Tuesday, 29 December 2009

More Blackbird Berry Antics

Some more recent shots of the Blackbird eating from its favourite tree - made me smile :)

I took that as a warning to stay away from the berries!  Though to be honest it was just chewing, and not actually screeching at me.

I'm constantly amused by this Blackbird's decision to go for the most inaccessible berries/crabapples (ID anyone?) - there are plenty to choose from, but apparently they're not as fun/nutritious unless accessed by hanging upside down and repeatedly losing one's balance:

At which point it flew off, looking somewhat miffed.  Go for the easier ones next time!

That's all for today.  Hoping to get back to my Kingfisher spot soon, so fingers crossed I'll have something good to post...

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Blackbird's Christmas Eve Feast

An early Christmas treat for me - I've been wanting to get some shots of birds feasting on Winter berries, but they've eluded me so far.  However, because of the snow, the garden birds are hungrier than usual and therefore less afraid! 

So I managed to get nice and close to this Blackbird as he ate his fill.

Although it seems this was just the appetizer before the main course action over at the other side of the tree!  This time, he meant business:

Right, I'm off to do some feasting of my own, and it probably won't be berries (or crabapples, as these red things might be).

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Flowers in the snow

Well, the snow is still here, although there has been no fresh snowfall since Sunday.  I haven't had a chance to go out and play in it again, but hoping to get time to build some sort of snow-creature before it melts :)

In the meantime, here are a few shots from my 'Flowers in the snow' series I took on Sunday.  I'll be printing these, and more, as I'm really pleased with how they came out.  Came across them whilst out walking on Sunday during the snowfall - a few random flowers in a flowerbed, trying to peek out of the snow...  

Sunday, 20 December 2009


I've changed my background to white, both in honour of the snow, and mostly because the following shots look best viewed on white...

Had a great day in the snow today, wandering Macclesfield camera in hand.  I've been getting shamelessly over-excited about the snow - I always do :)  And to prove it, here are some shots I took today of some Mallards on a frozen pond.

The one that follows is my favourite of the day :)

Come back tomorrow when I'll be posting my series on flowers in the snow...  Yay for snow!!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Kingfisher Diaries (part 3) - not even a sighting!

At least, not of a Kingfisher...

On the way down the country lane to Redesmere, spotted a Great Spotted Woodpecker at work on a tree at the side of the road.  Stopped the car and tried to shoot it all in one fluid motion - didn't work of course, and the bird flew to a further away tree.  So I just got a shot for the record:

On the other side of the tree was another fave of mine - a Nuthatch.  Get in!  Though again, this is just a record shot:

As I mentioned, no sign of the Kingfisher today.  Instead, I saw a buzzard chasing away some crows, two male Great Crested Grebe, the tiniest Wren I have ever seen, and there was lots of take-off and splash-landing action from the Canada Geese:

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The Kingfisher Diaries (part 2) - a Grey Wagtail!

I haven't seen one of these beauties for a while.  Was back at Redesmere today, looking for Kingfishers.  And this time saw two!!  Well over-excited about that.  They were chasing each other - not sure if this was a mating ritual or a territorial dispute, as it all happened too fast and too far away...

And once again, it was all over before I could get my camera to eye level!

However, looking away from the mere, spotted this lone Grey Wagtail:

It's great to see a flash of bright yellow on a grey rainy Sunday - especially when it follows two flashes of bright blue :)

Check in again soon to find out what other birds shots I capture on my quest to shoot Kingfishers!

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Kingfisher Diaries (part 1)

I should say from the outset that I didn't get any Kingfisher shots today.

In fact, I wasn't even planning to.  I was at Redesmere again checking out the waterbirds, when suddenly I spotted a bright blue torpedo zooming over the water along the bank edge.  I managed to follow it with my bins, and what a sight.  Kingfishers truly are stunning.  This particular one came to rest in a tree about 10 metres to my left, but completely obscured by greenery.

Whilst waiting for it to emerge, I took this candid of a Mallard having a drink:

Suddenly, my peripheral vision spotted the blue torpedo once again, heading back the way it had come - to the other side of the mere.  Missed it again! 

However, I decided I'd found its flight path, so took some more pictures of ducks while I waited for it to come back...  Here are a female and male Tufted Duck, chilling in an eye-catching arrangement:

These three male Mallards also caught my eye:

Hooray for peripheral vision!!  The Kingfisher came zooming back into the same tree as before.  But moments later, it shot away behind me and I lost it.  Still, I figured it was best to stay stay exactly where I was and wait for it to return.

Which eventually happened an hour and a half later, just as I was about to quit and go home with minor frostbite.  Once again though, it was way too fast, and I didn't have a chance to get a shot.

Instead, I took this moody shot of a Black-Headed Gull and its reflection:

It was time to head back to the car, telling myself I'd be back late afternoon to try again, weather permitting.  Needless to say, the weather permitted no such thing!  This Black-Headed Gull taken through my car window pretty much summed it up:

So, no Kingfisher shots today.  BUT, I now know where it lives, and I shall be back!

As a footnote, I saw the female Goosander again, this time with a pal, as well as a male Great Crested Grebe.  In all, I counted 15 different species of bird in a fairly small area on and around the water. 

