Monday, December 29, 2014

Birding Hayle in late December

The promised sunshine came to pass so we had the chance to do our first proper birding in Cornwall!

Armed with cold weather clothing (it was zero celcius when we headed out, memories of -8c mornings in Northampton getting more and more distant) and a flask of coffee we headed over to Hayle Estuary one of the premier birding sites in the County.

The tide was out but coming in, though not one of the more remarkable tides, so lots of the Estuary remained uncovered:

And out of the warming sun it really was still freezing:

The birds were feasting on the berries, here a female Blackbird is eating Ivy Berries:

Also alongside the Estuary we saw a number of migrant thrushes including this Redwing:

Another Redwing here eating Cotoneaster berries:

Hayle town centre lies behind the Estuary:

A Black-headed Gull landed on the water close to where we stood on the path:

At the top of the Estuary, by the bridge, a partly leucistic Carrion Crow was browsing the de-frosting grass:

And a new bird for us at this location, a Common Stonechat was flitting from perch to perch:

We drove from the Estuary to the RSPB hide overlooking a tidal pool often used by waders during the very high tides, which proved quiet, and then on to the pavement alongside the main road, overlooking the river.

The river is freshwater merging into the tidal salt-water Estuary and supports a range of ducks and waders, including this Redshank:

As we stood watching the comings and goings a group of teenage Mute Swans headed towards us, to drink from the fresh water:

It was a real treat watching them for a few minutes.

We explored a few other birding sites but the fair weather and sunshine had drawn out the crowds so it was time to head for home, though the forecast looks good again quite soon...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Experimenting with photography

December proved busier than expected, prior to Christmas, although it's not over yet.  I did however get the opportunity to try out some new photography, inspired in part by a young photography student who is a member of the local camera club that I recently joined.

I invested first in some 'dumb' extension tubes, and took this image of a Hyacinth blooming:

It was readily obvious however that I needed the ones that carry the electric current for focusing, etc., so having invested a total of £30 in both sets I was able to photograph an Orchid that Helen has rescued from its near-death experience, with impressive results I think:

Next to learn more about post-processing and the use of flash, lots of experimenting to come!

I also tried extreme long-distance, using the biggest zoom and zoom extender I have (500x + 2x) with a remote sensor trigger and with the mirror locked-up in the camera to reduce camera shake (and with the lenses' own image stabliser turned off).   The resulting image of a waxing moon is also very pleasing:

Meanwhile the sun has come out again in Cornwall so we're thinking about downing the garden spades and heading out to enjoy it soon...