News

Registered with the Fat Birder site.
28th October 2013
I thought I'd see how this site stacks up against the myriad of bird sites out there. I started out at 1072 yesterday and today I am at 977, so slowly creeping up the list. The counter on the home page reflects the traffic viewing the site compared to the other registered sites and it increases or decreases accordingly. I just wonder what position It would be in if the 379,000 hits it had accumalated before I registered had been calculated.
Just a bit of fun, as long as the site is enjoyed that's all that counts for me.
Who'd be a twitcher ?
25th October 2013
This Autumn has again seen a run of rare birds on the Shetland Isles. The term 'MEGA' is used to describe these rarities and the latest is a Cape May Warbler. These rarities must be an absolute nightmare for the 'Twitching' fraternity, trying to assess whether the bird will stay or go. The last Cape May Warbler was seen in the UK in 1977, so unless you were around the twitching scene then you potentially have a very long, stressful and expensive journey ahead of you. This latest rarity is on Unst, Shetland, the most northerly inhabited island in the UK. Just getting there is a nightmare, once landing on the Shetland mainland, possibly after a twelve hour ferry crossing from Aberdeen or an expensive charter flight, you then have to Island hop by ferry to get to Unst. Such is the priority placed on seeing this bird by many 'listers', they are prepared to pay for a charter flight onto the unmanned airstrip on Unst, a flight and landing only for the most hardy of individuals. I have been fortunate to see these birds in Cape May near New Jersey in America and although, like this individual they were in Autumn plumage, they are still a very attractive bird. That is, however, of no consequence to the 'twitcher', it is only a bonus, 'ticking' this bird is all that matters.
The weather on Unst has been horrendous this week with gale force winds and horizontal rain, but the bird is staying put. This will be a great relief to many 'listers' because there may not be another one in their lifetime.
I wish them luck!

Earlier this week there was another 'MEGA' on the Shetland Isles. This time on Fair isle, a not so geographically challenging encounter as Unst, however, still a very long journey. This bird was a male Siberian Rubythroat, ( WOW!! even the name sounds just fantastic ). It is the 'Holy Grail' for birders, most of the previous records of these birds have been female, still an obvious 'MEGA' but not so prized as the male!
These birds have a history on the Shetlands of staying a few days and then leaving which means people have to 'Bite the Bullet' and react immediately if they want it. It is not such a priority as the Cape May Warbler because it is more likely to occur in the future and more people will have seen one of the previous half dozen or so that have made it to the UK. However, these male birds have an almost mythical status in the UK, most birders just see them as their dream bird. There is just something about them, they are a member of the Chat family, they are not the most colourful, although the male I think is a real 'Stonker' and they can be very skulking in their habits.
Again I was lucky to see one in China, the only one of my whole trip there. We were birding in the overgrown gardens of an abandoned hotel complex, which turned out to be a very good area for many rare Western Palearctic birds. We had seen some lovely rare thrushes, including Siberian, when a small bird emerged from the bushes behind me and It felt like I was in shock, a male Siberian Rubythroat, just looking at me from the leaf litter. I only had my Canon 300 with me because there was too much travelling about to lug a big lens around. I picked up the lens slowly, praying it wouldn't fly away and I managed a few shots before it disappeared back into the bushes never to be seen again! Another man standing behind me named John had openly stated that he was absolutely desparate to see one and I could hear him repeating to himself 'My God' over and over as if he couldn't believe what he had just seen.

To end this blog with a note of realism, which highlights the stressful life of 'Twitchers', a group privately chartered a plane to Fair Isle earlier this week at a cost of £600 each, in an attempt to see the Rubythroat, only to find on landing that it had gone..............
Llangasty bird hide at Llangors Lake
22nd October 2013
This new bird hide was opened in March 2012, it supercedes the old hide which served the area well for many years and was still very useful. The old hide has been moved to nearby Talybont Reservoir where it remains to the present day.

