Monday, 16 October 2017

Autumn Sun

It's not often you can take a photograph of the full disc of the sun without damaging your eyes or cameras. The red coloration is due to their being a lot of Saharan dust in the air.

And sometimes a little bit of cloud and shadow enhances the mood - just waiting for Storm Ophelia to pass by now.

If you want to know how far and fast the Sun apparently moves across the sky in five minutes, sit back and enjoy a bit of Pink Floyd in this video. But if you can't wait that long, just drag the scroll bar to the right.

Stills and video taken in Tyldesley this morning.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Long Distance Dowitcher

This must be the 'mother of all record shots!' - believe me, it is a Long-billed Dowitcher and another lifer for me this year.

As I approached the viewing area on the embankment over looking the marsh, I got the feeling that I was going to be out of luck today - two birders were packing up and leaving. I could feel another case of 'you should have been here ten minutes ago' happening as they told me they'd seen the bird, but that it had just taken off in a flock and they didn't see where it went.

However some more birders arrived with me and we set about trying to find the bird.  Fortunately, after about twenty minutes or so, I did manage to relocate it, but it was very distant. I had reasonable views in my little scope and even better views in a lovely Swarowski scope which a birder next to me kindly let me use.

As it was so far away, I couldn't really see the bird clearly with my camera.  So I just blindly fired off a few shots at roughly where I thought it was and this is the result - not great but good enough to ID it.

I then set off for RSPB Marshside and caught this Kestrel on the way.

At Soundgrounder's Hide at RSPB Marshside I found this pair of Black-tailed Godwits which were engaging in this unseasonably frisky behaviour. At first I thought they were fighting until a local birder told me this was mating behaviour and had never been seen or recorded here before at this time of year - it was worthy of noting.


Before leaving Sandgrounder's Hide for Lunt Meadows, I took this photo of the water. Oh, and there's a Little Grebe in it too :)

At Lunt I met up with quite a few of the regular birders there and we had a really good chat about just about everything - well that's all there was to do as there were hardly any birds about. A well-hidden Cetti's Warbler did occasionally burst into song behind us and a good few hundred Pink-footeed Geese went high over us, wink-winking in their characteristic V formations as they headed towards the coastal marshes.

And finally, just as the light had more or less gone, the local Barn Owl and one Short-eared Owl did put in a brief but distant appearance.  Too dark and too far away to be bothered even attempting a photograph.

And oh yes, I almost forgot - in the fading light there was the silhouette of a Stonechat sitting atop the tall grasses as I made my way back to the car.