Monday 29 March 2010

Hoopoe records in Cornwall this Spring

A reasonable sprinkling of Hoopoe's has occurred this Spring. I managed to catch up with one at Tregiffian Farm between Lamorna and St Loy on Saturday. I spoke to the farmer's wife, who found the bird "over a week ago". She was delighted to tell me that it had fed in her garden at point blank range! My views were about 100 metres away and my photo's are too distant to mean anything, so have posted some previous images of Hoopoe taken in Cyprus last year.

Records of Hoopoe in Cornwall so far this Spring:

21st Feb: Cape Cornwall golf course.
17th March: Lizard.
21st March: Constantine.
24th March: Lizard Village.
24th March: Land's End.
26th March: Rinsey, nr Helston.
26th March: Tregiffian Farm, Lamorna.
26th March: Windmill Farm, Lizard.

(Thanks to Mashuq Ahmad for the site directions and to Dave Parker, CBWPS records).

Sunday 28 March 2010

Common birds from St Gothians today

Searching for migrants today proved fruitless as the weather deteriorated and rain "stopped play".  The best to offer are some Stonechat and Wren images, with a record shot of female Northern Wheatear for good measure.  The Wheatear was the only migrant of the day.

EXIF Detail: Aperture priority: F/5.  Shutter 1/400s.  ISO 250. WB Cloudy.Exposure -0.3EV.  Focal length 600mm. All RAW files, converted to JPG, all cropped approx 25%, except Wheatear below which is 50% cropped.

Monday 22 March 2010

Kestrel against bright background

This Kestrel gave me an opportunity to capture an unusual image.  The bird was hovering for about two minutes 20 yards away, but directly in the glare of the sun.  Technically quite a difficult shot as most images would show a deep blue sky and blacked out subject.  I manually raised the exposure three times to eventually arrive at this result. ( +1, then +2, then finally +2.7EV).  The reason for the increase is to fool the auto meter reader.  eg, the meter reads a bright subject (the sky) and automatically under exposes (darkens), however this has the adverse affect in darkening the subject too.   Thus, you have to over expose, and these are the end results.

Whether you like the final result is debateable, however it is possible to end up with a correctly exposed subject if you practice with the exposure settings.

Personally, I'm not over-keen so you won't find me posting much like this, but anyway, here they are!

Jackdaw courtship behaviour

Below are some images of adult Jackdaws displaying some interesting courtship behaviour.  The male is on the left and the duller female is simulating the begging, courtship-feeding and pair-formation process.  The pairing involves an extended process of familiarisation, which happened three times very quickly in front of us at Marazion yesterday.  Within seconds it's all over.  The male bird is also interesting in that it is showing some quite strong characteristics of one of the eastern races, eg. the pale collar and white crescents as well as a hint of blue in the crown and generally dappled appearance.

EXIF Detail: Aperture priority.  Ap F/6.3.  Shutter speed 1/400s.  Exposure -0.3EV.  ISO 125.  WB Cloudy.  Focal length: 600mm. Tripod mounted.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Female Black Redstart at St Gothians

Today is the first day for over three months that I have been able use my 600 f/4.  The wrist plaster is off and for once I can feel some strength in my arm.  I had forgotten how heavy this beast of a lens actually weighs.  Once on the gimbal you soon forget that and concentrate on the subject in hand - this time an obliging Black Redstart in perfect early morning sunshine.

EXIF Detail: Aperture Priority: Ap F/6.3.  Shutter 1/160s.  Exposure -0.7EV.  ISO 125.  White Balance: Cloudy. Focal length 600mm. Tripod mounted.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Northern Wheatears return

Northern Wheatears have arrived in numbers in Cornwall with the first bird being a male at Sennen on 3rd March.  Two more were recorded at Land's End and others at St Gothians and the Lizard the following day.  I was hoping for my own first sighting on the 4th at Davidstow but sadly none had made it this far.  I saw four males yesterday at St Gothians NR.  I guess they had just arrived overnight as they were feeding well and keen to move through. 

Sunday 7 March 2010

Cornish natural history on You Tube

John Chapple has loaded on to You Tube "A compilation of Dragonflies and Damselflies to be found in Cornwall".  Some stunning footage can be found by clicking; here .

In addition, John is working on a Birds in Cornwall 2008 DVD. Commentary is being compiled as we speak (no pun intended). A sample of top footage can again be viewed on You Tube via the link: here

Viewers can also subscribe to John's "Channel" on You Tube via this link The channel is called chippler01 .

(This Northern Wheatear image was taken at St Gothians in Spring 2009.)

Tawny Owl

This post is the last of the owl images that I took at Screech Owl last week.  To my eye, this was my least favourite of the three - the previous images of Barn Owl and Little Owl seem to bring out their character whereas in contrast, the Tawny lacked their enthusiasm.  Mark Whittaker, the keeper, will probably have his own mind made up on this!!!  I guess everyone has their favourites though.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Little Owl - big character

As promised, these shots are the continuation of the visit to the Cornish owl sanctuary on Sunday.  This tiny Little Owl was one of my favourites of the day.  Whilst the individual is captive, it showed all the characters of a wild bird, calling, eye contact, different poses etc and just reminded me of the days when you could watch them in the wild.  The last place I saw wild Little Owl was Stithians ten years ago, but now don't know of any in Cornwall.

Monday 1 March 2010

Barn Owl poser

Some pleasing shots taken at Goss Moor owl sanctuary yesterday.  ScreechOwl is a sanctuary for injured birds and rare breeds.  A totally inspiring place and a must for anyone interested in owls.  More to  come during the week!