So, it’s 2012 – a brand new photography and birdwatching year starts – wonder what it will bring.
It started off with a local patch visit on the 2nd – a nice-enough day, lots of “local” birds to see and a chance to catch up with the Willington regulars, after the Christmas break. Gulls, cormorants and a few mixed ducks.
This mixed flock were very tetchy and were up and down like the proverbial.
This winter Black-headed Gull was in full plumage.
The 4th brought a bit more interest – a Grey Heron, who had an agent I think.
Happy to pose, albeit a distance away from me. He was in his finery, but Grey Herons, like Cormorants, breed very early on in the year.
On the 7th, the first Waxwing of the new year – this time in Kirk Hallam, nr Ilkeston. It was a dreadful morning, the wind was blowing a gale and it was ffffrrreezing!
Waxwings are always a pleasure to photograph and despite how many images you see, or take, I don’t think you can ever have too many.
Compared to last year , there haven’t been many at all, but then again it’s not been cold enough yet.
Without planning it, the Grey Heron seems prominent this year, so far. Maybe that’s because there’s so many about. If I get a chance to, I may make a point of getting close to some this year.
Another beautiful Black-headed Gull.
Lovely lighting – a dark grey, stormy sky, with some hot sunshine.
Some Gadwall in flight.
The Winter Moon, always fun to shoot with a long lens.
Our first trip to Norfolk of 2012, started with calling into WWT Welney, to see the Swans and wildfowl. It was a lovely cold day, so I was hopeful of some decent flight chances.
This Mallard was coming into the feed area.
The next day found us twitching in Fakenham, for the Great Grey Shrike, near Morrisons supermarket! Very distant on a poor-light day, a record shot was the best I could do.
I did manage a very fleeting glimpse of the Shrike in flight, but also distant. Never mind, better luck next time.
Arriving at the cottage we were renting [mid-way between Cley and Holt], we found we had a pair of resident Barn Owls in the boxes in the rear garden, adjacent to the field!
The pair proved to be difficult to photograph, only coming out near-dark and immediately flying across to an adjacent wood. We did see them however, perched in the tree at the bottom of the driveway, when coming home from the pub at night [that’s us coming from the pub, and the Barn Owls in the tree!].
For those interested in the cottage, here are some details:
Swan Lodge Barns – http://www.swanlodgebarns.co.uk .
We can recommend “Bixes Barn”, as that was the one we stayed in. Aside from being very nice and very quiet, it is also an excellent place to view the night-sky, on a clear night.
The next day in Norfolk, we decided to twitch again, this time for Taiga Bean Geese and a Lesser White-fronted Goose, all at Buckenham Marshes RSPB, just SE of Norwich – a 1 hour drive. It was a very long walk with my gear in the rucksack and the geese were a long way away, but a few poor record shots were taken, but I was lucky enough to hear several Cetti’s Warblers singing and also see some lovely flocks of Wigeon en-route to the geese.
Tuesday 17th Jan, saw us visit RSPB Titchwell Marsh nature reserve, to twitch yet again!. This time we were looking for the Coue’s Arctic Redpoll [Carduelis hornemanni exilipes]. This sub-species of Arctic Redpoll breeds in the tundra of northern North America and Europe. This one was travelling with Scandinavian Lesser Redpoll and Common (Mealy) Redpolls. We found it in the Alder trees on the back path, to the rear of the visitor centre.
Further into the reserve, this Common Pheasant stood quite still while I photographed him in the frost of the morning.
Here are a few birds seen at Titchwell that day.
It seems strange at Titchwell with the new “gi-normous” Parinder Hide. A concrete monstrosity some call it – maybe it’s an architectual statement of man’s ability to tame nature, if not to beat it – who can say? Anyway, a good way to see things here is not to sit in a hide, but to stay outside on the newly-widened paths, and watch and wait for the birds to fly over you. Of course you get pestered a bit – like “I’ll bet you can see Yarmouth with that lens”, or “what are you doing?” – never mind eh?
This Black-tailed Godwit in it’s winter plumage, was relaxing on one leg at the edge of the brackish pool.
Dark-bellied Brent Geese are a favourite of mine and these at Titchwell were not exception.
Later on in the week, we were driving back from Titchwell and the evening looked like it was going to be a corker of a sunset. We had to stop off at one of my favourite Barn Owl haunts. It did not disappoint. On first arrival there was already one owl quartering over the field. This was followed by 3 more – I did not know where to point my lens next!
Barn Owls are just superb aren’t they?
A chance occurred later in the week, where the weather was good – nice blue skies, a bit of wind [in the air!] and plenty of birds in the air – what more can you ask for?
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, Golden Plover can cruise by closer than normal – beautiful birds.
There were some, but not many waders around – a few Dunlin, the scarce and rare Western Sandpiper [I got some distant and crap images – not posted here, sadly] and the ubiquitous Redshank.
Back to Willington on the 22nd, brought continued high westerly winds and in-flight chances, just bordering on possible. A couple of miles an hour more and it would have been too strong.
These 6 Pintail ducks remained frustratingly almost always on the water, seeking shelter from the battering of the high winds.
This Little Egret was almost stationary as it battled headlong into the wind. With full sun on it’s brilliant white plumage, keeping the image from burning out was a real challenge.
Sometimes you get there a bit too early for the sun, but then there’s some flight action. Time to get creative and utilise some slow shutter speed with a motion blur shot.
That’s pretty much it for January 2012.
Not a bad start to the year, some decent weather and some good opportunities. Let’s hope February brings some more of the same.