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Wednesday 31 August 2016

War Games!

Noisy session over the Heath this afternoon: a pair of Typhoons were trying to 'wax the tail' of an F22 Raptor. It seemed to me that the American aircraft had the edge!


Tuesday 30 August 2016

Sun and Spoonbills!

A very pleasant run along from Cley to Stiffkey and back with Brian and Norman provided nothing new for the year lists, but was absorbing and interesting nonetheless.

Pat's Pool held a few waders and lots of Teal: best of the bunch was a Spotted Redshank that stayed just a little too far away for good photography. Little Egrets and Herons fished close to Bishop's Hide, while a couple of Marsh Harriers caused panic from time to time. A Green Sandpiper and Water Rail revealed their presence in a reed-obscured ditch by their constant calling, while Curlews, Greenshanks and Godwits dropped in occasionally.

A walk right around the reserve added just Ruff, Redshank and Meadow Pipit to the tally, while a brief seawatch produced just a few Fulmars planing west.

Stiffkey Fen held an astonishing 34 Spoonbills: frustrating that views of the birds are always distant here. Buzzards called overhead, while Migrant Hawkers were everywhere!

Last stop was Kelling Heath, where the only photo I took was of a beautiful Painted Lady butterfly.

Monday 29 August 2016

Having a play with the new gear!

It goes without saying that Linda didn't walk away from WEX without a few toys for herself!  She already has a Night Vision 'scope and an IR camera, to which she added a Bushnell remote camera on our recent visit. Like all new equipment, this has taken a bit of getting used to, but already Linda has discovered that numerous hedgehogs, cats and (on one occasion) rats enjoy an early morning feed. Hopefully we can add to this list as the year rolls on.

Meanwhile, I've discovered that my new 1.4 converter also gives good results with the Sigma 150 - 500 zoom: I was able to take recognisable photographs of some House Martins at a range of over 500 metres! I attach other shots taken with the two lenses ( 300 prime and 500 zoom ) as well as a pair of Blackbird shots taken in RAW and JPEG for comparison.

Shot in JPEG

Shot in RAW

500mm zoom & 1.4 CR

Martins (500mm zoom & 1.4 CR)

300mm prime, 1.4 CR shot in RAW

300mm prime, 1.4 CR shot in JPEG

300mm prime, 1.4 CR shot in JPEG

Saturday 27 August 2016

Glossy Ibis at Strumpshaw: back with the new lenses!

As you will have seen in the previous post, dear reader, Linda not only sanctioned a new lens, she also paid for it! I am not worthy! Since we had a brief window of opportunity this morning (and since Linda hadn't caught up with the Glossy Ibis yet) we spent a pleasant couple of hours at the Fen so that I could give the lenses a field test.

In fact it was Linda who located the Ibis, head tucked under its wing, roosting on the island in front of Tower Hide. Great to see this delightful bird again: it was being photo-bombed by Ruff, Snipe, Garganey and herons. Infuriatingly, it never came really close (which is what a 300 prime and 2x converter are best at) and was often a silhouette: still, I was very pleased with the results, and hope you agree they are sharper than those obtained with the 500 t/p.

Walking back we stopped to admire the shoal of Rudd that have packed themselves into the Sluice dyke, as well as numerous Common Lizards.

Friday 26 August 2016

A visit to WEX!

Whether my long-suffering wife Linda feels I've shown patience and restraint during the past week's carpet-laying, door hanging, garden clearing etc, or whether she thought I deserved a treat, today she bought me a welcome addition to my photographic armoury!

A run out to Hellesdon was rewarded with a lens I've wanted for some time: a 300 f4 prime. This one is the Pentax DA, to which I added a Pentax 1.4 converter. Initial impressions are, to say the least, very favourable: the autofocus is silent, quick and smooth and (given today's bright sunlight) I found I could get good crisp images at 800 ISO and f5.6. Can't wait to field test the combo: these photos were taken with my KS2 through a grimy window at a range of around 30 feet.

Thursday 25 August 2016

As promised!

Here are some of today's Buzzards, as well as a delightful little Wren that spent part of the day snoozing on one of our garden ornaments (a Polar Bear!)

Any ideas?

All day we've had Buzzards drifting over the garden: some have been quite low! (Pictures later.)

One bird, however, intrigued me: it was somewhat distant, and the light was pretty grim, but I got the impression of bulk and ponderous flight. In the few images I managed - and through the binoculars - I noticed that the bird never raised its wings into a 'V' to soar: it kept them flat, with an Osprey-like Ju87 (Stuka) wing shape.