Tag Archives: Birding


I stopped by the normally peaceful Marazion marsh RSPB site this weekend, seeing what was on the water when a couple of moorhens decided the time for talking was over !,   It was late in the afternoon, and not brilliant light,. but I still think some of the pictures look quite surreal, especially the claws, it's like something out of Aliens. Click on the pictures to zoom in.

Moorhens at Marazion Cornwall

Moorhens fighting, Marazion Cornwall

Pictures of Moorhens fighting, Marazion Cornwall

Pictures of moorhen fighting, Marazion Cornwall

Pictures of moorhens fighting



Birding 12/02/12

Thought today was going to be dissapointing, after a walk round Drift resorvoir, Sennen and Long Rock was uneventful. However I stopped off at Jubilee Pool on the way back, to a veritable army of twitchers. Upon enquiring I was told there was a Black Redstart around, unfortunately my miniscule lens wasn't near enough to produce a decent picture, neverthless I got a good view of the bird – another personal first.

On Saturday I thought I'd better get myself down to Newlyn Harbour, where there have been regular reports and pictures of a Glaucous Gull, and Iceland Gull.  I managed to get some decent pictures of the Glaucous Gull – note the white wingtips – that is apparently one of the keys to the ID.

Glaucous Gull, Newlyn Harbour Feb 2012

Earlier on in the week I stopped by Gwithian, and got a view of the resident Ring Necked Duck, and also just up the road at Hells mouth saw a colony of Fulmars – yet another first for me.

Ring Necked Duck, St Gothian Sands, Gwithian Hayle Feb 2012

Fulmar flying at Hells Mouth, near Hayle Feb 2012

Back down in Mousehole, I went for a walk Sunday PM along the front, it was low tide which isn't usually the best time ( I find 1/2 tide the best), however I spotted something in the distance, and clambered across the rocks to get closer.  As I got nearer it was the Grey Plover, which I'd seen the week before from a distance.  This time I was determined to get closer, however everytime I got nearer, the bug&*r skipped to the next rock, so this is the best picture I could manage.

Grey Plover, Mousehole Feb 2012

So all in all, another good week. 3 new birds for me, here's looking forward to the next week !






The Frustrated Bird Photographer – part 1

November was my first full month birding down in Cornwall, armed with my new Nikkon D311 and a Sigma 300mm zoom lens I was ready to roll .. or was I ?

Why do It ?

I think my overriding reason was that I find that being outside either gardening or looking at wildlife, and walking is a great escape from the stresses of life ( especially IT work), All of my life I've been engaged in technology, so I think a swing to the natural and artistic side should do me some good.


Before I brought the camera I did plenty of research and it was fairly clear that the choice of lens is going to play a big part in the quality of the photos you produce, and the very best cost BIG money. It soon became clear that a 300mm lens really doesn't cut the mustard unless you pretty close to the bird, and it's nice and bright weather. So, a month into the process these are my thoughts :-

As my first DSLR camera I'm happy with the Nikkon – but I've never had anything to compare it with.

When I first got the camera with it's standard lens 18-55mm I new I'd need a better zoom to get pictures of birds,  So in the shop I got the camera from they had a 70-300mm lens which they said was a very good quality, but it was manual focus.  After 1 week of trying to get pictures with it I failed miserably, virtually every picture was out of focus. So I took it back to the shop, and they took it back and I got a Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 DG lens.  There was no stabilisation in this lens.

So after a month of using the system, I'm getting some reasonable pictures, but not quite as sharp as I was hoping for, especially at a distance – even with a tripod. Basically if the bird you're trying to photo fills the viewfinder then the picture will be excellent, unless it's moving fast.  This means you need to be less that about 30m away.  Anything further away you'll end up needing to digitally zoom in using Photoshop. That means the picture is often good enough for an ID, but invariably not sharp.

To keep the pictures as sharp as possible, I find myself setting the camera to 800 iso, and sometimes 1600 if it's a dull day, this ensures a fast shutter speed.  I'd be really interested to compare the results of the lens I have to one with image stabilisation.

So, for the time being I'm going to stick with what I've got, and I think my next upgrade will to be to a 500m lens with IS.


Bird Identification

Armed with my Bill Oddie bird book ( £3 from the local book discount store) I was ready to ID the pictures of the birds I'd taken .. but guess what ? – I really struggled. So I hit the web and google searches which usually brought up the RSPB site, which is pretty comprehensive, but nevertheless a bit hit and miss for a beginner.  Then I found www.birdforum.net  and WOW,  there's a bird ID forum, where you post your picture and an army of twitchers respond, often in minutes. I really can't recommend this site enough, the people on the forum must have amazing patience when the likes of me posts a picture, where my initial guess is a mile off.

I then upgraded to one of the Collins Bird Guides off Amazon ( new for  £11 ish) which is a lot more comprehensive, although it still uses drawings.  I think a combination of this book with google, and maybe a book with actual photographs will finally sort me.

The subtle differences between a common bird and rarer variety is often so minute that I can see the whole learning process is going to be very gradual.

The other website that I've found useful is www.cornwall-birding.co.uk . This site has daily reports of what bird sightings have been made in the county. From here I've learned some of the better locations to go to, and also found some amazing locations that I've never been to before – such as Loe Pool near Helston. The only downside is, that it is easy to become a bit of a "twitcher" and when something is reported want to go and see the bird. Almost invariably this has to wait until weekend.

At the beginning my poor ID skills were very evident. There were reports of a Black Kite over Drif reservoir,  when I eventually had a look I got all excited thinking I'd got the bird,  when what I'd clocked was a Common Buzzard – nevertheless a fine bird.

Here are some of the rare Birds I've been lucky enough to Photograph over the last month, may there be many more 😉   I'll start with the better pictures, and then down to the fuzzy results from a loooong way away

.Picture of Snow Bunting at Marazion Cornwall, November 2011
Snow Bunting taken at Marazion Beach, Cornwall, November 2011

Picture of Black Tailed Godwit Ryans Field, Hayle Nov 11
Black Tailed Godwith, Ryans Field, Hayle RSPB November 2011

Picture of short eared owl Porthgwarra Cornwall Nov 11
Short Eared Owl ( one of 2) Porthwarra Cornwall November 2011

Picture of bufflehead before digital zoom
Rare Bufflehead taken on Loe Pool Helston, before digital zoom

Fuzzy picture of Bufflehead on loe Pool Cornwall
Same Bufflehead picture, but zoomed in with Photoshop .. fuzzy but thats the boy !