This new hide was built in association with the Prince's Trust, employing young people from the scheme along with top quality trades people.

It is a wonder to behold, made from solid Oak which is furnished with hand forged latches and handles. The hide has a superbly laid thatched roof with a slate capping. It has two solid oak approach ways which are augmented by a high quality dry stone wall. The inside of the hide is light and airy and the centre piece is a beautifully crafted hand made semi circular stained glass window depicting the bird life of the lake.
On entering the hide through the church like door you get a distinct ecclesiastical feeling, with its vault like ceiling and stained glass window, it's like entering a mini cathedral.
Is is without doubt the most elaborate bird hide I have ever seen and is a credit to all involved.
Please see Landscapes, Around the local area, Llangasty bird hide.
Two ' Yanks ' in one week!!!
10th October 2013
Two 'Yanks' in one week, I can barely believe it. After the Pectoral Sandpiper was discovered locally this week, hot on its heels comes a Long Billed Dowitcher. As soon as news broke, the following morning I went straight to the location. The bird was found on another pond about twenty miles away from where I live. This latest area is in an extremely bleak, post industrial landscape above the old Iron making town of Merthyr Tydfil. The pond and surrounding area are due to be totally destroyed by an open cast mining scheme which many people oppose. This may be a bleak location but it certainly turns up some great birds and it will be a great shame to lose it. This bird, like the Pectoral sandpiper, was quite confiding and it allowed close approach within reason.
Please see Rare Birds, Long Billed Dowitcher.
Arctic winds on the way.
08th October 2013
Strong cold winds from the north are on the way later this week, hopefully they will drive down returning migrants like Ring Ouzel. These winds may also encourage wintering Thrushes and Bramblings and dare I hope Waxwings, which are already in northern parts of the UK. There is a super abundance of berries in waiting which should sustain them for quite a while. I have never seen the Rowan, Hawthorn and Blackthorn trees so full of berries and there are apples everywhere. In addition the Oak and Beech trees are literally groaning with fruit after the perfect growing conditions of this past year.
Beech mast is a staple diet of Hawfinches during winter.
Lets hope for a good show from all these lovely birds this autumn and winter!
Pectoral Sandpiper
07th October 2013
There is a remote upland area of water and mud nearby named Brechfa Pool. It doesn't usually attract many birds, the odd Wader etc, but now and then something nice turns up and recently a Pectoral Sandpiper has taken up residence for a few days. There have been a few of these 'American' waders in the country recently and it's nice that we have had one here. It was an unusually confiding bird for a change, allowing very good views, sometimes this happens, who knows why? but I'm not complaining,
Please see UK Birds, Waders, Pectoral Sandpiper.
The Supernatural Nightjar
06th September 2013
The Nightjar's scientific name of Caprimulgus means 'Goat Sucker'. This derives from bizarre ancient folklore that Nightjars had supernatural powers and at night stole the milk from the teats of goats. This belief came about because of the birds habit of lying near cattle and other animals. In reality the birds were waiting for insects that were drawn to the animals.
Other colloquial names for these mysterious birds refer to their odd appearance, call, habitat and diet. Just a few are: Nighthawk, Flying Toad, Fern Owl, Dorhawk, Moth Owl, Eve-Churr and Jar Owl.

On a warm summer's night, if they are lucky, a birdwatcher can hear the distant 'Churring' of the male as he becomes active right at the very last light of day. Then seemingly out of nowhere they appear and the males and females begin their hunt for large flying insects against the inky blue night sky. The Nightjar has a large gape with stiff whiskers at the corners so they can channel the insects into their mouths. They have an almost silent flight as they beat their wings like a giant nocturnal butterfly, it's little wonder that they have a mysterious reputation. They spend all day roosting low down on the forestry floor or sitting horizontally along branches. They are almost impossible to see because of their cryptic plumage and will only fly right at the last second if they are disturbed.