Which, Kingfisher or no Kingfisher, ain't bad at all :)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Finally some shots of my favourite tits - and a Goldcrest!!

Today found me up in Macclesfield Forest, where I came across a group of Long-Tailed Tits - my favourite kind (apart from Bearded Tits, but I've only been lucky enough to see these once)!

How cute is this?!

Like a candy-striped bauble with a crazy-long tail :)  I remember the first time I saw Long-Tailed Tits - I'd just recently gotten into birding, and had never knowingly seen them before.  I spotted a flock of them (they generally hang out in groups) in a tree whilst out on a walk, and was stunned - I thought they must be something really rare!  Turns out they're not rare at all, and are quite common garden visitors - but I still love seeing them.

Here are a couple more shots:

Seeing these beauties at such close range would have been good enough, but I also managed to capture a Goldcrest - the UK's smallest bird, and therefore pretty hard to spot!  It's a fast mover as well, so pretty hard to capture.

I managed to grab a couple of shots of it before it flew away:

As you can see, I wasn't able to get as close to this one! 

I liked this shot though - not great quality, but shows off the striking yellow mohawk from where it gets its name:

So, another good day's birding for me :)

Must remember to show these shots to my brother, who maintains that "all small birds look like sparrows"...

Winter Waterbirds

Yesterday was one of those 'proper' Winter mornings - achingly cold and crisp.  So naturally I headed out with my camera - this time to Redesmere, to see some waterbird action!

The sign below is accurate in every way - having sailed at Redesmere during the Summer, I vividly remember the immense amount of goose poo floating all around us...

Onto more pleasant things!  Such as this beautiful female Tufted Duck I spotted amongst all the mallards and coots:

Despite the huge numbers of coots mostly involved in frenetic swimming and diving, this one caught my eye for the restful state it seemed to be in - I've never seen a coot meditating but if I did I reckon it would look like this:

Moments later it snapped out of its reverie for a bath - I managed to capture the water as it broke over its head.  Not the sharpest of shots, but I was struggling with low light which meant using a slower shutter speed than I would have liked:

The other abundant species at Redesmere is Black-Headed Gulls:

I admit I can see why many people aren't fans of gulls, scavenging through our rubbish for food when they're not busy grabbing it right out of a freaked-out kid's hand.  But the fact is, they only behave this way because of us - they're animals, acting on instinct, and if we put all this food and rubbish out there, then of course they're going to go for it!

Anyway, that's it for today.  I had to leave shortly after this shot was taken as I was wearing the wrong gloves and literally could no longer feel my fingers.

I did spot and manage to capture a female Goosander before I left though.  Couldn't get a great shot as she was too far away, but I had to post it anyway:

Goosanders are not the most common of ducks, so I'm always quite excited when I see one - quite apart from the fact that they are quite stunning :)

Hope you enjoyed the first of my Winter series!  Off out in a mo to do some more - gotta make the most of this December sunshine, as I'm sure it won't last...

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Where to catch me in the run-up to The Festive Season!!

No photos to post this morning, although I'm planning to head up into the hills later this afternoon to try and capture some local Cheshire landscapes with the sun all nice and low...  more on that later (if the weather holds)...

For now, I thought I'd publish a list of the Art & Craft Fairs I'll be at between now and the end of the year, for those of you who like to plan ahead.  So if you need to book trains or flights you can do so in good time ;)  Cos according to the advertisers we should all have been thinking about buying Xmas presents for ages now... whatever!!

OK, here goes:

Saturday 28th November, 10:00-16:00
The Horse & Jockey, Chorlton

Saturday 5th December, times tbc
Handmade Market, Chorlton Methodist Church, Chorlton

Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th December, 12:00-18:30
Crafty So and So's Funky Fair, TV21, Northern Quarter, Manchester

That's all for now folks!

Hope to be posting some Cheshire landscapes later...

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Going with your gut...

...is almost always the right thing to do, I find.  If I hadn't gone with my gut the other day, I would never have witnessed this:

Rainbows are one of my all-time favourite things.  I understand the science behind them, but I still refuse to believe that magic isn't involved somehow...

This is probably one of the best I've ever seen, partly because I watched it appear before my very eyes, almost as though it was being drawn onto the sky, just for me (there was no-one else around!). 

And I only got to witness it because, a few days ago, on a grey, windy, showery afternoon, I followed my gut and went to Tatton Park in spite of the weather.  I only had an hour and a half before sundown/closing time, but the light was so stunning for most of that time that it was absolutely worth it.

The above shot, and the one below, were taken whilst sheltering from the rain under some trees (which had evidently been recently used as a Deer Toilet).  I accidentally startled some coots on the mere, which made for a nice shot:

Having watched the rainbow appear and then fade away, I turned around to this stunning sky:

GET IN!!  By this time I was grinning to myself like an eejit :-D  Who needs deer when you have light this beautiful??

Still, the most stunning skies always fade, so I started to walk on after a while. 

Came across lots of deer, including this young Fallow Deer stag grazing to a twilight Autumnal backdrop:

Oh, and I came across a group of rather elderly Red Deer stags earlier before the light went - the rut must be over, or they're too old to play, 'cos they were more interested in grazing than in chasing the ladies.  This particular one looked up briefly when he heard me, and was seemingly unimpressed:

Go with your gut, folks!