Sunday, 5 June 2011

Volucella pellucens

My Latin GCSE never took me very far so it took a bit of googling to find out that the latin name for what I think is this species of hoverfly comes from the latin pellucides, which is the slightly estranged child of two latin words per lucere, or for the nonces in the audience, me included, this means 'to shine through'.

Most insect identification seems to me an absolute minefield so I'm only really happy with the slightly more obvious ones. This Bee-Fly from earlier on in April may or may not be Bombylius major but at least I've got the right genus! 

Trying to photograph them also gave me a new found respect for those who manage to take decent looking photos of flying Insects. Especially if it's with a Panasonic FZ-45, as much as I love it.

Finally one I can be a little more confident with though, an identifiable shot of Pararge aegeria. AKA Speckled Wood Butterfly.

All taken in Chiswick House Grounds, as getting out birdy-related places has taken a back seat whilst revison for OHSHIT MY PHYSICS EXAM'S TOMORROW.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Kite battles over 'Bush

Despite the slightly misleading title this isn't the West London version of an humanity-questioning but at the same time affirming story of a young boy and another young boy of a war-torn country separated by the imagined boundaries of ethnicity. Nor is it a dubious tale of non-corporeal warfare over sexual exploits, for any of the dirtier minded readers (not that I have any readers, Pah!). Instead this is merely the story of the most interesting birdy-related thing to happen to me in the past exam-filled 2 weeks.

A look out the kitchen window whilst spending the morning at the GF's, most helpfully positioned in a road adjacent to Wormwood Scrubs, revealed a big raptor sharing the totally in-existent thermals (it was both a cold and gloomy today, the type that begin adventure stories with an over-enthusiastic sense of irony) with a crow, exhibiting some text-book mobbing behaviour. Red Kite, Shepherd's bush, lazy Saturday morning. Not bad. Fired off a couple of shots (ooh, get me) and got these shoddy results:

Followed by a celebratory Supreme Plus Falafel Wrap from Mr. Falafel in Shepherd's Bush Market. A one-of-a-kind vidya of how these, the best god-damn falafel this side of anywhere IMHO, are prepared is presented below for the enjoyment of Blog customers.

Monday, 16 May 2011


Reliving my younger days (see two weeks ago) before the pressures of life settled themselves down upon my shoulders I stumbled across these dusty gems in the attic. Up and coming young whippersnapper photographers take note:

Unfortunately all my attempted photos of seabirds like these Manx Shearwaters ended up like this:

Note the not so artful use of the clone tool:

And finally a tune from the heady days of my yout'dom: A family friendly version of OFWG, the sound track to cornwall (in my head).

P.S. I had an absolutely fantabulous days ringing yesterday, but I'm going to save that for a later post.

Friday, 13 May 2011

A garganey, and other short stories.

A nice relaxing trip to Barnes today produced the goods with a stunning male Garganey, which of course decided to stay hidden behind an island (or had somehow flown off on my watch) for the good hour and a half that Shirley the friendly bird-counter was trying to get a look at it. Other good stuff came in the form of 2 Shelduck, 3 Redshank, Blackcap and Chiffchaff and bugger all else. Seeing some Damselflies (Azure blue, if I'm not mistaken) was a pleasant first for the year. I'm on study leave so there'll be either be a rash of posts or I'll be on target to pick up my hoped-for grades. Or neither.

Little stunner

Just the product of a crappy record shot and chance fly-by

Chiffchaff, cute little thang.


A newly fledged Long-Tailed Tit

Azure Blue Damselflies

Yellow Wagtail

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Germany, 14th-19th April 2011

Wolfsburg! The city of VWs and also the place of residence of my girlfriend's very lovely german friend, with whom we went and spent six days in April.

For a first holiday away together I was determined to break in the birding, but with something of a velvet glove approach. A couple of trips to the very lovely surrounding forests in the evening sunshine (or cloudy, overcast-shine. Everything's nice when you're on holiday!) was a more than suitable way of getting myself some decent birds.

The trip started off well with a mahooosive White Stork over the car on the drive from the airport at Hannover, but it was surprisingly the only one seen the whole trip. I was sort of expecting to be tripping over the huge, gorgeous white things, babies in bill.

On arriving at the very very nice house (we were actually staying just outside of Wolfsburg in Flechtorf) it was nice to be greeted by a stunning male Black Redstart in the garden. I don't understand why as Black Reds seem so common throughout suburban areas in Europe they haven't yet realised they can leave East London, Birmingham and other generally rubbley places for a gentler and more prosperous life in the suburbs. The beaugoise black redstart is yet to have reached Britain's shores.

Croissant for Breakfast, Couscous for Lunch, Dinner at the Theatre.

When the female Black Redstart (for there was a pair, and they probably are breeding nearby and I can say that without having SCHEDULE 1 screamed at me) was joined by a Tree Sparrow I nearly actually had a heart attack.

Garden birds in England are shit.

The big forest right behind their house clearly had a population of Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers but I didn't hear any other species. It provided a very pleasant walk with the likes of Hawfinch, Chaffinches, infinite numbers of ChiffChaff and a couple of Willow Warblers, Marsh/Willow Tit (only seen very briefly at a distance), Buzzard and Tits. Fieldfares seem to replace Mistle thrushes as being the big, noisy local thrushes and raptors included a flyover Marsh harrier (again from the Garden!) and a couple of Red Kites.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Look! I tooked a good photo!

This photo makes me feel happy and think that perhaps my photography skills have improved a little from never being able to take a photo without making the horizon look like a mountainside. Certainly it's a bit noisy and you could argue that the background's a little too distracting but I really quite like this photo. Decided against noise reduction or sharpening or any of that malarkey.

It was a very photogenic Dunlin I saw by Polzeath in Cornwall last weekend, which I clambered down onto the rocks and braced the terrors of being drowned by the incoming high tide (well that's what it felt like as a city-boy) to get some snappy snaps of. However it's photos like these that I just don't have a clue how to crop it to make it feel more natural, that make me realise I'm still far from a natural born photographer.

Once my exams have quietened down a little I'll be able to post something!