Friday 26th April.

Decided to spend the afternoon at Upton Warren today as the weather was clearly going to be better than expected.

In spite of a severe hail storm during my stay I managed to get some pretty satisfying shots of the Avocets and a Common Sandpiper using my Swarovski ATX `scope and DSLR...

Common Sandpiper.
Common Sandpiper.

Avocets inspecting a possible nesting site.

Avocet.
Will this do, dear????

Avocet on nest.

Avocet protecting eggs from the storm.

Sandpiper in storm.

A Little Ringed Plover proved more difficult to photograph however...
The digiscoping setup seems to be able to produce some good results - up to about 35x is the limit I reckon: shutter speeds of 1/1000th second require ASA ratings of at least 800ASA as well. The canon handles these high sensitivities well; post processing with Lightroom 4.4 to remove noise helps as well.



Frog Spawn and Tadpoles.

20th April.

The frog spawn survived the snow under the bubble-wrap.

Baby tadpoles are now appearing...

Note the external gills.

Note the external gills

April 13th

CALKE ABBEY (National Trust Property).

This is one of our favorite NT properties as the park has a huge range of habitats as well as two well placed (and well-built) hides with feeders that are kept well-stocked).
(I have little interest in the building - sorry)!
Calke Abbey.
The highlight of the walk this time was the Little Owl spotted by She Who Must be Obeyed that allowed me to get a few pictures in spite of the poor light.
There it is!

Little Owl.
Little Owl.
 The feeders provided good views of the usual woodland birds - a few for the record...
Great Tit.

Reed Bunting.

Peacock
 The Fallow Deer provided good views in the afternoon sunshine for the first time -

Signs of Spring included many patches of Coltsfoot providing nectar to early insects in the Spring sunshine.

Coltsfoot.


We have now learned of an extensive area of old limestone workings that include wild-flower meadows etc - many more visits will be necessary! Many good photos will eventually appear on the flickrfeed when I have finished setting up the bird section. (Where will I find the time...)


Keeping this blog up to date is proving a challenge!
A WEEKEND IN SOUTH WALES

How did I manage to get anything done when I had to work for a living!

It is now two weeks ago that we visited Adam and Emma and enjoyed a successful couple of days of walking and birdwatching under the direction of our guides.


The highlight of Saturday April 4th was the Wheatear that `posed` for some time and allowed such great close-ups above Port Eynon beach.
Adam pointed out the petrified forest that is emerging from the sands as the tides scour sand away due to extensive off-shore sand-dredging. I noted the expanses of bare conglomerate rock that I do not remember being visible a few years ago. I wonder if Port Eynon might lose all of its sand in the future?
Petrified forest - Port Eynon Beach.

Petrified forest - Port Eynon Beach.

Of note also was the unusually obliging Pied Wagtail - my attempts to get close to these little birds often causes mirth...
Pied Wagtail.
It is clear that the migrants are arriving in numbers now (or do I mean two weeks ago).

On Sunday Adam took us to the WWT site near Swansea. This was the perfect place to try out my new toy - a Swarovski ATX system with digiscoping APO adaptor. Unfortunately the weather was poor - but the SCAUP seen by MOM ("what`s that bird with its beak stuck on wth white blu-tak)...
Results showed promise - the Canon DSLR performing well at 1000ASA in the poor light. Actually FINDING the birds will remain a challenge for a while though I fear!!!!!
Scaup

Scaup.
Other birds that allowed me to find them included -
Greylag bathing.

Godwit.

This Thrush waited for ages to be photographed!


Of course, not all the birds required a `scope...
Add caption

Mallard with chicks.

Mallard chick.


Perhaps next time I can try the `scope in sun.


..................





Easter Monday was yet another sunny day - and not to be wasted.
We decided to travel to Aber Falls and Woods near Bont Newydd; parking at the start of the main path above the village - where there are the necessary facilities!

The falls were in shadow (as usual) but some great shots were obtained...





As there was some time to spare after this short walk we decided to visit the nature reserve opposite Caernarfon Castle and I was astonished to find myself photographing Golden Plovers at close quarters from the roadside! (This has been one of my `bogie species` for years).


The Castle.

Golden Plover.

Golden Plover.

Golden Plover.



The Easter Sunday saw us walking around the lake at Tanygrisiau. We walked around the lake and up to the top reservoir for the power station. This pumped-water HEP station is worth a visit in its own right as it is an impressive piece of engineering.
The Ffestiniog Railway runs past the site - on the `Deviation` built after part of the line was submerged under the lake.

 The village of Tanygrisiau nestles under snow-covered mountains.
Remnants of a water - chute below the modern dam.
Remnants of a vanished way of life (and death).
Remnants of a vanished way of life (and death).
The top reservoir - water is pumped here using when surplus electricity is available.
 Another power station (asleep now) broods in the distance....
 The Ffestiniog Railway - triumphant!