Sunday, 11 December 2016

KITE CHICKS

The spread of the Red Kite from it's only breeding sites in Mid-Wales is at least one conservation success story.
I live right on the border of two county's in South Wales Blainau Gwent and Torfaen where there has been regular sightings of Kites during the last few years. A nest was found four years ago in  Blainau Gwent one chick was ringed and a picture taken by Mr. Steve Roberts under schedule 1 licence. It was the first Red Kite chick to be ringed in the county but sadly the chick didn't make it the nest failed due to heavy rain that spring. It's nesting tree was badly damaged in the autumn storms we think by a lightening strike and so the birds deserted the site altogether.

the first red kite chick to be ringed in blainau gwent
A bit of good news though is that another Kite nest has been found in the county and they have bred successfully over the last couple of years.
And there's more great news a pair have now bred successfully in Torfaen for the first time, where one chick was ringed and picture taken by Kim Kirkbride under schedule 1 licence.


 This is fantastic news for the area but also shows that the Red Kite's are expanding their range, lets hope that they become a common sight in the years to come.

A big thanks to my buddy Stephen Carter for the information and the pictures "cheers mate".

Monday, 14 November 2016

DIGISCOPING

I've  been trying my hand at a bit of digiscoping over the last couple of months, I must say it is a lot more difficult than I thought. I've got a Luyi spotting scope this is a decent scope in good light but the zoom on the fixed lens isn't great (its crap to be honest) but it is a budget scope and I've had some good use out of it. I also bought a couple of adaptors one for a compact camera and another for my iphone. The results I have to say are not great or even good not a very sharp image and a hell of a lot of noise. Even with the help of photoshop they're still well below the standard I can get with my digital SLR. 
Here's a selection of images I've digiscoped.

a gathering of swallows with a couple of house martins before they set off on migration

ravens preening each other

raven

female kestrel

There would have been I feel some cracking images there especially the Kestrel but either me, the scope or the rest of my digiscoping equipment wasn't up to the job. I've done quite a lot of research on techniques, camera settings etc so I do feel I need to upgrade.

My darling wife bought for my birthday an Olivon scope and it's a cracker, the only trouble now is non of the adaptors fit over or on the eye piece so will have to search ebay for some adaptors that do, it's getting expensive this!
The two big factors that's making me battle on with it is the reach digiscoping gives you and some of the quality images you see in books and on the internet.
So hopefully I'll get it right and will be able to photograph distant birds and wildlife and share with you some quality images (fingers crossed) so lets go have a look on ebay. 

Friday, 4 November 2016

FIELDFARE

After photographing the redwings a couple of weeks ago I've been trying to get a pic of our other winter thrush the Fieldfare. There are plenty of both species about but getting close enough for an image has been proving quite difficult. Finally after many attempts I managed to get close enough to this individual to bag a couple of half decent shots.

fieldfare

  
Whilst concentrating on the Fieldfare this male Stonechat landed on a post nearby so I was able to get an image of him.

stonechat
With watching and photographing wildlife you never know what's going to turn up whilst driving down towards my house at night this Woodcock was on the side of the lane. Apologies for the pic but it was taken with my phone with the car headlights on the bird. As soon as the lights went off it the Woodcock took off onto the night.

Woodcock
With the Autumn migration coming to an end and winter starting to set in it will be interesting to see what else turns up.

Monday, 17 October 2016

FIRST TO ARRIVE

Redwings have just arrived over the last couple of days, no Fieldfare yet though. 
This winter thrush migrates here from Northern and Eastern Europe to spend our much warmer British winters here with us.


Redwing


This Reed Bunting was also sharing the berry tree.


reed bunting
Lets hope the Fieldfares start coming in soon otherwise all the berries will be gone.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

WHAT A BUTEO

Nice of this Buzzard to fly in and land on a post quite near my home. We got a couple of nesting pairs up here and are always great to see.

buzzard



buzzard flight pic
The bird stayed for quite some time before it took off giving me a chance of a nice flight shot (above).

