Lincsbirder wildlife photography: Blog en-us (C) Lincsbirder wildlife photography (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Fri, 10 May 2013 11:02:00 GMT Fri, 10 May 2013 11:02:00 GMT Lincsbirder wildlife photography: Blog 120 90 Final blog post. Wednesday 8th may 2013 For a few reasons, the main one being lack of time I will no longer write any blog posts. Much of my photography at this time of year is done at Messingham nature reserve in North Lincolnshire. I'm sure you would much rather just look at any photographs I take rather than wade through my ramblings from Messingham two or three times a week anyway.  

Although I'm retired I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find the time to write the blog. If I don't get it written within a couple of days of actually visiting anywhere I tend to forget what happened. I'm also a family man with grand children and other commitments that are taking up a good deal of my time. I only seem to get time to write the blog if the weather happens to be too bad to get out with the camera. Anyway enough said.

My sincere thanks to all of you who have been regular readers of my blog posts, and my apologies for having to curtail it at least for the time being. I could write shorter posts I suppose but I am passionate about what I do and a half hearted description for want of a better phrase is not my style. Maybe come the winter months when things are not so active on the photography side I will be able to write the blog posts again. 

I finish with a few photographs from my recent outings. Once again many thanks to you all for your support.

Gannet Bempton cliffs East Yorkshire   

GannetGannet - Morus bassanus

 Common Frog Messingham nature reserve North Lincolnshire 

Common frogCommon Frog - Rana temporaria


Green hairstreak butterfly Donna Nook Lincolnshire 

Green haistreakGreen hairstreak - Callophrys rubi

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Wed, 08 May 2013 10:23:43 GMT
Bempton cliffs, East Yorkshire & Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Monday 15th April 2013 On Monday 15th April 2013 Dave, Mike and myself made a trip to Bempton cliffs RSPB site in East Yorkshire. The aim of the trip was to photograph the sea birds that come into Bempton to breed at this time of year. We were hoping for Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Razorbill and Guillemot and anything else that we might encounter. 

Leaving home at 07:00 in reasonable light we were very hopeful of some good images from Bempton. We arrived at Bempton around 08:30. I decided to use both the Canon 500mm lens and the Canon 400mm lens, having one on each camera. It was rather windy but clear with good sunny spells. As we walked down to the cliff top paths it was very apparent how quiet it was. Normally the raucus calls of the sea birds can be heard before you actually see them. Didn't take too much notice of this as there was a very strong wind blowing out to sea so I assumed this was the reason nothing much could be heard. On reaching the cliff tops we soon discovered the reason for the lack of bird calls, a lack of birds. There were reasonable numbers of gannets and fulmars on the wing but a distinct lack of the noisiest bird the Kittiwake. There were odd ones around but very few and far between.

Slightly dissapointed but undeterred by the small number of birds we made out way to the main vantage point for photographing the gannets in flight. There were gannets flying around but the by now very strong wind was keeping them much lower down near the sea and farther out from the cliffs than they normally can be seen.This made photographing them difficult as most of the time we were having to shoot at a downwards angle to them. On a better day the gannets would have been much higher up and nearer. It was a case of persevering and trying to get a good shot when one actually did come high and near enough. The 500mm lens was the main lens used. 

Gannet with nesting material 

Gannet with nesting material Gannet - Morus bassanus Compared to the gannets the fulmars are much more difficult to photograph in flight. Their flight path is not as predictable as a gannet and they fly much faster as well. With the changing lighting conditions and the gale force wind it made it very challenging getting any photographs of the birds in flight at all. 


Fulmar Fulmar - Fulmarus glacialis We stayed at Bempton until around 11:00 and then decided that due to the lack of birds and the windy conditions we would take a ride to Scarborough in North Yorkshire. We knew the pair of resident Peregrine falcons should hopefully be showing so there would be at least a chance of a few photographs. The harbour at Scarborough is usually pretty good for photo opportunities of gulls and a few waders. Arriving at Scarborough around midday we soon located the Peregrine pair and although we waited around a while got no real photographic opportunities. We then moved on to the harbour. Turnstones are a bird that seem to frequent the harbour but today as par for our luck they were in very short supply. If my memory serves me correctly we only saw three, but at least one of them was a little poser. 


TurnstoneTurnstone - Arenaria interpres There were quite a few gulls in the harbour, herring gulls in particular, which are one of my favourite gulls to photograph. Being used to human being activity in the harbour the gulls are quite approachable and allowed me some nice close up head shots. I was using the 400mm lens now and although I had no tripod it's quite an easy lens to hand hold and they came out well.

Herring gull

Herring gullHerring gull - Larus argentatus It was now well past lunch time so we made the decision to visit an excellent fish and chip restaurant just outside Scarborough and then make our way back to Bempton. We thought the wind might drop towards tea time and the gannets and fulmars at Bempton would fly a little higher and closer to the cliff top. Anyway, after an excellent meal of fish chips and peas we arrived back at Bempton around 15:30. The wind hadn't dropped much if at all, but the birds were a little more obliging than the morning session. In fact with the less harsh light as the sun was much lower in the sky I achieved some of my best images of the day. The next couple of hours were spent trying to get decent fulmar and gannet shots in flight. 


GannetGannet - Morus bassanus We left Bempton about 17:45 for the hour and a half journey home. Although Bempton hadn't been as good as anticipated and we also travelled a good few more miles than intended it was still an excellent day out in excellent company. The fish and chips were second to none, and Scarborough made up somewhat for Bempton. Dont forget you can view all the images from this trip via this link

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Bempton Bird Fulmar Gannet Guillemot Gull Herring Jackdaw Kittiwake Razorbill Scarborough Sun Turnstone Wind Yorkshire Fri, 19 Apr 2013 20:10:29 GMT
Laughton forest and Chambers Farm Wood, Tuesday 2nd April 2013 On Tuesday the 2nd April 2013 my good Friend David and I decided to pay a visit to Laughton Forest near Gainsborough to try and photograph adders. We also decided that we would have time to take a trip to Chambers Farm Wood near Wragby to see if we could get photographs of Siskin and Redpoll and anything else that was about.

I picked David up at 08:00 and we made the forty minute journey to Laughton forest. Laughton is forestry commission run and there is ample parking. The weather forecast was for good sunny spells but low temperatures. However, David knew the area where we were likely to see the adders and it is a fairly well sheltered spot that also allows sunshine on it for most of the day. The sunshine should hopefully tempt the adders to come out and bask in it to warm up. It was a fairly bright morning when we left home but as we neared the forest the sunlight was replaced by cloud. 

I decided to use the Canon 100mm macro lens hand held as I wanted to get some low level shots of the adders and this would be difficult to achieve using a tripod. We searched the area that the adders are known to frequent but could not find any. It was however very cold without the sunshine and was obviously too cold for the adders to come out. We waited for a couple of hours hoping the sun would show and tempt the adders out but it wasn't to be. At around 11:00 we decided to give up and make our way to Chambers Farm Wood, another forestry commission site.

On arrival at Chambers Farm Wood we soon set up our gear and there were plenty of birds visiting the feeding station but alas no Siskin or Redpoll. Not a good day so far. Nevertheless I did get some decent shots of the Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed tits that were visiting the feeding station. The sun was shining nicely now and we did wonder if we had given up on the adders at Laughton too soon. 

Great tit 

Great titGreat ti -Parus major We had about an hours shooting and also had our dinner then decided it was worth going back to Laughton as it was so much brighter. We arrived back at Laughton around 13:45 and although it was brighter than in the morning the sun was very intermittent. We were soon at the spot where the adders are known to frequent and as it happened a very nice guy (I never thought to get his name) was doing an adder survey and he was actually photographing one. He very kindly allowed us to photograph this adder alongside him and I soon had a good number of shots on the card including some nice close ups. This particular adder was a male and a very dark coloured one as well. Over the next hour this snake showed itself very well, not being at all concerned by our presence.

Male Adder 

AdderAdder - Vipera berus I have never been as close to an adder before. I have seen them several times in the summer months on Crowle moor but usually a fleeting glimpse as they slithered off into the undergrowth. It was a great experience to be able to observe and photograph this beautiful snake at close quarters.

We found another male snake, a lighter coloured one but it was nothing like as obliging as the darker coloured one. We spent time chatting to the guy doing the survey, and when the Adder presented itself in photogenic poses taking a few more photographs.  It was very soon 16:20 hours and it was obvious it wasn't warm enough for any more adders to be showing themselves so we packed up and made our way home. What seemed like at one stage was going to be one of those days when you go out and come home without the photographs you were hoping for turned out to be an excellent day. I was more than pleased with the Adder images I got. 

Male Adder Adder - Vipera berus

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Adder Bird Chambers Finch Forest Gainsborough Laughton Lincolnshire Snake Tit Wragby wood Thu, 04 Apr 2013 14:16:10 GMT
Rufford Park, Nottinghamshire, Thursday 21st March 2013 On Thursday the 21st March 2013 my good friend David and I took a trip to Rufford Park in Nottinghamshire. The main purpose was to try and get photographs of the Great crested grebes that are usually present in the park. We were hoping for shots of the Grebes displaying to each other in their courtship rituals. The weather forecast was for good sunny periods for the Rufford Park area. What a joke that was. We left home at 06:30 in clear skies with the sun just rising. It stayed this way until we reached Retford, then you guessed, the sun was replaced by cloud and murk never to be seen again until we hit Retford on the return journey. How weather forecasters can get it so wrong is beyond me.  

