Edit: Thanks to Dean at Mostly Macro for correcting the name which is Small Magpie.
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Edit: Thanks to Dean at Mostly Macro for correcting the name which is Small Magpie.
Monday, 29 June 2009
Common Tern, Newbiggin.
This is sheer, nay pure, almost the essence of laziness where I, man with blog, get you knowledgeable Moth Men & Women to save me hours of clicking on photographs of each one of the many thousands of moth species living here on our doorsteps, often in our homes by identifying these no doubt common as muck, ten a penny Moths. Let me give you a little background as I know this can often provide a crucial clue in clinching the right ID, at least it can with birds so please tell me it is the same with lepiwotsit.
Moths 1 and 2 were pictured on various items of garden furniture, we live in lowland Northumberland about 100m above sea level, my garden has above average levels of weeds.
Moth 3 entered my property through an air vent uninvited. Moth 4 was found in rough grassland with poor soil and a few wildflowers. No moths were injured in the process of putting this post together. Please note that should any of these Moths turn out to be a First for the Western Palearctic this post will be removed in it's entirety and all rewards claimed by and paid to the author. Now that we're clear on the ground rules, enlighten me please.
Sunday, 28 June 2009
As I understand the committee's argument they won't add blog links because the content is outside of their control and may in some instances be offensive to some members. Yet the website has links to other websites over whose content the committee has no control. If I find something offensive then I can decide not to go back and it's parents who are responsible for ensuring that the on-line content children engage with is acceptable to them rather than Bird Club committees.
None of the three Bird Clubs have a blog, which is a shame, such a flexible easy to use publishing and communication tool can be a huge asset to any organisation. If nothing else they can act as a dynamic way of reaching existing and potential members. It is notable that many organisations who have far more complex and detailed websites have also launched blogs (e.g.Birdguides), recognising that they offer something different and can access potential users that they might never find using conventional means. The other social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Chirptracker (when launched in the UK) all have their place and uses too. Two of the three, NTBC again being the exception have forums on their websites for members to exchange opinion online. It is interesting also to note that Durham & Teesmouth seem to be taking a different path when it comes to land & property ownership and site development for example Castle Lake and the proposed Hartlepool seawatching hide. Have they got it right? Is the NTBC more traditional, some might say less risky approach, the best long term way or are they been left behind in the blaze of change sweeping the region?
Saturday, 27 June 2009
After faffing around a little with camera settings at Snab Point and getting wet feet chasing after butterflies (Ringlet & Painted Lady) I headed to Newbiggin for a half hour glance at the sea. Two Manx Shearwater north and a drop in flock of 35 Common Scoter the highlights here. Using the smaller of the two lens I tried a little handheld dodgyscoping again more just to see what sort of quality (or not) could be achieved at a distance of c100m.
Last port of call was Woodhorn Pond, bird life here was limited to breeders with my first Tufted Duck brood of the year noted. It was nice to get my second Stonecrop of the week, growing on the tarmac of the old road, this one is English Stonecrop and is probably an escape this far north.
Compensation for the lack of bird life was a large number of Damselflies on the wing. Now BC (before camera) I may not have noticed these. Like my Moths I have had to identify them post event but again the Internet comes up trumps and The British Dragonfly Society (link in the side bar) has a good ID guide that even a novice like me can follow. I managed three species of Damselfly on the wing Emerald, Blue-Tailed & Common Blue although my one image of the latter species is out of focus so not worth posting. Just about to leave and JGS arrived closely followed by Stephen Sheppard(second birder tick of the day) to set the nerves jangling as JGS has the uncanny knack of finding good birds five minutes after I've gone home, Ive lost count of the number of times it's happened.
Thursday, 25 June 2009
We left Nightingale-less, Bolam offered a sanctuary from bolshy bovines and a singing Garden Warbler was our sloppy seconds. To add insult to injury as we headed back to the car park a party of three birders were trying to tease directions from one of the local elderly walkers. I did my bit, led them back, warned them about the dangers and even handed over my handwritten, post-it-noted directions and wished them well. We never looked back.
Poplar Hawk Moth.
With thanks to NE Moths for help in the wee hours.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
The weeded over tarmac above was covered in Bird's Foot Trefoil and I picked up my first Common Blue of the day. I counted six or seven males in an area 300m x100m as I walked. Superbly powder blue upperwings then it closes it's wings and you get that spectacular underwing patterning that has fantastic detail.
