This is the year penguins will fly.

Posts tagged “bird watching

Mums Garden

Last weekend Ash and I went up north to visit my mum as I had a dentist appointment and I wanted to visit my grandma who is having a pretty rough time in hospital.

Whilst there I took advantage of my mums bird friendly garden. It’s rare that I get a chance to see so many birds (other than pigeons) so close, not having a garden at my flat, and so I grabbed at the opportunity to have so many birds so easy to see!

The first day really showed me how much I had to learn! I took so many pictures but just kept being too slow as I was chasing them around with my camera lens.

The only kind of photo’s I could successfully manage on the first day, distanced and back lit on the bush they liked at the back of the garden.

I was a little disappointed in myself and was told off by my boyfriend as usual. I always get annoyed with myself when I can’t do something perfectly straight away and he always has to remind me that everything takes practice and motivate me to not give up. This is most definitely one of my biggest flaws so thank goodness I have Ash to kick me into gear every time!

So with Ash’s stern words fresh in my mind I tried again the next day!

The best photo from the second day and the bird isn’t even in focus! The only one I did actually get in focus and not blurred was one of a bird bum.

This time I actually watched the behaviour of the birds and figured out that the blue and great tits were hanging out on a bush near the back of the garden, watching for danger. They would only fly forwards onto my mums magnolia tree once they had deemed the garden safe and then watch out for danger yet again before flying to the bird feeder and darting back to the bush.

Just watching made it so much easier to predict where they were going to land as I soon figured there was one, very well placed, branch in particular which they loved to land on before feeding.

Not on ‘the’ branch but I still managed to capture this cute little blue tit before the light faded too much!

Unfortunately by the time i’d figured this out it was already getting dark and I am without a tripod for the moment which meant all of the photo’s we’re shaky and dark.

The next day was my last day and I was determined to get some good shots. I positioned myself on the floor next to the sofa, army style, and waited.

It didn’t take long for the birds to appear.

On the bush at the back of the garden

Aren’t Blue tits just the cutest little balls of fluff!?

First the blue tits and great tits made their appearance and I managed to get a few good shots of them on that one branch. But then more and more birds started to appear, flying backwards and forwards from the feeder.

Action Shot!

So delicate with their eating.

A chaffinch about to take off

There were gold finches, chaffinches, a pigeon (of course, they’re everywhere), and even a few sparrows! Sparrows are unfortunately in trouble in the UK and are at Red status so I feel quite privileged to have seen some. The numbers are now rising in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but unfortunately still in trouble in the UK. They’re such pretty little birds too! They may not have bright colours but their flecked patterns more than make up for it.

One of four Sparrows I saw. Such pretty feather patterns. 

Two  gorgeous Goldfinches.

I sat there well past the time I was wanting to leave for the long drive back to the south, completely mesmerised by the gorgeous birds that visited the garden, and all for a few simple seeds.

All too soon I really did have to drag myself away, but I have learnt a lot from those short 3 days and hope to improve even more before my next visit.

The stunning chaffinch

The Iconic Robin

Have you got any birds visiting your garden?

Claire x

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365 Project – Days 33 – 39

On the 3rd of feb i took a few pictures of some terracotta warrior statues I bought from China. I’m hoping to make a nice item from them for my shop.

On the 4th I took some more pictures of my products wrapping, this time showing the inside too.

The 5th saw me realise I could fit into the skirt I had made, despite it being designed for children, and so I thought I’d model it to give an idea of how it looks on. Just a shame that I had bad lighting, no tripod and no one to take it for me. I’m not the best with timers.

On the 6th I saw what a week of no work would do for my hands as my nails and skin looked lovely for the first time in years! I really cannot wait to get a new job.

On the 7th I was in the north. I thought the trees in my mums’ garden looked pretty cool silhouetted against the darkening sky.

On Saturday the 8th I took Ashley to Blacktoft Sands where we saw lots of marsh harriers hunting.

Today I took pictures of the birds in my mums garden. There were a few blue tits and great tits, it’s just a shame they didn’t come closer.

My photography is definitely improving, but I still have a long way to go!

Claire x


Blacktoft Sands – RSPB Nature Reserve.

Blacktoft Sands is a nature reserve run by the RSPB near my home town. I am up north visiting my mum and so Ash and I thought we would go for a visit.

I haven’t been there for years, not since I was a child with my sister and my grandpa, but I have some very fond memories there. One of my favourites been the time we saw a rare Bittern! Unfortunately my grandpa had just popped off to the loo and missed out, he wasn’t too happy. I hope to see one again someday so I can take some photographs but unfortunately they are extremely endangered.

Today was very cold and bitter, plus my car is in for repair so we had to get one of the very few buses there (i dont know how people get around without a car anywhere outside of london).