About five miles before we reached Rufford we came upon a road closure. The main road we would normally have travelled on was shut. There were warnings before we reached the closure but no real diversion signs pointing which way to go, just bollards and a barrier across the road. We took the route that we thought would bring us back on track and it eventually did after a longish detour through a couple of villages. On arrival at Rufford we soon had the gear out and set off in search of the grebes on the lakes. We did see a couple but they were fairly distant and definitely not in the mood for courtship displays. Mind you, can't say as I blamed them as it was very cold and overcast.

We soon decided we would have to settle for taking photographs of the Nuthatches and other small birds. We had come prepared for this if the grebes weren't showing. Very soon we had the Nuthatches and tits coming to take our seed. We were using the Canon 500mm F4 lenses but we still had to use a higher ISO setting than we would have preferred to get any sort of a shutter speed in the poor lighting conditions. 

Nuthatch in a typical nuthatch pose

NuthatchNuthatch - Sita europaea As the morning went by it got duller rather than brighter and we got colder, and it was very tempting at times to call it a day. If it wasn't for the fact that we had travelled forty odd miles to get there we most likely would have called it a day. When the conditions are as dull as it was today you don't get the catch light in the birds eye and the photos always look a little on the flat side. The resident Grey squirrel's were only too keen to get a share of the food and were a nuisance at times as they were forever in the frame pinching the seed rather than the birds getting it. However they are pretty photogenic creatures and I'm not one to turn down an opportunity of a decent photograph of one. 

Grey squirrel 

Grey squirrel Grey Squirrel - Sciurus vulgaris By 12:00 we were more than ready for a hot meal. We had decided before we set off that we would eat at the Big fish restaurant which is only a couple of miles down the road from Rufford. An excellent fish and chip meal is served here at a reasonable price. It was good to get inside in the warm and get some hot food and drink. After a great lunch the sky was still overcast and it didn't look like clearing at all so we made our way home. It was pointless going back to Rufford as we had as many dull weather shots as we needed. The detour around the road closure was rather better sign posted for the return journey although it still took us a long way out of our way to get back on track for home.

An earlier finish than we had anticipated but despite the lack of sunshine and no grebe photographs I still enjoyed the day. We contacted our wives before we set off for home and were informed the sun had shone just about all day at home which was fairly typical of the luck we had today. As said earlier, on reaching Retford on the return journey the sun broke through.  I finish this post with another Nuthatch shot, this time one with a nut in the beak.

 Nuthatch with peanut

NuthatchNuthatch - Sita europaea


]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Bird Blue Coal Great Jackdaw Jay Nottinghamshire Nuthatch Rufford Tit Woodpigeon Wed, 27 Mar 2013 09:54:29 GMT
Chambers Farm Wood, Lincolnshire, Tuesday 5th March 2013 On Tuesday the 5th March 2013 I decided to pay a visit to Chambers Farm Wood in Lincolnshire. This was mainly due to a heads up from a fellow bird photographer Matt Latham who had informed me that the Siskin's and Redpoll's were showing pretty well at the feeding station at the wood. Thanks for that Matt.

The weather forecast for Tuesday was for it to be foggy and clear slowly throughout the day. Should I take a chance and hope it cleared earlier than forecast or leave it until another day. I decided to take a chance and go for it. Was I pleased I did. I set off just after 09:00 in thick fog, four miles up the road I ran out of the fog into brilliant sunshine. It stayed sunny for the rest of my journey and I arrived at the wood around 10:00 with the sun still shining

Matt had told me that the lighting on the feeding station wouldn't be much good until around lunch time when the sun had got a bit higher in the sky. However, as I had never attempted any bird photography at this spot before I had no idea of which lens I would need or what position I would need to be in to get the photographs. So, my early arrival was to give me chance to suss the situation out and decide what equipment I was going to use. I had taken both the 400mm and 500mm lenses with me. I decided that the 500mm would be the best bet under the lighting conditions, although I would have to be careful with the depth of field as I would be pretty close to the birds. I also took a feeder with me for niger seed. The Siskin and Redpoll are very partial to niger seed.

I also took peanuts and mixed seed for the other birds. The feeders at the wood are hung on a wire stretched between two trees. Fine for the birds but not a good photography setting. I had to rearrange things a little and set up my own perches for the birds using branches that were readily available from other people doing the same thing. As it happened one of the volunteers who normally tops the feeders up was about, so I explained to him what I was doing and assured him I would put things back as they were when I had finished. He was more than happy with this as It meant all the feeders would be topped up by me saving them the cost of the seed and nuts. A pleasant attitude, manners and respect for others goes a long way in a situation like this. By the time I had finished chatting to the volunteer and got my perches set up it was around 11:15 and I could see the light on the feeding station was getting better all the time.  

Within a few minutes of me setting up a female Redpoll put in an appearance, however she landed directly on the feeder I had taken rather than on one of my perches. A slight adjustment to my perches and the next time she came in it was onto my chosen perch. Not quite the side view I wanted but good enough. 

Female Redpoll

Female RedpollLesser Redpoll - Carduelis cabaret

There were Great, Blue and Coal tits coming back and forth in good numbers. I took a few photographs of them but was more keen to get the Siskin and Redpoll.

Blue tit

Blue titBlue tit - Cyanistes caeruleus Just before lunch time a couple of Siskin's came in. I managed a good photograph of the female but the male eluded my efforts. By the time I had got a photograph of the female the male was already on the feeder.

Female Siskin

Female Siskin Siskin female - Carduelis spinus

It was lunch time already. A quick sandwich and a cup of soup was consumed where I was rather than go back to the car. Luckily it wasn't too cold where I was as it was sheltered from any wind by the building immediately behind me. I made a quick telephone call home to my wife, more out of curiosity than anything to find out if the fog had cleared at home. Sue informed me it was still thick fog at home. I had definitely made the right decision. If I hadn't gone to Chambers Wood I had planned to do some local in flight ducks and geese. That would have been a no go in the fog. The light on the feeding station was excellent now. Next to come in was a male Redpoll. What a fine looking specimen as well with his red cap and streaked red breast. He landed not on one of my perches but on the tree itself even nearer to me. I fired a burst of shots off just hoping that I had managed to get him all in focus with him being so near. I checked them on the camera LCD screen and was happy with them. 

Male Redpoll

Male RedpollLesser Redpoll - Carduelis cabaret

The Long-tialed tits kept popping in now and again but were more inclined to land on the ground and then fly up to the feeders or the table. After many attempts I finally managed a decent photograph of one in a tree rather than on the ground.

Long-tailed tit

Long-tailed titLong-tailed tit - Aegithalos caudatus

The next hour was rather frustrating as a Sparrowhawk decided it would fly through. Obviously all the birds took cover when it came through. It was great to see this male Sparrowhawk  coming through at great speed. Over the next hour he came through four times, the last time nearly taking my head off he was that close. Although I was at the ready for him there was no way on earth I was going to get a photograph of him. The shutter speed was too slow as were my reactions Lol. 

After what seemed a long wait the small birds began to return and the male Siskin was one of them. He perched more or less in a perfect position for me and a burst of shots ensured a lovely photograph of him. 

Male Siskin

Male SiskinSiskin male - Carduelis spinus Throughout the rest of the time I was there the Siskin's and Redpoll's returned several times and more photographs were taken. By 15:15 I decided I had as many photographs as I needed and I put the feeding station back as I found it. I also topped up the feeders with the surplus nuts and seed I had left. The light had been a bit challenging at times. Sometimes my perches were in full sun, sometimes in shade which meant I was altering the exposure compensation quite often.

A great days photography though and my first decent photograph of a Redpoll. The journey home was good and I didn't run into any fog until I approached the same spot as it cleared on my morning journey. Not as thick a fog as in the morning but enough to blot out any sunshine. 


]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Bird Blue Chaffinch Chambers Coal Forest Great Lincolnshire Long Redpoll Siskin Sparrowhawk Tit Wood Woodland Woodpecker Thu, 07 Mar 2013 14:11:41 GMT
Sherwood Forest , Nottinghamshire, Thursday 28th February 2013 Thursday the 28th of February 2013, a visit to Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. Much the same circumstances for making this visit to Sherwood Forest as the last trip I made, not deciding to go until the Wednesday evening. The weather has been so unreliable along with the unreliable forecasts that it's been near on impossible to plan anything in advance. 

My companion for this outing was my good friend David who managed to be able to go at short notice. I picked Dave up at 06:30 and we made good time, arriving at the forest at around 07:45 The weather was as promised a little early mist then sunny spells. In fact it turned out better than expected as we had a clear blue sky all day. Always good when you are working in the forest as the more light you can get on the subjects the better. 

We soon made our way into the forest and set up a temporary feeding station. I had decided to use the Canon 500mm F4 lens. it's always a dilemma as to which lens to use for this type of photography. The 400mm F5.6 that I have is fine, you can get close enough to the birds but being F5.6 the shutter speeds can be a little slow even on a tripod. On the other hand while the 500mm F4 is better for shutter speeds being an F4 lens, there is the question of depth of field. Using the 500mm F4 obviously means the birds are a little closer and you get that bit more detail but on the other hand it's very easy to finish up with parts of the bird out of focus if you go below F6.3 to get the shutter speed up. As it happened I made the right choice as the light was excellent as far as forest work goes and although I had to use ISO speeds of between 400 and 800 I was able to shoot at F7.1 most of the time to get a decent depth of field.

