Monday, 30 January 2017

Waxwings at Cheshunt

18th January 2017

There were plenty of Waxwings in the north of England this winter, but it wasn't until the New Year that they started to move south, and the first sizeable flock to reach Hertfordshire was at Cheshunt. They were located at the busy junction of Church Lane and High Street and for much of the time were perched high up in the trees away from the traffic and pedestrians.

But every now and again hunger would take over and they drop down to the Rowan trees by the side of the road and grab a few berries before they were flushed once again by passing traffic, or in one instance a squad car with its Waxwing scarer blaring away.

What a great way to spend the morning, and now on to the Lea Valley for some Goosanders.

Friday, 27 January 2017

A New Year Visit to Mistley

17th January 2017

Time for another visit to Mistley to see what this winter brings and as usual we start at The Quay. Sadly the fence is still in place but the Council has applied for The Quay to be designated a Village Green in the hope that this will force the owners to remove the unsightly steel mesh fence and replace it with a safety rail. Luckily the fence does not detract from photography as some Good Samaritans have cut holes in it at head height. How thoughtful is that?

Rather surprisingly no Goldeneye today, the first time in the fours years I have been coming here, but record numbers of Pintail, probably 50+. They were absolutely illuminated in the morning sun and showed what stunning birds they are.

A less common visitor today was this Curlew which walked along the far bank, apparently totally oblivious to our presence.

So now on to The Walls and almost immediately this Buzzard circled over spooking everything in its path. It was a particularly low high tide today so the incoming tide was well behind schedule and so for a while the only subjects were some Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The Lesser in the first photo is a sub-adult.

Normally the bird that totally dominates the waders is the Black-tailed Godwit. However today they were limited to just a few individuals so not sure where they have gone. Their low numbers is also reflected at Mersea and Fingringhoe Wick. Today Redshank were more confiding than usual.

Shelduck are always numerous at Mistley, but are often mid-channel and therefore a long way off. However today they were a lot nearer and afforded opportunities for some close-ups.

Some were more showy than others.

................and relax.

But the stars of today were the Turnstones which I don't recall ever seeing at Mistley before, and in true Turnstone style not only did they come close, but ran at you to within 10 yards. This is the type of bird photography that I like!!!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A New Year Visit to Burwell Fen

14th January 2017

I was driving up Factory Road towards the car park when I noticed a large flock of swans feeding  in the field to the right. Highly suspicious, so I stopped the car and got out for a quick scan with the bins. As I had expected they were Whoopers so I parked the car and went back for a few photos, although they were very distant.

Back at the car park there was plenty of winter thrushes in the paddock including Song Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare. I am sure there were Blackbirds too but didn't get round to photographing them.

So now for the wait for the Short-eared Owls to appear, but always to plenty to watch and photograph while you are waiting. There are always plenty of Kestrels at Burwell Fen and Stonechats will suddenly appear from nowhere and disappear just as fast.

But the bonus today was the small herd of Roe Deer that were not only closer than usual but in good light, and to finish it off a few of the Whoopers did a fly-past.

There was no early flying from the Short-eared Owls today, but up to four birds did appear at the usual 2.00pm, but unfortunately all down the far end. None had appeared at the track end by 3.00pm, so I quickly changed position and managed to get some shots before the light faded.