Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Random Resolutions

I guess I wasn’t the only one snowed and iced in today unable to get out birding. A good opportunity to deal with other birdy tasks whilst chucking seed out for the garden Chaffinch and the back door Robin. Also a chance to think about things I must do in 2010.

Icy Mallards

Snowy Chaffinch

I sent off to the BTO my end of year Nest Records for 2009 that included Tree Sparrows, a few waders and warblers, but mainly 20 Swallow nests. Those nests had 83 eggs which later led to 79 hatched young, of which 76 fledged. And that is a 95% success rate, the 5% failure caused by the comparative failure of one latish nest. My own Swallows obviously had a fairly good year, reflected elsewhere I believe. In fact it’s not that long before Swallows return, even less time before other species respond to the lengthening days and only a matter of weeks when I can start up my nest recording again. This year I set myself the objective of recording more nests than last.

The picture below is of fledged Swallows taken with my old Nikon Coolpix back in late July while checking some of those nests. Because the birds were barely fledged they were oblivious to my presence, enabling to me to get close with the standard 50mm lens, but what a pose they struck in trying to be invisible within the dark little room from where they fledged via the ledge on the door.

Fledgling Swallows

That Nikon, a bit of a stop gap while I waited for digital photography to evolve slower and in a slightly less expensive manner, was ok for landscape or family photography but really couldn’t cut the mustard for birds. For months I waited for the price of cameras and lenses to come down so that I could include some photography with my birding or ringing and begin a bird blog; Then in early August my new Canon arrived and within a day I photographed Swallows again when I was astounded by the speed and quality of the camera/lens combination and the resolution of the images. The picture below was one of the first I took with my new Canon when a whole bunch of mainly juvenile Swallows just perched up for me on a convenient metal rail at Pilling Water. If only I had this camera available for the previous shot!


As you do, hoping to improve on the duff shots I later found, I went back in the coming days but the Swallows did not do the same thing again and as happens often, photo opportunities occur once.

So for the coming year I resolve to a) go out as often as possible b) always take the camera c) always have the camera ready for action d) take hundreds of shots just to be on the safe side, because most never ever turn out as good as you might hope.

This blog isn’t just about birding or photography. I have ringed birds for 25 years but the pleasure and privilege of doing so will remain with me for ever. It is not just the handling of the birds at close quarters; it is the real feeling that ringing contributes to our knowledge about birds. I had reason to look in The Migration Atlas the other day where once again I was astounded by the depth and scale of the information contained therein; a phenomenal achievement of the BTO and each volunteer ringer or bird recorder who contributed to it. If anyone out there doesn’t have this book I suggest they not only treat themselves with some of that left over Christmas cash, but importantly dip into this book often, as I intend to do in 2010.

The Good Book

With some of my Christmas cash I bought a portable USB Hard Drive to store my ever increasing number of pictures and give my sluggish PC a break. At 320 GB the HDD plugged into my PC tower is slimmer than a notebook and the size of a postcard. I’m told it will store enough pictures to keep me going for a while and I have resolved to now keep all my pictures in correctly labelled folders according to bird families or species groups etc. Impressed?

So in the course of transferring some files I found the next picture of a Sanderling as one I overlooked to post a week or two ago. Although similar to others and I did take dozens, this one captures a bird taking a morsel of food in its slightly deformed bill as the gale force winds fluff out its insulating belly feathers. It was a lucky find, a combination of circumstances, the cold and wind kept people indoors, the tide ran in to float the right food into the Sanderling’s path and I was there to watch them at close quarters. How fortunate is that?


Below is probably my most photographed bird of 2009 Grey Wagtail, mainly because of obliging birds that kept popping up in front of my camera in September and October. Who could resist taking more pictures of a Grey Wagtail? Therefore I’m not promising there will not be more Grey Wagtail photos this year.

Grey Wagtail

Today I also caught up with some Birdtrack records and keeping up with that input must be one of my New Year pledges, but I’m not daft enough to mention any others on here just in case someone holds me to them.

1 comment:

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

Believe me, this post has majestic photos of the beautiful flying friends. The swallow got my special attention as I was able to photograph a shining navy blue winged swallow a week back. I'll post is soon on my blog :) I don't know it's sub-species-name however.

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