Once we had set up it was only a matter of minutes before the birds began to come in to feed. The Nuthatches are so fast, grab and run merchants. They drop down to a perch momentarily before grabbing a nut or seed and making off with it. You have to be very quick to catch them before they get a seed or nut in the beak. I do prefer them without a nut or seed in the beak. I had many photographs of a branch with no bird in the frame because I wasn't fast enough on the shutter Lol. However, as with many things persistence is the name of the game. 


Nuthatch - Sitta europaea We had Coal, Marsh, Blue, Great, Willow and Long-tailed tits coming to our set up as well as Dunnock, Robin and Blackbird. The Blue and Great tits are the easiest to catch as they aren't quite as wary or as fast as the Nuhatch. The Coal, Willow, Marsh and Long-tailed tits are also pretty quick. It was very cold in the forest and I was thankful that I had dressed accordingly. The morning flew by and lunch was consumed where we were as it would have meant losing well over an hour to go and buy lunch anywhere and we would also have had to dismantle our set up and reassemble it on our return.

The Dunnock is in my opinion a very underrated bird. I love the spring song, and seen close up it has a lovely eye colour and the varying shades of grey and brown make it a very attractive bird. 


DunnockDunnock - Prunella modularis The Long-talied tits paid several visits but never stopping for any length of time. They are such energetic little bundles constantly on the move in family parties searching for their next meal. We were interrupted quite often by members of the public walking, some with dogs others without. However most of them were mindful of what we were doing and were courteous towards us and we had quite a few pleasant chats, with some of them being very interested in seeing our photographs. It's probably worth saying that Sherwood Forest is a public forest and dog walkers and ramblers etc have just as much right to be in the forest as us photographers have. If everyone behaves in a polite and courteous manner toward each other there are no conflicts. 

Long-tailed tit 

Long-tailed titLong-tailed tit - Aegithalos caudatus

Like the morning the afternoon flew by and by 15:00 hours I had over 1500 images on the card. Although reasonably early the light was just beginning to fade in the forest and the last half hour had seen me upping the ISO speed to get a fast enough shutter speed. We decided to call it a day. We packed up making sure we left things as we found them. The journey home was a little slower than than the morning drive, due mainly to hitting Retford at peak traffic time ( school leaving time) However we were still home by 17:00. A great day out in great company. The weather had exceeded all our expectations. it's always nice when everything comes together as it did today. I leave you with a photograph of a Marsh tit. Don't forget you can view all the images from this trip here 

Marsh tit 

Marsh tit Marsh tit - Poecile palustris


]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Bird Blue Chaffinch Finch Forest Great Long Nottingham Nuthatch Sherwood Tailed Tit Willow Woodland Woodpecker marsh Wed, 06 Mar 2013 11:58:06 GMT
Worlaby carr's North Lincolnshire, Monday 11th January to Tuesday 19th January 2013 Over the last couple of weeks I have spent many hours at Worlaby carrs with the odd visit for a few hours to Waters Edge Country Park at Barton-upon-Humber.The aim at Worlaby carr's was to get some decent in flight images of the Short-eared owls before they vacate to their summer breeding grounds. It will most likely be the last owl photographs from the carr's, as it most definitely looks like the carr land is going to be ploughed up this autumn and put back to farm land. Already they, (the land owner or tennant) I'm not sure which have started to cut the grass on the carr's which can only mean disturbance for the owls and the voles they feed on. Worlaby carr's is probably one of the most important and certainly holds one of the largest populations of wintering Short-eared owls in the United Kingdom. Despite the efforts of local birders it now seems certain that this carr land will be returned to agricultural use this autumn. 

On the odd day when we have seen any prolonged spells of sunshine I have been to Waters Edge at Barton-upon-Humber to try for in flight shots of the ducks and geese. This winter though there seems to be much less activity on the lakes at Barton than in previous years and photographic opportunities have been very few. Probably due to the windy conditions that seem to have prevailed when the sun has shone. On my last visit I did manage a few shots of Canada geese coming in to land. 

Canada goose 

Canada gooseCanada goose - Branta canadensis Anyway back to Worlaby carr's. It can be a bit soul destroying sitting in the car on the carr's no pun intended for up to six hours at a time waiting for the owls to show, and then going home with no photographs at all because they either didn't show or were too far away for the camera. It could be very cold as well. There were odd days when they showed close enough and I did manage a few decent images. It's sod's law that if the sun managed to shine the owls managed to either keep their distance from the camera or not show at all and there were quite a few days when I went home with no photographs at all. Sometimes they would be out in the morning and sometimes it would be late afternoon when the best of the light had gone. It was always a dilemma knowing what time to visit the carr's. I generally arrived around eleven to eleven thirty in a morning and stayed until the light had gone, between four thirty and five o'clock in the evening.

They never seemed to hunt for any prolonged periods, they would get up and hunt for maybe twenty to thirty minutes and then they would go down again and it would sometimes be another hour or two before they got up again and sometimes not at all. 

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owlShort-eared owl - Asio flammeus I was fortunate on one of my visits to have an owl land on one of the fence posts within camera range. This owl had a vole in it's mouth that it had caught and I was over the moon to get a few shots of it before it flew off to consume the vole elsewhere out of sight. 

Short-eared owl with vole 

Short-eared owl with vole Short-eared owl - Asio flammeus On another of my visits I hadn't taken a photograph all the time I had been there, then a kestrel was seen to land on a bush just a little further down the road to where I was parked. I managed to drive down the road very slowly and get a lovely photograph of it. I didn't go home with an empty CF card this time. 

Female Kestrel Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus One day there were a couple of Stonechat's flitting up and down the road in the bushes and sometimes on the fence posts but they never sat still long enough for me to get any photographs. Anyway to sum up. I am quite happy with the photographs I managed over this last couple of weeks. I would have liked the owls to have been a little closer and to have shown a bit more when the weather conditions were more favourable, but you can't have everything handed on a plate to you. I had to work to get the photographs by putting a lot of time in.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Barton Birds Ducks Fog Geese Harrier Hen Kestrel Lincolnshire Owl Prey Worlaby Wed, 20 Feb 2013 15:52:29 GMT
Just out and about near home, 30th January 2013/ 6th February 2013 Just a short blog to let you all know that I am still alive and kicking Lol. The weather has been very poor lately in my part of the world. The main problem has been the high winds we have been experiencing. It hasn't stopped me getting out, but it's mainly been a few hours here and there over the last couple of weeks sooner than a full day anywhere. If it hasn't been blowing a gale it's been raining or snowing. I could go sit in a hide and wait for something to turn up but that bores me and I'm not good at sitting for long. I soon get backache and the urge to move around kicks in. Saying that I do spend quite a bit of time sat in the car using it as a mobile hide, but the difference in this to a static hide that is open to the public is I can get out and stretch my legs without disturbing other people.

Anyway to carry on. I have made several visits to Waters Edge Country Park at Barton-upon-Humber over the last couple of weeks. Generally during the morning period when we have managed a few rare hours of sunshine. The problem being as said earlier the high winds. Birds don't fly in high winds any more than they are forced, so getting in flight photographs of the ducks has been nearly impossible. Most days they have been hunkered down at one end of the ponds and staying put out of the wind as much as possible. The geese have been a little more willing to fly but not as much as usual. I did manage a few photographs of some Greylag geese as they came into land on one of my visits but that's been about it for in flight shots at Barton. 

Greylag goose

Greylag goose Greylag goose - Anser anser On one of my visits to Waters Edge I did manage to locate a small mixed flock of Siskin and Repoll. Again the wind was a nuisance as the birds fed on Alder cones. The trees were swaying wildly and keeping a bird in the camera view finder was difficult let alone getting a blur free shot. Took me over two hours to get any photographs I was happy with.

Female Siskin feeding on Alder cones 

Female Siskin Siskin female - Carduelis spinus If it has managed to keep fine I have often called at Worlaby carrs in the afternoons to try for the Short-eared owls. My luck with these has not been great. If I managed an afternoon with any decent light the birds either didn't show at all or showed at a distance too great for any decent shots. On the dull wet and often windy days when I have been there they have sometimes shown a little closer but then I have had to use a very high ISO setting on the 7D to get any sort of a shutter speed to catch them in flight. High ISO with the 7D doesn't bode well for a great photograph. Sounds like all I'm doing is moaning, well I guess I am, but I am a bit of a perfectionist where my photographs are concerned, and I don't like showing you images that are not up to my usual standards when I know given slightly better conditions I could do much better. 

Short-eared owl 

Short-eared owlShort-eared owl - Asio flammeus

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owlShort-eared owl - Asio flammeus Well that's about all for this post. It's blowing a gale and snowing yet again as I write this. Weather forecast for tomorrow, Thursday 7th February 2013 is a little better with hopefully some sunshine so  with a bit of luck I will be out and about again. 