The male can be told from the female by his white wing patches, these can be seen as he flies around displaying to the female while loudly clapping his long wings.

They arrive sometime in May and can have two broods, normally two young in each, the young are out of the nest and independent within a month, the adult birds then migrate back to sub Saharan Africa in late August/early September, leaving the young birds to look after themselves. It is quite humbling to think that these young birds, who are only six weeks old and have never known anything but the 200 yards of forestry they were raised in, will during the next few weeks take on an epic flight all the way to Africa;

This summer I have had great views of both sexes and also the male displaying to the female, flying around and wing clapping right in front of me.
Last night I decided to have one more try at seeing them, I arrived just before dusk and decided to drive along the forest track where I had seen the adult birds previously. Young Nightjars do have a habit of sitting out on these forest tracks waiting for insects to fly over them. The light had rapidly faded and was now virtually pitch black, the only light available was very week moonlight, so I knew I had to be careful because young Nightjars don't 'Churr' they just make a faint squeak as they fly around.

I hadn't bothered bringing a big lens with me because it was a waste of time lugging it around in the dark and it is a recipe for an accident if ever there was one! I had dressed in some old clothes and I had a large 'Bean bag' in the boot along with my Canon 300mm f4.0 lens, I felt this lens was more manageable in those conditions.
As I turned a corner something caught my eye and I slowed right down to a crawl and on the track I could see two young Nightjars, I could barely believe it, a dream come true.
I inched closer until they were right in my headlights, then I quietly got out and opened the boot as slowly as I could and got my kit out. I snaked along the track, getting covered in stone dust and moss until I was only about fifteen feet from them. Amazingly they seemed completely unconcerned by me, I positioned my Bean bag and managed to take a few shots as they just sat there. One bird was swallowing a moth while the other was preening its feathers, they have a serrated middle claw which they use as a 'comb' for this purpose.

It really is very special to get that close to these elusive creatures of the night.

I moved back slowly and quietly reversed my car away and left them to their hunting and as I drove away I caught them again in my headlights flying around after their prey.

