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.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Pretty much most of my day was spent in Gunners Park looking for the Serin which had been seen again earlier in the morning.

I walked much of the park to the east of the car park without success so after driving to nearby Shoebury to look for yesterdays reported Waxwing, which failed to make an appearance, I grabbed from food from Sainsbury's and sat in the car opposite the car park feeders and waited out the rain.

Then out of the blue the male Serin appeared. I noticed movement behind the feeders in one of the bushes which proved to be just a Goldfinch but I suddenly realised the Serin was sat behind it, albeit mostly obscured.

Out of the car and time to try and get a better view and some images. This was difficult on both counts as it remained largely within the bush so I had to make do with record shots.

It didn't linger long and after about 7 or 8 minutes it flew towards the pond and out of sight. That was it for the rest of the day despite many of the local birders searching for it later.

Not a major rarity but still a very scarce bird, this is my fourth in the SOG area, well actually the fourth in Gunners Park.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Angel of the Arctic

With an adult Ross's Gull being seen on and off in the Weymouth area I had to pay a visit and a plan was hatched to pick up Simon on the way near Southampton in the early hours.

Things started off badly as we missed the Ross's at Lodmoor by probably less than a minute and then again at Ferrybridge about an hour later by gain just minutes. As the target bird had visited Radipole Lake the previous day several times it would seem a god bet it would do so again today so we ended up staking out the lake by the visitor centre. As time wore on the crowd grew and then right on schedule it appeared.

Initially it was at the far end of the lake but eventually drifted into the island by the visitor centre were some excellent views were obtained of this most delicate of the worlds gulls. After about 40 minutes it flew off south and the crowd departed.

Simon and I lingered a further few hours in the hope that it would return but we did eventually call it a day at around 3:30pm as I had a four and half hour drive back home. Whilst we were waiting for the second showing a Caspian Gull was picked out amongst the large gulls gathered nearby which proved to be my first of the year.

A cold day but the Ross's Gull was stunning.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

First post on New Blog.

Today was stunning February weather but I seemed to have had a lot of bad luck. Visited Mickleham in Surrey this morning for a hoped for Hawfinch bonanza but seems a I was a little to late as instead of the hoped for 300+ I got a big fat zero. Stayed here for three hours with fleeting views of what were probably Hawfinch but none sat up. Not what I spent 2hours driving for.

Back at home I then failed to find the long staying Little Stint and Barnacle Geese a Bowers Marsh. I did have a little Hawfinch reprieve when two were seen in Pound Wood in the evening but luck wasnt with me as when one perched up the camera just kept coming back with an error and would not work. Frantic off.on again and taking the battery out and back in and lots of lens wobbles until it worked but by then the bird had gone.

Overall a frustrating day.

Hopefully subsequent posts will be of a more positive nature.