday, but here are a couple....

Friday, 22 August 2008

First time for Skywatch

I've seen several Skywatch photos on various blogs and thought I'd join in the fun.
These are taken from my back gate of my garden in Frome Somerset.
This one last night with a little bit of sunset.....
....and this one today from the same spot (more or less) with a nice bunch of clouds.

The following is a moth that I took a photo of yesterday on my kitchen wall, but I can't find it in my new moth book, if anyone can point me in the right direction, that would be great. Many thanks....

Friday, 15 August 2008

Up at Mum's at last!

After an absence of several weeks due to the weather and losing our cat, I finally managed to get up to see my Mum and Brother Adrian in the Cotswolds this week.

The weather was glorious (amazingly) so I managed to get out early this morning for a walk in the cotswold countryside. There was a lovely mist in the churn valley which engulfed Mum's village of Colesbourne.

The spring sown crops look like they're about ready for harvesting (to me anyway) which gives a lovely patchwork look to the countryside.

On the way back for breakfast I was able to take some photographs of Swallows who look about ready to make their amazing long migration to Africa pretty soon.

I managed to catch this one in the act of pooping!
In Mum's garden, the signs of autumn are already on their way. These Viburnum and Rowan berries look good enough to eat, specially to the Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes.

A young female Green Woodpecker visited Mum's lawn to dig out ants nests. I noticed their yaffling call alot during the last couple of days.

On the feeders I managed to snap a Nuthatch and Great Tit, though these are not quite sharp due I think to being taken through double glazing!

Back to rain for the weekend I think. Just makes days like these last two all the more special.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

A sunny spell...

There was a sunny spell for 5 minutes sometime last week, I forget which day. I can't remember a summer quite like this one for persistent rain!

Anyway, I took the opportunity to snap some shots.

Here's a hoverfly that I was able to identify in my books later that day.

Here's one that I couldn't! (-:

This 10 spot ladybird was pottering along the verbena leaves. I know he doesn't look like he has 10 spots, but I think that is what he is a variety of.

Lastly, this moth was waiting out the day on our kitchen wall. The nearest I could get to an ID is possibly a Mottled Beauty. If anyone knows any different, I'd been grateful to hear from them.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

On a twitch.

This morning, I went with a couple of birding friends down to the heathlands of Dorset to twitch a Lesser Grey Shrike. This would be a life bird for me and a Brit tick for the other two. When we arrived at Hartland Moor there were plenty of birders around to direct us towards the Shrike. It showed very well through a scope, but was, unfortunately too far away for me to try and get a photo. A stunning bird!
After spending a good half hour watching this bird feeding well on beetles, we decided to make our way nearer to the coast to do some wader watching. We ended up at a place called Little Sea where we were able to spend some time looking through wader flocks to see if we could come up with something more unusual. We didn't manage anything along those lines, but we did see Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Curlew, Whimbrel, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatchers and Little Egrets.

Most of the waders were too far away for photography, but I did manage to snap this Oystercatcher and that has been cropped quite heavily.

On the way home, we stopped at some heathland to see if we could see Woodlark or Dartford Warbler. No go on those, but the heather and gorse looked wonderful.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Cattle Egrets!

A friend and I went down to the Somerset Levels during the week just to get out while the weather was reasonable. The header shows Glastonbury Tor which dominates the surrounding countryside. The myth goes that Joseph of Aramathea planted his staff at Glastonbury Tor. The area also has connections with the legends of King Arthur.

It was quiet for birds, but there were plenty of butterflies about. We saw quite a few Red Admirals and some Peacocks and Brimstones.

This Common Darter rested for a short while on a rather dead looking plant, not sure what that is!

The highlight for us though was watching 4 Cattle Egrets close to a site where they have bred for the first time in this country. There were three adults and one younster. Lovely to see.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Caliornia birding trip part 3

This is the final installment about a birding trip I took with friends to Southern California. The weather was perfect in April and we saw almost all the target birds that we went for as well as some other fantastic wildlife.

Our drive north from Ventura up the coast to Morro Bay was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Our target for that day was to see Sea Otters. We couldn't have had more luck as for hours, we watched a mother Sea Otter and pup eating and swimming together at pretty close range. A truely magical experience!

This Western Gull often swam close to the Sea Otters to try and snatch a tasty morsel.

Another fantastic time we had was watching a colony of Elephant Seals. We only saw a couple of the males and they stayed pretty distant. The females more than made up for that though with their bickering and fighting and some of the pups were plain cute! (-:

On our last day, we decided to go up into the mountains near Ventura to see if we could see Condors. A small chance I know, but it would have been great just to see one of these amazing birds. We didn't in the end, but it was a lovely peaceful end to our trip up there as we had the place to ourselves.......except for some lizards!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

California birding trip part 2

You know, I can't quite remember where this Cottonwood Canyon was. I've just rung my friend who organised the whole trip for us to find out. It was between the Mojave desert and Maricopa. The entire hillside was covered in millions of these yellow flowers. Quite simply stunning!

On the coast at Santa Barbara, we spent some time sea-watching. This Surfbird was one of my favourite birds of the trip. I wish I'd been able to get a sharper photo, specially with the dramatic waves behind!

We took a boat trip over to Santa Cruz Island, specifically to see Island Scrub Jay. This one proved to be very photogenic.

This photo of the iconic Bald Eagle was taken at Lopez Lake.

We got up early to drive up to Morro Bay, the main target here was to see Sea Otters. I'll tell more about that in the next installment.