I have only spent two ten minute sessions with these young birds because I didn't want to disturb them. They need to feed and put on as much weight as they possibly can for their forthcoming journey, I really do hope they make it!!
What a fabulous bird they are.
Please see UK Birds, Nightjars
The secretive and elusive Water Rail.
01st August 2013
The Water rails is a genuine oddity amongst British birds, with its pig-like squealing and other strange and eerie noises sometimes made through the night. It is also very unpredictable, because for a bird that can be so noisy it is notoriously reclusive, but it sometimes, although infrequently, can be seen right out in the open. Its slender legs and toes are adapted for walking on floating plants, allowing it to slip quickly through the marshy vegetation without being seen. Cold weather triggers predatory behaviour, which is out of character with its largely insectivorous lifestyle, and it has been known to attack species as large as knots.
On a local lake with very large reed beds I knew Water rails existed because I had often heard their pig-like squealing, however, over at least ten years I have only managed to photograph a bird once. I have often seen one scoot quickly across a gap between the reed beds but that was all.
Things are a little quiet on the bird front at the moment so one morning earlier this week I decided to get out early to try and photograph a family of Reed Warblers I had seen previously. I managed to get a few shots and I was just waiting for another opportunity when I could hear a call I didn't recognize, I thought it sounded like a young bird, Coot or Moorhen perhaps, but it just didn't sound right. I waited for a minute or two and to my surprise a Water rail walked out of the vegetation, then another, I shot them both and I thought 'what a stroke of luck, right place, right time I suppose'. However, what happened next was quite incredible, a little ball of black fluff with a creme coloured beak crept through the long grass. I could not believe what I was seeing, a Water rail chick, you just don't see these birds they are so secretive with their young.
On Spring Watch this year young Water rail chicks were filmed, for what was thought to be the first time in the nest, that's how elusive they are. This was for me the next best thing, just to see this one was a huge achievement, however, it wasn't finished there, not by a long shot, another, then another chick and in total five Water rail chicks, I really, really couldn't believe it now!!
I managed to take a few quick shots before they quickly disappeared into the reed bed, I thought 'Wow! did that really happen'. I was just getting used to what I had seen when I heard the same squeak. I pointed my lens to where I thought the noise had come from, it can be so difficult to pin point the exact area a noise comes from in a reed bed. It was, however, better to be proactive just in case they came out again, because if I had the lens pointing away the movement as the lens swung around may have frightened them away.
What happened next just freaked me out, the two adult birds led the five chicks right out into the open. Seven Water rails all running around in front of me, I didn't know where to look let alone take a photograph. I managed to compose myself as the adults started to probe the muddy bottom of the reed bed and then feed the chicks, the adults posed, then the chicks posed, then they posed together, what an experience.
I took a whole raft of shots during a 'golden' ten minute period, then they as a family, just melted away into the depths of the reed bed. I was left dumbfounded, all thoughts of Reed Warblers had disappeared, I packed up and left in a state of shock.
Please see UK Birds, Herons, Egrets and Rails, Water Rail.
Disaster in the Beacons
27th July 2013
It is now confirmed that a major outbreak of Phytophthora Ramorum is present in the conifer plantations in the Talybont and Taf Fechan areas of the Brecon Beacons national park. This disease is affecting Larch trees badly, turning them brown and causing them to die back. Evidence of this can be seen from most elevated positions on the Beacons. A major tree felling exercise will soon begin on thousands of hectares of forestry in an attempt to stop this outbreak.
This is disastrous news for birds like Goshawk, Nightjar, Crossbill and Siskin. Each one of these birds depend on these plantations for their existence. Goshawks breed exclusively in these plantations, Crossbills breed there and their only source of food is pine cone seeds, Larch in particular. Siskins also feed and breed there and Nightjars, although they favour felled areas of conifer, next May 2014, when they arrive at their breeding sites they will be met by a massive logging operation with tree felling machinery and transporters.
It really couldn't have come at a worse time for birds, their numbers are already in decline and now this!!

Sad times.
Little Owl and Photoshop Technique
23rd July 2013
Locally there are a pair of Little Owls that live in an almost dead, Ivy-clad Oak tree. Sometimes they will sit out and show well but usually they hide amongst the Ivy. This makes it very difficult to get an unobstructed image. The only solution is to take the best image you can and then attempt to remove some of the offending foliage. This is not easy and some images are unworkable and are made worse by over-processing and in these cases they are best left unprocessed.
However, this week I took a shot of one of the Owls that I felt I could do something with.



There are two obvious problems with this image: an Ivy leaf near the bird's head and a thin branch in the foreground running through the bird's tail and perch. Also there are numerous out of focus branches and leaves making a very cluttered background.

There are two options here - one is to use Photoshop to attempt to remove these obstructions, the other is to leave the image as a record shot.

I decided to try and remove the obstructions and improve the general image and background. The background of a photograph, I think, is at least as important as the subject and makes the overall image much more pleasing. A cluttered or badly contrasting background takes the viewer's eye away from the subject so I always try, where possible, to achieve a complimentary background. This is obviously something that needs great attention when you are taking the photograph because it can save you a lot of time and effort later on in post processing.

Some people may ' sniff ' at post processing but this is after all digital imaging and many a potentially good photograph has been unnecessarily consigned to the recycle bin.

The best way to remove unwanted clutter is to use the Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop which allows you to "ring fence" the subject whilst working outside on the obstructions.

1. I always attempt to remove the obstructions first before thinking about exposure, composition etc. If you can't remove the offenders there is no point in proceeding.

