Monday, 12 November 2012

I haven't managed to update the blog for a long time and although my autumn was busy its now so long since some of the stuff happened that I can't really remember/be bothered to write about ancient history!  So here's a post i started writing a couple of months ago. 

Following on from the last posts cracking tits I was hoping to put a pic up of some Beaver this time!  but unfortunately this is as close as I got.



Yeah OK so it was a furry mammal I was after not more hot women, this blog is supposed to be about wildlife afterall.

We had a lot of poor weather whilst in Scotland recently so we had a couple of hours off one day and went to look at the reintroduction area at Loch Dubh, the sign above talks about how good the engineering is and all the materials used, they're not kidding!!!


We didn't see any Beavers and to be honest it's all a bit man made, it's plastic looking and suspicious.  For instance the sign says they have dammed the area to flood it but the stone chip path that has been made partly with a machine is right alongside the site and the floating pontoons are right next to the dam, would all this work really have been carried out once they had settled down or was it made before they were released, surely the latter would be a risky strategy with the potential for them to bugger off and settle down elsewhere.  Although we didn't stay long we saw a nice Gos.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Just got back from a week in Tenerife, it wasn't really a birding trip it was a relaxing holiday with the girlfriend, I spent a fair amount of time by the pool each day, can't think why can you?

 Nice Spanish scenery!

Despite the obvious attractions of the poolside I managed 7 seawatches, a trip on the Tenerife to La Gomera ferry, a Whale and Dolphin boat trip and a day traveling round the island looking at endemics!  not bad for a not a birding holiday!!!!

As you can see my main priority were the seabirds, I had four targets Bulwer's, Little Shear, Madeiran Petrel and White faced Stormie.  I thought I'd get the first 2 easily and the other two would be tricky with the White faced a long shot.  As it turned out they were all difficult and I was a little disappointed with the views of everything I saw, except the millions of Cory's.  All the interesting birds were distant and having no previous experience of them I felt I was identifying things because you know they occur there.  My totals for the week were 6 Bulwer's, 2 Little Shears, 2 Madeiran Petrels and I failed on the White faced.  Actually 2 of the Bulwer's were close enough that if I'd found them in Britian I would have felt confident claiming them, and one of the Madeiran's was nearly so, but everything else would have been birds that got away, although I suppose we all have different standards, I can think of a few who would have claimed the lot!

My impression of the island was that birds are pretty thin on the ground my species list was about 30ish, Massive eh.  OK so I saw some good birds in that and I didn't bother going to a lot of sites but even so it's low.

I didn't bother with the Pigeons because they are shit, I hate Pigeons, and in any case the forest fires have meant the track to the site nr Erjos is closed to the public and this is the only site I went near, well I think it is, I didn't actually read the book to find out if there were any other sites near anywhere I went. 

I visited the pools at Erjos but they were nearly dry and unproductive. 

The picnic site at  Las Lajas was open despite some evidence of fires nearby, I found the best strategy here was to fill one of the troughs from the taps and sit nearby with the camera.

 I had an abortive attempt at a seawatch from punta de teno in the north but there wasn't a breath of wind and it was impossibly hot and I just couldn't stand sitting there.

 Even though I was close to it every day I didn't bother going to the Roquita del Fraile reservoir, simply because I wasn't desperate to add Greenshank or something similarly shit to my trip list I wanted to spend as much time as possible gazing out to sea.

With this in mind I tried to find a good seawatching point that didn't involve a lot of walking therefore I didn't abandon Alison for any longer than necessary, brownie points you see!  The guide book suggests that the lighthouse at Punta de la Rasca is the best place in the south but it's a fair walk and I'm not convinced it's got that much going for it


View Larger Map

As you can see the lighthouse is halfway along a fairly straight section of coast which I don't think makes it ideal, it has good height though, but I reckon either end of this flat area of coast will be as good if not better.  With this in mind I usually just parked at Palm Mar and walked south to the obvious point.  I also spent a few hours at the south end of the town at a sewage pump station (a round stone turret) that in all honesty seemed as good as anywhere and was right next to the car so perfect for a flying visit, in fact I saw 2 Bulwer's and both Madeiran's from here, it did stink of shit a bit though, but no worse than the seawatch hut at Spurn when it's full!

