Norfolk. October 2010.

I took a trip to Titchwell along with Sarah and my Dad to get some images of waders. For once the weather forecasters got it right .... only joking bloody wrong as usual, I cant believe they are still employed after so many cock ups. It was very dark and the sun hardly ventured out from a veil of thin cloud. To top it off, there were very little waders around, by far one of the lesser showings Ive encountered here. Still head up and venture on, and capture what I can. As always there were Sanderling to play with and most of the time walking up to Thornham point end was taken up with these.

From the selection of images below I wanted to try and at least capture some of the conditions these little birds have to encounter. The wind had picked up a tad and still they keep feeding, with eyes closed to avoid the grains of sand blown into them they tirelessly probed around feeding, always moving onward, click on the images to see the grains of sand harassing their feeding routine.

On the way back we watched the group of Twite, numbering 20+, feeding on some mud flats. Usually my dad and I encounter these in flight groups passing by so it was nice to actually study them better, and a new species for Sarah brightened the day somewhat. They had some lovely deep red/brown tones to a lot of the birds and quite a few were adorning coloured rings as can be seen in some of the images. I wonder where they were put on? and the distance they had travelled?. A lovely little bird and one that disappeared amongst the vegetation so easily. Not one of the most packed of days, bird wise, but with the Twite to finish on we didn't feel so bad.

More Feeder Action. October 2010.

Here are a few images from another visit to my feeding station at a local farm. I wanted to try something different and so I used a few reed mace stems to use as perches. Whether it was because it was something new or out of the ordinary, the birds seemed to be apprehensive for quite some time before starting to use the mace. It was a brief visit too, so I had to be quick, and sods law said that the one reed mace I was focused on would not be the one they all landed on !, until I had moved to that one and then they changed back.... surely its not just me?

The Marsh Tit was still hanging around and even made an appearance on one of the mace, I also came close to capturing one of the Great spotted woodpeckers on the mace too but it was too flighty, I shall be looking at getting a nice upright branch to lure them in soon. But the best candidate of the day was this Sparrowhawk, which alighted one of the mace for a few seconds. The alarm call went up and everything disappeared before this beauty flew in. I was amazed it landed where it did. It continued to hound the birds and stayed perched nearby for some time, a nice post will have to be put up in the hope it returns.

Feeding Station. October 2010.

It had been a long time since I had photographed at my local feeding station, spring I think. I had been keeping the feeders topped up, but what with the nesting season and lots of natural food and tatty adult birds I had laid off the photography. So I parked up with Sarah to check on the food levels and as usual, as of late, they were empty. After filling them up we sat in the car to see what would appear. The birds were now taking an avid interest in the food supplied and I was getting good numbers of around a dozen different species. I couldn't wait to get back down with my camera, especially with the prospect of 2 new additions to my feeder list and one of those a real gem.

Moving ahead to the next day and I arrived with birds already on the feeders, and selecting a few perches and positioning them settled back into my car as a hide. The Goldfinches were still very vocal and with a few fighting over position on the Niger feeder they for once moved to the other seed laid out, this time using different perches enabling me to photograph them.

As always the most numerous were the Blue tits and Great tits, and then one of the new additions turned up... no make that a pair at least. Coal tits, a lovely sprightly little bird that proved hard to focus on due their busy nature. Just as I focused they would move so I had to wait on one spot and hope for the best. I grabbed a few images, but they were a welcome newbie to the list and one I hoped would stay.

A troop of Long tailed tits turned up on the scene, and are always a favourite with the wife so I had to get a few shots of these, just to keep her happy, and you never know what may be mixed up in their group at this time of year too.

Now to the remaining newbie and the best of all to grace the feeders so far.... a Marsh Tit.
I cant remember the last time I saw one of these little gems, let alone have them on my feeders. Sarah and I had watched it actively come and go feeding the day before, I had hoped it would stay around for a photograph opportunity and sure enough it stayed. It would happily feed for a matter of seconds then take some seed off to eat in a tree nearby, but returned every so often. I would watch for a small bird to approach from a certain direction and line up waiting, sometimes it was a coal tit but I would be rewarded with the Marsh tit eventually. A fantastic new bird and one I will be pleased to inform Matthew and Clive, the landowners, of its presence when I see them.

Sandy. Mon 18th October. 2010

Sarah and I took a stroll around the reserve at Sandy, and although there was still a lot of fungi around I did not find what I was looking for. On a wooden fence we found a large number of Ladybirds all nestled together in the gap between the panel and post. On further inspection most of the posts had a large gathering of Ladybirds tucked away. Why this was I'm not sure, the sun was out, no real adverse weather conditions, maybe looking for a wintering hole is the most likely although not as tucked away as I would like. Perhaps they know of worsening and colder weather on the way!

We noticed a few very large Hornets flying around and tracked them to a hole in a big old tree. I made my way carefully closer until I was a few feet from the hole. If you stay calm and quiet they do not pose a threat and within minutes I was watching them coming and going, some were as long as my thumb, looking huge up close. They were busily arranging their winter hideout no doubt, I only had a macro lens with me so I was limited to close ups, you would get a few seemingly waiting at the hole edge watching out before flying off only once another had returned and a new front line appeared from within. Amazing to watch at such close quarters.

Semipalmated Sandpiper. Abberton Reservoir.Essex.Oct 2010.

It had been a while since I last went to Abberton, and it looked totally different when I arrived at the main gates before first light. There were plenty of waders in the adjacent bay busily feeding and moving around. Once the sun had risen and the birds were starting to show better it was time to start scanning. It wasn't long before I was joined by a Essex birder, and after scanning through the waders I picked out one that looked decidedly "plump" and was not associating with the Little Stints but rather preferring to feed alone. On quite a few occasions the whole flock of waders would take to the air before landing and then the process of picking the bird out the bird ensued.
Once the reserve was open everybody moved around to the boardwalk behind the centre, from here the light was a lot better now and the smaller waders could be picked out better. Once again the Little Stints were picked out and not far from them was the "plump" bird again. Most of the time views were distant, but you could always pick this bird out. Its feeding behaviour was not as erratic as the Stints and the shape was obviously stockier. As stated in identification literature the Semi-P' can "show a diffuse pale mantle V at a distance", which this bird certainly did but nowhere to the extent of the stints along with darker upper scapulars helping to accentuate this V. Now that the Semi-P' had been found and everyone was happy, it was a case of keeping your eye on it, it frequented the mud flats further out once away from the bay area and would often be lost amongst the roosting numbers of dunlin and godwits, or lost in flight when they all took to the air. Another new addition for me and another without the use of the camera, back to the old ways.