Sunday 29 January 2017

Flight of the Gannet

The Gannet is a beautiful bird and one that is a pleasure to photograph close up, when all of the fine feather detail shows its best. You can see these birds from our coast path but usually they stay far away, gliding just above the waves, looking incredibly white against the cold, grey sea. We rarely see them and numbers and, until now I had never watched them dive for fish. Recently though, over a couple of days, they have been closer to the cliffs and have given superb, if still a little distant, views of their behavior.

 A short video can be viewed here

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Fog, Frost and Ordinary Things

Walking along the cliffs in thick fog is different! All the parts that make up a usual wander are changed but not necessarily for the worst. Obviously the first one is sight: the views that you are so used to just don’t exist, trees fade to grey and people become ghosts. Sound changes too and, as you are one sense down, your hearing seems to fill the gap.
There is much more noise and this coupled with the lack of vision can disorientate the best of us. That said, there are pleasures in all of this and patterns created by frost are always special. Everything that can catch a droplet of water does so and this too changes how very ordinary things can look. There is still plenty to point the camera at, even if you can't see too far.

Monday 23 January 2017

From Fog to Beards

A planned photoshoot couldn't happen today because of the fog and so I took a detour to try and find these little beauties.
Bearded Tits are stunning birds and great fun to photograph. They are constantly on the move and always seem to put themselves behind reeds but in front of the Sun.

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Brighter Mornings

After a day or two of cloud it was good to see the Sun this morning.
Clear skies brought a frost though and it was certainly chilly up on the cliffs but as always the arrival of a molten, disc of gold pulling itself free from the sea is always welcome. As if on cue, the sound of Guillemots floated up from the sea, Jackdaws ganged together to tell everyone exactly who is the noisiest resident and a single Roe deer wandered from the shelter of the trees into the light. It is strange that something that has happened every day for the last four and a half billion years or so can still attract so much attention.

 At this time of year Bournemouth, a few miles north, gets the Sun before Swanage. Its light is reflected from the windows of buildings as the town gets the first rays. Swanage has to wait until the Sun climbs above the hill before the same effect happens on buildings here.

Sometimes it seems to take forever for the Sun to appear but when the first glimpse of gold breaks the surface of the water it is only a matter of seconds before fire turns into the smooth golden disc that we all depend on.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Coughs & Colds

Almost everyone I speak to has a cold at the moment and the grey gloomy weather doesn't seem to help matters much. Even though this morning's walk was peppered with wildlife, which is never a bad thing, the light was not great and the mood was a bit sombre. For a short while, on the horizon, there was a burning red break in the clouds that let just a few moments of Sun through before it was swallowed by looming grey.
Slate grey Peregrines flew past above a slate grey sea and even the snow-white flash of a Guillemot's chest seemed subdued. It was just one of those mornings I suppose, a morning when even the hardy Grey Squirrel can have a cold.

Saturday 14 January 2017

A Purbeck Murmuration

Flocks of Starlings look superb as they weave and whirl through the Winter sky. Large groups can be seen along the coast or above the Somerset levels and it is something I have been meaning to watch for a long time. Recentlty on the Isle of Purbeck we have had a murmuration of 10,000 birds or so flying above Poole Harbour and settling in the reed beds and that has given me the chance to take a few pics and a video.
Watching the birds collect was special enough, as a couple turned into fifty, turned into a hundred and so on. Large groups combined and finally reached a size that seemed to large to contain all of the birds. They then syphoned down into the reed beds where the sound of countless wings fluttered well into the darkness.

A short video can be found here

Monday 9 January 2017

It's All About The Guillemot

Durlston Country Park is well known for its sea birds and no more so than the Guillemot. This lovely little bird collects here in the Spring, brings up their young in the Summer and leaves us in the Autumn leaving just a few numbers to man the ledges over Winter. Lately though the growls and gurgles of these birds has been heard in greater numbers with at least 400 individuals either sitting on the ledges, rafting on the water of heading off in search of food. They are always great to watch, whether you are walking the cliff path or out on the water.

Quiet but never silent.

I missed the Sun this morning, not because I was late but because the early wander was done and dusted by the time the clouds cleared. When...