10 January 2005

Birding in January - cold but colourful

Birding in winter is far more exciting and interesting than bird photography in winter. For the photography you have to contend with cold, wind and darkness - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it (and I won't be posting any bad photos to prove it).

For the birding however, it is a splendid time of year. Find one of two places - either a spot of coastline or a large manmade reservoir - and simply scan with your binoculars. You will be amazed at the variety and splendour, particularly of the wildfowl (ducks). From Wigeon to Goldeneye, Teal to Goosander, the water at this time of year is alive with colour and noise. And always remember, most of these birds are a strictly winter treat. Come April most of them will be well on their way to Scandanavia and beyond to breed .

Enjoy them while you can.Posted by Hello

6 January 2005

A search for the exotic!

A Post Christmas Birding Trip - Lea Valley, December 28th.

OK, so this is the normal story of my birding life. December 28th and we set off to Lea Valley in Hertfordshire to find something a little unusual. A Bittern, a drake Smew, perhaps the Water Rail that has eluded me all year. Success? None. No one has seen a Bittern from the Bittern Hide for about six weeks, not a Smew in sight (male or female), and although the Water Rail had apparently been parading around all morning, it obviously got shy once I turned up.

Still, nil desperandum. We saw plenty, enjoyed a fantastic day of fresh air and sunshine and got lovely shots of this extremely friendly Robin. Normally I use a telescope attached to a camera to get close to my subject. With this one, I could barely get the camera far enough away from the bird (ie a metre or so) to get a focus lock.

That's next year's Christmas card photo taken care of then.Posted by Hello