Wednesday, 27 July 2011

I mentioned we'd managed to do a couple of days birding on Orkney.  It's absolutely full of birds up there even though it was mid summer and is a great place to spend a few days.  Whilst we were there we saw loads of Hen Harriers and a few Short eared owls, a Temminck's Stint was a surprise, (it had been seen before but not reported for about ten days) we also saw a stunning summer plumage Slav Grebe, breeding Red throated Divers.  Oh and a big cat, no really it was massive, a big black thing, probably not big enough to be a panther in fairness but still massive.

This is the Temminck's, not the big cat!

Best of all on the trip were two different pods of killers, one seen from land between Stromness and Hoy and the other seen close to the boat.  I've tried to upload a video of them but it keeps rejecting it!  Here's Bill after seeing them.

I think this man is pretty happy!

On the last day we drove down to South Ronaldsay, just exploring really and stumbled across a really amazing looking site.  Here's a few pics of the habbo, this place is one of the rarest looking sites I've ever seen, it's almost as good as the gulley trap on Fair isle!

It starts off like this 

Gets a bit denser

Gets a bit deeper and the trees more mature

And then is like this!

Here's the thing though, I've never heard of the place!  The signpost at the end of the road says Windwick and there's a hut with ringing equipment in it so the place is obviously (well)watched.  It's on the east side of South Ron so it must get stuff, it had marked trails running through it so it can't be private so why have I never heard of it?  The only two reasons I can come up with are it's known by a different name or the people watching it don't put news out!  I know one thing if we are up there in Sept/Oct I'm having a couple of days there

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

I was interested to read in Birding World that the Black Duck was reported to show slight Mallard like features and it's suggested it may be the bird from 2007.  It's nice to know top birding luminaries such as the BW editorial team obviously listen to Yorkslister!  Shame the same can't be said for some members of the Surfbirds forum!!!!  How do you add smilies to blog posts?

Seriously though those of you who don't join in on these forums (and I know that's er well nearly everyone I know!) the White billed Diver we had in June has been questioned, actually I was told it isn't one and then it was insinuated that the others we've had this year wouldn't be either!  I've dropped out of the discussion on there because it was becoming circular and to be fair I was ready for losing it with someone.  The fact is 4 people on the boat saw the bird, 3 of us are, or have been on our county records committees and lets face it although not claiming to be infallible we aren't mugs.  So if we get onto a diver with a pale yellowish bill that also shows a brown mealy neck and is massive and in very deep water then as far as I'm concerned it's a case of no further questions your honour.  This whole episode just shows how pics can be misleading in some cases, and it seemed that people were basing their opinion on the bill alone when there is so much more to White billed Divers than the bill.  Interestingly a couple of my mates whose opinion I respect highly don't think it is one based on the pics, on the other hand others do, including two BBRC members.

Anyway enough of that here's a nice calming sunset with the new camera.

I'd like to start taking a few artistic landscapes, the first thing I want to try is using long exposures to get some blurring into water.  I tried on Orkney the other week with some really nice bright green seaweed on a rocky shoreline but I couldn't work out how to do it.  I was setting the shutter speed but it kept overexposing, I'm not sure this camera is flexible enough to do this I need to read the manual!
Got a few posts to put up over the next few days if I get the time.  I've been away to Orkney again where we managed to fit in about three days of birding seeing a fair bit of stuff and also done trips to the Western Isles and done a couple of days in the Pennines.

I bought a new camera too, not a replacement for the now completely dead 50D but a compact for scenery and digiscoping.  It's a Canon S95 and the reviews I read suggest it's one of the top compacts on the market, well until next Tuesday when it will be obsolete!!
I'm using it handheld and the results are pretty good so far.  I've made a makeshift adapter for it to line it up but it still needs holding.  I'll be investing in an SRB alignment collar but don't want to go down the route of adapers and cable releases, I like the idea of having this really small camera in my pocket ready to get a good record shot.

Here's a few shots from Hornsea today.  No sun at all and just a bit of sharpening and curves adjustment applied.  My photoshop skills are very amateur, I've no idea how to use Layers for instance!

I love the summer plumage Adult Little Gull what a shape, it's a shame it wasn't closer/better light.

Anyone interested in witnessing the Little Gull spectacle at Hornsea should plan a trip for August, it's shaping up to be a good year with around 2,000 birds present offshore already.  Birds mainly feed offshore and large numbers can be seen anywhere from Flamborough to Spurn.  But it's when they come into the mere that they are at their most impressive.  Over the years I've seen over 5,000 birds on a few occasions and once saw well in excess of 10,000.  If I remember correctly I think the peak that year was near to 20,000.  That's a lot of Little Gulls.  At the moment they are mostly just visiting the mere in the evenings and early mornings but they should be present more regularly throughout the day next month.  The best way to get pics is when they rest on the jetties on the south side of Kirkholme point, with the easternmost one being their favourite.  Those armed with a DSLR and a sense of adventure should hire a rowing boat and get out amongst them.  Be aware though that at the moment birds aren't really coming into the mere until after Kirkholme is closed for the night so the only way to view is from the fields on the south side of the mere.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Here are all the pics I have of the Black Duck,  I've uploaded them straight from the phone via the laptop so they should be larger files than using the blogpress app from the phone.

Here's the seabird pics I mentioned earlier, I thought I'd got some half decent Stormy pics but they haven't come out as well as I thought.  I had a play around with Bill's 7D with my lens attached and the results are pretty good, it certainly seemed to get focus much quicker and more reliably.  The Fulmars Eider and Common Gulls were all with the 7D.

It's a shame these Great northern shots were into the sun slightly because it was so close to the boat they would have looked fantastic with the head exposed correctly so the red eye was visible

Here's the White bill, surely it must be the last until the winter?  Unless it's summering!  I guess we'll find out next month.