We got there and were greeted by a nice guy who somehow talked us into RSPB membership, not that hard as it is something i’ve been considering for a while. I even got a good book for free!

The first hide we went to had a good view of lots of ducks and a couple of coots. There seemed to be a Marsh Harrier flying about in the distance as well. We soon decided to move onto the next hide though, to find something new. As much as I like ducks, they’re not exactly uncommon.

Some ducks flying overhead.

We did manage to see some of the marsh harriers a bit closer up. They were hunting and were a delight to watch dance and weave above the reeds, hunting for small creatures to feast upon. Marsh Harriers are actually quite rare and were once endangered in the UK, there was apparently only 1 breeding female in the country in 1971! However now their numbers are on the increase, and this is more than evident at blacktoft sands where we saw at least 5 in the short time we were there!

Unfortunately we didn’t see many other animals in our short time there, although there were meant to be good sightings of the birds of prey coming in to roost later on. We most definitely want to go back again, maybe when i have my car back so that we can stay for a bit longer. I feel I need an even zoomier (technical word i know) lens to really take the photographs i want to be taking. But alas money probably wont allow so i’ll have to make do for now. I still managed to get a few nice photographs and now hope to be visiting lots of RSPB reserve during the next year so I can take lots of photographs.

Until then, here are a few photographs from my mums garden I took the other day. She has some lovely birds visiting including some stunning blue tits and several tree sparrows, who’s numbers are also currently in trouble in the UK. It’s a shame my photography skills aren’t quite up to par yet as these creatures are too quick for me to capture well and I’m having trouble with focusing, as well as still getting to grips with manual shooting, but i shall keep practicing. If only I had a garden at my house!

Probably my best photo of the blue tit and yet the camera focussed on the branch in front! Next time I think I may have to focus manually as the branches just confuse my camera.

One actually in focus and he’s showing his bum to me. 😦

A pair of blue tits in one of our bushes

Tree Sparrows – My shutter speed was set too fast and so the photo came out too dark which is why it’s looking grainy after brightening it. Definitely need to remember to keep an eye on the meter.

Probably my best picture of the day and it’s of a pigeon…

Better luck next time i guess!

Claire x


May There Be Penguins!

I’ve been in bed for most of the day today with a horrible migraine, but it is the first of May so I can’t stay in bed all day!

As promised, today is the kick off of my month long event : May There Be Penguins!

Expect there to be lots of fun, competitions, freebies but also money raising, and conservation awareness.

Many Penguins around the world have declining numbers, Rockhoppers are one of the species in real trouble with rapidly declining numbers leaving experts baffled, although there are many factors thought to be playing a part such as; harmful algae, fishing, human encroachment, climate change and much more.

The numbers are truly frightening – northern rockhopper penguins are disappearing from Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island at the rate of 100 a day

Source : http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/ukot/index.aspx

 

Over the last 10 years this represents a loss of 77,381 pairs or a rate of decline of 2.7% p.a. The recent 2010 census indicates that the population is showing signs of a recovery from the effects of the harmful algae bloom in 2002.

Source : http://www.falklandsconservation.com/wildlife/penguins/rockhopper

 

The problem is that studying birds in such remote places is expensive. Gadgets such as data loggers and satellite tags that can be used to track the penguins could go a long way to understanding why they are in decline, and hopefully help us to provide a solution.

I have chosen to raise money for the RSPB throughout the month of May, donating 20% of sales to their rockhopper penguin appeal.

What’s that you say? Don’t they just deal with the UK’s birds?

Actually they run very successful campaigns for our overseas territories as well, helping save penguins, albatrosses and many other birds, plants and animals outside of the UK. They even do work in Rainforests which even came as a surprise to me! They also sell bird food (which my mum buys regularly) gardening tools and much more for those who like to help from the comfort of their own home.

So why the RSPB?

The RSPB has always been a very prominent thing in my life. When we were younger both myself and my sister were members of the Wildlife Explorers and often went to events, meeting other kids and even some celebrities like Howie from The Really Wild Show and Dominic Wood! I have many memories of birdwatching at our local reserve with my sister and grandpa and was always excited to see a new species i’d never seen before.

They make sure that 90p of every £1 is used for conservation, in their words; ‘more money spent on saving nature and less on admin’. I like that, unlike some of the bigger charities, they do seem to concentrate more on the conservation rather than the advertising, but obviously they have to advertise to some extent.

I really believe that they are an excellent charity and go a long way to helping keep the worlds wildlife beautiful and rich.

I’ll be bringing out some brand new products and running lots of exciting competitions over the next month. I will have my first competition running before the end of this week (once i’ve recovered) so please check back soon!

You can also follow me on facebook and twitter for more updates.

courtesy of the RSPB

courtesy of the RSPB