31 January, 2009

The Garden and Local Patch

As I am mostly a garden and local birder, I love the fact that I never need to leave my own garden or local patch to find beautiful, exotic and brilliant birds; and the great thing is, most of them never leave!
I class my closest local patches as Richmond Park, Bushy Park and Home Park and have seen some pretty decent birds there including a Grey Phalarope (Home Park, November 08), a Little Owl and Kingfisher (Bushy Park, January 09) and 2 Red Kites (just down our street!). I usually aim to go birding at my patches most weekends and even though most of the time I find the same birds again and again, I love doing it!
Here 1 of the 2 kites that soared the skies above our street back in spring, a great record for a suburb in Surrey!
To keep me occupied when I'm not birding further afield or meeting up with friends, I love to keep a garden year list, last year it was 41 with the best birds being a Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler (I only just caught the call, but couldn't quite tell which one it was). This year, the list currently stands in the late 20 (a pair of Blackcaps are the best so far). My target bird is ofcourse the Red Kite which turned up literally metres from my front door last spring!
Heres a little photographic review of some of the my garden visitors...
A pair of Blue tits never fail to breed in the garden each year
They are great parents and most young fledge

A couple of years ago, there was a pair of Coal tits regularly visiting the garden together. However, one of the pair disappeared and now only one bird frequents our garden, he still sings everyday for his mate, it brings a tear to my eye whenever I hear him.

Every winter, our resident Robin is joined by a female. At first, he doesn't know what to make of her but soon enough hes on the right track ;).
Last year, a young Robin became a common visitor to the garden and was very tame, it was a lovely bird but one day I came home to find that a Sparrowhawk had taken it.
This Grey Squirrel may look harmless and cute but just wait till hes hungry!

25 January, 2009

Big Garden Birdwatch

Its the big weekend and I wasn't going to miss it. The weather was quite sunny but it was absolutely freezing even from the warmth of the house. I didn't have the best of days but I did get a mega for the garden.... a DUNNOCK; beat that Shetland!!
Here is a list of species and the highest number I saw at one time:
1) Blue tit-2 2) Great tit-2 3) Coal tit-1 4) Long-tailed tit-2 5)Goldcrest-1 6)Wren-1 7) Robin-1 8) Blackbird-3 9)Dunnock-1 10) Woodpigeon-2 11) Jay-1 12) Magpie-2 13) Greenfinch-2 14) Chaffinch-2
Here are some shots from the morning

20 January, 2009

Long Eared Owl Lifer

Today I met up with David Campbell and Kevin Mcmanus at Beddington SF to try and boost our year lists (there is no way of saving mine, its so low!!). The star of the trip was a Long Eared Owl which showed amazingly well out in the open.

And the head shot, I promise you its wild!!

I managed to get a lot of flight shots, including this one of a Little Egret
A Kestrel in the blue sky

A Grey Heron...
This flock of Linnets erupted out of the long grass and provided another tick
And ending the post with a lovely Robin

12 January, 2009

Redwings with the D60

A change in the light ment that I could get some first proper shots (and where better place to start than with the Redwings in the back garden) from the warmth of my bedroom window! (I am a lazy sod!)
I've been taking shots of them for a couple of weeks now and studying them closely, you can really begin to appreciate how beautiful their markings are.
The birds kept puffing themselves out to keep warm in the freezing weather. Here, you can really see the Redwings red underwing.
Redwing are the smallest of the thrush family; about the same size as a Starling and were very wary of any movement, I had to be quick to take the shot before a person walked past the berry bush and scared them all away or a bus went by
A Parakeet dropped in just when I was about to finish

11 January, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Its been a freezing week and even snowing at times, but I managed to get out of the warmth of the house to go birding with David Campbell to try and locate a Firecrest at his local golf course, we had no luck but I took the opportunity to photograph some other birds with the D60 and 300mm lens.
The frost covered golf course and a Magpie

How tiny birds like the Goldcrest and Long Tailed tit make it through this cold weather remains a mystery to me!

A Blackbird posed well for the camera inbetween the frost covered twigs

05 January, 2009

Local Wildfowl

Another absolutely freezing day but the sun was shining so I headed to Bushy Park to add some wildfowl to my year list. All the locals were on the lake at very close quarters.
This male Gadwall was confined, like all the other ducks, to a tiny stretch of water that hadnt frozen over...
The Pochards were not sleeping.... for once.
This colourful male was one of two present. With it being a very sunny day, and the ducks happening to be facing into the sun, this was the least overexposed shot I could find...
The same applied to this black and white Tufted Duck, which certainly lived up to its name

02 January, 2009

Garden Redwings

My first post of 2009!
A flock of 15 Redwings have taken up residence in ours and next doors garden and are showing quite well. These small winter thrushes have always appeared in the garden in small groups, but never in numbers like this.
They are quite timid, and have been feeding by the road on the limited number of pyracantha berries in the front garden...


A darker individual, with the berry half way down the throat...