The ferry trip was OK but the only birds that came close were Cory's, I guess you just have to be lucky.  I saw a European Stormie a Little Shear and 2 Bulwer's but views weren't good, I decided seawatching from land was gonna be just a s productive so didn't bother with the 39 Euro return trip cost again

I thought the Whale and Dolphin trip would be good for photography if nothing else ans the boat was small.  I also hoped that being on a slow boat for a couple of hours would offer a good chance of the target species.  In the end it was shite, 3 Cory's came close and were always into the light, I saw nothing else!  They also made no attempt to look for Dolphins despite claiming we had a 75% chance of them, I'd seen them from land and we didn't go close to where they hung out.  The simply took us to the Pilot Whales which are lazy and don't move much, therefore guaranteed , then killed time for an hour by going very slowly back to port but really close in to the cliffs.  I still think these trips have potential but don't use the travelin' lady boat, the othe boatr went out to the Dolphin area and spent longer much further out to sea than we did so would be a better bet.

Here's a few pics of the things that kept me away from the poolside.




































Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Meet the new BOSS!!!


It's a few weeks ago now but what a win in the Tour for Bradley Wiggins, epic and truly an amazing achievement being the first British winner.  Then he went and won another gold medal in that there London! I wonder if next year it'll be a case of same as the old boss?

With the exception of Mark Cavendish who couldn't manage to win the road race and Vic Pendleton who seems to have been on the receiving end of some pretty harsh decisions the whole of team GB cycling seems to be unstoppable, hang on is that something we really are world beaters at?  Certainly looks like it Mark!

All this cycling on telly made me want to get out on my bike, I certainly need to get fitter and lose a few stone!  Trouble is mountain bikes are shit on the road, they really are no fun.  And around here the paths are all straight round the edges of fields with the only decent singletrack in woodland around the edges of the Wolds necessitating at least 10 miles on the road in order to get to anything worth riding.  Also at this time of year they are terribly overgrown with nettles and in winter the mud is so sticky it;'s impossible to ride through as it clogs your wheels up to the point they won't turn.  The other option is to stick the bike in the car and drive to somewhere like Dalby Forest or west Yorks but then you need at least half a day spare.  The upshot of this is you don't end up riding very often, well I don't.  So I've gone and done something I never thought I would, I've bought a road bike!  It's rather smart actually and amazingly fast.




I'm never gonna be a Bradley Wiggins but hopefully it'll help me do more exercise.  I've even thought that at some point I might try to do the odd race if I feel fit enough.  I've only ever done 2 cycle races, a cross country and a downhill on the mountain bike.  To be honest it wasn't much of a downhill, it was in Dalby and is now part of the black run there.  The cross country was an excellent course at Owler Bar nr Sheffield and I was knackered after it but the buzz was good.  I finished 18th in both weirdly.  I might have soem pics somewhere I'll try to dig out and scan.


 

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

I was honestly surprised to receive a message from the manager of Bass and Bligh within a few hours of sharing my last post on facebook, here it is:

Hi Garry,

I am Justin from Bass & Bligh in Harrogate and have just read your blog.


I would like to explain the mix up in understanding we appear to have had. Regarding the Swarovski Binoculars, it was myself you spoke to last week, i made an error in saying we have never recieved the "SV's". For some reason i had Zeiss on the brain and thought we were talking about there new binocular, i always refer to the Swarovski's as "EL's" not "SV's" This was a gunuine mistake made by myself, the annoying thing is hat we had and still do have the new 8x32 EL/SV in stock.


We are a small inderpendant business who really enjoy looking after our customers, we never intentionally set to mislead or lie to anyone of our potential/existing customers, it was very upsetting to read your opinion of the customer service you recieved from myself.


Justin

justin@bassandbligh.com


I have to say I'm not sure about the reason he gives for the mix up as I know I would have mentioned the manufacturer by name i.e  Swarovski and not the Zeiss but I guess if the shop was busy or something he may have not heard me correctly so I'm happy to give them the benefit of the doubt.  And I have to say I do respect the fact he took the time to respond to my post, it appears they aren't tossers but good guys, maybe they'll give me a hefty discount if I promise to write a glowing review!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Lying bastards

A short post this, just to have a whine about optics retailers, well one in particular, Bass and Bligh in Harrogate. A few weeks ago they had the 8x32 SV's listed as in stock on their website, as I also wanted to visit a bike shop nearby I took a drive over there only to be told they had sold them, ah well i suppose it's no problem and to be honest I should have rung to double check Last time I was travelling up to Scotland I thought I'd try again as I was passing nearby, same story just sold them they'll be back in stock at the end of the week. Yesterday I tried again only to be told they haven't had any.......and as far as they know nobody else has. What a crock of shite In Focus have had them at least cos my mate fuckin bought a pair from them. What really pisses me off though is why bother lying that they have had them and sold at least a couple of pairs, I really can't see what they have to gain from that. TOSSERS. At least it means In Focus or Birdnet Optics will be getting my custom now.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, 23 July 2012

Why does it always take me so long between updates these days?  I just don't seem to have the time to post anymore, and when I do I've forgotten all those little golden nuggets of wit!

