Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Bay of Biscay.

Again this year, as every  year, a group of us took the ferry across the Bay to see Cetaceans and Birds.
Last year was a disappointment as the sea was too rough to pick up any blows etc.
The conditions going down were very good with the odd white cap. But as the day drew on the conditions became perfect, almost glass like as we neared Santander.
The highlight of the day was the Humpback Whale and this shot, possibly the only photo of one in the Bay of Biscay. They are quite rare here!
A few Fin Whales also came close, sadly this ship is a little too fast for Dolphins to ride the boat, so photo opportunities are few and far between!
When the sea is as calm as this it enables everything near to the boat to be identified - even the 5 sharks seen.
The bird in the hat is a juvenile Redstart rescued from the boat and released in Santander.

A list of what was seen is below.

Striped Dolphin

Fin Whale

Fin Whale

Humpback Whale
23 Fin Whales and 4 unidentified large Rorquals. 2 Sperm Whales. 3 Pilot Whales. 4 Minke Whales. 2 Cuvier`s Beaked Whales. 280 Common Dolphins. 10 Striped Dolphins. 30 Bottle-nosed Dolphins. 2 Thresher Sharks and 3 Shark sp.  1 Ocean Sunfish and lots of Tuna.
1 Cory`s Shearwater. 4 Great Shearwaters. 1 Little Shearwater. 6 Sooty Shearwaters. 1 Balearic Shearwater.  35 Great Skuas. 9 Arctic Skuas. 25 Sabines Gulls.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Little Owls

Two years ago I discovered a breeding pair near Penmark in the Vale.
I observed, then set up a hide to photograph these amazing birds. Looking forward to the following year to try and produce better shots than I had already had. Sadly they never bred probably down to a cold wash out of a summer.
Then seeing a single bird in the area in the early spring it was`nt until perhaps May when I confirmed a pair.
I had set up perches in the hope of them bringing down juveniles but gave up hope, the summer was moving on and still no sign of any juveniles, the land owner also failed to see any!
 There is a wood pile consisting of old pallets and fence panels etc away from the area used previously so when I saw a bird fly off one day I thought it was a single bird just using  the sheds and generally moving around the farming area and my opportunity was gone!
Then one late afternoon I moved in slowly not to spook any Owls and watched 3 birds though unable to say whether it was a single juv with 2 adults, this happened a few more times and I eventually positioned my pick up with camo netting across the windows and managed a few shots.
I then decided to set up a hide with a few branches jammed into the pallets and with a few mealworms placed  here and there it worked and as the afternoon turned to evening the positioning and light was perfect.
I again had a brief visit one afternoon though the light was not too good. The next attempt failed but yesterday saw a total of 4 birds around the wood pile,which as usual when I approached flew off. Eventually after a couple of hours wait an adult came down for the mealworms and performed well until it was spooked by my mobile ringing!! Forgot about the volume!
It`s a shame as the area has to be cleared! Perhaps I could tempt the adults down to food again elsewhere. Time will tell!