Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Sand Lizards in North Cornwall. 30th March 2021.


 

The Sand Lizard is one of the rarest reptiles in Britain.

Sadly it's habitat is being wiped out by the degradation and erosion of sand dunes.

Fortunately there have been a few re-introduction programmes and one of those here in Cornwall has been quite successful.

I went out today especially targeting a photo of one of these creatures as  the time of the year was right, the weather was right and I knew where to look.

"Bingo" it all came good and I found 4 individuals, including a young one just a few cms long.

 



 


Saturday, 20 March 2021

Dippers & Grey Wagtails. Mid-Cornwall 18th March 2021.

 


Dull weather is probably best for photographing Dippers as it's so easy to "burn out" that bright white breast patch. Maybe a bit brighter than I had, perhaps "bright overcast" may have been better.

The big problem with low light and a bird that keeps "dipping" up and down is trying to keep a fast enough shutter speed so that the bird stays in focus, whilst keeping the ISO at a manageable level.

However they are very active at the moment nest building and maintaining territories. I've watched them on both the higher and lower reaches of the River Camel and also on the River Fowey.

You can almost guarantee that if you have dippers then you will also have Grey Wagtails as both species are fond of similar habitats, fast flowing streams with plenty of rocks and riffles to oxygenate the water.

Here are a few images taken today.





Grey Wagtail with nest material

Grey Wagtail nest building on the side of a bridge.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Grey Wagtails in mid-Cornwall 16th March 2021

 


I spent an enjoyable couple of hours photographing this lovely female Grey Wagtail this morning in mid-Cornwall on a fast flowing stream strewn with granite boulders.

Oddly enough Dippers were my intended target species for today but I never caught sight of one!

The wagtail was flitting from boulders to sticks to overhanging branches and catching quite a few insects as the sun had brought them out after a few dull days down in the valley bottom.

A bit of an exposure nightmare with all the sunshine and shadows but I really like the blown water highlights with the circular flares and started actually looking to include them in my pics.







Sunday, 14 March 2021

Brown Hare in North Cornwall, 13th March 2021.

This brown hare came bounding along the marsh path toward me today.

It kept stopping to sniff at every fallen bit of branch and twig.

It just goes to show how important scent is in their lives. Whether it was the scent of another hare or that of the local fox that also plies the same route I don't know but I'm guessing another hare as it's breeding time of the year.

It got closer and closer to me, (I was downwind and hidden), until I couldn't focus on it as it was too close!






 

Monday, 1 March 2021

More Spoonbills at Walmsley sanctuary Feb/March 2021.

 

 

Well it started off with a single adult Spoonbill in at Walmsley sanctuary back in January which was joined by a second bird in the 2nd week of February.

These birds have now been joined by a third Spoonbill at the end of February.

They seem to be dividing their time between roosting in the reserve and out feeding on the Camel estuary.

These birds aren't ringed but I'm guessing are probably from Western Europe, maybe Holland, France, Spain or Portugal and will soon move on to get back there to breed. All seem to be adult birds with one in particular showing the yellowish / gold blush on the breast which is an indicator of breeding potential.

It's always exciting to watch these birds although they are possibly the most boring birds I know....they usually spend most of their daylight hours with their heads under their wings, occasionally popping out for a quick stretch or a preen. 

But...when they do put on a show they are magnificent!












Saturday, 13 February 2021

Spoonbills at Walmsley sanctuary February 2021

 

A single spoonbill turned up on the Camel estuary recently and has now been joined by a second bird.

I always wonder how they find each other when there can't be that many of them flying around the area.

They seem to be spending time feeding in the open estuary at low tide and then returning to roost and bathe back in the sanctuary. Very little seems to disturb them when the wildfowl all around them react to every small movement.

The ducks and waders go crazy if a buzzard takes off from a nearby branch or a peregrine passes at altitude but the spoonbills keep their heads down and hop around on one leg!

I managed to grab a few shots as they flew back into the reserve  and proceeded to bathe and preen for just a few minutes before adopting their normal "boring" pose!








Saturday, 23 January 2021

Great Grey Shrike in North Cornwall 23rd January 2021.


 

Absolutely delighted to find this stunning Great Grey Shrike this morning close to home.

The first of these I've photographed in this country.

It was perched at the top of an elm tree surveying the fields and then moved lower down into some bushes before I got some quite close shots of it sat up on some bare twigs on the top of a hedge.

I also watched it hunting from a barbed wire fence, dropping down into the grass on either side and then returning to the fence. Never saw it catch anything though!

Got so excited I gave myself a migraine! Ha!