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Barton Ducks Geese Lincolnshire Local Owl Rain Snow Wind Worlaby Wed, 06 Feb 2013 10:17:52 GMT
Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, Wednesday 9th January 2013 Wednesday the 9th of January saw me making a visit to Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. It was a very spur of the moment decision to make this trip. I had seen the weather forecast on the Tuesday night and it looked promising for a change. I had thought I would probably go somewhere local like Barton or Worlaby. However, I awoke early unable to sleep. I checked the weather forecast and it was an excellent forecast with a good chance of full sunshine for the best part of the day. I decided, as said on the spur of the moment to visit Sherwood Forest. I would normally have contacted some of my photography friends to see if they fancied the trip, but at such short notice and at such an early hour I didn't think they would appreciate my calling them.

I soon had all the camera gear in the car and a packed lunch ready. I left home at 06:45 and made good time, arriving at Sherwood Forest around 08:00. I decided to use the Canon 7D and the Canon 500mm F4 lens as I knew the lighting conditions in the forest wouldn't be particularly good even in sunny weather, as although I would be in a fairly open area of the forest the trees would keep putting shade on my chosen spot. I decided to use the Canon 7D and the 500mm F4 lens as this would be a better option than the Canon 400mm F5.6 lens as far as shutter speeds were concerned.

I made my way into the forest to a spot that I have previously photographed at. As it happened a new bird feeding table had been erected at this spot. This was fine, but it didn't look very natural, so I found a rotting piece of log from the forest floor and some moss. I wrapped the moss around the log and placed it on the table. I put seed and nuts on the table in the hope that the birds would land on the log before dropping onto the table to feed.

Within minutes I had a steady stream of birds visiting. They did land on my moss covered log, but boy I had to be quick on the shutter button to catch them before they hopped off onto the table. Some of the first birds to arrive were the Nuthatches and they are also some of the quickest as well, Lol.


NuthatchNuthatch - Sitta europaea It wasn't long before the tits and chaffinches appeared. The Marsh tits like the Nuthatches are also very fast. The light was very challenging. One minute my moss covered log would be sunlit, the next in shade as the sun filtered through the trees. Exposure was a bit of a nightmare with the changing lighting conditions and the differing plumage colours of the various birds and I did finish up with quite a few very over or under exposed images as I was constantly altering the exposure settings on the camera to try and compensate.

Marsh tit

Marsh titMarsh tit - Poecile palustris A Dunnock and a Chaffinch were a little more cooperative being slower movers than the tit's and nuthatches. I was at the side of one of the many public paths that run through the forest and as such I had many people and dogs pass by that temporarily disturbed the birds. However they would soon return once the people and dogs had passed by. There were some other logs nearby that hadn't moss on them and a few of the birds chose one of these logs to alight on before  coming to the table. I managed to catch a very nice shot of a Blue tit on one of these logs whilst the light was good as well.

Blue tit

Blue titBlue tit - Cyanistes caeruleus The morning flew by and a quick sandwich and a drink were consumed in situ. By around 14:00 hours the light was gradually fading, the sun now being too low in the sky to reach my position. I decided to call it a day. I had taken just over a thousand photographs and although as said a lot would be unusable due to incorrect exposure or motion blur I knew I had some decent shots as well. No day at Sherwood Forest would be complete without a photograph of a Robin.


RobinRobin - Erithacus rubecula The journey home was a little slower due to the traffic being heavier but I had really enjoyed my day. It had been a little on the chilly side but I was never what I would call very cold. Although a spur of the moment decision to go to Sherwood it was definitely one of my better photography days. Don't forget you can view all the shots from this Sherwood forest visit via this link.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Balackbird Bird Blue Branch Chaffinch Coal Dunnock Feeding Forest Great Log Marsh Moss Nottinghamshire Nuthatch Robin Sherwood Squirrel Station Tit Fri, 11 Jan 2013 20:33:42 GMT
Waters Edge Barton-upon-Humber & Worlaby carrs, North Lincolnshire, Saturday, 5th January 2013 Firstly my apologies for it being so long since my last blog post. My wife Sue had a minor accident, to cut a long story short Sue broke her wrist. For the last six or seven weeks I have been very much a house husband as there were many everyday jobs that Sue couldn't do one handed. Anyway Sue is well on the way to a full recovery and able to drive again so I can now find time to get out with the camera.

Saturday the 5th of January 2013 saw me making a visit to Waters Edge Country Park at Barton-upon-Humber and Worlaby carrs. The forecast was for a cloudy overcast start to the day with sunny periods later. With the overcast conditions I wasn't concerned about an early start and didn't leave home until 09:15  for the twenty minute drive to Waters Edge. I took both the 7D cameras with me. One to use with the Canon 400mm F5.6 L lens and the other for the 500mm F4 L Lens. I was hoping to use the 400mm f5.6 lens at Waters Edge for some bird in flight shots. However, I decided to use the 500mm F4 lens as this lens would allow me a bit faster shutter speeds in the overcast conditions.

There were quite a few birds on the ponds at Waters Edge, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Teal, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck and Canada Geese plus the usual gathering of Black-headed gulls. I positioned myself on the board walk over the pond near the visitor centre as this pond always seems have the most activity in terms of birds coming in and departing. The first hour passed without me taking a single shot. I wasn't particularly concerned though as although it was beginning to brighten up, it was still far from good for in flight shots and I was just enjoying watching the birds and being out in the fresh air. By 11:00 the sun had made an appearance and I managed some decent in flight shots of the Black-headed gulls.

Black-headed gull

Black-headed gullBlack-headed gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus I was hoping the Canada geese would take flight, but they were pretty static today as was most other things. There were a couple of half chances with a Mallard and Tufted duck coming in but I was too slow and missed them both. I was about to move on to Worlaby carrs to see if I could get photographs of the Short-eard owls when I bumped into a couple of photography friends, Darren and Mandy. After chatting to them we decided to move on to Worlaby together. We arrived at Worlaby at around 13:00 and it wasn't long before a Short-eared owl was spotted hunting, although it was fairly distant. Patience is the name of the game at Worlaby and over the next two and a half hours several owls were seen although none of them came quite as close as we would have liked.  I also caught up with a few more old friends at Worlaby and it was good to have a chat and be out in the fresh air after being indoors for so long.

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owlShort-eared owl - Asio flammeus

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owlShort-eared owl - Asio flammeus The light was challenging for photography with the sun being hazy at best and non existent at times and as the afternoon wore on it became increasingly difficult to get the camera to lock onto the flying owls. Just before 16:00 we decided to call it a day as the light had just about gone and a distinct chill was in the air. Although I didn't take many photographs it was a great day in great company.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Barton Bird Duck Goose Gull Lincolnshire Owl Worlaby Sun, 06 Jan 2013 21:25:57 GMT
Donna Nook and Worlaby Carrs, Lincolnshire, 5th November 2012 Monday 5th November. I decided to pay a visit to the Atlantic Grey Seal colony at Donna Nook on the Lincolnshire coast. The seals haul out as it is called in late October into November/December to give birth to the pups. In other words they leave the water and come onto the beach and sand dunes. This makes photographing them easy as they are very close to you. There are low fences in place that you are asked to stay behind by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust who warden the site during the seal breeding season. This is for your own safety and the safety of the seals. If you are planning a visit please adhere to the guidelines given at the site. The female seals, called cows will abandon a pup if it is subject to disturbance by human beings. Also, although they may look cute they are wild animals and will bite. It is perfectly feasible to get great photographs of the seals by staying behind the fence line, even with a camera phone because the seals come right up to the fence line. For more information click this link

The seals have been hauling out at Donna Nook since the early nineteen seventies and  numbers have gradually increased over the years. The mortality rate at Donna Nook is lower than in other areas, possibly due to the protection given by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

I arrived at Donna Nook about 09:20 in bright sunny conditions. It was cold though, an over night frost had seen me having to scrape ice off the car windows before I set off. It always seems to be cold at Donna Nook anyway. I took both the 400mm and the 500mm lens with me. The seals are close enough for the 400mm lens, in fact too close sometimes but you can often get some nice action shots just beyond the dunes on the beach area, and this is where the 500mm comes in handy.

According to the Lincolnshire Wildlife trust there were 202 bulls, 278 cows and 108 pups present at Donna Nook so there was no shortage of photographic subjects.

Atlantic Grey seal pup

Atlantic grey seal pup Grey Seal - Halichoerus grypus Even for a Monday morning there were many people both observing and photographing the seals. Donna Nook receives about 40,000 visitors per year during the seal breeding season and weekends can get very crowded, so a visit during the week is the best bet for photography at least. I took many photographs of the seals. The skies clouded over, though to be fair to our weather forecasters they did predict this would happen. A shower of rain caught me out a little and I had to quickly get the large polythene bag out to cover the gear up. It soon passed though and the skies brightened again.

Bull seals fighting for the right to mate with females

A fighting pair of bull seals Grey Seal - Halichoerus grypus The male seals, or bulls as they are called can get quite aggressive with each other over the right to mate with the females. The bulls play no part in the rearing of the pups. The sole reason they are there is to mate with the cows. The cow feeds the single pup for around three weeks before she mates with a bull, she then abandons the pup and returns to the sea. Hunger eventually forces the pup to the sea in search of food.

