Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Looking on Worcs Birding, I noted that a flock of waxwings had been seen in a housing estate north of Worcester, which would be easy to reach if time was at a premium, so after making my excuses to miss the drinks after the ceremony (I was on anti-cold pills, so couldn't drink), I was soon changed out of my suit and back into scruffs, ready for the trip down the M5.
Finding the exact location wasn't easy, as it's a maze of cul-de-sacs and I ended up having to use Sat Nav to find the right spot, and then a kind local (cheers Adam) pointed me in the right direction for the flock.
Typically, I had missed the best light of the day and each time the sun did shine on the berry tree, the waxwings refused to come down from their lofty perch at the top of a nearby oak.
Even so, with what little light there was, and by taking off the teleconverter to use the straight 500mm F4, I could get enough light for the odd sharp shot, when the birds descended to feed. And with the brick buildings as a backdrop, the images came out okay in the end. Not quite the birds against the blue sky which I could have obtained earlier on in the day, but they'll do... for the moment.
Given the numbers of them in the country, I would hope to get more chances to photograph them before the end of the winter.
Reports of short-eared owls in Lincolnshire and friends' images of them were making me green with envy, but I just couldn't face the drive all the way up there, so looked for more local ones. Last year I had some joy looking at the owls at Cossington Meadows, but they've not shown up there (yet). However, 3 or 4 have been seen at a site in Leicestershire, not far from Rutland, so on Saturday, after failing to see Little Grump, I headed over to the site and met up with some friends who had also had the same idea.
My goodness was it cold!! Snow on the ground and a temperature below zero, made for numb fingers and toes in no time at all. Thankfully, after about an hour of waiting, 2 shorties appeared from the undergrowth and started hunting.
Occasionally though, it locked on to the shortie and despite the gloomy light and high ISO, I managed some reasonable shots. The best of them came when the bird perched up, firstly in a tree where it peered down like a big cat, and then later on a snow-covered post, making for a very wintery shot.
When the light faded too much for my camera to get any sort of shutter speed, it was definitely time to head home and it took about 2 hours for me to get the feeling back into my numb feet! I shiver just thinking about it now.
A good trip out and a useful spot to know about for the future. I expect I'll try to go again before the owls disappear once more.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Anyway, I parked up at a muddy area near some units by a bridge over the Oxford Canal, and wandered along the towpath, scanning the wires and bushes for the bird. Bingo - spotted it almost immediately, but it was in an old brick quarry, which meant walking all the way down the canal, up on to the road and then back along a track into the right area.
Was worth it though. My word, what a treat we had. I say "we" as there were several local birders / togs there, and we were chuffed to see the shrike perching on the wires overhead, and occasionally bushes, showing the great contrasting colours on it.
Then it did the unimaginable. It swooped down and landed on some posts, only a few yards away from us. Amazing views, especially as we weren't hiding!