2. I Isolated the subject first using the Quick Selection Tool, it is best to 'tighten' the "ring fence" around the subject to avoid a 'halo' effect. Then using the Clone Stamp Tool (small brush) I attempted to follow the tail feathers over the branch that was obscuring part of the tail, taking great care to maintain feather lines and markings. In order to achieve any success here it is best to enlarge the image as much as 200% so a small area can be greatly magnified and then concentrated on.

3. I then reversed the Selection Tool and removed the branch obscuring the perch using the Clone Stamp Tool. I also removed the Ivy leaf and out of focus branches using the same procedure. Increase or decrease the brush size as appropriate. I left some green leaves that could be duplicated to form background colour also by using the Clone Stamp Tool.

4. I adjusted the background contrast and exposure without affecting the subject because I was working outside the area "ring fenced".

5. I reversed the Selection Tool back again so that I could work on the subject inside the "ring fence". This is particularly useful for altering the contrast and sharpening etc. of a subject without affecting the background, thereby avoiding the dreaded 'noise' which can make a background appear very 'grainy'.

6. Finally, I adjusted the image to size and saved under a different file name. It is always best to save your image after every procedure so that you can always return to the previous "platform" to start again if necessary.

This is the processed image, not perfect, but better than just a record shot.

Breeding Lapwings
23rd July 2013
These lovely birds have suffered huge habitat loss over the last ten years causing a major decline in their numbers, so it is very pleasing to see my good neighbours, John and Ann Morgan at Middlewood Farm, Bwlch, going out of their way to create a wet habitat suitable for Lapwings to breed and successfully raise their young. All credit to them for this effort.
This is the third year that the Lapwings have bred successfully, this year raising three young.




Afon Tarell - Jewel of the Brecon Beacons
23rd July 2013
The first couple of miles of the Afon Tarell are through open moorland running over the red sandstone of the Brecon Beacons, however, as it descends into the Tarell valley the rock strata changes to limestone. It is from here that this beautiful and charismatic river becomes more secretive and inaccessible, racing through dense deciduous woodlands of Beech, Ash, Oak and Willow.
As it makes its way through this woodland the Afon Tarell bubbles over stretches of rocky, shallow riverbed where Dippers and Grey Wagtails can frequently be encountered. It also cascades over numerous small waterfalls and through deep clear pools where Brown Trout exist in numbers and the enigmatic Lamprey can be found. At certain places and in the right light there are shady areas that are reminiscent of a fairy glen, within which the lucky observer can sometimes see the electric blue flash of a Kingfisher as it darts from overhanging Willows into the river's crystal waters in search of small fish such as the European Bullhead.
Along its course the Afon Tarell is met by a tributary called Nant Cwm Llwch. This crystal clear mountain stream emerges from the glacial lake Llyn Cwm Llwch situated below Pen y fan, the highest point on the Brecon Beacons and is filtered by black peat before it enters the Afon Tarell.
The Afon Tarell, is designated as a special area of conservation for its three species of Lamprey, Twaite Shad, Atlantic Salmon and Otter
During this very hot, dry spell the water levels have been low and river life has been easier to observe. I have taken a few casual shots with my ipad.
Please see Landscapes, around the local area.
Cuckoo Spring 2013
20th June 2013
The Cuckoo comes in April
He sings his song in May
In the month of June he whistles his tune
And in July he flies away

Not absolutely accurate but a good general assessment of this most charismatic bird.

In April some do indeed arrive but mainly down south but in May even here in the Beacons they are in full voice as the males sing for a mate and this goes on throughout June.
Male Cuckoos utter the familiar 'Cuckoo' song but the females only make a soft and beautiful bubbling call as she calls for a mate. They also make a wide variety of noises like rasping, chuckling and snorting sounds as they interact with each other, sounds you wont hear unless you are close to them. However, this female bubbling call usually galvanizes the males into action, they must realize breeding time is short and indeed it is.
The female can be told from the male by a rusty wash around her neck and upper breast, more pronounced on some than others, but if you hear that 'Bubbling' you know it's her.