A female, or cow as they are called warning another cow to stay away from her pup

Cow seal warning anoher cow to stay away from her pupGrey Seal - Halichoerus grypus Lunch time soon arrived and satisfied that I had got the shots I wanted I made the short walk back to the car to eat my lunch. The weather looked pretty promising, so rather than go straight home I decided to go to Worlaby Carrs to see if I could get any photographs of the Short-eared owls. I arrived at Worlaby about 14:00 and was soon parked up talking to a few friends while we waited for the owls to show. At 15:00 the first of the owls began hunting although they were too far away to get photographs. Eventually they came a little closer but still not as close as we would have liked. Many in flight photographs were taken, most would go in the recycle bin on the computer, being either out of focus or too distant. I did mange a few that were passable.

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owlShort-eared owl - Asio flammeus By 16:00, due to the fading light it was becoming increasingly more difficult to get the camera to lock onto the owls in flight. It would have helped if they had been a touch closer. None of them decided to sit on the fence posts in the area I was in at least. I had increased the ISO on the camera from 400 when I started to take the photographs up to 2000 and a lot of noise was becoming evident in the shots that I was getting, so I called it a day. Don't forget you can view all the photographs from today's outings on the main web site

An enjoyable if somewhat cold day out, Worlaby didn't seem any warmer than Donna Nook, Lol.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Bird Bull Coast Cow Flight Grey Lincolnshire Owl Pup Seal Waxwing Worlaby Tue, 06 Nov 2012 14:55:30 GMT
Worlaby carrs, North Lincolnshire. Tuesday 30th October 2012 I wouldn't normally write a blog post on a visit to Worlaby carrs as I go there fairly regularly in the winter months to try and get photos of the Short-eared owls and anything else that happens to be around at the time.  However, I thought as it was the first time I have succeeded in getting any photographs of them this season I would share my few hours on the carrs with you.

As you will probably be aware, owls are generally more active in hunting their prey in the late afternoon or evening. This makes getting photographs of them, especially in flight photographs very difficult, as by the time they start hunting the light is more often than not fading. I arrived at the carrs around 12:45. It's only a ten minute drive for me. It's very rare for any of the owls to show before mid afternoon but just now and again it can be earlier.

It's always a good chance to catch up with fellow local photographers as well, as I did today. It was good to see a few of my old acquaintances and friends and catch up with the latest news and gossip. (It's not only women who can gossip, Lol)

The best tactic at this site is to sit in your car until any owl movement is seen. Sometimes they will perch up on the fence posts along the lane that runs down the carrs. It's pot luck if you park in the right spot. Many times I have had other photographers get photographs when they have been parked a few yards in front or behind me and missed out myself.

Back to today, it was around 14:40 before any owl movement was spotted and then a couple were seen hunting, but a fair way away. To explain, there is a single road down to the carrs but no access to the carr land itself, so the owls have to come to you. There is no way you can go searching for them which is a good thing really as this minimises disturbance to them. If they decide to fly near to you or perch up near to you then you get the photographs. It's as simple as that. You can move position up or down the road, but inevitably if you move position they are likely to turn up where you were so I generally pick a spot and stay put.

By around 15:00 it was clear that there were seven owls on site hunting at various times. Eventually a couple came close enough to attempt some in flight shots. I was using the Canon 500mm F4 IS lens hand held for in flight shots, and to get a half decent shutter speed in the poor light I had to shoot at F4 with an ISO of 1250. Even then the shutter speed was only 1/500, but I did manage a reasonable shot of one of them. I like it because you can see the owls eyes are focussed on the ground looking for it's prey, which is usually voles.

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owlShort-eared owl - Asio flammeus Throughout the next forty five minutes several different owls came within range, although not as close as I have had them in the past. I managed a few more in flight shots. It's always difficult to judge on the camera LCD screen if the shots are up to scratch and it's not until you get them on the computer later that you can really see if they are good enough.  A Kestrel also came reasonably close, hovering looking for prey but I didn't manage any decent shots of it.  A Hen harrier and a Barn owl were also said to have been seen but not by me. During the last fifteen minutes of shooting I had to up the ISO to 2000 to get the shutter speed up as the light was fading fast.

Short-eared owl shot at ISO 2000

Short-eared owlShort-eared owl - Asio flammeus At around 16:00 the light was so bad any further in flight shots were going to be nigh on impossible with the Canon 7D. It's not a bad camera in most respects, but it's not the best in low light conditions. I was happy with my efforts today, and as mentioned it had been good to catch up with a few old friends. Sometimes as you drive down the lane on the way home you can be lucky enough to come across an owl perched on a fence post and if you are very careful in your approach by driving very slowly up to it you can sometimes get a few shots by having the camera on a bean bag on the car door. It wasn't to be today though.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Eared Kestrel Lincolnshire Owl Prey Short Vole Worlaby Wed, 31 Oct 2012 11:41:06 GMT
Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, Friday 19th October 2012 Friday the 19th October saw Mike, Dave and myself making a visit to Bradgate Park in Leicestershire.  We had visited Studley Royal Park in Yorkshire the previous week to get photographs of the Red deer rut. Although we were successful at Studley we felt a visit to Bradgate Park would be in order to try and improve on what we had managed to photograph at Studley as the rut should now be in full swing.

Mike arrived at my house as planned for an 06:00 start. We soon had Mike's gear loaded into my car and on our way to pick Dave up for the two hour drive to Bradgate. We made good time despite the fog and mist patches which weren't dense enough to slow us up at all. We arrived at Bradgate at 07:50 and as promised, Steve Houghton a friend of ours from the Leicestershire area met us at 08:00. Steve, knowing the park well had kindly offered to be our guide for the day. This helped immensely as Steve knew the best photographic spots in the park and what time of day to be in those spots. Thanks Steve.

The 500mm F4 lens with the tripod was the choice today with the 1.4 extender if needed. As it happened the 1.4 extender wasn't needed as the deer at Bradgate were more approachable than the ones at Studley. With Steve's help we soon found our first photographic opportunity. A large stag with his harem of females. He was bellowing and seeing off any rival stags as well as paying attention to keeping his females with him. It's a sight worth watching to see these magnificent animals running round and bellowing at other stags warning them to keep away. We took many photographs before moving further into the park.

As we came over the brow of a hill we witnessed something we had been hoping for. A pair of Red deer stags were having a battle over rights to some females. There was much antler clashing, bellowing and charging with neither animal prepared to give in. The strength of these stags is awesome and the effort put in to keep control of the females.

Red deer stags fighting

Red deer stags fighting Red deer stags- Cervus elaphus Eventually one of the stags backed down and ran off. He only went a short distance before sitting down absolutely spent from his efforts. The winner of this battle also flopped down quite close to where we were stood. His sides heaving from his effort, his head on one side and his tongue hung out. He looked even more exhausted than the loser.

Exhausted Red deer stag

Exhausted Red deer stagRed deer stag - Cervus elaphus We left him in peace to recover from his heroic effort. We did see him later in the day and he didn't seem any the worse for his battle. We carried on through the park with Steve showing us the best spots. The park is also home to a herd of Fallow deer. Although not as impressive in stature as the Red deer, the Fallow bucks in particular are fairly beautiful animals with their broad sooner than rounded antlers of the Red deer. The Fallow stags don't actually bellow like the Red deer stags but make a noise that as best I can describe is like a large pig grunting. They are not as aggressive as the Red deer either. Colour variation in the Fallow deer at Bradgate varies from nearly black to almost white.

Fallow deer buck

Fallow deer buckFallow deer buck - Dama dama The morning flew by and we were well ready for liquid refreshment, a sit down, and a bite to eat at the deer park tea room. Refreshed we continued our quest for photographs of the deer and we were not disappointed. There were many large Red deer stags bellowing and showing their dominance by chasing off any rival males.

Red deer stag bellowing

Red deer stag Red deer stag - Cervus elaphus We were most impressed with the park, It is set in beautiful surroundings and it made getting good photographs, with Steve's knowledge of the park and the animals much easier than we expected, although a lot of walking was involved. The afternoon flew by just as fast as the morning session seemed to have done. By 16:30 the light was starting to go. It had been forecast for sunny spells to develop after a misty start but in fact it never really brightened up at all, the sun only making one or two very brief appearances throughout the day. 

We made our way down to the lower area of the park where Steve was pretty certain some of the large stags would gather at this time of day. The last photographs of the day were taken in the now fast fading light. There were a couple of large stags having a stand off over a group of females. It looked like a fight would break out, but in the end a full blown confrontation was avoided when one of the stags decided to back down. It did give us great photo opportunities though despite the fading light.

Bellowing Red deer stag with some of his hinds

Red deer stag with hinds Red deer stag - Cervus elaphus We made our way back to the car. The 500mm and tripod seemed to get heavier with every step and it was a relief to be able to put it down and pack it away. I reckon we walked at least eight miles in our quest for photographs and much of it was uphill and down dale. Just after we reached the car it started to rain, perfect timing for once. A fish and chip tea in the village of Anstey just after we left Bradgate went down very nicely indeed. Many thanks once again to Steve Houghton. Without Steve's guidance our quest for photographs would have been much harder today. A very successful if long day in great company. Don't forget you can view the rest of the photographs from this outing on the main web site.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Bradgate Buck Deer Doe Hind Liestershire Park Photograph Red Stag Sat, 20 Oct 2012 15:31:04 GMT
Studley Royal, North Yorkshire, Wednesday 10th October 2012 A visit to Studley Royal Park in North Yorkshire today with Mike and Dave. The aim of today's visit was to hopefully get photographs of the Red deer rutting. Didn't quite work out as planned because the rut hadn't really begun. 