So in the absence of anything funny to write about I'll talk about optics.  Regular reader(s) will remember last year I tested all the top scopes and at the time I thought the Kowa 883 with 30x was cracking but the Swaro 80 with the 25-50 zoom was the best zoom, and therefore offered more felexibility.  I think I also posted to say I'd bought a the Kowa in the autumn.  Well the reason for buying the Kowa was it was secondhand and therefore a bit cheaper and I didn't want to shell out full whack on a scope as I'd heard Swaro had a new one coming out this year.  The beast has arrived, well it's been announced, in the usual Swaro style it won't arrive for a few months and when it does they'll be rarer in shops than rocking horse shit.  I will almost certainly be buying one though, specifically a 95mm 30-70 zoom one.  Check it out on t'internet it looks simply awesome, I can't wait to look through one.

Also while we're on the subject of optics I've bought some new bins, I should have bought two pairs by now but haven't found the time to go look through the new Swaro 8x32 EL swarovision, that really is a shit name innit, swarovision, who the fuck thought that one up!  Think I'll stick with SV's.  The other pair I bought we're solely for boat work.  My 10x we're a bit difficult to hold steady particularly on the boats I'm working on at the moment which are a little less than smooth!  So I got myself a pair of 8x, I didn't fancy using the new SV's (when I get them) and fucking them up with loads of salt spray and the odd drenching on rough days so I found a pair of Zeiss 8x40 victory's going for a relative song.  Most people don't remember these because they got a few bad reviews due to the way they handled stray light, the strap design and the rubber smelling of tyres!  I got a pair of MK11's and they sorted the light and strap issue on these but the rubber is the same, except after a few years it seems they don't stink anymore.  This is what they look like.

They are pretty good, in fact in anticipation of buying the new SV's I sold my old EL's a few weeks ago and haven't missed them.

I also got hold of a converter for the Lumix the other week which now makes it 1020mm, it's insane.  I've not really had a chance to use it much but this Barn Owl was obliging the other day.  They have had some curves tweaked and sharpened.





Friday, 22 June 2012

I've managed to get the Lynx video working so Here it is...
 
video

This was taken hand held digiscoped with the S95, I'm pretty pleased with it.  An Awesome beast.


You'll be aware that I got rid of my DSLR last year when the 50D body expired.  Well I've been looking for another option for the last 6 months or so.  A couple of days before leaving for Spain I took the plunge and bought a Panny Lumix FZ150.  Here's a few shots with it, they are taken in RAW and straight out of the camera just saved for web in Photoshop with no processing done.

 

The noise visible in the underwings on these Vultures is actually pissing rain!








Dan looking the wrong way for once!



 Some of these I'm fairly happy with, I have to keep telling myself it's not a DSLR but I'm sure a really good image from this camera with some clever photoshop work can rival the quality I was getting form the 50D.  I tried some processing on a couple of these pics but the raptors against the sky don't seem to respond much to the tweaks I was trying and the Iberian flava although pleasant wasn't close enough to really resolve enough detail to bring the quality up afterwards.

That said though it's tiny and weighs nothing, it will come into it's own in the autumn on Shetland for grabbing record shots of anything I'm lucky enough to stumble upon!

The middle ground may prove to be the way I go eventually though, I was mighty impressed with the Panny GH2 it has the same super fast focus of the FZ150 but has interchangeable lenses and a better processor, with the 100-300 zoom it weighs a third of the weight of a 7d plus 100-400 and is about a quarter the size.  The only problem with it is the viewfinder blacks out between shots, hopefully this will be sorted in the next version.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Right it's been ages since I wrote any shite on here and a few mates have been giving me grief over it so I aim to make amends and write a load of bollocks about a few things over the next few weeks.

So what has happened since April, well in birding terms not fuckin much.  I was away in Scotland at the end of May so I missed the Orphean Warbler at Hartlepool which was a bit if a wounder, but not as much as missing the Gull billed Tern at Hatfield/Thorne wherever it was.  Several of the top Yorkshire boys connected with that one including reinstated top man Dave Hursthouse, he'd recently drawn level with the charlatan who was pretending to be at the head of the field when he gripped back Pallid Harrier, then with the Tern went back clear.  It's coming to something when almost every lister in the county is happy for a Derbyshire man to be number one in God's country!!!