Once she lays her many eggs in say a number of Meadow Pipit or Reed Warbler nests the job is done and in July they tend to go quiet and are hard to locate. In my experience they are still around until the end of August and even into October on the south coast. Inland, or here for instance they are generally long gone by September and only the juveniles are left to find their own way to Africa.
They really are a smash and grab merchant!

There is a traditional site quite close to me and there Meadow Pipits are the main hosts for their eggs. This spring there have been three Cuckoos there and I have been watching the male closely and I know his favourite perches. I wait until the Meadow Pipits push him off a bush or tree branch and then I wait by one of his 'perches'.
As long as I am quiet, patient and tucked away he will come reasonably close and I can photograph him. I've seen people chasing them around but they are wasting their time, a Cuckoo will make a fool of you every time, they are just too crafty and streetwise to be caught out.

They are a strange looking bird, they can look big and awkward but when they are in flight they look so streamlined, it's quite remarkable. They must be quite dextrous and also lightweight because they land on the flimsiest of branches with ease. They can also appear anything from a dark brown to a leaden grey depending on the light.

I am always sad to see them go but I equally look forward to their return the following spring, long may it continue!


Nature's man made dilema.
10th June 2013
Listen to Iolo William's passionate and poignant speech on the state of Welsh nature.
When are we going to wake up!
I can equate to everything he says about bird numbers and the legal but wanton habitat destruction by businesses, local councils and more worryingly sanctioned by our elected governments.
Everybody who cares about wildlife should hear this.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnJQjtvngqA
Failure of the Pine Cone crop
08th June 2013
There has been a large scale failure in this area of this seasons Pine cones and as a result birds like Siskins and Redpolls which depend on the seed to support young during the summer months have had to abandon the pine forests and seek food elsewhere.
Also Crossbills are nowhere to be seen they have had to relocate to other areas.
Siskins and Redpolls come to feeders in peoples gardens in the winter as normal but go back to the conifer plantations in summer to breed.
I have had flocks of both of these lovely birds in my garden all summer and they have consumed a lot of Niger seed, but you have to help out if you can. This Pine cone failure will undoubtedly affect next seasons populations of these birds because there will inevitably be less birds to breed.
Things like this that might seem inconsequential to some and even unknown to others are a disaster to these birds, I hope they can recover quickly and continue to grace us with their presence.

