Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Exciting birds at RSPB Ham Wall

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A great day at #RSPB Ham Wall last weekend! The Glossy Ibis that has been there for some time actually showed itself in front of one of the hides.

And to add to the excitement, a pair of Herons were starting to build a nest in front of the Tor View hide.

So, first to the Ibis. An elusive bird on most occasions, it chose a much more open location to feed during my visit. Sadly the sun was not shining during the time it was at its closest, but I managed to get some reasonable shots. Here are a few conventional poses, followed by some more unusual ones.

By the way, many of these shots were taken with the Canon 400mm f4 DO II plus 2x teleconverter. I am really pleased with them as I really would not have got anything without the converter. This confirms my opionion as expressed in my previous Blog on converters and image quality  http://johncrabbwildlifeimages.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/do-lens-extenders-ruin-image-quality.html

And what does it think it is doing with this reed? Thinking of building a nest too, just like the Herons?

I did try to catch it in flight too, but annoyingly missed my best opportunity. I had been watching it closely for ages anticipating a take-off, but when it finally did my attention had been distracted by two new visitors to the hide - so I missed it! Quite a lot of silent cursing followed that. Anyway, here are some of the flight shots I did manage.

And so on to the Herons. Not normally considered a very exciting bird due to it being so common, but when you see them flying their displays during courting and nest building you really could not ask for anything more dramatic! For a start, they fly with their necks extended rather than neatly folded away.

I first spotted them in the reeds.

 Then witnessed them mating.

Obviously this did not go down too well with at least one of them!

  But they soon got over it and this next sequence shows the male (presumably) bringing a stick and its mate accepting it.

  Common birds, yes, but magnificent too!

All shots taken with the Canon 7D Mk2 (what a fantastic camera it is) and the Canon 400mm f4 DO II with teleconverters, usually the 1.4x, but also the 2x for distant shots.

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Until next time!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Even on a quiet day, there's always a bird photo to be had.

It's a funny thing but, even when I come back from a bird photography outing feeling that I have had a pretty blank day, there always seems to be something surprisingly interesting in the camera. I guess that this is all about pressing the shutter when your instincts whisper to you, and having an open mind when you come to review your shots on the computer afterwards. This quirky shot of a Cormorant on an ugly pole for example seemed to have more charm than I had thought when I took the shot.

The day started with me watching some Wigeon cruising the edge of a tidal creek at Seaton. Some other Wigeon were grazing on the island above them and it became apparent that the floating birds wanted to join them, only problem being a two foot bank to get over. After much consideration they did what they do best of course and decided to fly up and over. It was surprising what an obstacle they seemed to consider it. Here is a female on her way up.

Later more Wigeon flew in to join the happy band.

There was also a Curlew in attendance. Apparently Curlew are suffering a population decline so it is always nice to see one.

Even better when you can snap one in flight.

Then finally, after a drenching shower, these two Little Egrets came into land. I caught a rather pretty arrangement.

So, admittedly not a great day but not a write-off either. Just follow your instincts and see what you get. I am really looking forward to the Spring when all the bird activity increases, but in the meantime I will still go out and do what I can. After all, you can't beat a day out in the wilds.

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