Monday, 30 November 2009

The other day I commented on how much I hate birding in the wind, well there is one exception, when it goes northerly and the sea gets rough. Looking at the weather Sun and Mon should have produced strong north easterlies, should have been enough to get some seabirds moving.
Sun was a bit of a let down, as usual the forecasters got it wrong and we had light easterlies that had dropped to nothing by early afternoon. At Spurn I managed to see a Great Northern and a Velvet with a few other ducks but not much else. The lads had seen Balearic and a few other things before I got there.

So Monday dawned and it was much stronger but a quick look on the internet said it was westerly so I didn't bother going out. Instead I walked into town, jesus it was cold it must be northerly, it's tricky to tell though as the wind swirls round the buildings. Anyway my mate Tim who lives on the coast confirmed it was so I shot off to Hornsea.

Hornsea used to be a great place for seawatching there was a good shelter, ok so it stank of piss more often than not and you usually had to talk to a drunk for at least part of any seawatch (usually until they passed out) but you could get out of the wind and it was a popular seawatching spot. Then the council pulled it down because the bum brigade kept rutting in the toilets! Nobody goes there now, the only shelter is on a bench behind a wall (ok if its dry) and a small shelter with a roof further along. The old place was low enough but the other spots are almost below sea level!

Hornsea really shouldn't be that good as a seawatch spot, its low down, about as far west in Brid bay as you can get and on a smoth coastline with no bits jutting out. Strange how it can be so good then. Today however wasn't a good day! Don't get me wrong I've had worse days much worse, best stuff today was 10 Eider, 1 Velvet, 2 Goldeneye, 1 Purple Sand, 1 Shag, 500+ Kittiwake.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Firstly let me say thanks to those that have commented on this blog, it's taken a while for people to find it cos I've not really advertised the fact aside from a few mates. However this isn't quite a democracy! If you've got something to say I welcome your comments but anyone criticising must leave their name, sorry but I don't go round leaving anonymous comments and won't tolerate it on here. As for those leaving childish school playground comments well you can just fuck off you tossers. Anyone posting something against these simple rules will be deleted. Its my blog I make the rules if you don't like them read someone elses!

Anyway back to the birds, I took a drive round the Wolds today looking for raptors, managed to see a couple of Peregrines, 3 Buzzards and between 12 and 15 Kites. I managed a few shots of the Kites before it got too dull.

I'm not too disappointed with these but I do find it really hard to get proper focus lock on birds in flight even when they are as big as a Kite. I suppose I just need to keep practicing

Thursday, 26 November 2009

River Warbler, Fair Isle Oct 09. Jack Ashton-Booth

My mate Jack Ashton-Booth (aka the ditch bitch, aka ERRJack) is a really talented up and coming artist and also the keenest most enthusiastic person I've ever met, he really does wear you out with his constant whoas and wows everytime he sees.....well pretty much anything really. He still thinks it's amazing when Blue Tits peck the top of a milk bottle open! Anyway he's set up a blog to showcase his work, it can be found here

I decided to have a break from arguing with pricks on a well known forum and have a play around with photoshop cs4 to try and learn how to do the basics. Here's a selection of the Phal from yesterday when it was a bit sunnier.

Those of you that have seen this ridiculous bird may be surprised to hear I think it's probably the least photogenic bird I've seen since getting the camera. Ok so it might feed around your feet but it never stops moving and always seems to be at the wrong angle. I've taken about a million shots of it this week and none of the sharp ones are in what I'd call a nice pose.

The wind wasn't helping either. I hate birding in strong wind and photography just makes it even worse. On top of that the wind is stopping me working too I haven't been in the air for 2 weeks now! At this rate there will be no beer for me at christmas. Bah humbug.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Had a bit of paperwork and stuff to do first thing this morning so got that out of the way and took a quick trip to Barton for the Red necked Phal. When I set off it was bright and sunny but by the time I found where the bird was the sky was black so getting pics was a case of 1250iso and lots of blur!! later on though it came out a bit sunnier and I managed a few reasonable pics. This is the best one taken at iso800 and about 400/sec. I'll go back later in the week and try again if we get a sunny day as it shows down to less than 10 feet!!!