Nature's alarm clock
08th June 2013
There is a large Ash tree in my garden and for the last week there has been a male Blackcap perched in the branches singing from dawn to dusk. I had the tree cut back quite severely last year because the branches were overhanging my house and were getting too dangerous in the winter in high wind. I left enough branches on the tree so it would grow back in a different direction, I didn't want to cut it right down its been there a long time.
This bird sits in the nearest branch to one of the bedroom windows and signs from first light. The Blackcap is a fabulous singer, right up there with the best with his rich and fluty repertoire. It's a real pleasure to hear him so I have been leaving the window open half an inch so he isn't too loud to keep me awake but just enough to have him sing in the background. It's glorious to be woken up gently with his song, especially during this current spell of beautiful weather.
I hope he and this weather continue for the rest of the summer!
Egyptian Mongoose
15th May 2013
One evening while taking our evening constitutional we were hiding behind a stone wall watching some Azure Winged Magpies, these are an extremely shy and very intelligent bird and you hardly ever get them out in the open. Some Bee Eaters were also flying around and it was quite pleasant just standing there. Suddenly out of nowhere an animal came loping across the Olive Grove, it was very low to the ground like a Badger. I could see no black and white so I dismissed Badger. When it saw us it stopped immediately and raised itself up to take a better look. I could now see it was a Mongoose, and a Mongoose with a large dead frog in its jaws. I took some shots before it dived back under a fence and quickly disappeared.
The fact that it hadn't eaten the frog told us that it probably had young and it was taking it back to its Den/Lair for the young Mongooses.
I have seen one before, while I was walking along a track up in the mountains in Andalucia but that was only a glimpse.
What a fascinating creature they are.
Cetti's Warbler, Extremadura
15th May 2013
I travelled down to a place called Vegas Atlas where there is an introduced colony of Common Waxbill and Red Avadavat, these can be very pretty when they come into their breeding plumage. They inhabit roadside ditches and wherever there are stands of reeds. I found them quite easily but they were not yet in breeding plumage, it seems everything is late this year!
Vegas Atlas is basically an area of farmland which is very quiet for a lot of the year allowing birds to breed in peace. I have seen Black Winged Kite here previously and I'll never forget the sight of two hundred Turtle Doves sat together on telegraph wires there.
A really depressing fact was that we only heard one Turtle Dove purring during our two weeks in Spain. The RSPB say that there is over an 80% decline in these lovely birds,
It's a shocking statistic!!
While watching the reeds I could hear a Cetti's Warbler calling and Singing, Cetti's are always difficult to catch out in the open, you can here the call and song but that's usually about all. I could see flashes of its tail in the reeds and I thought that was all I was going to get, however, what happened next really amazed me. The bird dropped down into about 2" of running water below the reed bed and started to have a bath right in front of me, splashing around for a couple of minutes, then drying off on a branch right out in the open. I couldn't believe such a secretive little bird would do that, what a spectacle. It dried itself completely then disappeared back into the reeds. I was amazed, but I took a load of shots of this very rare display.
Hoopoe, Extremadura
14th May 2013
Around the old Olive Groves and rocky outcrops with sandy bankings surrounding our Finca there was a perfect habitat for Hoopoes. They could be heard calling from dawn to dusk, with their Hoop,Hoop,Hoop always three calls. There was a very good population in the area, getting a photograph, however, was a different matter. They were extremely shy and elusive, they would fly right past us in the garden but wouldn't land and try as I did I couldn't get near them. Some mornings I had noticed a Hoopoe perching on a stone wall surrounding one of the Olive Groves and on two particular stones on top of the wall near to an irrigation ditch, every morning the Sun came up over the Sierra dead on 08.00 and shone on these stones. The Hoopoe could be seen sitting in the rays of the Sun uttering its familiar call. There was an old arch way about forty feet from these two stones and I decided to hide in there quite early and hope that it landed on its favourite spot.
It couldn't see me from along either wall only from these two stones, by then I hoped it would be too late and I could get a shot.
Time went on and up came the Sun right on cue at 08.00 but no Hoopoe, I waited another ten minutes and then in it came right on the spot. I kept dead still and fired the shutter, I expected it to fly away immediately but it stayed there, it could here me but because I was in the arch it couldn't make out what it was. I had some lovely shots before it finally flew away, I repeated this MO for a few mornings with more success.
Blue Rock Thrush, Extremadura
14th May 2013
One evening we were walking through the Cork Oak woodlands above the Finca, Golden Oriels and Nightingales were in full song. Hawfinches also breed in these woods in numbers, we could hear their sharp 'PIX' as they flew among the tree tops, very difficult to see and only visible when they dropped down into the Olive Groves to feed on old olive stones and mast. Serins were singing relentlessly, they really are a very vocal little bird and Azure Winged Magpies were trilling as they flew among the Olive trees. What a lovely place to spend an evening, with only the birds for company. We were making our way back down for a cold one when Susan said 'Stop', 'What is it' I said. She whispered, 'Blue Rock Thrush in the tree in front of us'
Wow, a very awkward and shy bird to photograph, I could hear it singing now, a song I wasn't familiar with previously. We tucked in against the old stone wall of the Olive Grove and waited. What happened next really surprised me because these birds will usually fly away, but this one flew and landed about fifty feet away on the stone wall. I couldn't believe it, I shot him immediately and after a few seconds he flew back up onto the rocks high above the track never to be seen again by us.
What a stroke of luck we could so easily have missed him!