Wednesday, 20 April 2011

High stuff

It seems only appropriate that pretty much all of the birds I've seen today (4/20 if you're an American) were ridiculously high. Having only just returned from a week on holiday in Germany (more of that later) I spent the day in the back garden trying to get on with some revision/napping/skywatching. Turned out pretty well with a Swift, 2 Common Buzzards, waking up from a snooze to a Kestrel hunting over nearby gardens briefly, a Sparrowhawk, and a Falcon Sp.

The first good bird of the day came as I was tucking into my delicious salad and ketchup-based lunch, picked up as an unusual speck in the sky for not being in the shape of a novelty balloon.


Queue salad splutterings.  


Above this Common Buzzard there was also a single Falcon Sp. so ridiculously high that it was only visible as a speck with binoculars. A Buzzard accompanied by a Peregrine an hour later at Wormwood Scrubs may well explain this mystery speck.

After an attempt at a Chemistry past paper that very quickly became a much more successful attempt at a siesta I woke up to the silhouette of a Kestrel over nearby gardens and then a distant Sparrowhawk heading South. But the real highlight for me came late in the afternoon with my first Swift of the year flicking it's way East at some height, the earliest I've ever seen in London and a reminder of what absolutely gorgeous birds they are. Roll on Summer.

I did say it was distant.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Terrapins and Tortoiseshells

These two shots taken on Friday of a pollen-hungry Blue tit on Turnham Green turned out surprisingly well considering how overcast it was, I think I'm beginning to understand what sort of exposures to be using.

I'd spent the earlier part of the day at a UCAS conference at Olympia (21 Prospectuses... My bag was a little heavy) and then meeting somebody who works doing Science and Natural History Publishing at HarperCollins. A job I would quite literally die for. It was a really fascinating experience and it reinforced the idea that I really don't think I could see myself doing practical conservation work as a job, I'm just not built for that kind of thing. Leave it to those who can actually do (among whom I most certainly am not). Imagining me trying to do real-life practical conservation work like wading through reedbeds in the name of habitat management habitat management is like imagining severe dyspraxics trying to play darts...

Tasty, tasty pollen.

I think the Bokeh works out quite well in this one, although the foreground might be a bit too distracting for my liking,

Shit. I'm almost turning into a photographer. At least it's not rare birds I'm trying to photograph and flush...

Today being Mother's day not much birding was got up to and instead the morning saw me and my sister preparing an absolute scorcher of a breakfast involving a couple of the few sins of fattiness possible within our vegetarianism: Sour Cream, Guacamole, Fried Eggs and Cheese. A walk in the afternoon with the dog to Chiswick House down the river produced a Holly Blue butterfly which I gather is quite early and a Small Tortoiseshell. Bird-wise there wasn't too much going on but a single Swallow flew through Chiswick House Grounds going NW.

Unfortunately these buggers were also out, sunning themselves and flaunting their egg and nymph-crunching jaws. Not that I've ever actually see them do anything quite so destructive, but that's what I'm led to believe they're capable of doing. "Go back home" the xenophobe and environmentalist in me wants to cry, but still the wildlife enthusiast in me thinks you've got to have some respect for creatures that have managed to make the most of being traded as teenage-mutant craze toys, flushed down toilets and released into stagnant pools of water. They certainly seem to be enjoying themselves.

This bad boy's got gang tattoos all over him.

Spot the herp-world's Tony Soprano.