Sunday, April 24, 2011

Leucistic Blackbird

A few months ago, in Singleton Park's Botanical Gardens, I spotted a Blackbird with much white in its plumage. I was unable to get a decent photo of it; but, a day or two back, I saw a very similar-looking bird (perhaps the same one) a few hundred yards downhill, in the Ornamental Gardens. I returned today, and was able to get this picture of it:

I am assuming it is a leucistic individual (rather than a partial albino) due to the lack of pink eyes?
I also saw and heard the long-staying Ring-necked Parakeet nearby, although it is becoming increasingly hard to see due to the fast-developing foliage.

Mute Swans and Evening Abstracts

On an evening walk along the shore, I noticed two Mute Swans, an adult and a well-grown juvenile, incongruously positioned on the vast tract of sand that is Swansea Beach. I thought perhaps one of the two, which was sitting down throughout, was injured. In fact, as I approached to investigate, I realised it wasn't injured; just lazy! I was able to get quite close and take a few pictures with my 500mm lens:

A close-up of the 'lazy' adult:

The duller-beaked juvenile:

And the adult with a small feather on its beak:

Soon, the sun disappeared over the horizon, and I decided to try to capture the 'essence' of the scene before me, without any distracting details. To this end, I moved the camera from one side to another during an exposure of about two seconds to create these effects:

It's a bit of a hit-or-miss technique, but it was worth a try!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Woodchat Shrike and Linnets

I went out to the Gower Peninsula late this afternoon, hoping to see the shrike again. This time, I walked along the grassy path above the beach, heading from Rhossili towards Llengennith. Looking up towards the ridge of Rhossili Down to my right, I saw several birds of prey soaring above, including at least a couple each of Kestrels and Buzzards, and at least one Peregrine. All, unfortunately, too far away for any decent photos. On arrival at the other end of the beach, I found the shrike in its usual place, and set about getting a few shots. I dug my Canon 7D out of retirement for the day, hoping the extra megapixels over my other cameras would help in cropping any distant pictures. However, I found, again, that the pictures from this camera are just too grainy for my taste. Anyway, a couple of the better shots:

Whilst I was waiting for the shrike to return to its usual perch, a pair of Linnets appeared, enabling this shot of the colourful male:

And this of his onlooking mate:

After an hour or so, I walked back along the beach to Rhossili, and took this shot looking back to where I had just come from:

It was a good day to be on Gower.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Woodchat Shrike

Yesterday, whilst I was in the hide at Oxwich, Jeremy Douglas-Jones informed me that a Woodchat Shrike, a rare visitor to these parts, had been seen at Llangennith on the north-west of the Gower Peninsula. I couldn't go to see it then, but headed over this afternoon instead. This beautiful male 'butcher bird' showed well, perching on various brambles and other bushes, and occasionally dropping down to chase prey on the short turf. It was just out of range for good quality pictures, even with a 500mm lens with attached 2x converter, and I didn't want to try to get too close and risk scaring it off. However, I got lucky when I looked to my left, and surprisingly saw the shrike perched in a bush only a few metres from where I was sitting. I had time for two shots: one had the bird facing away from camera; and here's the other one (cropped a little from the left):

And here's a bit of film (excuse the wind noise):

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Spring Flowers

On Sunday, I took a walk down through Singleton Park. The Botanical Gardens were brightened on this lovely spring day by this splendid show of Primulas:

There were still plenty of daffodils in bloom:

Summer Snowflake:

Further down the park, in the Ornamental Gardens, some native Bluebells (as well as the larger Spanish Bluebells) were coming into bloom, including this pink variant:

Most of the usual blue flowers were barely opening:

A more unusual white bloom:

These small pink flowers adorning a tree caught my eye as they were backlit by the late afternoon sun:

I liked the effect of the sun shining through this leaf against the dark background:

I continued down to the seafront, where I found the dunes alive with Dandelions. The headland known as 'The Mumbles' can be seen in the background:

Yet more backlighting, this time on Blackthorn blossom:

Finally, a large clump of daffodils planted by the roadside:

Monday, April 04, 2011

Coastal Cliff Birds

A few shots from a walk along Pennard Cliffs on the Gower Peninsula on Saturday.
Here's the scene, looking west along the cliffs towards the distant Oxwich Bay:

I soon happened upon a pair of Choughs, feeding on the short clifftop turf. As I was preparing to sneak up to them for that award-winning shot, a walker appeared, and off they flew, so I had to be content with this cropped picture:

A couple of photos of Choughs flying overhead:

A pair of Cormorants flying close to the cliffs:

I found a small colony of Fulmars:

Finally, a flyover Raven:

Only other birds of note seen were a Kestrel that flew past several times, and a single Stonechat - the first I've seen on Gower for a while, so I guess they must have suffered from the past three hard winters.