Monday 26 October 2009

A tick in Staines but no crown jewel

A long overnight haul to South Shields was sooo disappointing. Three days was long enough for Britain's first Eastern Crowned Warbler to feed up and move on during Saturday night. I had my suspicions. Driving through the night was nice and cloudy in the Midlands but was clearer in the North. The constellations of Plaiedes and the Plough were worringly obvious. Half an hour after sunrise and no sign of the Blackcap and Yellow-browed Warbler convinced me that we should travel south asap and try for the long-stayer Brown Shrike in west London.

With Chris Brown and Brian Mellow, we decided to check every hour with Mush that we hadn't been too hasty. The point of no return was Sheffield !!! but we were right; the clear night had tempted a clear-out. I was hugely disappointed because the bird really appealed to me - hopefully there will be another soon.

We arrived at Staines Moor with an hour of strong evening sunlight remaining to view the Brown Shrike. This was more than a consolation prize. Having missed the Lizard bird due to being at the Munichbierfest, I was really pleased to catch up with this mega rarity.

Never close, these were the best in focus shots that I could achieve. They have been cropped by approx 50 %. The action shot above is slightly soft but it does show the important short outer tail feather.

The image above shows the long rufous tail and very short primaries, which further highlights the long tailed impression.

EXIF Detail: Aperture F/7.1 Exposure -0.7EV. Shutter speed 1/400s (average) White Balance: Cloudy. Focal length 840mm.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Choughs in Nanquidno Valley

Choughs are a regular feature now in the Land's End and Cape Cornwall area though pinning them down for photography is not so easy. I have never considered targeting Chough for photography as they are normally quite distant. On Sunday morning though, whilst papping the Yellow-browed, at least five Choughs circled round me calling all the time. They landed in the opposite field and fed on a dung heap at 75 yards distance, digging ferociously and calling all the time.

The Jackdaw shown on the lower left and a Magpie out of view tried to muscle in on the frenzy but couldn't get a look in. The flock of five stayed close together but a further three were seen together later in the morning.

All of the images were taken with the 600mm F/4 lens and 1.4x TC, on a Jobu gimbal head.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Second attempt at the Nanquidno Yellow-browed Warbler

I couldn't resist second helpings of this delightful little phylosc. It kept returning to the same crab-apple tree in Nanquidno valley. Today it performed at the front of the tree instead of at the back, as was the case yesterday. I also used the 600mm lens which has made a big difference to the final image.

Yesterday I also used the wrong White Balance mode...Auto is just not good enough so reverted back to the Cloudy setting. The result is a bright contrasty image with no post adjustments required.

The image below is cropped at 25%. The others are the standard 16% crop as dictated by the software. The only adjustments are some minor cropping at the edges to give a more pleasing image-composure.
This image below is one of the favourite shots. It spotted an insect and I had a feeling it would fly after it. The camera couldn't keep up with the speed of flight though as the next shot was completely blurred.
EXIF Detail: Aperture priority. F/7.1. Shutter 1/320s. Exposure -0.3EV. ISO 800. Matrix metering. Focal length 600mm.

Saturday 17 October 2009

Yellow-browed Warbler at Nanquidno

Today's Yellow-browed was the main attraction in west Cornwall, which goes some way to explain how quiet it still is. Once again, most parts of the UK seem to be swimming in BB rares except Cornwall ! Hopefully our luck will turn soon.

About twenty birders assembled to watch this illusive and very active bird as it fed in the crab apple tree.

EXIF Detail: Program mode. Fully auto. Aperture F/7.1 Shutter 1/500s. Exposure -0.7EV. ISO800.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Accepted Records for Cornwall in 2008

The systematic list below is a transcript from the British Birds Rarities Committee Systematic List of Accepted Records for 2008. This is by no means the full list. Some records can be submitted late or even not at all.

Black Duck: Butter's Tor Moor, Bodmin, adult male, 23rd May. Presumed same as Colliford Res in 2007 and more recently, the male at Walmsley Sanctuary in September 2009. (per County Recorder).

Lesser Scaup: Dozmary Pool, ad male, 13th to 25th April. (S.Bearhop, S.C.Votier et al).

Pacific Diver: 2007. Mount's Bay, adult, 17th February to 10th March. Presumed same Marazion 23rd to 29th November. (L.M. & M.D. Fuller; J.P. Martin). This is the first record for Cornwall and third record for Britain.

Zino's / Fea's Petrel: Gwennap Head, 25th August. (B.Richards).

Cattle Egret: 168 individuals were recorded in the UK during 2008 and as such, from January 2009, this species is no longer considered by the BBRC. In Cornwall, the following records were accepted:

Halsetown, St Ives, five 22nd Dec 07 to 17th January 08. (P.J.Freestone).
Gannel, eight, 27th Dec to 6th January.
Lizard, one, 1st January. (A.R. Pay).
Morvah, one 5th January. (D.Parker) .
Bellevue Farm, Stithians, three, 2nd February (P. Stronach).
Trevollard, Liskeard, three, 10th February. (P. Edmonds).
Stithians, one, 12th to 28th February, two on 15th. (P.A.Fraser).
Landulph, one ad. 24th-25th February (P.Edmonds, R.Gould).
Trelissick, 11, 25th March. (D.Eva).
Ladock, 4th - 8th April (per P.J.Freestone, S.Wilcock et al).