I went to Spain on my mate Jim's stag do in early May and met a few new Dutch friends, we had a great laugh, especially with Rene Pop who I shared a car with for the week, he had me in stitches and vice versa.  I can't really tell you anything more about it cos it's the law of the stag!  I suppose it's OK to say we saw lots of good birds and Iberian Lynx, I'll put some pics up shortly, I've tried to put some vid up but it's dicking about and won't have it!  So here's a pic instead.

Iberian Lynx

I honestly thought that was about all we would see of these beasts but within 10 minutes of getting to the viewpoint Rene had found this...




Sunday, 8 April 2012

Last years White Spotted Bluethroat at Spurn was the first since 1966, so it's amazing that not one but two have turned up today.  The first bird was in the sheep field at chalk bank and showing well so I really couldn't resist going down for it because I've never seen a White spot in Britain before, they are pretty rare and unpredictable in their appearance.

video


video


Can you imagine that, I've just driven a round trip of about 70 miles to look at a bird I can't tick I must be fuckin mad!  Oh no I'm not I'm a birder unlike all the twats on birdforum etc who wouldn't go for the Thayer's because they can't tick it, they really make my blood boil fuckin knob jockeys.

And another thing you also see is they're all asking can someone tell me which fields the gull has been seen in, or is there anywhere safe to park, or even worse do I need to bring wellies for this bird.....

No you fucking don't you don't actually need to go see it in the first fucking place cos it will mean absolutely fuck all to you!  If you need to worry about parking you should just drive straight past the birders at Elsham and continue on to Barton where you will find a lovely car park and hides where you may see Marsh Harrier, you almost certainy won't see Bittern or Bearded Tit because they are skulking/small and require a certain amount of skill to see, which you don't possess beause you're clearly not a true birder.  You will be able to buy a coffee though and you'll go home just as happy as you would if you'd seen the Thayer's Gull.  Anyway looks like it's gone, if you didn't go until you'd spent two days gathering all the necessary information I'm glad you fuckin missed it.




Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Thayer's the wrong side of the river!

Well fuck me two ticks in a week, I'm now on 464, but then again maybe I already was.  What am I going on about?  Thayer's Gull that's what.  I saw the bird at Poolsbrook a few years ago which many people thought was the real deal or near enough anyway.  I always thought it looked a bit funny round the head, hard to put into words but it's jizz was a bit wide of the mark for what I was expecting.  Here's a couple of pics of it see what you think.  They're a bit shit cos it was phonescoped but I think you can get the impression that the headshape is a bit funny.  And I suppose some might say it's too pale, I'm struggling to believe that pale Thayer's don't exist afterall if they were all the same they'd be practically the only Gull that didn't have massive individul variation

 
 
I'm maybe being a bit harsh on it and many think it was a good bird but you can't argue that the bird I saw today is a better candidate, it ticks all the boxes, for me at least.

video

video

video

Looks pretty good doesn't it?  Well it looks even better in Graham Catley's pics

http://pewit.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/thayers-gull-lincolnshire-first.html

It's surely the real deal, it's certainly better than any I've seen pics of in recent years, in fact the only thing I can see wrong with this bird is it's on the wrong side of the sodding river!



Tuesday, 3 April 2012

It's been a month since my last post, mainly because I got talked into fitting a new bathrooom in da house, which, as it turned out took nearly all month with one thing and another.  The other mostly being that the wall was falling in half!  I had to take out brickwork and stitch in recycled ones to bridge the gap.  

Yes that is daylight!!!

With the room now usable, a few things to finish off but at least I can have a shit, shower and shave now, so I've spent the last ten days or so catching up on work.  Highlight was somebody who appeared to have fallen/chucked themselves off a cliff.  The coastguard was heard to say 'the casualty has sustined major injuries, there appears to be no urgency', I guess that means they were brown bread.

Birds this month have been few and far between but I've seen my first migrants, a few Chiffs and 3 White Wags being the ones local.  I also played it totally cool with the Yellerthroat and waited until Sat 31st March before going to see it, turns out it hasn't been seen since so it may have fucked off, how spawny.  We got there and with only one other birder on site and reports some have had to try several times before connecting we were prepared for the worst, no worries Tim picked it up with in 5 minutes of getting there, back o the net!  We watched it on and off for about an hour and a half before clearing off for a celebratory Morrisons breakfast.
After this we went for a bit of Gos action at the New Fancy View watchpoint in the Forest of Dean.  We only had about an hour here but what an hour... Loads of Crossbill were flying around and two sat pretty close in the trees around the viewpoint, A Willow Warbler was singing in some saplings nearby which may have been a March tick for both of us and a couple of Bramblings did the odd flypast, then Tim picked up a pair of displaying Gos, they weren't close but views were prolonged as a huge female was in the air for at least ten minutes.  Shortly after I got onto a nice spotted juv bird as it did a flypast the viewpoint at a max of about 75m range, brief but very good views.  Tim [who seemed to be on fire today] then picked up a migrant Osprey which lingered for a bit then one of the locals called out a Hawfinch as it bombed past us.  We headed home via Newnham on the severn where the previous day there had been a 1st w Boney's and couple of Ring billed Gulls.  We couldn't find anything in the birds present and didn't see another birder which seemed strange.  It seemed even stranger when news cme on the Birdnet twitter feed  about 3 hours later that the Boney's was there when we were!  Why do people wait so long to put news out?  Im not gonna rant, mainly cos I can't be arsed with cunts like that but they really need to sort it out, 3 hours for fucks sake, half an hour, maybe, a bit longer even and we would have still turned back, but 3 hours, we were at fuckin home!!!!!

