After photographing my first local Short Eared Owl at the weekend, found out about one even closer across the harbour at Hengistbury, I was planning a trip to Aust Warth near Bristol to try and get pictures of Short Eared Owl, no need now, but the Owls do seem like they are going to fly very close, but never fly close enough!
Saturday, 18 April 2009
Decieded to do a big local lap, starting in the wooded area of the Blashford Lakes reserve, saw many close up views of many woodland species in one of the hides and photographed a Nuthatch just outside, went around the New Forest without seeing much and ended up on a golf course at Barton on sea, where Short Eared Owl was reported, went a month ago, only got distant views, so was not expecting much, was suprised to see the Owls quite close, I stuck to the public footpath, walking up and down but, when it appearched the Owl always seemed to be at the opposite end!
Went to Durlston, very warm, loads of people, but no raptors! Fulmar were around though, this particular bird, would circle to the cliff almost land on the cliff and then fly off towards sea and do the same thing again, so I could anticipate with my camera where he was going to be.
Raptor free day at Pennington, walked a long way, but lots of waders around, including the Greenshank and on the way home near New Milton at sunset stopped to photograph a Kestrel, pulled into what looked like a quiet country lane and as soon as I was taking pictures, cars appeared, and I only noticed them as they went around me, not looking too happy!
Friday, 17 April 2009
I was in the area quite early in the morning so I decieded to make the trip to Middlebere, again to photograph Hen Harrier, arrived at 9am, about 4 hours later, no sign. I popped out of the hide for two minutes, when I came back was told I had missed a fly by. Luckily the Harrier felt sorry for me and an hour later flew by a little closer!
I think I may have photographed this Buzzard before, looks like he's put on weight since the last time!
Again, did my research before another longer jouney through the barren mountains to the east coast of The United Arab Emitates, a well known place for Raptors, sadly just before we got there we where hit by a huge hail storm, which occurs maybe once a year! It had just cleared up when we found the place, but was threatening to come back! So no raptors apart from a distant Marsh Harrier, but got a picture of one of the Indian Rollers around the farm house still sheltering.
We only had a short time in the morning as we had booked a desert safari for the rest of the day (driven wildly up and down steep sand dunes in a 4x4, then we stop at a desert camp for food and entertainment) but enough time for a quick trip to the sanctuary, picture of Snipe and on the Sanctuary boundry fence a Great Grey Shrike, on the way back as we passed the last hide, sat on the fence next to the main road as we approached was a large raptor, we were nearly late but this was too bigger opportunity to pass up, and so I stopped to photograph a male Marsh Harrier and we just about made it on time for our safari!
Went on a longer trip, started at the Pivot fields on the outskirts of the city, much quiter here in the morning, than the afternoon of our last visit, waders were around got a picture of a White Tailed Plover, then journeyed to the south of the country, just beyond the town of Al Ain, to the only and very obvious mountain in the area, I knew this to be a good place for Egyptian Vulture, my plan was to drive to the top of the mountain to find the best place, got a few shots on the way, but a running race was taking part up the mountain, so when we reached the top, we realised the best place was further down, but for the safety of the runners the organisers were not letting anyone out of the car park, so all we could do was wait for the runners and the last one came in well after darkness!
This was a place I had visited before, infact on my one day off each week, I would be here, there were three hides in total, sadly the best one named "Lagoon hide" is closed, too much development going on around it, after we went on to The Pivot fields a big lush green field (something of a novelty in a desert region!) with birds seemingly everywhere, never got chance to visit when I lived here, but wish I did! Marsh Harriers common at the sanctuary, Geater Spotted Eagle soaring high in the sky, one did fly high directly over the hide and at the Pivot Fields what I thought was another Marsh Harrier putting birds up, after putting the picture on my computer and consulting a field guide turned out to be a dark phase Montagu's Harrier.
I lived in Dubai for 5 years between 2001 and 2006, my Mum never got chance to visit me whilst I was there so I promised to take her, luckily for me Mum likes wildlife (or is just very patient!) and was happy to visit places good for Raptors, some of which I never got chance to visit when I lived there. One of the first was Safa Park, an almost European looking parkland, no raptors on show, but Hoopoe were here and the commonest local bird ; the Common Mynah.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Sometimes I look at my photographs and realise I have either seen something different than I thought I saw or seen more than I thought I saw, for instance I did not see the Spotted Redshank taken with Redshanks at Pennington until I looked at the pictures on the computer, saw a very close Common Gull at Hatch pond near Beaulieu and a Kestrel at Norley Wood.
Went to Farlington Marshes as its a favourite haunt of Merlin at this time of year, did not see one, Sparrowhawk was soaring, got any OK picture (still my bogey raptor to photograph, going to have to invite myself round to everyone that says "oh we get them in the garden all the time"!) the Teal however was happy to pose.
Visited Blashford lakes because Hobby had been reported there, infact was told it often perches on a post right infront of the hide, however I had to visit a couple of times to see this, got a picture of the Green Sandpiper a couple of days before, on one occasion the Hobby was perched at the top of a distant tree on the other side of the lake, went for a closer view, as soon as I got to the other side the Hobby promptly flew off and landed on the post! One day before work though I managed to time it right.
Went to visit the Oostvandersplassen reserve, whilst staying with friends in Amsterdam, not a good idea on a Sunday! Train travel very easy, but getting a bus to the reserve was not, ending up taking a taxi, was deliberating whether or not to go on a tour, where they pick you up at the train station and take you around what is a huge reserve, decided it was too expensive and then ended up spending more to get there and back, and I did not see very much! Spoonbills being the highlight. The next day friends felt sorry sorry for me, so they drove me around Waterland, Marsh Harriers were everywhere, four at once at one point.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
At Los Monegros, a distant soaring Raptor, high above the main road was not another Black Kite, but turned out to be a Pale phase Booted Eagle and amongst all the Kestrels sighted, at least one looked good for Lesser Kestrel, the Eagle was a definate, not sure about the Kestrel , let me know what you think!