Mike picked me up at 07:00 and we were soon on our way to pick Dave up and make the two hour journey to Studley Royal. It was a fine morning with the promise of good sunny spells for the area we were visiting. That didn't work out as planned either. The sun showed it's face a few times but only for brief periods. It was however white cloud sooner than grey cloud so the conditions weren't too bad for photography.

We arrived at Studley just after 09:00, once we managed to find the entrance to the park itself. The deer park was not sign posted at all. The Canon 500mm and tripod was my chosen kit for today plus the 1.4 extender if needed. This would hopefully allow me to get photographs without approaching the deer too closely. It doesn't pay to get too close to rutting stags as they can charge you if they think you are a threat to the hinds that they have gathered and claimed as their property, and at my age or any age come to that, my chances of out running a testosterone fuelled Red deer stag are pretty slim to say the least Lol.

As we drove down the road through the park to the car park at the bottom end of the park, we had seen several groups of deer so we knew it shouldn't be a problem finding some to photograph. We soon located one of these groups consisting of a dominant stag with a large number of hinds around him. There were other immature stags in the group but they were very much on the edge of the group keeping out the way of the dominant male. It soon became apparent that the rut had not really started as there were no other stags challenging the dominate male, and the hinds were showing little if any interest in the dominant male. It was obvious that the hinds he had gathered around him were his property but I guess the hinds had yet to come into season before the rut would really liven up.

Dominant Red deer stag eyeing me up

Red deer stagRed deer stag - Cervus elaphus Although a little disappointed that the rut hadn't started there were still plenty of photographic opportunities. There were Red, Fallow and Sika deer in the park so with a bit of luck photographs of all three species were definitely on the cards. We put in a lot of leg work to get the photographs of the Red deer before concentrating our efforts more on the Fallow and Sika deer.

Red deer hind

Red deer hindRed deer hind - Cervus elaphus After a good lot of walking we located a mixed group of Fallow and Sika deer. These were much more skittish than the Red deer and we had to put the 1.4 extenders on the lenses to give us more reach for these. It was the first time I have seen Sika deer and I was impressed by how handsome the male Sika is.

Sika deer stag

Sika deer stag Sika deer stag - Cervus nippon We spent a lot of time observing and photographing this mixed herd. Time had absolutely flown by so we made our way back towards the car park taking a few more photographs of the Red deer as we did so. A welcome cup of tea and light refreshment in the tea room at the park was most welcome before we set of on the homeward journey. A great day out in great company with some excellent photographs. Many thanks to Mike for being our driver today. Don't forget you can view all the photographs from this outing on the main web site pages. I finish this post with a photograph of female Fallow deer.

Female Fallow deer

Female Fallow deer Fallow deer doe's - Dama dama

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Deer Fallow Park Photography Red Sika Yorkshire Thu, 11 Oct 2012 13:51:15 GMT
Messingham nature reserve, Saturday 29th September 22012 Well, I managed to fit in another visit to Messingham nature reserve. I'm guessing this will be the last visit to Messingham in search of insect photographs this season. It was a bright if somewhat cool morning. Good sunny spells were expected with a temperature of around 14 degrees and a fresh wind.

I arrived at Messingham about 09:30 as I had some other business to attend to first thing. I decided to use the Canon 100mm lens with the speedlite flash mounted today. It was as promised, bright with sunny spells. The wind was quite strong though. Entering the first meadow from the car park I saw many Migrant hawker and Common darter dragonflies on the wing. This meadow is fairly well sheltered from the prevailing wind and the dragonflies were making the most of the autumn sunshine.

It wasn't long before I spotted a female Migrant hawker perched up in a decent spot. I have struggled to get a decent shot of a female Migrant this season so was pleased to get this one. Not as colourful as the males, but still a pretty dragon in my opinion.

Female Migrant hawker

Female Migrant hawker Migrant Hawker female - Aeshna mixrta As I made my way around the reserve the wind was getting stronger and it made getting any photographs at all a very hit and miss affair. Many shots were ruined due to the wind moving the subject at the critical time just as I hit the shutter button. There were quite a few spots on the reserve where I found it impossible to take photographs due to the strong wind. I made my way towards the heather meadow, a spot that is normally one of the most sheltered on the reserve being surrounded by hedges and trees on all sides. Even in the heather meadow it was very breezy but better than much of the reserve. I came across a Common lizard basking on top of some dead gorse, at least it was in a position out of the wind so no problems with it blowing about.

Common lizard

Common lizard Common Lizard - Lacerta vivipara Speckled wood butterflies were seen in good numbers although many of them were beginning to look well worn. Three Red admiral butterflies were seen and at least four Comma butterflies. The Comma's were in excellent condition for so late in the season and were also very obliging as well. It took a long while and a lot of shots to get a decent photograph due to the wind, but perseverance paid off in the end.


Comma butterflyComma - Polygonia c-album There were a few Ruddy darter's about but many of them were very dull looking, a sure sign that their days were numbered. Many of the Migrant hawkers were also showing signs of wear with tatty looking wings. I thought I might have seen a Brimstone butterfly or two but no sign of any today.

A nice Yellow Dung fly was the next subject. Luckily it decided it was happy to sit in the same position for quite a while as I took around thirty shots of it to get a couple that wasn't blurred through wind movement.

Yellow Dung fly

Yellow dung flyYellow dung fly - Scathophaga stercoraria By lunch time the cloud had built up and the wind if anything was even stronger. I found a reasonably sheltered spot to eat my lunch and then called it a day. I was tired of fighting the wind. I made my way back to the car and after many attempts managed a decent photograph of a male Migrant hawker. A very pleasant morning out despite being spoiled a little by the windy conditions.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Butterfly Common Darter Dragonfly Hawker Insect Lincolnshire Lizard Messingham Migrant Ruddy Wind Mon, 01 Oct 2012 15:45:13 GMT
Waters Edge, Barton-upon-Humber & Bonby & Worlaby carrs, Thurday 27th September 2012 A reasonable weather forecast today so a visit to Waters Edge Country Park, Barton-upon- Humber, and Bonby and Worlaby carrs, North Lincolnshire. A fine and sunny start to the day, with almost cloudless skies as I made the short journey to Waters Edge Country Park. The main reason for visiting Waters Edge was to try for some in flight shots of ducks and geese. Waters Edge is a great place for in flight shots, although it can be a bit limiting species wise. There is a board walk that goes across the corner of one of the main lakes, and it is so positioned that it's possible to stand in the right position for the light from dawn until dusk.

I arrived at Waters Edge about 09:00, as said there was barely a cloud in the sky, great conditions for in flight shooting. You need good light for in flight shots to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action. I decided to use the Canon 400mm F5.6L lens as the birds generally come close enough for this lens. I can manage to hand hold the 500mm for in flight work but it's much easier on the arms and back to use the lighter 400mm.

I made the short walk from the car park to the board walk area. There were about a dozen Black-headed gulls sat on the board walk hand rails but they flew off before I got within camera range. I thought they might hang around for a few in flight shots but they didn't. There were the usual Mallard, Coot, Tufted duck, Moorhen and a couple of Pochard on the lake. It's a waste of time and energy walking around the lake as the board walk is perfectly positioned to catch anything in flight. I just stand there and wait for something to fly past and hope I have got the camera settings right for the subject as it flies by.

It wasn't long before a male Mallard was spotted in coming. The secret to catching them is seeing them early, which in turn gives you that few seconds to get the camera settings right and find them in the view finder. True to my luck the sun was just starting to disappear behind the only cloud in the sky. Lol. So, although I got it in focus the light on it wasn't quite as good as I would have liked.

Male Mallard

Male Mallard Mallard male - Anas platyrhynchos It was a while before anything else came in or took off. Patience is something you need in large doses here as well. It can sometimes be a long while between shots, but on the other hand it can get quite manic at times with several birds either coming in or departing the lake at the same time. A Cormorant and a Grey heron flew past, but well out of range of the 4000mm lens and even the 500mm lens. I heard the familiar call of Canada geese and spotted a flock coming in to land. Unfortunately they came in at a very awkward angle and I had to shoot straight into the sun which is never good. They then banked steeply and by the time they were in a better position sun wise they were behind the island on the lake so I didn't get a single shot worth keeping. My luck running true to form again Lol.

The pair of Pochard that were on the lake when I arrived took flight but I was far too late in seeing them take off to get photos. Not lack of luck this time, just me not being alert enough. The next subject was a female mallard. I managed to get locked on to her and caught her just before she hit the water.

Female Mallard

Female Mallard Mallard female - Anas platyrhynchos It was now 10:30 and the cloud had really bubbled up with there being more cloudy spells than sunny ones, so I decided to move on to Bonby carrs. Bonby is only a fifteen minute drive at most from Waters Edge. I had seen a couple of photographs of a Whinchat at Bonby that had been posted on the internet, so I had hopes it might still be around. From previous experience of Bonby carrs I knew I would have to use the Canon 500mm lens plus the 1.4 extender. This gives a focal length of 700mm. At Bonby carrs you have to stay in your car and shoot with the car window down and a bean bag on the car door.  My luck changed, I very quickly located the Whinchat and it was fairly accommodating. There were times when the long grass and reeds got in the way but as with most things patience paid off and I got many shots of this bird when it moved to more favourable perches.