Other sightings no doubt exist but presumably have not been submitted.

Black-winged Stilt: Windmill Farm, Lizard. Three, 7th to 14th April. (A.R.Pay). A nice find and deserved reward for the amount of work invested at the CBWPS reserve.

Laughing Gull: 2005 records. Nanjizal, 1st winter, 4th-7th November. Marazion and Newlyn, 1st winter, 8th-21st November, (K.A.Wilson). Nanjizal, two 1st Winters, 19th-28th December, one trapped. (K.A.Wilson).

American Herring Gull: 2007. Mousehole, 1st winter, 9th-20th March (M.Ahmad). Presumed same at Sennen, 21st March to 30th May (M.Ahmad, K.A.Wilson).

Common Nighthawk: Church Cove, Lizard, 7th October. (M.Bonfield). First record for mainland Cornwall.

Buff-bellied Pipit: 2007. Nanjizal and Sennen area, 1st winter, 26th October to 17th November. (M.T.Elliott, K.A.Wilson). First record for mainland Cornwall.

Hume's Warbler: Cot Valley, 1st winter, 23rd December 2007 to 23rd February. Sound recorded, photo'd and trapped. (P.Clark, P.A.Fraser, K.A.Wilson).

Balearic Woodchat Shrike: 2007. Nanjizal, 1st summer male, 5th to 10th May, trapped and photo'd. (K.A.Wilson). note: This is the West Mediterranean islands race of Woodchat.

Red-eyed Vireo: Trevilley farm, Sennen. 11th to 17th October. (J.Hewitt, C.Winyard).

Bobolink: Porth Joke, 11th October, photo'd. (M.Edyvean, S.Rowe). First and long-awaited record for mainland Cornwall. A stunning find by Steve Rowe et al and the last of the trio of firsts for the county in that week, the previous two being Common Nighthawk and Alder Flycatcher. No single observer managed to see all three though some were lucky and saw two of them !

Alder Flycatcher: Nanjizal, 7th to 8th October. (K.A.Wilson). Although not yet included within the BBRC report and presumably still awaiting ratification by the BOU, the bird and photo is shown here anyway. This is the first record for Britain and the biggest feather in Kester's hat! The last "big record" in Cornwall was the Yellow-throated Vireo at Kenidjack in 1990.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Juv Spoonbill at Cornwall's hottest site

Marazion once again pulls in another rarity this weekend. Spoonbill is not a BB rare, so I say rarity simply because there is precious little else in the county to see at the moment. Marazion does seem to be the place this autumn though...the highlights (so far) being an impressive Citrine Wagtail, Grey-headed Wagtail, Black Kite, Bittern, Baird's Sandpiper, Glossy Ibis and this juv Spoonbill.

EXIF Detail: Aperture F/7.1 Shutter speed 1/500s. Exposure: -0.7EV ISO 800. Focal length 600mm.

Little Egrets at Marazion Marsh

While waiting for the Spoonbill to appear from the reedbed and juncus, I took some shots of this Little Egret. They are so common now in the county in virtually any suitable habitat. You can quite easily ignore them but, given the right conditions, egrets are delightful to photograph and always a challenge to get the correct exposure.

The flight shot below was taken with a higher than normal ISO of 800 and a high aperture of F/6.7 with the intention of raising the shutter speed. The Exif detail gave a reading of 1/2500s, which has caught this Little Egret in good focus. I was particularly happy with the capture of the water drops dripping from its' feet.

The egret below is a different bird to that above and was taken in different light this afternoon. The light was appalling and disappointing as I wanted better light for the target bird, which was a Spoonbill. The ISO was 800 but I opened up the aperture to its' F/4 maximum, just to get the all-important shutter speed up. The best I could get was 1/640s. Exposure was 0.0EV though I have reduced this in Capture NX software.

The images above and below were taken from the standing stone by the viewing area on the Marsh.

Monday 5 October 2009

Pied Wagtails and flies

Marazion beach is covered in flies and the wagtails love them. They don't even chase them...just wait for one to pass and jump at it.

EXIF Detail: Aperture F/8 Shutter 1/1250s. ISO 640. Exposure -0.3 EV. Centre weighted metering. WB Cloudy. Focal length 500mm. Tripod mounted.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Mippets in the rain

While the northern isles bathe in ultra rarities, the best I can offer this weekend are some shots of Meadow Pipit ! I had in the back of my mind Buff-bellied Pipit but just couldn't pull it out of the hat!
These three images were taken on Davidstow this morning in mist and drizzle. The ISO was increased to 1000 just to give 1/160s shutter speed.
Needless to say, I didn't hang around too long here and headed back west where the sun was actually shining. I'll post some more images from Marazion Beach tomorrow.
EXIF Detail: Aperture F/8. Exposure -o.3EV. ISO 1000. WB Cloudy. Focal length 850mm.