Common Blue, East Sleekburn.
Scarlet Pimpernel & Tall Melilot, East Sleekburn.
There is an interesting variety of wildflowers kicking around the site, none of them particularly rare but fun to identify and practice with the camera on.
Biting Stonecrop, East Sleekburn.
What I was most pleased about was the Moths, again a novice when it comes to Moths and struggling with identification due to sheer volume of species I picked up two new species for me and managed to quickly identify them when I got home. On the downside I've got several more from the last couple of days unidentified so I'm planning a Mystery Moth Monday Post so you can all help me out.
Clouded Border, East Sleekburn.
Yellow Shell, East Sleekburn.
After failing miserably last week to get even a half decent record shot of female Reed Bunting I managed to get this today, as this lady checked me out from a distance. Roll on big lens.
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Next up a few Butterflies took to the wing. It took a while for any of them to settle and they weren't settling for any length of time. In fact they were very active although staying inside an area of about an acre of weedy meadow and bank.
Painted Lady, a tad jet lagged.
Tonight a spare half hour was consumed at the coast with a quick seawatch from Newbiggin. With only a light swell and breeze I wasn't expecting much and with only six Manx Shearwater gently ambling through, I thought I was right. Then two year ticks only minutes apart the first was an adult Little Gull moving north not too far offshore. Further out I picked up a small white bird belting south that as it came closer was unmistakably a Little Tern moving like it's tail was on fire.
Monday, 22 June 2009
Tomorrow should see the replacement CD with software arriving so hopefully we'll be in glorious technicolour this time tomorrow night..... assuming no further hitches.
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Common Stonechat, female, Cresswell Pond.
I walked into the meadow at Woodhorn Church on the way to Castle Island, but without a decent lens getting close to the Sedge Warbler, Common Whitethroat & Reed Bunting was a challenge. The male Reed Bunting below the best I managed here.
Song Thrush Spital Burn, Newbiggin.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Our hero (that's me) has rode the financial crises and storms to sell his business and give up work (for now). He has taken huge risks by investing in a Canon 40D as he is unproven and unskilled in the world of image making. At the last moment when he is finally looking forward to his Holy Grail the huge corporate monster Barc-le-card deal him a severe blow by refusing his credit. Luckily our wily warrior has a trick or two of his own up his sleeve and just as all seems lost he opens a small wallet that has lain unnoticed except by small micromoths at his side for many years. From the wallet he pulls out the Advanta given to him many moons ago by Knight of the realm Sir Goodwin of Fred. The day is saved the Canon is despatched and all seems well.
Well, it's here, after weeks of trawling the Internet and checking emails for advice I've finally got something big and chunky in my hand and it feels great. Having opted for a two lens package on top of the separately ordered 100-400mm IS Zoom, I have the body and an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6IS and EF-S 55-250mm IS. I'm now on a learning curve that's so steep Eddie the Eagle would get a nosebleed. It's all hooked up and whilst I'm running on fully automatic till I start to learn what it's capable of I'm looking forward to getting out and about and getting some shots. Every silver lining has a cloud however and this is no exception. Every CD in the box works except the one with the bloody EOS Utility software, i.e the bit that moves your images from camera to computer. I discovered this about 9pm last night after all the call centres and support people are long gone to their Friday night watering holes, so now I have to wait till I can get a replacement or Canon tell me the secret on line location from which you can download the file. You can download the updates but unless you have at least one copy of the original it won't work. I've read you can mess about with the registry to fool it but to be honest I'd rather wait.
I nipped out for an hour this morning to QE2 and Linton Pond and put both the 'standard' lens through their paces so I'll add some of those shots to this post when I can. I felt the part at QE2, adopting a 'John Malloy' pose lying prostrate in Goose shit to get my first shots. Nothing really to offer bird wise as it was all ducks, geese and a single Herring Gull. A few wildflowers and a new butterfly for me at Linton in Large Skipper which frankly had I not had the camera I probably wouldn't have noticed. Roll on Monday.
Edit 23 June, Images now added.
Scabby Drake Mallard Test Shot at QEII.
Canada Goose, shot from the shit.
Northern Marsh Orchid in a proper setting at Linton Pond.
Large Skipper, Linton Pond.