22 December, 2010

Local Patch - 22/12/10 - Bittern !

The second patch 'tick' in ten days was discovered this afternoon on the only unfrozen patch of water for miles around - a Bittern ! As far as I can tell this is a site first, and just emphasizes how difficult it is for birds in the current deep freeze the UK is experiencing this winter. Bitterns have been discovered wintering in Bedfordshire for a number of years - mainly in the old Marston Vale brick pits, but to see one on the local patch is truly remarkable.

The image was taken under extreme conditions; distance - all birds are under pressure in the cold spell, so stalking this bird was not an option; light - fifteen minutes before sunset. The laying snow helps here, as what light remains is reflected.


13 December, 2010

Local Patch - 13/12/10 - Finally, a Smew.

After 18 years at the local patch, a redhead Smew put in an appearance on the lagoons. On the drive over, and despite an hour of daylight remaining, the light deteriorated as the mist descended. The bird was associating with the local mallards and was occasionally frisky, splashing about not unlike teal. The camera was on the tripod, ISO was high, image stabilizer was off (as recommended by Canon when using a tripod), the exposure compensation was down a few thirds to allow for the dark water and give faster shutter. The resultant images were still awful - not unsurprising with 1/80th shutter speed !

12 December, 2010

Waxwing - 'Seen-from-the-Garden' List

Doggedly keeping an eye open for a Waxwing in the vicinity of the house has finally paid off ! After watching the 45 commuting between Waitrose and Tesco in town this morning, I headed for home and on turning in to my road I nearly fell off the metaphorical perch ! A Waxwing was perched a-top a tree - followed by 29 more in the general area of Vandyke Schools !

The images taken in town were a little better, but still not the shots I was after. There's bound to be more opportunity as the winter progresses !

11 December, 2010

Waxwing - the Discerning Shopper.

The Waxwing flock in Leighton/Linslade have split in to three camps (based on quality of fruit & Veg ?).  

  • Firstly, the Tesco group (56) looking for value for money,
  • Secondly, the Waitrose clan (30) after a bit more class !
  • Thirdly, the remainder (24) may have gone back to Woburn  !

10 December, 2010

Waxwings, Leighton Buzzard

There were 110+ Bohemian Waxwing at the Homebase/Tesco site today on Vimy Road between the Grand Union Canal and the River Ouzel. Their favoured feeding trees were at  SP91682525  and  SP91702528.
The flock of 120 present in Woburn this week seems to have left - all bar 10 - so the Leighton flock are probably from Woburn.
It's a busy area and the birds were often disturbed as they fed on four berry-laden trees, but thankfully they still kept coming back allowing fantastic views. The light was awful and the images taken were not ideal. My hope is that the sun will appear this weekend and the birds will stay awhile.

Bohemian Waxwing,
Leighton Buzzard