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My latest piece of artwork, pencil drawing using just gouache on the white areas. When we stayed at Little Lammas in Ringstead, I photographed the owners collie dog Ruby, it has been a long time since taking the photo but I finally got round to completing it.

Moving and Raptors.

 It has been a long time since getting out and about due to house moving, at the moment I am staying with my parents whilst we wait for the move to Norfolk to proceed. Just before we left Wrestlingworth I noticed a pale raptor pass overhead, a quick run for the bins' and I was watching a pale morph buzzard with textbook underwing markings. It wasn't long before the resident buzzards chased it out of their patch. A lovely marked bird to see and end the birding at the old house.

 The "Locals" didn't take too kindly to this pale morph intruding on their patch.

Now staying in Hertfordshire until we move, I once again resumed looking to the skies, from the courtyard there are good number of raptors passing over and lo andbehold another pale type buzzard but nowhere near as white as the previous. 
 The Sparrowhawk makes regular sorties over the houses, the corvids took a dislike to it on this day. After a week here we started to see our first swifts of the year, absolutely great to see these back in our skies, and after a few days of good warm weather the sky is now teeming with them, and a close encounter with some nesting birds in a older house nearly had one flying into Sarah's head! As they came in to gain access to the eaves on the house they literally swooped at head height before disappearing just feet from view...awesome.
 A lovely bonus here is the daily fly-by's from the Red Kites. At times they would skim the rooftops and look down upon us, always when I didn't have a camera to hand! I now keep the camera close to hand waiting for the perfect skies and closeness. My time here has also enabled me to get a couple of pieces of artwork completed so if you fancy, take a trip across to my art blog and have a look, the link is situated on the righthand side of the page.

Another Thrush Welcomes in the New Year.

Blue Rock Thrush
I travelled to Gloucestershire with my Dad on the 3rd Jan for this lovely thrush, this is a bird we had seen the previous year in Extremadura on many occasions. It was a cold start and plenty of icy roads to contend with, after nearly 2 hours waiting I looked at my Dad and wished him happy birthday and said it's the last time I take you out on your birthday!! 
It wasn't long after that suddenly the Blue Rock Thrush flitted up into the tree behind the house we were all gathered near, it must of been tucked away feeding in the garden all the time as it had definitely not flown in. Obscured by twigs and branches whilst perched up, I managed to get some shots of this lovely bird. It flew to the neighbouring street and gave views on top of the chimney, probably getting warmth flowing out of it! It duly returned back to the garden in Fisher Close and once again gave everyone decent views before it disappeared again. 
Not a bad birthday treat for my Dad ;-)

Dusky Thrush. Beeley.

After finishing my last nightshift I set off straight from work to Derbyshire and the little village of Beeley. The journey was a chore to say the least, instead of arriving at 08:50 as per sat nav, I arrived after 10:00 caused by the hold up on the M1 which went on for miles and then when just outside Beeley I was confronted by workmen closing off the road leading to it! Deep joy, I was getting a bit miffed by now, luckily the driver infront of me was a local and he gave me directions which really helped me out as the sat nav just wanted me to turn around, until I was close enough coming from the other direction then the sat nav took over again.
 I found a space close to where a large group of birders were awaiting the Dusky Thrush to appear. It was showing distantly in a field around the corner, the main bulk of the group headed off to view the bird there, I waited with a handful of people in hope it would return to the orchard and give closer views. I knew I was only going to obtain a record image if I was lucky as the light levels were so low, it was very dark. It wasn't long before it returned and after a short while dropped to the floor to eat on apples. The main group had now started to return and some became a pain in moving straight to the front regardless of blocking peoples viewing, I had to ask a couple of birders/photographer to move back as they just entered from the side and stood squarely infront of my lens and peoples view next to me!
 It showed well a few times, but would keep in a hollow just out of sight, after a while it flew off again. A great bird and twitch, very glad I made the journey.

Common Swift Artwork.

Many thanks to Ben Andrews for letting me use his stunning photograph of a Swift. With it emerging from the dark, the image immediately grabbed my attention and being a favourite species for me I could not resist creating a painting using gouache and pencil. Made a nice break from painting dog portraits.

Happy Yet Sad. Easington. October 2016.

 Isabelline Wheatear
My Dad and I set off early for Easington and the Siberian Accentor. But despite it showing well till dusk the previous evening the bird was not to be seen. Fortunately the Isabelline Wheatear was still present and showing well, a welcomed substitute and a new species for us both. We headed back to the area for another stint hoping the accentor would be found but everybody drew a blank.
  Isabelline Wheatear
  Isabelline Wheatear
  Isabelline Wheatear
  Isabelline Wheatear
  Isabelline Wheatear
  Isabelline Wheatear
  Isabelline Wheatear
  Isabelline Wheatear
  Isabelline Wheatear
 Isabelline Wheatear

Western Purple Swamphen. Minsmere, Suffolk. Aug 2016.

 It was only a few months ago that I was watching and photographing Purple Swamphens in Spain, and here I was watching one at Minsmere RSPB in Suffolk. On one encounter in Spain we were looking down on it from a bridge, closer than this bird but then again this was a Mega 1st for Britain, if accepted, so the excitement was a tad more urgent.
 I set off at 3am and arrived at Minsmere for 5am, I immediately set off for the South Hide and the expanse of water behind it where the bird was staying loyal to. On arrival I was greeted by a few birders/photographer and shown the bird in one of their scopes, many thanks for that, and there it was, connected at least!
 It stayed at the rear of the stretch for most of the time, the sun slowly illuminating the reeds as it rose in the sky. Now the Swamphens colour shone.

 It continued to slowly move it's way around the waters edge, stopping to feed here and there, moving into a inlet it disappeared for some time before popping it's head up closer in front of us. After a brief session in and out of the reeds it once again moved back along the side it had just worked along.

 It slowly moved closer and shone like a good un' when the sun was on it.

 Looking through the vegetation I was happy to get a shot of the bird considering the size of the gap the camera was looking through.

 A fly by of a Bittern was a welcome addition.

 The Swamphen then moved back along the farthest edge again and seemed settled, despite the odd flight cutting off the corners of the reed beds. I left after 4 hours pleased of the views I had gotten, and a couple of shots in the bag too. Great stuff.