Sunday, 28 March 2010

Bretton Update

A sunny but very windy morning saw a little patience pay off with the Goldcrests. A pair are nest-building right next to the path in the woods next to the top lake. Luckilly this is a spot which isn't shaded and was nicely lit in the morning sunshine.

As is usual they dissapeared as soon as I got close to them but instead of walking on I decided to hang around for a bit. A few minutes later they both returned and must have decided to ignore me as I was treated to the best view I've ever had of these tiny birds.

Whilst I was waiting around this Long Tailed Tit decided to perch above me and for once actually stayed still long enough for me to get a few shots.

The resident Kingfishers were forced to relocate during the winter when the lakes froze over for several weeks. Thankfully at least 1 pair have returned and I saw them land near to the hide on the top lake. They weren't close enough to take any pictures so here is one I took on the 30th August 2008. It was shortly after I installed a perch in front of the hide. For some reason they only seem to use it between July and October but there are plenty of shots to be had during this period.

The Great Crested Grebes seem to have settled on their rather tatty nest now. Hope they get rid of that annoying twig!

I heard and caught a fleeting glimpse of a Green Woodpecker but despite waiting around for almost an hour it didn't return to have its photo taken. I had to make do with this Chiffchaff who came to check me out whilst I was waiting.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Signs of Spring - Part II

I returned to Bretton this morning to see if any more Chiffchaffs had arrived since Sunday. There were at least a couple and I managed to get a few albeit modest shots of one of them.

Down at the hide a Wren has started to build a nest just inside of the door opening. I was sat just a few feet away but he didn't seem at all bothered by me being there or the flash firing as I took these photos.

After leaving the hide I met a fellow photographer who told me of a couple of Green Woodpeckers at the far side of the bottom lake. This is a bird I've only ever seen once and I don't have any decent shots of so I followed his directions to see what I could see. He was correct - there was one there - but my clumsy approach saw it take flight. I felt that something else was watching me and looked down to find that the Woodpecker wasn't the only animal to be alerted by my presence!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Signs of Spring

The forecast was for fine weather this morning so I got up early and headed for Bretton Lakes in the hope that the first of the summer migrants had arrived. The Chiffchaffs are usually the first to appear and it seems that this year is no exception. After a few minutes walking through the woods by the top lake their trademark call could be heard. Unfortunately the sound only lasted for a minute or so and I didn't manage to catch sight of it's owner. Give it a few more days and we should be up and running!

There was plenty of other activity though. Especially on the lake where the resident Mute Swan cob was busy patrolling the area around the island, where I suspect his mate is hidden away on the nest. As usual he was engaged in his favourite 'sport' - Canada Goose chasing. He really seems to hate these creatures with a vengeance and not just at breeding time either.

Here he is at full ramming-speed, driving off the first of his happless victims.

When he tired of surface-raiding he decided to try aerial bombardment! Note the rather bemused Tufted Duck.

Well that shifted 'em!

A pair Great Crested Grebes have nested just to the right side of island for a couple of years but this time they have decided on a new site, nearer to the middle of the lake. It will be harder to get close to this nest but you can get some distant shots from the path which runs near the lakeside.

She was 'in position' for some time before the male took the hint and did the business...

It was all over in a flash.

I've been trying to get close enough to photograph Goldcrests for ages now but haven't seen a single bird until recently. I was only about 20 feet from this pair but that still isn't near enough even with a 500mm lens + 1.4x teleconverter so I had to make do with these heavy crops.

Last but not least is this Wren, who was hanging around the hide whilst I was in there.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Two 'firsts' at Bretton

I spent the morning at Bretton Lakes NR reserve yesterday and came across two 'firsts' - but neither were of the feathered variety.

I sat under the folly, in the woods above the top lake for over an hour before I noticed some movement in the undergrowth. At first I thought it was a mouse but it was far too large. After a while it paused briefly from it's rummaging long enough for me to make out what it was - a Weasel!

This was the first time I've ever seen one in the flesh so I was grateful to get a few shots before it dissapeared.


Later on I was sat in the hide when a large Mink appeared at the water's edge. Unfortunately it scurried away before I had time to get a photograph.

However there were a few other opportunites whilst I was there...

The Heronries seem to be into full-swing.


I bought a new macro lens the other week and decided to test it out on the Snowdrops growing in the woods. I got the Sigma 105mm for a bargain price off Ebay and am well pleased with the results so far. It will be nice to try it out again when the large insects are around.

Spring Lamb - This was actually taken in Scotland. I spent the long weekend there and although I came away without any decent bird photos the trip was very enjoyable.

I think this maybe a Herring Gull. Taken at Scotland's most southerly point - The Mull of Galloway.

These Pink-Footed Geese were grazing at Wigtown hide before I opened the window and scared them off!

Greylag Goose