Saturday, 13 August 2016

SLIMBRIDGE

Went over to Slimbridge WWT yesterday see if I could brush up on my( not the greatest ) Wader I.D skills. Managed to see and photograph the Cranes which I was hoping for and saw quite a few different species though couldn't photograph them all as they were sometimes a little to far out of reach for my camera.

redshank

redshank

avocet

avocet

ruff

ruff
Here's a Crane Slimbridge WWT have successfully re introduced these birds to the reserve with their breeding programme which was featured on Springwatch or perhaps it was autumn watch anyway they are impressive looking birds.

Crane with greylag geese in the foreground

crane
The black tailed godwits are in really good numbers at Slimbridge this first bird has still got a lot of it's summer plumage where as the second bird has lost nearly all its summer dress and looks more like a winter bird (bleeding confusing this Wader ID).

blacktailed godwit (summer)
 
blacktailed godwit (winter)




shellduck

Woodpigeons are everywhere and very tame

woodpigeon
There's a rookery there as well a member of the crow family a rook is not a bird you see every day. It's bare patch at the base of the bill its best ID feature

rook
There's a lot of captive birds also at the reserve although they're nice to see they're not truly wild. The Bewick swan vists Slimbridge from Northern Europe they arrive usually around October and stay for the winter before they return up north to breed. They have some captive residents around the lagoons as well here's one of three individuals that I saw.

bewick swan
An enjoyable day at the reserve but I still need to get better at my Wader ID, back to the class room me thinks.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

LLANDEGFEDD

Went over to Llandegfedd Reservoir yesterday, this place was one of Gwents birding hotspots until the opening of the RSPB Newport Gwent levels reserve at Goldcliff in Newport. Welsh water has now opened up the top end of the reservoir to sailing and boat trips and has built a visitors center and cafe. Fly fishing off the shore and from boats still seems to be well catered for  while at the bottom end of the res where most of the birders go the hides are really in a poor state of repair and the paths and area's in front of the hides are massively overgrown with reeds and trees making visibility from the hides almost impossible. I heard that it's all to do with funding and that the sailing boats, fishing and visitors centre pull in money where the area's for wildlife do not. Having said all that the place still pulls in a surprising amount of good birds with the odd rarity now and again dropping in. An Osprey can be seen in early spring and late summer and good numbers of winter wildfowl the odd Diver and waders on passage from their breeding grounds can be seen here. In summer there's a good selection of migrants all singing and calling to establish breeding territories and if your lucky you might see a Hobby. There's also good numbers of resident birds passarines a plenty, herons, cormorants, grebe's, canada geese as well as a big gull roost.

I was not disappointing with my visit the highlights being a pair of little Egret, female Mandarin duck, Common Tern, and a pair of Kingfishers. There were still a few warblers about in the form of Reed, Willow and Whitethroats. The great crested Grebe's have had a good breeding season there were family groups all over the place. A very large flock of House Martins and good numbers of Herons, Cormorants, and Gulls were also on view.
Here's some pictures of a few birds seen on the day.

This Common Tern was a solitary bird but showed really well.


common tern




A pair of Kingfishers were flying onto this very strategically placed perch. 
 
Kingfisher





This pair of Kingfishers were having a bit of an argument I think its a male on the right as female's have a lighter lower mandible.






The picture below shows a little Egret with yellow legs and feet where the legs are supposed to be black and the feet yellow "hmmm strange"

little Egret with yellow legs




You can see by this little egret in flight that it's legs are supposed to be black.

little egret in flight

This female Madarin was one of three birds I spotted sat together at the the edge of the res.


female mandarin



Below is one of the many family of Great Crested Grebes that were on the reservoir

great crested grebe with her chicks
Here's a nice pair of Mute Swans

mute swans
This Black Headed Gull (an immature I think)  is one of the many Gulls that make their home at Llandegfedd.

black headed gull
 Sorry about all the pics but I had to make amends after forgetting my camera on our holiday to Mull.
Llandegfedd is a beautiful place I just hope that Welsh water understands this and what an important area it is for wildlife and for the wildlife enthusiasts and tries to keep it so. There are not that many SSSI in Gwent so we should cherish them. Water sports can bring in revenue and as long as disturbance to the birds and other wildlife are kept to a minimum I can't see why they both can't be enjoyed together in this wonderful place.