Saturday, 25 February 2012

Back to basics at Bough Beech

We'd planned a trip to the coast today, but we're both so skint that we couldn't afford the fuel cost. We made do with a couple of hours at Bough Beech in the lovely afternoon sunshine. After much pondering about camera settings I had a play with shutter priority for some BIF shots (that's birds in flight for those who aren't keen on TLAs).

We parked on the causeway, where one of the first birds we saw was this lovely Marsh Tit. It was in a mixed flock which also included a bunch of Long-taileds as well as the usual Greats and Blues.

Water levels, though still low, have increased considerably since our last visit. On the non-reservoir side, where there was lots of exposed ground last time, just a small muddy ridge cut across an expanse of uninterrupted water. There were numerous Grey Herons around the water's edge, at least 20 of them, seen here with a few of the couple of dozen Teals.

We walked on to the visitor centre and took a look at the main feeding station. Here, half a dozen hen Pheasants loitered below the large hanging feeders, waiting for the tits and finches above to drop some seed. Nothing really out of the ordinary to see here, not a Brambling, redpoll or even a woodpecker, but plenty of the common stuff.

We checked out the new hide overlooking the flood. Very nice hide, though not sure how good it will be birdwise, as you have to walk quite near the flood to get to it (though the immediate approach is screened off). On the water today were a couple of pairs of Gadwalls, a lone female Tuftie and a few Coots. A Kestrel flew briskly over without stopping.

We returned to the causeway and hung around for BIF opportunities. The herons were by this time going to roost, and one by one flew up from the water into the treetops, giving some nice views on the way.

A pair of Teals also took flight and did a circuit overhead.

Blue and Great Tits were flitting provocatively along the hedgerow, and I drove myself a bit mad trying to get flight shots. This was the most successful.

This went a bit better. Something (didn't see what) disturbed a flock of Woodpigeons from the trees nearby and this one flew by at close range. I'm pleased with the sharpness, although the light probably wasn't really quite good enough for the 1/3200th shutter speed, I should have gone down one for less noise.

These two flew past repeatedly though not very close to us, trying to shake off a third drake who clearly fancied his chances with Mrs Mallard.


Christian said...

We're not struggling for water in Lancashire! We share your fuel problem though! Herons are one of the most beautiful birds aren't they.

ShySongbird said...

Well done with the flight shots Marianne, I've bottled out of them lately, it takes me all my time to (occasionally!) get still birds in focus ;-) Lovely to see the little Marsh Tit too.

I thought I had commented on your previous post, I know I read and enjoyed it because I was particularly struck by the GCG 'Cat' display. I had never seen or I confess heard of it and then saw it mentioned on another blog the same day! You had some lovely photos there too, amazing to see the birds so confiding.

Warren Baker said...

To get any sort of Blue Tit photo while it is flying takes some doing Marianne!!

I like the Mallards better though ;-)