Saturday, 18 February 2012

Common Yellowthroat!!

On Thursday mid afternoon I received a message of a confirmed Common Yellowthroat in Gwent.
I finished the call then wondered whether I could get there before dark.
Another call that the 2 Nigel's were going to give it a go and get there before dark. ( They dipped!)
It was not until I checked the map did I realise how close this was, and I wouldn`t have to drive through Newport as first thought! I decided to leave the following morning.
Common Yellowthroat wasn`t a tick I saw one on Scilly in about 1995 but still a fantastic bird in Wales and only a 40 minute drive!

It dawned dull and wet, in fact it was to be dull all day and the light for a shot was going to prove awful!
With the most birders at one time at a guess was 250.
When the bird eventually showed itself it was brief.
Throughout the day it gave the run around becoming very elusive at times.
With so many birders and standing back it was too far for a shot so I decided to wait at the far end of the hedgerow to which it was feeding. I was about 100 yards from the group and waited. It didn`t take long to be pushed by the group and flew in my direction. Still waiting and in the perfect position, it was coming closer all the time. Then came that familiar call of " Oy, get away from there" the birders came closer to me and then made to look a twat when I was just trying to get a good shot, using a bit of common sense!!
I have been birding many years and twitched many birds and I can honestly say there are a LOT of arseholes who consider themselves birders! I kept my mouth quiet and moved back. I spoke to another birder later who appreciated that I was in that position before anyone else!  Rant over!!
Again at another hedgerow I did the same and the bird was coming closer. As I positioned myself to the opposite end of the long hedgerow the bird flew closer and started preening! Fantastic to see but still a little too far ! then it flew past me and landed 15 yards away, only this time it was the birders who rushed it and my opportunity was gone!
Again further up the fields I waited alone at the bottom of the field where the habitat looked great!
Everyone was patient and we waited. I was beginning to wonder if it had slipped away, there were a lot of Siskins and Chaffinches here then suddenly it appeared in font of me and I managed 20 or so shots before it flew passed me into the opposite hedgerow and disappeared!
So I managed a couple of ok record shots at a ridiculous ISO of 2500 and a shutter speed of 1/160th sec. I was surprised that I had something to keep at that setting. No grain - no gain I suppose!!
If any of the Gwent lads get to read this then thanks for organising a great twitch!

Driving home and just a few hundred yards from the house there was a field full of gulls, perhaps 500 mostly large gulls . It wasn`t long before a 2nd w Iceland Gull showed itself.
Great finish to a superb day.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Purple Sandpiper and Smew.

Saturday morning was very cold and frosty with good light early on, then later whites were burning out in bright sunshine.
Ogmore was to be the first call. No Hovering Kestrel or Little Owls in the usual spots so I thought I would give the Purple Sands a visit, always guaranteed a few shots there if the tide is high!
Moved on to the estuary where 7 Dark bellied Brents were just waiting for the next dog walker to flush them off! Then I decided on a Gull check at Potobello. 20 Goldeneye though little else.
A message that a `Redhead` Smew was at Hendre Lake so I left to give that a try.
The Smew never really came close enough for any good shots. Perhaps it will stay!

Thursday, 9 February 2012


Nuthatches are so photogenic and tame its hard to stop shooting!
These were taken during many hours waiting for the Willow Tits to show. When the light is right you can`t really go wrong!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Willow Tits improved.

Very cold but sunny, had me giving these beauties another go. Monday I worked and got soaked in the sleet so I never felt guilty taking another day off. (You have to make the most of the good light days.)
Adding the hours put in so far is 36 hours. It has been so frustrating knowing they can be nailed and yet have failed, but I think I have achieved some great shots from today! The afternoon light was superb!

Perhaps I may give them another go next week!