Tuesday, 10 August 2010

My Ramblings with my New Canon EOS 40D and Canon 400mm lens

A couple of weeks back I was very fortunate to have the money to purchase my first ever DSLR camera and lens respectively. I have always wanted to get into bird photography, having been inspired by the many photos I've seen on young birders' blogs and elsewhere on the net. With this inspiration I put in the effort to buy a Canon EOS 40D body and a Canon 400mm f 5.6 lens, both of which I had been reccommend by various people as a top quality combination, the combination to go for. When I was finally able to buy this combination I was over the moon. They rather luckily both arrived before I left to go on a family holiday to North Yorkshire, which meant I was able to take them with and test them out for the first time on that holiday.

I spent a week and 2 days staying in the village of Settrington in North Yorkshire, fairly near to Scarborough and half an hours drive from places such as Bempton Cliffs RSPB and Flamborough Head. I took a fair number of photos on the holiday, most of which were taken in the village of Settrington itself. Settrington, like any other countryside village, held many common species such as Swallow, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, House Martin etc. As a novice photographer, I feel it is always best to familiarize yourself with your camera and lens by starting to take photos as locally as possible - such as in your garden or in your local park. What I did was simply walk around Settrington photographing very common species of birds - a perfectly pleasurable thing to do I found. I quickly became familiar with the cameras operations, especially with the Full-Auto mode setting ISO, aperture and such like. Below are some of my favourite shots taken in Settrington.

Swallow - Settrington

Song Thrush - Settrington

House Sparrow - Settrington

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Wood Pigeon - Settrington

Collared Dove - Settrington

Blackbird - Settrington (rather manky looking bird!)

House Martin - Settrington

A few days before I left, I ended up at Flamborough Head on a family day out - a place on the East Yorks coast which is famed for its drift migrants and seabird passage at times. When I visited there wasn't much going on to be honest, but there were a few commoner birds that kept me entertained. See photos below.

Pied Wagtail - Flamborough Head, 5/8

Kittiwakes - Flambourough Head

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Gannets at sea - Flamborough Head

Finally on the way back to Aberdeen I met Andrew Kinghorn, fellow Admin of this blog, and went in search of Long-eared Owls at a site near him in Durham (previously having seen a distant Honey Buzzard at Wykeham Forest before travelling up). I was successful, with one young bird late on. Photograph wise there was a stunning sunset which I captured and a rather silhouetted Yellowhammer, see below. A big thank you to Andrew for showing me the Owls, it was a pleasure to meet you!

Yellowhammer sings the day to sleep at undisclosed site, Durham
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I'm very happy with how I'm getting on with my new photographic equipment, and looking forward to photographing birds locally at my patches (Ythan, Loch of Strathbeg etc.). To see more of my photos feel free to check out my flickr page that is linked below. Any feedback you may like to give me on my photos can be posted on here or on my flickr. I will likely create a photography blog on blogspot in the near future. Cheers all, any photos taken on future days out will likely be posted on here.


Friday, 6 August 2010

Day to Remember (28/07/2010)

I had a very enjoyable and memorable a week ago on Wednesday just gone. I had planned to go to North Yorkshire to look for Honey Buzzards at Wykham Forest which is a popular and well known location to look for the species. I went with two friends but we sadly dipped the Honey Buzzards but we got fantastic views of a Goshawk having a go at a Buzzard! On the way to our next port of call (Filey) I received a text from county recorder and friend Mark to alert me there was a Whiskered Tern on Salthome RSPB, this is a nature reserve only 30minutes drive from my house and I often go there to bird watch. I was gutted and panicky that I would miss the bird but I tried to forget about it and I had a nice days birding in Yorkshire as from Filey we went on to Bempton Cliffs RSPB where I had good views of the many sea birds, I also heard my first ever Quail but sadly didn’t even get close to seeing it despite the bird being literally 20-40 feet away in the crop!

However one of the more memorable events was about to come as we made our way for the 2 hour journey back to Salthome RSPB, I got some texts of Mark to reassure me the bird was still there. I was about 50 minutes of Salthome when I received a text again from Mark and he informed me that I was a “lucky boy” as next to the Whiskered Tern a White-rumped Sandpiper had just appeared! We finally got there and I obtained very good views of the White-rumped Sandpiper, even though the light was bad I didn’t really notice it when I was watching the bird as I got pretty fantastic views even with a bit of zoom on my eyepiece. It was nice to see the bird wandering around feeding and to also get a comparison with Dunlin and other waders present. I was so busy watching the White-rumped Sandpiper I didn’t even notice the Little Stint that was reported, however it is possible it might not have been there when I was there. I also god good views of the Whiskered Tern and on a handful of occasions saw the Whiskered Tern and the White-rumped Sandpiper in the same scope view! Both were lifers and therefore also year ticks.

Happy days these birding days!

If you enjoy my ramblings them please do follow me: http://www.andrewkinghorn.blogspot.com/
Also I have photos that my friends took of the Whiskered Tern and the White-rumped Sandpiper on my blog.

Until next time, Foghorn (nickname) out!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Video

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper is one of the rarest birds in the world. They are in serious decline and not many of these fantastic waders remain. I would like to think that it is not to late for us to help this amazing species and that one day I can go abroad and see one, I sure hope one doesn't turn up in the UK though, of course it would be fantastic but also very sad as it is likely that bird would never breed either again or at all.

Here is a superb video of this wonderful species:

Hope you enjoyed the video, very sad considering it failed to attract a mate but a beautiful bird.