Sunday, November 28, 2010

big is not always best?

like most bird photographers I guess I am always looking for  a big image but big is not always beautiful or best -- one of my favourite pictures was the Golden Eagle in the snow covered tree in the first edition of the Benny Gensbol raptor book -- the bird is very small but its colour contrasts with the monochrome surroundings and just sets this huge bird in its biotope -- so here are some of my favourite images from this afternoon -- I think Miles Hopper would have liked these --

batch 2 SEO snow

snow Owls 1

first batch of snowy owl shots, that is snowy Short-eared Owl not Snowy Owl which we all still desire locally --- it is tough for birds in this weather -- it was still -4C this afternoon with constant snow and the birds face was constantly covered in ice particles --

snow and owls and do cameras bounce

I had a few thoughts at lunch time when the snow was falling rather heavily -- 1) there would not be many people at the owls due to the weather and 2) I might get something different from the norm 3) the owls would be flying early as the ground was snow covered making voles harder to find- 4) then there was option two stay in the warm and do some work -- what I did not factor in was the fact that the owls might just not like snow, it might be so heavy that I just could not see more than 50m and then if the owls were on the wing the AF would manage to focus on a few 1cm diameter snow flakes but miss a 80cm wide owl behind it! --- well it was fun until I when headlong on the road camera and all -- amazingly it all still seems to work fine

Northern Bullfinches

or at least I think they are!  one of the features that I noticed on a confiding female at Donna Nook in 2004 was the white lozenge shaped wedge on the inner web of the outer tail feathers, usually visible from below -- various studies in Scandinavia and UK found this feature to be present in 17% - 35% of Northern birds but to be rare in British birds - thus the male featured here has this feature along with a lot of white on the vent, pure blue-grey uppers and a sharp contrast with the pink cheeks, broad and deep wing bar, a hefty looking bill and a subjectively stocky build? the female has the contrasting grey nape and pale lavender washed underparts and the white in the outer tail feathers -- the calls did appear to be slightly different to British birds but certainly not trumpet calls ---

Bullfinch questions

back in 2004 I wrote a bit in the Lincs report about the Northern Bullfinches that occurred on the coast that year in the unprecedented invasion documented in British Birds Vol 99:1:2-24 --I was also fortunate to bump into a party of trumpeting birds while staying near Aviemore in March 2005 --

 this autumn has seen another good arrival of Northern birds on the east coast but I have not heard of any definite claims from the Lincs coast -- a sighting of a Firecrest on Waters' Edge last week sent me on search mode there this weekend for 3 days, to no avail but I did find that there were 18+ Bullfinches present, mostly feeding on guelder rose and sea buckthorn berries -- this is an unprecedented number for this small site and I had inklings that some at least were northern birds -- hence I tried amongst the procession of dog walkers to try and photograph as many as possible -- these are the either or's!