So Yellerthroat a new British bird for me, I don't really keep a British list and never really know what I'm on so when Tim asked I resolved to count it up, I had a pretty good year last year with the Turtle Dove, Short toed Tree,White throated Robin, Sandhill Crane and Greater Legs and Izzy Wheatear plus an armchair tick in the form of Sibe Stonechat, so all told I'm now on 463, it may just make me twitch a bit more cos when I think of all the birds I couldn't be arsed going for I'd surely be on 500 now. If only I'd put the effort in then I too could have had a bright yellow t-shirt and a certificate!!!

The only downside to seeing the 'throat is it'll take the gloss off it when I find my own on Shetland so I'm gonna have to kick out one of these fellas instead


Or even better one of these bad boys, now that really would cause the shit to hit the fan, can you imagine them all trying to get to Foula, it would be carnage.

 Pic courtesy of Micky Maher



Friday, 2 March 2012

Last year I bought myslef the Canon S95 and tried for the first time to do some landscape photography.  My results of Garda stack on Foula were my good enough to make me think I could capture some decent shots, since then though I've realised just how difficult it is to get shots with anything approaching a WOW factor.  Composition is the one I find hardest and I'm beginning to think I don't really have an eye for it.  So with this in mind I've been reading a few tutorials on t'internet and in some old magazines a mate gave me in an attempt to improve.  I'd come to the conclusion one of the most important things is an interesting sky, it seems a good sky can make up for a lot.

So I've been checking the weather forcast trying to predict which day this week would give me a decent sunrise to go play with some ideas on the beach at Hornsea.  Wed saw me there waiting for the sky to get light only to find it was misty and the sea and sky were all the same colour, bollocks I could have stayed in bed.  I reasoned that while I was there I may as well have a crack at it anyway so on went the wellies.

Lesson learned, the lack of a visible sky actually made it easier to see the composition for some reasonable shots.  Plus when back at home photoshop works wonders when applying a bit of levels to the sky, seems the camaera could see the divide even if I couldn't make it out.

Another thing I've been reading about a little is hyperfocal distance for getting good depth of field, although I kind of understand it I had to make an educated guess at distances for focus points due to the not being able to measure into the sea!!  I worked quite well though with most of the image in focus.

Anyway here's my four best shots from the morning.





There is one small problem with not being able to see the divide between sea and sky, I couldn't tell if my shots were perfectly level but I don't think a slightly sloping horizon detracts from these shots too much.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Should I stay or should I go.......

That's the question I've been asking myself lately!  I've been struggling to find time to write updates and I'm experiencing a bout of blog apathy, I've really just been going through the motions when posting without putting much effort into what I'm writing, for the first time in my life I appear to have nothing worth saying!!!!!!!!

Anyway in an effort to see if it was worth carrying on with this blog I had a butchers at the stats to see how many people looked at it, I was a bit surprised it's managed over 20,000 pageviews, no idea how that compares to my friends blog stats but it gave me some encouragement, not least because two of them were from Russia!  I can only assume they were really fit young hotties called Svetlana and Natalya looking for a husband, well they've come to the right place, oh no they haven't they fucked off without leaving a message, bollocks!

They did however look like this, I just know they did!


You would, you really would wouldn't you?
 
Well now that I've relived that little fantasy again here's a quick run down of the birds I've seen lately.  A Glauc and a couple of Iceland Gulls at Hornsea and Scarborough, some Little Gulls and Little Auks on a boat job, a Red necked Grebe in Scarborough Harbour, Green winged Teal at Fairburn and some Bean Geese at Hornsea, including a Taiga.  I was going to post something about claims of Taiga bean in Yorks but maybe I'm learning!  What I wanted to see was this,
 

 


Not that one obviously but that species.  I just haven't had the time, maybe next week.  Here's a few pics of the stuff mentioned above.
 
 
 
 
video