If you read this often you will remember I've previously mentioned a Shrike I found on my last day on Shetland. Well after I had got home I heard a couple of other birders (one of whom I told about my suspicions) had seen the bird and one of them got pics that were due to be published.

So I was pretty keen to see them and when Birding World landed on the doormat last week I flicked straight to them. Now to me the article seems a bit egotistical and doesn't read very well but the pics are what matter most and although they aren't the best quality (I'm pretty sure Rebecca Nason would have made a better job of it) they do show features of Brown Shrike. Well the jolly nice fella that has written the article has mentioned that I was the finder which is really good of him but it's a shame he couldn't tell the whole story instead of making out I reported it as a Red backed, to be honest this isn't a million miles from the truth its just it misses the important caveat that I couldn't rule out Brown and some things about it niggled me!!! Oh well everyone already told me he was a prize wanker so I suppose I should have expected it. Anyway the people that matter know what really happened.

WANKER WANKER WANKER WANKER WANKER..................................
Those of you who know Spurn will realise what a loss to the obs it is that we've had to close most of the buildings, only the warren cottage remains, the others are all deemed unfit for us to use anymore. That means no more 'room A' or as it is also known 'the naughty boys room'. This is a bit of a shock to the system really I've been staying in that room for 22 years, that's a big chunk of my life and some of the best nights I've ever had have been in this room and some of the best friends I've got have been met there. It really is the end of an era!

Room A is no more!!!

But then again you can't keep room A down!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Not really done a lot of birding in the last couple of weeks. I've managed to get to spurn at weekends but there's not been much around and I've spent most of my time trying to get pics of a central asian Lesserthroat thats been hanging round the crown car park. Its a bastard to get shots of it never sits still and there's always branches in front of it, these are about the best I've managed.

I like the second shot, shows the extensive white in the outer tail pretty well and isn't something you see everyday.

I also got really close to a few Snedge Bunts that were hanging around on the cliff top nr Hutts hut!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

I've had a couple of lucky escapes it the last few days, firstly I nearly went for the Chameleon Warbler in Cornwall, what's all this shit with Bright Green? It's fucking Green ok. Trouble is this one wasn't it was Greenish!
They can and often do show a yellowish wash in sunlight around the sides of the face look at this one from Spurn it's only really noticeable in bright sunlight and disappears in dull conditions. I must admit when I saw Martin Elliots notebook paintings I thought it looked good with the amount of Yellow on the breast he'd painted. In the end it was sound recorded and Magnus Robb says it's a Greenish, that's good enough for me! Anyway I think certain quarters will keep the debate going for a little longer before eventually giving up on it!

Then came the Rattray heed Olly. In Aug 95 I was on a 'stag do' in Suffolk and dipped the Kessingland bird whilst dropping some lovely young ladies back at their campsite, even saw the birders cars but knew nothing of the bird and had other things on my mind! So getting sick of waiting for one in Yorks (Spurn must be due one these) I was trying to get a team together. I'm glad I didn't and the less said about the ID the better!

So anyway what did I get upto? Well spent the weekend at Spurn and although it wasn't heaving with stuff in the bushes there was enough to keep you going. Duck passage was good but wanted to make the most of what was left of the bush bashin for this year so didn't look at many. Had this nice shorty come in off on Sat afternoon.

Sunday morning was a washout with torrential rain and high winds, this Little Bunt put in a better show than it had when found the day before but not much else was worth noting. A cold looking Snipe made most of us realise we knew either not enough, very little or nothing about the ID of Wilson's in the end a quick shufty on the internet gave us enough ammo to suss it didn't have a yank accent

I've been trying to sharpen and sort the colours out on my pics but with these I think I've gone way over the top, I really need to learn how to do it properly. Trouble is CS2 won't open RAW files so I'm having to change them to JPEG's first which seems stupid, I'm gonna get CS4 which apparantly works with later Canon cameras then buy a book or some magazines.