Thursday, 25 August 2016

So Many Wheatears

There were plenty of good birds to be seen today (well yesterday now) starting with Seaton Marshes.  On the way down to the hide were the usual linnets and goldfinches along with some young pied wagtails,  several wheatear and a whinchat.  There was nothing much from the hide itself but on the way back there where too many wheatears to count.  They were in the grass, all along the posts and flying over.  The whinchat didn't show again unfortunately but there were a few yellow wagtails with the cows, though they were never particularly close and difficult to pick out in the long grass.

Round the Borrow pit and there were 2 bright yellow willow warblers, a greater spotted woodpecker and a large flock of long tailed tits 

The swan family still seem to be doing well.

Over on Black Hole Marsh there were plenty of swallows

The little stint remains faithful to its small area of mud and as the waters start to fall slightly this afternoon a wood sandpiper has reappeared and the ruff was showing well for a short while.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Beavers And Back Hole Marsh

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to see some of the River Otter beavers which was so exciting and I still can't believe how lucky I was.  Black Hole Marsh has had plenty to look at
 recently even after the least sandpiper, though the water levels are currently quite high at the moment with the high tides.

 Of the 2 little stints one in particular was very close last week on several occaisions  as you can see.

The ruff on the other hand never came particularly close and as for any curlew sands and the knot I've only seen them at scope distances.

There have been 2 regular wood sandpipers

Plenty of ring plovers


and plenty of common sandpipers

plus of course plenty of dunlin

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Closer still!

I thought I was lucky yesterday with the least sandpiper giving such close views but today for a few of us it was unbelievably close.   As I'm not usually able to get quite so close with my camera set ups I couldn't resist a few more pictures of such a rarity to add to yesterdays posting.  Having given such wonderful views for some time it then proceeded to sleep just in front of us.  How privileged we were to be so near to this beautiful tiny little wader! It really is rather cute.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Least Sandpiper

Unlike a few of our intrepid birders who were over Black Hole Marsh for 5.30am I'm ashamed to say 7.30 seemed plenty early enough for me.   Actually it turned out it was for I was lucky enough to have some wonderful close views of this tiny sparrow size bird just as I was getting restless and ready to move on.  Unfortunately  as many of you know  I am not the most patient of people and sometimes wonder how it is I can be so lucky with what I do see.  Thanks to those who made the effort to identify it late last night and share it with the rest of us.    

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The new micro 4/3s Panasonic 100-400mm with The Olympus EM-1 and Black Hole Marsh

Its been a lovely week weatherwise with plenty of birds to enjoy even if not in large numbers.  There have been a few little ring plovers on Black Hole Marsh along with the usual black tailed godwits, redshanks, dunlin, lapwings and a large numbers of little egrets (38 being present at one time).    There were up to 11 common sandpipers and 3 green sandpipers earlier this week though the greens had gone the next morning.  The Oyster catchers continue to feed their young although they're growing fast now and a stunning marsh harrier with a striking cream coloured head has been present in the area for the last couple of days.   

Now, I've finally got my hands on the new panasonic 100-400mm lens which many of you will know comes out as a 200-800mm on the micro 4/3 system.  I've waited a long time for this lens which  arrived monday and I immediately paired it up with my Olympus EM-1 and left the nikon behind.  I know many are wondering how well it will work with an Olympus just like I was and it works exceptionally well.  Using only the in lens stabilisation it gives great results.  Here it is next to my nikon with latest 300mm plus 1.4 converter which I thought was small but look at the size of this little Panasonic lens!

What follows is a sample of the images obtained with this new combination.  This very tame robin likes to sit on peoples head!

It had to focus fast to get this active reed warbler in the shade and it didn't fair to badly considering.

One of the little ring plovers

A linnet always rather nice to see

The next 3 pictures were fairly distant and I would probably not have bothered to take them with my nikon set up.   This is the smaller of the 2 oyster catcher chicks with one of the parents.

This egret was across the river and half way up from the tower towards the bend.

and the cormorant too though not quite so far.

Ok so far so good but what about birds in flight.   As we know there is always a trade of between any systems and CSCs do not fair too well at this.  I was actually pleasantly surprised.  I averaged 
50-60% success rate at this though always in good light I must say.  Here are a few examples.

I even managed a swallow difficult at the best of times.

Pretty impressive and can only get better.  In poor light it won't fair so well but then neither does my nikon set up as I don't own any really fast lenses, and to be honest not many of us want to take photos in poor light anyway.  So, I'm impressed and have had a lot of fun with this little set up this week.  I have always found the Olympus a joy to use and as it is nearly 3 years old now I am eagerly awaiting the Olympus EM-1 mark 2, rumoured to be much faster focusing amongst other things and hopefully out later this year.