WhinchatWhinchat - Saxicola rubetra I spent about an hour watching and photographing this bird which I believe is a juvenile. There were a couple of Little Egret's on the carrs but they never came remotely within camera range, even with the 700mm I had at my disposal. I also saw a Reed Bunting,Yellowhammer and a Yellow wagtail but no photographs were possible. After eating my lunch I moved on to Worlaby carrs. Again like Bonby it's a case of sitting in the car and shooting off the car door with a bean bag. Not a lot to say about Worlably because apart from a couple of Wood Pigeons and a Kestrel hovering well out of range of the camera I saw nothing. I only stayed at Worlaby about forty five minutes before making my way home.

Not a great variety of birds today but I was well pleased with the shots I managed. It's been a good few months since I used the 500mm and 1.4 extender and it's always good to get a few shots you are really pleased with under your belt to boost the confidence in your own ability. I finish this post with another shot of the Whinchat on a more natural looking perch.


WhinchatWhinchat - Saxicola rubetra

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Barton Bird Bunting Chat Duck Goose Kestrel Lincolnshire Reed Thrush Water Yellowhammer Thu, 27 Sep 2012 19:04:20 GMT
Toft Newton reservoir, Lincolnshire, Tuesday 25th september 2012 My first birding blog post today. I have been out with the birding lenses a couple of times recently but found nothing really to photograph or tell you about, so as said this is the first birding post, and it will be a pretty short one as it was only a very brief outing today, mainly because of the weather.

It was a spur of the moment decision to visit Toft Newton reservoir today. I had no intention of going anywhere as it was blowing a gale and very dull. However, I received a text from a good friend of mine Dave just before lunch time, one thing led to another and we decided to take a ride to Toft Newton. A Pectoral Sandpiper had been showing well at Toft Newton reservoir for the best part of a week. Dave had got great shots of it on Sunday. Unfortunately due to other commitments I hadn't been able to get over to Toft Newton. I fully intended going yesterday (Monday) but the weather was horrendous with gale force winds and torrential rain.

I picked Dave up at around 12:30 and we made the thirty five minute journey to Toft Newton reservoir. As said it was blowing a gale but at least it wasn't raining, although the light was pretty poor. I took both the Canon 500mm F4 lens and the Canon 400mm F5.6 lens with me. The Sandpiper had been allowing very close views, so I figured I would probably use the 400mm but took the 500mm with me just in case it was more distant today. On arrival we checked where the Sandpiper had been seen over the weekend with no luck. We decided to walk around the reservoir, Dave going in one direction, me in the opposite direction and if either of us spotted it we could ring the other one to alert them.

It's not too far to walk right round the reservoir and we soon met up again, neither of us having seen any sign of it. There were a few Yellow and Pied wagtails about, a couple of Mute swans, Mallard, Coot, Dunlin and a Ringed plover but no Sandpiper. We decided to try for photographs of the Dunlin and Plover. That was easier said than done Lol. They were very jumpy and it was difficult getting close enough with the 400mm lens I had opted to use. By keeping low behind the perimeter wall of the reservoir and belly shuffling to peep over the wall when we thought we were near enough we eventually after several attempts managed to photograph them. Not the best photographs, due to the poor light but acceptable.

Ringed plover

Ringed plover Ringed plover - Charadrius hiaticula


DunlinDunlin - Calidris alpina We spent about half an hour photographing these little waders. Just before we were about to call it a day we bumped into Dean a fellow photographer. Toft Newton is Dean's local patch and he hadn't seen any sign of the sandpiper today, so we assume it departed sometime yesterday which is about par for the course with my luck Lol. Anyway it was good to see Dean and I did get a few photographs. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they came out considering the conditions. It was worth the effort, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

After a quick chat with Dean we made our way back to the car. Great timing as well, as just after arriving back at the car it started to rain. I don't mind getting wet myself but I'm not keen on the camera gear getting wet. A short visit but a pleasant one.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Bird Duck Dunlin Lincolnshire Newton Plover Swan Toft Wader Wagtail Water Yellow Tue, 25 Sep 2012 19:26:14 GMT
Messingham nature reserve, North Lincolnshire, Monday 17th September 2012 Yet another visit to Messingham nature reserve. Before I continue to tell you about this latest visit I thought you might be interested in knowing exactly what effort and time goes into achieving the photographs you see in these blog posts and on the main web site.

Many people who know little about photography think that it's an easy task. You just go take a few photographs and put them on here, simple as that. Well taking the few photographs bit is easy enough, to some extent at least, but it's not quite as simple as many people think. Preparation begins the night before when I ensure that the batteries for the camera and flash unit are fully charged up. There is nothing worse than arriving for a days photography to find the batteries haven't enough power in them to last the day. All my gear apart from the tripod (which isn't used much nowadays) is kept packed in a specially made camera bag ready to go. It's just a case of removing the batteries from the camera's and flash unit, charging them and then returning them to the camera's and flash unit in the bag.

Even if I am only going somewhere local like Messingham it means getting up early. By early I mean by 06:00 at the latest. I have a couple of dogs that need exercising, and as they are used to an hours morning walk it's only fair on them to take them out before I go out myself. There are also other chores to be dealt with in a morning before I'm free to go out. My wife works four and a half days a week and I'm retired so I do a good share of the household chores. Messingham is a twenty five minute drive from my house so it means leaving my house at 08:35 to arrive at Messingham for 09:00. I often leave much earlier than that in high summer when the daylight hours are much longer. 

The subjects I am photographing don't come to me, I have to search for them. A visit to any location, Messingham included can last anywhere between four and eight hours plus travelling time. Most of this time is spent on my feet, so that's a lot of leg work I have to put in. I often get stung by nettles, scratched by bramble briar's and bit by insects in my quest to get these photographs, not to mention getting hot and sweaty when it's very warm. I generally take a packed lunch with me carried in a small back pack. Fortunately at Messingham there are plenty of seats available so I can take the weight off my feet for a while. I could go back to the car to eat but that would involve extra walking which I try to avoid.

Once I have found anything to photograph I have to ensure that I have the camera on the right settings for any given subject. To some extent this is a relatively easy task as I keep the camera set at a particular setting and usually only make adjustments to aperture values and exposure and metering settings, depending on the subject. Some of the subjects will only give you a brief few seconds to get that photograph, so getting it right first time is crucial. A good deal of field craft skill is required to photograph these subjects. Most of the subjects I photograph with the macro lens are very wary of human beings and will take flight at any sudden movement, or if I approach too closely or too quickly. Knowing your subject well is the key to finding and getting on photographic terms with many of them. 

Once the photographs have been taken and I arrive home there is then the job of downloading them from the camera memory card onto the computer. This isn't a long job, depending on how many photographs have been taken. A typical macro days shooting can see me take anywhere between fifty and three hundred photographs depending on how good or bad a day I have had. I don't do a lot of editing to my photographs as I shoot in jpeg format only and they usually don't need a lot of editing. I'm a big believer in getting it right in camera, this makes the editing process much easier as far as I'm concerned. First thing I do when I have them on the computer is to view them at the actual size they were taken in the camera. If they are not sharp they go straight in the bin. My pet hate is un-sharp photographs. That usually gets rid of a good number of them Lol. The ones I think I might keep are transferred to another folder on the computer for editing.

The actual editing process for each photograph only takes a few minutes. I crop if necessary, adjust the shadows and highlights, again only if necessary and add a touch of unsharp mask, (always needed in my opinion) I would say that I get a 10% keep rate most of the time, anything above 10% being a bonus. The rest are binned. Many people tell me to shoot raw rather than jpeg, and I know a raw file contains more detail if you like than a jpeg file. However, I don't want the extra work at the editing stage that a raw file creates. I'm not going to compare raw with jpeg here only to say I'm very happy with the results I get from jpeg files, and to use a motto of mine, if it aint broke don't fix it.

The next stage is uploading them to this web site. This is a very simple process thanks to the great hosting company that I use, It only takes a matter of minutes to upload the photographs to the respective galleries on the site. From each respective gallery it's a very easy task to upload them to this blog page. From getting home to uploading the photographs to the web site can take anywhere between one and three hours, depending on the number of photographs taken.  Well I hope that's given you an insight into how the photos get on here and what's involved in it. I'm sure I will think about something else I ought to have mentioned later. Please carry on and read the rest of this blog post and feel free to make any comments on this post publicly or privately. Thanks.

I arrived at Messingham at 09:00.It was another cool but bright morning. Once again the Canon 100mm and speedlite flash hand held was my choiuce of equipment. There were a few Common darters on the wing in the first meadow but they were too flighty to get any photographs. Continuing through the reserve I spotted a male Southern hawker dragonfly perched up in the grass. He wasn't going anywhere because he hadn't warmed up enough to fly, and this gave me the chance of some nice close up head shots of him.

Male Southern hawker

Male Southern hawker Southern Hawker male - Aeshna cyanea A pretty good start to the day. I didn't see a lot more until I reached the heather meadow. The heather meadow is always a great spot as it gets the sun from more or less first thing in the morning and is surrounded by trees and large shrubs on all sides making it one of the most sheltered and warm spots on the reserve. I spotted a very worn looking male Emerald damselfly that looked like he was about to expire at any time, so I left him in peace for his last few hours of life.

