Sunday, 24 June 2018

Red-crested Pochard localy is rather scarce and just about annual. Last year Bowers Marsh saw a female and this year the same site produced thisvery fine but always distant drake.

Taken from the southern path by standing on the 'gull watching' log and straining to see over the top of the reedbed. This side of this site really does need an elevated viewing mound to see the best spots which have birds. Shame the RSPB keep ignoring local birders.

Butterflies of South Essex

We have some good Butterflies locally and a very pleasant walk around Belfairs Woods on Saturday resulted in excellent views of White Admiral, Purple Hairstreak and a few remaining Heath Fritillaries. Still looking foreard to the day we start getting Purple Emperors and Silver-washed Fritillaries floating up and down the woodland rides.

Nearby Benfleet Downs is a hotspot for White-letter Hairstreaks and about six were seen on and around the usual Bramble patches whilst Marbled Whites and Esex Skippers were in the grassland.

A very pleasant day with the butties.

More Hawk Moths

Added two more Hawk Moths to the years tally in the garden. From just two traps run this summer I have caught Lime, Poplar, Elephant, Privet and Eyed. Hawk Moths with several of Elephant and Privet caught. Always stunner.

Slow Summer Birding

Only managed a limited amount of birding in recent weeks but have included visits to Bowers Marsh to see the drake Red-crested Pochard which is a local scarcity and Wallasea Island where Carn Bunting and Avocets were plentiful. Summer = slow birding

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Rosy Pastor, Pink Stink, Rosy Starling or Rose-coloured Starling

As per the title of the post there are many names for Rose-coloured Starling but do any really do justice to the bird that was seen in Rayleigh today?

In the morning it was seen in rather grey conditions whilst a return visit in the evening in much improved light resulted in some nice images. A full suite of these will eventually be posted on my website but in the meantime a few here included here.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Israel April - May 2018 : The Best of the Best

Raptors aside what were the star birds of the trip? As usual its always a tricky thing to pick out favourites but I think these really do stand head and shoulders above the rest

Corncrake : This super tame bird showing down to a few feet in Ofira Park

Pharaoh Eagle Owl : Yotvata Fields. I've tried many times previously to get this fella and it really performed this year showing well on both of the visits.

European Bee-eater : This was a really good year for this species with many being seen on virtually every day of the trip with a couple showing exceptionally close.

Western Rock Nuthatch : The most wanted to see bird of the far north of the country we eventually located a nesting pair near the Mt. Hermon entrance gate.

Black-headed Bunting : Many superb singing males were the at the superb Valley of Tears and the Calandra Lark performed their song and display flight near Tel Shifon. Superb birding in the north.

Whats better, a Black Scrub Robin at Lotan or a Rufous Scrub Robin running around your feet at Samar. I just love these Robins.

Of course the Honey Buzzards that showed eceptionally well at Neot Semadar Sewage Pools as well.

I can't wait to return to this superb birding this country has to offer.

Israel April - May 2018 : Raptors

So I've now been back from Israel a few weeks and been trawling through my many many images and will post a collection of some of my favourites. The main reason for another late April trip was to see the Honey Buzzard passage again in full swing but unfortunately the weather this year meant the Honey's didn't perform to their usual outstanding norm. Still had a few good views plus a couple of hybird Crested x European Honey Buzzards in the mix.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Garden Kite

Much of my day was spent getting the garden in order. Plugging a hole in fence caused by the local Badger, Cutting the grass, de-weeding etc with some time spent sky watching. This resulted in 4 House Martins and three Swifts, both being my first for the year, however, with a Lesser Whitethroat singing briefly. I thought this was a garden tick but my records shows I heard one back on 2014 so this represented just the second garden record.

However the days hightlight was the very long over due Red Kite which drifted in from the west and continued steadily east and was gone within a minute.

Whenever I'm in the garden I always have my Bins and Camera to hand to I was quickly able to get a few record shots. We pleased with this.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

A quick review of the new Compact Flash card I recently purchased; the Lexar 128GB 160MB/s 1066x UDMA 7 Professional.

I've so far only used this on the Waxwing in the previous post but the download to PC is mega quick. I usually go with Sandisk, and they are very quick, but the good reviews of this card and it being somewhat cheaper I thought I'd give it a try. My previous largest Compact Flash card is the SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB 160MB/s UDMA 7.

The 80 or so images I took f the Waxwing were at the largest RAW with the Largest JPEG alongside, I find reviewing JPEGS easier than RAW so I have these as well. These 80 images were downloaded in less than 15 seconds so the transfer rate is lightening quick, though must be considered that my laptop is super fast as well with 16GB RAM.

So far I thought this download was the fastest I've had to date and with the new laptop I shouldnt have any of the issues I had last year when I was in Israel when the Old Laptop just couldnt download the extremely large file sizes from a 1DX, Computer Said No.

I look forward to using this card.

Waxwing invasion; well not quite

This winter was not one of those winters that saw a Waxwing invasion with very few being seen around the country. Locally it was looking like it was going to be very difficult to get onto the local year list and we were looking to see what the end of the year may bring us. A brief lived hope came when one was seen in Shoebury a month ago but was not seen subsequently. Then one was seen around the Alton Road area of Oakengrange Drive in Southend. This sprung new hope but nothing was seen by those who visited. I had often driven along Oakengrange this winter as it has been berry central. Then a few days ago the Waxwing reappeared and went onto to show to most who went to see it, albeit it would disappeard off somewhere for long periods of time.

I had the fortune of the bird being there when I made mnmy first visit, I have been laid up with Kidney Stones for the past week and one of the rare times I was pain free I got out.

The past few days the weather has been pretty damn grey, often with thick fog, and today did see grey skies which are not the best for photography with these shots being taken with higher than normal ISO's to just get a fast enough shutter speed, lots of stopping down was also required. Still given the conditions these are not to bad.