Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Birds on a Fencepost

I went round to Bishop's Wood on the Gower Peninsula today, taking my newly-repaired trusty Canon 40D for a tryout. I was hoping to photograph a Marsh Tit, which can usually be seen coming to food here with commoner species. Of course, whenever I turn up with all my gear in good light, the quarry I came for is nowhere to be seen. Instead, I had to make do with shots of the usual woodland species such as this Coal Tit:

The most common and boldest of the birds were the numerous Nuthatches:

A few Blue and Great Tits popped down for some peanuts, but they were surprisingly timid, and seemed easily scared by my camera's shutter, so I didn't get any decent shots of them.
However, just before I left, a Robin appeared:

A few Chaffinches, Magpies, Jackdaws, Wrens, Jays, as well as one or two Goldcrests, were also around. I heard a Green Woodpecker calling from the woods, and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker; a Fox trotted though the trees about forty yards away at 3.30 p.m.
I managed a few shots of the sunset over nearby Caswell Bay, but I'll post those another day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Carrion Crow in Flight

I took these crow shots as I walked along Swansea beach on Monday, just before the sun went over the horizon, its last rays lighting up the birds' dark plumage:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Robin, Nuthatch, Grey Squirrel

Wow, a bit of sunshine today, so I headed down the park with my camera for an hour or so to see what I could see. 
I've seen two or three Jays there recently coming to peanuts thrown down for them, but either the weather was very dull or I didn't have my equipment with me. I was hoping to see them today, but there was no sign of them, so I had to make do with the usual cast of Blue, Great, and Coal Tits; Robins; Nuthatches; Chaffinches; Magpies; etc.
I put some food in a hole in this log, which soon drew down a Robin and a Nuthatch:

Unfortunately, they were soon chased off by one of the many local Grey Squirrels:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Newton Farm, Scurlage

There has been a small colony of the rare and declining Tree Sparrows nesting at the ruins of Newton Farm on the Gower Peninsula since at least the 1970s. Feeders and nest boxes have been put out for them by various conservation organisations for the last few years. I went out to see them twice about three years ago, and was planning to head out again last winter, hoping to get some better shots. Sadly, I heard the sparrows seemed to have left the area, and so didn't bother. A couple of recent sightings of a single bird at the feeders prompted me to head out to the village of Scurlage this last Wednesday. I set up my camera and tripod about twenty yards from the feeders to see what turned up. Eventually, amongst the numerous House Sparrows, I spied a single Tree Sparrow. This was the best shot I managed of it, which is not quite sharp, but will have to do for now:

The sun soon appeared, making for quite a nice afternoon. The Tree Sparrow (I assume there was only one as I never saw more than one at a time) visited the feeders occasionally, but frustratingly tended to feed round the back of a feeder, making decent photos impossible. I had to content myself with photographing this male House Sparrow:

And this Great Tit:

As well as this female Chaffinch (male Chaffinches didn't seem to have the intelligence to work out how to land on the feeder!):

Another cock House Sparrow:

At one point, a Sparrowhawk dashed through, although there were no birds on the feeders at the time, so I don't think it caught anything. (I wonder if he's been eating all the Tree Sparrows?!) Besides the birds on the feeders, the only other birds of note I saw were a few flyover Ravens, and a couple of small flocks of chattering Fieldfares.
As I was packing up, the sky began to colour up, so I quickly plonked my big lens on a tripod and zeroed in on this distant tree:

I altered my positioned, so that the tree was positioned against the brightest part of the sunset sky:

I added a 1.7x converter to get in as close as I could. I think the bird perched in the treetop is a Buzzard:

I took one last shot, before trudging across the muddy fields for home:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Golf Course Rooks

Whilst on my bayside walk the other day, I stopped off on Blackpill Golf Course to throw down a few crumbs, and was immediately surrounded by a flock of Rooks and Carrion Crows, as well as a couple of Magpies. Rooks are normally very wary in the countryside, but these city slickers were bold enough to come within range of a 200mm lens, so I took the opportunity of a few shots:

The sun even made a brief and rare appearance, which brought out the iridescence in the birds' plumage:

Singleton Hospital can be just about glimpsed in the background of these two shots:

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Dusk Landscapes

A few more shots from Thursday's walk, this time taken in late afternoon as the sun was setting and the tide coming in:

Pampas Grass:

A few pictures taken as I walked up through Singleton Park:

Anyone else fed up of this dull and dreary weather we've been having lately?

Friday, January 06, 2012

Dramatic Light Over Mumbles

A few shots from a walk along Swansea Bay yesterday morning. There was plenty of cloud, but the sun was continually trying to break through, resulting in some dramatic views across to the Mumbles:

The trees at West Cross provided some interesting compositional possibilities:

Thank you to those who have wasted precious moments of your lives looking at this rubbish, and especially those who have troubled to make a comment.
May you all have a great 2012!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Grey Seals at Worm's Head

The main reason for my visit to Worm's Head a few days back was to observe, and hopefully photograph, the Grey Seals there. The term 'Worm's Head' is a corruption of the Viking 'wurm', meaning dragon or serpent. The causeway to this tidal island is crossable for about two-and-a-half hours either side of low tide. The seals can be seen drifting offshore (and sometimes hauled out on rocks) near the left-hand side of the large cliff visible in the following two pictures, taken from the mainland:

I crossed the causeway, and sat down on a cliff, from where I could see around half-a-dozen seals bobbing about in the sea about thirty metres below.
I set up my camera on a tripod with a 500mm lens and 2x converter, and was able to take a few pictures:

At least one pair seemed to be exhibiting breeding behaviour, rolling around with their bodies entwined, and sometimes apparently 'kissing':

I didn't want to end up like Dylan Thomas, who once got stranded overnight on this island, so I headed for home as the sun began to set.