As I was walking the edge of the meadow I spotted what I thought at first glance was a willow catkin. Then I thought hang on that's not even a willow tree let alone a willow catkin. It turned out what I had seen was a lovely Pale Tussock moth caterpillar. It superficially resembled a willow catkin. It was just sat on a leaf. However, when I took the first photograph of it, it decided to do a runner and all the other photographs I managed were as it was moving. They came out ok though and I have included a couple of photos. This species was a first for me so I was well pleased with these.

Pale Tussock moth caterpillar

Pale Tussock moth caterpillarPale Tussock Calliteara pudibunda

Pale Tussock moth caterpillar

Pale Tussock moth caterpillar Pale Tussock Calliteara pudibunda

Migrant Hawker dragonflies were now on the wing as it had warmed up nicely and I managed nice photographs of the males. A good photograph of a female still eludes me Lol. The next photographic subject was a Hawthorn Shield bug. This one was sat out on a leaf in a nice position. Not very often you find them in such a good position photography wise so I made the most of it taking many photographs from different angles.

Hawthorn Shield Bug

Hawthorn Shield Bug Hawthorn Shield Bug - Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale I spotted a Common lizard sat on top of some dead gorse. I did get a couple of shots before it scurried off, but they were not very good ones. Speckled Wood butterflies were the most common butterfly although I did see a couple of Comma's, one Red Admiral and one small Tortoiseshell. No Brimstone butterflies were seen today. I guess it was a little on the cool side for them.

Common and Ruddy darters were seen in good numbers. It has been an excellent season for the Ruddy darter at Messingham. For some reason the darters seem to be much more flighty in a morning than they are later in the day. Often with dragonflies it's the other way round, they are usually easier to approach first thing before they have warmed up but the Common and Ruddy darters seem much more at ease and approachable later in the day.

Common darter

Common darter Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum I had been that engrossed with taking photographs that I had lost track of time. It was now 13:30 and I hadn't had a drink or anything to eat since I left home. I sat on the bench in the corner of the heather meadow to eat my lunch and watch the hawkers patrolling the meadow. The clouds had started to build up now with the sun becoming a much less frequent visitor, so I decided to make my way back to the car to go home.  Only a five hour session today, but a very enjoyable five hours.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Butterfly Common Damselfly Darter Dragonfly Emerald Hawker Insect Lincolnshire Lizard Meadow Southern Tue, 18 Sep 2012 17:04:00 GMT
Messingham nature reserve, North Lincolnshire, Saturday 15th September 2012 Another visit to Messingham nature reserve. I do hope you aren't getting fed up of reading about Messingham. I spend so much time there for a variety of reasons. It's very close to home for me, around fifteen miles, so if I go and don't get many photographs or the weather turns for the worse I haven't travelled far or wasted much fuel in the car. Also in my opinion there isn't another reserve in the area that has the variety of insects that Messingham has, certainly you would have to travel much farther than Messingham to find a place. Another reason, I simply like Messingham. There is always something to photograph on the insect side and I know the place so well.

Not an early start today arriving at Messingham at 09:00. It was a glorious morning if a little cool with clear blue skies. The Canon 100mm and speedlite flash hand held was my choice of equipment today. Entering the first meadow from the car park there were numerous Migrant hawkers already on the wing. I disturbed two female Migrant hawkers that were perched which I was quite annoyed with myself for doing so as I wanted a decent photograph of a female. The females are harder to come by than the males.

As I continued through the reserve I saw two more female Migrant hawkers on the wing and another perched up but the perched one was far to high up for me to get a photograph. It was very noticeable how few damselflies there were about. I think I only saw five or six all day. Definitely a sign that the macro season is drawing to a close. The first photograph I managed today was of a male Migrant hawker. He was perched on an old gorse stem but the background was pretty decent.

Male Migrant hawker

Male Migrant Hawker Male Migrant Hawker - Aeshna mixta It was rather a case of being spoilt for choice with the Migrant hawkers, they were everywhere and I took many photographs of them. On one Silver Birch sapling I counted four males on the same branch warming themselves up in the sun. Southern Hawkers were seen in good numbers as were Common and Ruddy darters. The Ruddy darters were as usual playing hard to get. They love to keep low down to the ground making it awkward to get a photograph at all, let alone one with a clean background. I did manage some decent shots but I had to lay down on my belly to get an angle on them where I could get a nice background. I think the males of this species are a fantastic little insect.

Male Ruddy darter

Male Ruddy darter Ruddy Darter male - Sympetrum sanguineum I didn't bother with the wooded area of the reserve today as I was getting plenty of photo opportunities in the heather meadow area. There were a couple of Brimstone butterflies in the meadow and they were pretty obliging allowing me ample photo opportunities.

Brimstone butterfly

Brimstone butterfly Brimstone - Gonepteryx rhamni Full marks to the weather forecaster's today. It was exactly as forecast with clear blue skies, a very light breeze and temperature of about 20 degrees c. One of the best days weather wise and photography wise that I have had in quite a while. I made my way back towards the car at around 11:00 to shed some clothing as I was running very warm. With the cool start I had put a waistcoat on, but now needed to take it off. After getting rid of the waistcoat I though I would check the posts just behind the car park to see if any lizards were showing. I was in luck, there was one basking in the sun on a post and it was pretty obliging as well letting me take some nice close up images.

Common lizard

Common lizard Common Lizard - Lacerta vivipara I made my way back towards the heather meadow, stopping as I went to take a few more photographs of the Ruddy darters. Speckled Wood butterflies were very numerous and I also saw a couple of red Admiral and a Comma butterfly. I spent much of the rest of the day in and around the heather meadow taking many photographs of the Migrant hawkers and some more of the Brimstone butterflies and anything else that came within range of my lens. I also spent quite a bit of time talking to fellow nature lovers. Not people who are close friends, but more acquaintances who I bump into now and again on the reserve.

At 14:30 I decided to head back to the car to make my way home. A fantastic five and a half hours spent on the local patch in glorious weather. Don't forget you can view all my photographs that I take via the main web site. Just click this link to see the latest updates.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Brown Butterfly Common Damselfly Darter Dragonfly Hawker Insect Lincolnshire Lizard Meadow Southern Sun, 16 Sep 2012 20:09:59 GMT
Messingham nature reserve, North Lincolnshire, Thursday 13th September 2012 Yet another visit to the local patch, Messingham. It was a cool morning with the promise of sunny spells. I arrived at Messingham at 09:00 and there was some sunshine if a little hazy. As you have probably guessed by now the Canon 100mm lens and speedlite flash hand held was my choice of equipment for today.

As I was driving to Messingham I heard a text message come through on my phone, on checking it on arrival at Messingham it was from my friend Mark saying he would be at Messingham around 10:15, so I would have company for the rest of the day. The first meadow after leaving the car park didn't give any photographic opportunities but I wasn't surprised because of the cool conditions. I did have brief views of a Common darter and a Migrant hawker but nothing else to note.

Continuing through the reserve I reached the heather meadow and it was starting to warm up a little although the sun had become very weak and hazy. My first subject was not the expected darter or hawker but a caterpillar. I found what I thought was a Vapourer moth caterpillar on the birch trees on the edge of the meadow. I have seen one of these in the past but a long time ago and wasn't 100% sure it was one until Mark arrived and confirmed my ID. They are certainly a little different to the run of the mill caterpillar, and quite attractive in my opinion.

Vapourer moth caterpillar

Vapourer moth caterpillar Vapourer Moth caterpillar - Orgyia antiqua With Mark now having joined me the search for insects continued and it wasn't long before we soon found more photographic subjects. The sun had disappeared completely now and it was a matter of searching for anything that was perched up as the lack of sun had grounded most subjects. Migrant hawker dragonflies were seen perched in good numbers but finding one that was perched in an accessible position where a decent background could be had was another matter. The one I have posted below is the best I could manage.

Male Migrant hawker

Migrant Hawker Migrant Hawker - Aeshna mixta

Both a male and female Emerald damselfly were seen but both of them were in pretty poor condition and what is termed over mature, meaning they are very close to the end of their lifespan. The sun put in another brief appearance and Speckled Wood butterflies were seen in good numbers and also a Comma which I managed to get a good photograph of.

Comma butterfly

Comma Comma - Polygonia c-album With the sun now shining the hawkers were everywhere. Only earlier in the week I had been bemoaning the fact that I had only managed one photograph of a female Southern hawker this season. Today two were seen as well as many males, and I managed photographs of both of them so was well pleased with these.

Female Southern Hawker

Female Southern hawker Southern Hawker female - Aeshna cyanea Ruddy and Common darters were seen in good numbers but they were very flighty and I only managed one photograph of a Common darter. A Common lizard was seen basking on top of some dead gorse but as with dragonflies on gorse the background was unsightly. The time had flown by and Mark had to leave about 13:45. As the sun was still shining I decided to stay a while and was fortunate to find a very confiding Common lizard that wasn't on gorse and it let me take some nice close up photos.

Common lizard

Common lizard Common Lizard - Lacerta vivipara It was 15:30 by the time I arrived back at my car. Another super day in great company on this lovely reserve.

]]> (Lincsbirder wildlife photography) Butterfly Common Darter Dragonfly Heather Insect Lincolnshire Lizard Meadow Messingham Migrant Ruddy Southern Fri, 14 Sep 2012 23:10:50 GMT