Sunday, 20 April 2014

Beating the Bushes.... and Rain!

With rain forecast for late morning I thought I would get a few early hours in at Reculver in the hope of a few birds. The morning started off as normal with a stop for a Nightingale but again, there does not appear to be any birds present yet in this area, maybe tomorrow. Then a quick drive around the lanes listening for maybe a Cuckoo but despite a nice dawn chorus, I failed to hear the Cuckoo. I did see 1 Little Owl as I drove down to the towers to park up. It was more like winter this morning with a fresh north wind, the hat and gloves making an appearance again as I walked down to Coldharbour and inland to Chambers Wall before returning back along the embankment. A few birds were seen including 10 Whitethroat, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Blackcap, 8 Pheasant, 1, possibly 2 Canada Geese were heard, 6 Red legged Partridge, 5 Skylark, 1 Redpoll, 2 Guillemot east, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Pied Wagtail, 4 Meadow Pipit, 10 Shelduck and 1 Bar tailed Godwit. There was a nice surprise in the form of 1 Little Tern which flew east giving nice views, a welcome year tick. Also seen were 3 Redshank, 10 Oystercatcher, 1 Grey Heron, 3 Ringed Plover, 5 Turnstone, 2 Gadwall, 10 Sedge Warbler, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Curlew, 11 Linnet, 5 Mute Swan, 13 Corn Bunting and as I walked back along the green wall I found 1 male Ring Ouzel in the south east corner of the Oyster Farm on the footpath. I couldn't get near and it soon flew down the path before eventually flying back around me back on to the path, a smart bird to see, the photo being taken a couple of years ago at Reculver.

Ring Ouzel

There were 3 Reed Bunting, 1 Marsh Harrier, 4 Swallow, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Fulmar. The weather was closing in quickly and despite some rain I made another visit briefly to Westbere where I was able to see 5 Large Red Damselflies, 2 just having emerged and still hanging on to their larval cases. I may return tomorrow and would love to catch the sequence of the damselfly emerging or at least a photo with the damselfly with its larval case still. Last session tomorrow before the dreaded 'w' word arrives on Tuesday. Maybe a good bird or photo tomorrow will come my way!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Back to the Pond!

I went back yesterday, 18th April to Westbere in the afternoon where a friend has a garden pond where the Large Red Damselflies have emerged in the past few days. Along with Sue, the owner, we had a good hour watching c7 Large Red Damselflies, most newly emerged drying out in the margins which allowed for some more practice with the macro lens with some pleasing results. I will make the most of the Large Red Damselflies for they are one of the easier damselflies to photograph and allow a close approach unlike many of the other blue damselflies which no doubt will give me the run around in the next few weeks to get some shots of. Weather permitting I should be seeing Variable, Azure and Blue tailed Damselflies soon so can't wait for the next outing and the next photography challenge!

Large Red Damselfly

Friday, 18 April 2014

More 'Hairy' Encounters!

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I spent a few hours at Shuart near Reculver where I wanted to see if I could obtain some better images of the Hairy Dragonfly. Firstly I had to find some and thankfully in the sun I managed to see 3 Hairy Dragonfly, all males. I tend to find as the season progresses that this species often tends to rest higher up in the branches so hoped that as they had just emerged that they would be busy lower down and taking a few breaks in between feeding. Along with another dragonfly watcher, apologies as your name escapes me, we had good views of them flying and one male in particular showed really well allowing me to grab my best photos yet of this species. I think it was quite newly emerged as it wings were still drying out but it let me take a number of shots with the Sigma 150mm macro lens and approach to quite a close range.

Male Hairy Dragonfly

These dragonflies up close are stunners and it was nice to study this species well knowing in the next few weeks they are probably going to be a bit harder to track down and photograph. Today 18th April I made another visit to the pond in Westbere and took some more shots of the Large Red Damselflies which showed well for the camera. I shall post these in the next few days.

Male Hairy Dragonfly

Thursday, 17 April 2014

My First Large Red Damselflies of the Year

With temperatures a little warmer than yesterday and quite a few Large Red Damselflies being reported now around the county I decided on a visit over to Stodmarsh to see if I could locate any. On arrival it was quite warm and a few minutes later I was in the area concerned but despite a good search I could not locate any. I had a quick wander around the alder wood area and managed to see 1 Hairy Dragonfly, my first on the reserve this year. I then spent a few hours over at Shuart near Reculver where I was able to watch and study 3 Hairy Dragonflies, all males with one individual posing really nicely for the camera, I shall post these shots tomorrow. On my way back to the car I received a text from Sue Morton telling me that she had some Large Red Damselflies in her garden in the pond. With an hour to spare I drove over to Westbere where I joined Sue looking for the damsels. In a good search we managed to find 3 Large Red Damselflies, one mature male which showed well for some photos and 2 that were still drying out hanging on to their exuviae.

Large Red Damselfly

A search of the pond revealed c20 exuviae which is good news that they have bred in the pond with individuals I suspect wandering off after a day or so to the main lake area.

Large Red Damselfly Exuviae

Hopefully weather permitting I shall return at the weekend. This gave me my real first opportunity to us the Sigma 150mm macro lens and I was not disappointed even though the sun had decided to go in and the clouds rolled in.

Male Large Red Damselfly

I need to get to terms with the depth of field and this will come with practice but the initial results were very encouraging. All shots were taken handheld and hopefully with a beanbag which I left at home or a monopod the results will be even better.

 Large Red Damselfly

As mentioned earlier I shall post some Hairy Dragonfly shots tomorrow which again I was able to use the macro lens for, hopefully the results will be just as encouraging.

Male Large Red Damselfly