Thursday, 30 October 2008

Wax Lyrical II

...and the apples worked. Two Waxwings graced our garden all day and allowed some really nice opportunities. I also had a single bird down the road near Ireland when looking for the phalaropes which now seem to have moved on.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Wax Lyrical

North easterly winds produced a couple of Waxwings on the home patch. Michelle had one in the garden late in the afternoon when I was at the office and so to hopefully get a few more in the garden, I spent a small fortune on apples and baited up the trees so that there was enough food for an army of them...

No More...I promise

With glorious sunshine I couldn't resist another session with the three remaining phalaropes at Wick of Ireland so I donned my chest waders and once again got up close and personal.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Phalaropes as Art

I stopped off at Wick of Ireland again this morning and found the Grey Phals had increased to six! The weather was incredible - force 9 northerly gale, heavy snow showers and sea-spray everywhere. All the ingredients for some arty-farty shots that I wanted to create in order to portray just how rough a Phalaropes life must be in these conditions. I experimented using slow shutter speeds hoping that the breaking surf would give me a couple of stops for correct exposure and then I set ridiculously high ISO speeds with high f stops to introduce a real raw feel to the images.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Phalarope Fest II

Before heading to the office I nipped by the Wick of Ireland to see if the two Grey Phalaropes were still present and found four birds together! The sea had died down a fair bit and the birds were not flying as much as yesterday so I put on my chest waders and waded out for some sea-level shots. At one stage I had three birds swimming around me just a few inches away - fantastic!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Phalarope Fest

With the high winds slowly subsiding I returned to Boddam to have another session with the Grey Phalaropes, but they were not present so I continued south and found two birds together (and then a third bird with them) at my old stomping ground at Scatness. The birds provided great views as they swam just a few metres offshore. The birds were very busy and would take flight only to avoid the biggest waves - thus providing incredible action shots in flight. Later in the morning I found another two birds on the other side of the valley here at Maywick and so I spent the afternoon photographing them. Grey Phalaropes are actually pretty rare birds here in Shetland but with another 10 or so being seen today it looks like being a record influx.

Grey Phalaropes

It was another normal Shetland October day - 80 mph winds, heavy rain and power cuts. Three Grey Phalaropes at Boddam provided great views as they fed at the head of the voe but taking photographs proved to be a nightmare. I gave it an hour and was surprised at the results given the horrendous conditions.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Slav Grebe

This Slavonian Grebe offered nice opportunities at Spiggie from the van - putting up a hide in a force 9 was naturally out of the question...

Another Shetland tick...

Another week of howling westerlies and rain. But following on from the third-ever record of Long-tailed Tit, I scored a second Shetland tick in a week - Coal Tit. As we were photographing this monster local rarity it was joined by another and we were able to watch two birds visiting the feeders at Sandgarth down to just a few feet - at one stage one of the birds landed on my tripod!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Winter Auks

With very few migrants around and some nice light, I visited some of my winter photo sites to get a feel for what I'll be working with for the next few months. There were lots of Razorbills and Common Guillemots close inshore along with the usual Tysties (Black Guillemots). Tysties are a doddle to photograph here in Shetland, but its often hard to get something different to the typical run-of-the-mill-bird-on-water shot. Fortunately for me, this calling bird provided that 'something different'.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Male Red-breasted Flycatcher

A superb adult male Red-breasted Flycatcher spent a couple of days at Levenwick and provided some nice photographic opportunities. Thanks to Wendy for allowing us in to the garden. I also had great views of the White's Thrush earlier in the week at Kergord but it proved a nightmare to photograph. This would have been bird of the week but beating it by a country mile in Shetland terms was a Long-tailed Tit which moved between Sumburgh, Scatness and Toab. Only the third-ever confirmed record for Shetland and a Shetland tick for myself and most others.