One of the things that I try to acheive in my photographs is a full-on in your face image. I try and put the viewer closer to the subject than you would normally be able to get. Today I had three opportunities to get that close, all without any distress to the subject of course. The Cattle Egret (above) was part of a small group of five that I photographed from the car window. I draped a piece of cam net over the door to conceal myself and then waited for the Egrets to come very close, they continued to feed right next to me. I was hoping to get some shots with prey but it just didn't happen unfortunately, but the head shot portraits are really special and will make a great addition to my galeries. They were feeding on large spiders oddly enough.
As I photographed the Cattle Egrets, a White Ibis came along by the edge of the road feeding in a totally different way, probing in to the earth with it's long pointed beak. Like the egrets, it was oblivious to my presence and it was mostly too close to get it entirely in the frame of the camera. The photographers, not cropped at all, get right in there to the centre of the feeding action.
These photos were taken at Brian Picollo Park, we had gone there to have a look for Burrowing Owls, this is a well known nesting area for them. We are a bit early in the year for breeding though, and there was no sign of them today. In the late afternoon we returned to the beach and East. It was a lovely surprise when on the beach I was confronted with some waders! To be specific some tiny Sanderling and more interestingly, a small flock of Grey Plover, known in the US as Black-bellied Plover. With the sun now very low in the sky, the light was just perfection!
Every week the Birdguides Website, the most visited birding website in the world with with an average of 49,000 views a day, (what an amazing statistic), runs a competition for their photograph of the week. It is a massive accolade to win this weekly competition and lots of bird photographers post their pictures regularly, all photographs uploaded, are then "entered" in to the competition. To date there are 203,450 pictures representing 3934 species. As well as the prestigious Photo of the Week, the runners-up, are recorded as "Notable" . To have a picture mentioned as "Notable" is a great achievement. 17 of my pictures have been recognised as "Noteable" and as well as this I am a twice winner of the "Photo of the Week". My Cuckoo photo taken in June was my second "Photo of the Week" and out of the 203,450 pictures on the sight, is the 10th most popular picture!
The title of today's entry is good, just shows that Exeter is a great city to live in. I was up very early this morning and by 6.30, sat in a bag hide, hoping to see the otters responsible for all the tracks I have been finding these last few days. I drew a blank and after the day had dawned and we had some light I went back to sit in my Kingfisher hide. The Kingfisher is like a drug and I just can't get enough of him. I am beginning to learn more and more about this individual. One of the things I am rapidly discovering is not to assume that you can predict with certainty when he will put in an appearance. This morning for example, it was well after 8 before I saw him. He was around the hide area and fishing and he flew past me in both directions a few times. The light was so perfect and I was really hoping that he would bring his catch to one of the hide perches. I can only assume that he wasn't successful near to the hide because the nearest I got to him was this picture which shows how good the light was and also how frustrating it can be when he is just that tiny bit too far away, about 20 mtrs in this shot.
Eventually he left and at around that time I became aware of a lady, her husband and a small child looking intently at the ground. I guessed they were looking for Otter signs so I emerged from the hide and went to chat to them. It turned out that they were doing some kind of otter survey which is really odd as it is in competition with the survey I am taking part in and yet both surveys seemed to have some Devon Wildlife Trust involvement. This is really odd and I will get to the bottom of it tomorrow. I pointed them in the right direction, showed them tracks and how to identify them and also showed them some spraint.
Here is one of the sites that I found this morning at around 8.30.
My lovely wife and I took a walk around Exeter Quay and Trews Weir on the River Exe this afternoon, apparently that's what normal people do! I took my camera of course and I was interested to see that the Black Headed Gulls are really coming in to breeding condition and are starting to look quite attractive. In a week or so they will look even better as the head becomes more chocolate and the eyes becomes even redder.
Incidentally, the garden is very, very quiet today with no Goldfinch flocks. The Sparrowhawk certainly spooked all the birds on Friday. I did see a pair of Collared Doves in the tree so perhaps the breeding male wasn't the predated bird on Friday and things will carry on as normal. If not, then the female has wasted no time in replacing him! A Blackcap was in the Torbay Palm and we have had a few Sparrows keeping a low profile. The Blackbird pair continue to carry nesting material around, particularly the female.
Incidentally, I have no control over the adverts on my blog and I see that we have an advert for a dating site this evening......... not my choice! Also, welcome to the visitor from Qatar I hope you found something to look at that you found interesting. You are the 113th different country to visit the blog!
Not a lot can be said about our Collared Doves that hasn't been said before. They come and go and can be seen most mornings at Dawn in the Apple tree at the bottom of the garden.They rarely settle in the garden, never visit the bird feeders or bird table and fly off as soon as the door is opened, however it is always lovely to see them. I know that in the summer they bred in this tiny little patch of mine. Today it was an almost complete "white out" with fog which hadn't cleared when this photo was taken at around 9.15 As a species they have colonised the UK over the last 40 years to become one of our most familiar birds but the first breeding in the UK was as recent as 1956. As far as I know they can't be sexed visible but when two are together there will be subtle differences in head shape, size and colour etc.
Today is the 1st anniversary of my fathers death, he was a bird lover and inspired me to enjoy the birds and wildlife around me. Thought these Doves looked like angels in my garden, stupid I know but look at the similarity!