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The Great British Bird Hunt

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We live near the Thames so we got a lot of geese, swans, ducks & greeb. I don't have any pictures, but my favourite are the Egyptian Geese, and we sometimes get mandarin ducks at the turtle pond near to where we live.


Spoilered for size, these are all this years young.
 

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We also had these guys in our garden recently. Apparently they are the smallest birds in the UK, they live in the fir tree so we never usually see them but their young came down to the ground to learn to fly and we spent an afternoon watching them being fed and launching themselves off anything they could climb on to.

 

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We've got jays, goldfinches, tits, magpies, robins and wood pigeons around, there's also red kites and the occasional woodpecker. We moved a bit further towards the town last year, so we don't get quite as many birds any more. In our last place we had three owls, which we miss but we'd get woken up at dawn by a cacophonous chorus of birdsong, which we certainly don't!

 

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Cracking pictures. Those little birds are goldcrests. There are also firecrests which are a little rarer.

 

The great crested grebe with its young is fantastic too. So glad there are other bird lovers on here.

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We've been really lucky with the greebs this year, those pictures are actually three different pairs from different parts of the river, and the one nesting is actually sitting on two eggs that are yet to hatch.

 

Last year we only spotted one nest and we were checking almost daily but we never saw the chicks so we think something might have happened to them before they hatched. This year the nests were a lot more visible and the three little ones in the first picture are in a little quiet offshoot of the river, behind an island where there are a lot of small fish, but there's no boat traffic or predators so they just float around while mom and dad bring them food.

 

 

 

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Cracking photos of the Grebes, Gaz. Love those stripey youngsters you get at this time of year. And the Goldcrests too! The majority of the time you only ever hear them high up in a conifer, their call is a extremely high pitched seep mouse-like call. 

 

Speaking of this time of year it's always worth being extra vigilant for the next month or so - peak migration season so quite literally anything could be passing through. A few years back I was in Mull at this time when a Common Rosefinch (despite the name, a very scarce visitor to the UK) cropped up in our cottage garden for 20 or so mins. It's unfamiliar call was what drew me to peering out the back garden. It was just sitting there on a wire calling out. Brilliant experience and one I won't forget. Also will know if I ever hear that call again!

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Nice work with the Lesser Yellowlegs and the Green-winged Teal. Enjoyed the write up too. I haven't been out birding since Spring but reckon I'll have a lot more time on my hands this year for various reasons.

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On 1/12/2017 at 16:16, Gaz said:

I love that shot of the egret fishing.

 

 

                                                     

Thanks. I was watching it for around 25 minutes. Great experience although I had sore knees afterwards.

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On 1/12/2017 at 16:58, Jamin said:

Nice work with the Lesser Yellowlegs and the Green-winged Teal. Enjoyed the write up too. I haven't been out birding since Spring but reckon I'll have a lot more time on my hands this year for various reasons.

Cheers. I'm going to be a bit more active trying to get new birds this year, so hopefully they'll be plenty of interesting things to read. The rarer birds should bring more people too.

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Would a scope be compatible with lugging a camera and monster lens around? I guess you could share a tripod, but that's still a lot of glass.

P.S. pet peeve of mine - they're collared doves (on account of their collars), not collard doves (presumably from collard greens, a kind of kale popular in the US?).

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1 hour ago, Alexlotl said:

 


Would a scope be compatible with lugging a camera and monster lens around? I guess you could share a tripod, but that's still a lot of glass.

P.S. pet peeve of mine - they're collared doves (on account of their collars), not collard doves (presumably from collard greens, a kind of kale popular in the US?).

 

Yeah that's my concern, it wouldn't be practical to carry both around, so I'm not really sure what the solution is. Most birders have a decent scope and a bridge camera. I will get the dove spelled correctly, too.

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I've often wondered how birders get such sharp photos. So they use a bridge camera aimed down the sights of their telescope usually? And what setup do you use? (sorry for all the questions but I have always been intrigued by bird photography but have literally zero expertise with cameras at all).

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On 01/02/2017 at 10:29, Jamin said:

I've often wondered how birders get such sharp photos. So they use a bridge camera aimed down the sights of their telescope usually? And what setup do you use? (sorry for all the questions but I have always been intrigued by bird photography but have literally zero expertise with cameras at all).

It's typically because they spend a fortune on it :)

When I walk around Longham I usually carry my Canon 7DMKII (around £1200) along with a Canon 400mm f5.6 which cost me around £900.

That can get me shots like this.
29635308900_83e9ff09a2_b.jpgTawny Owl by Darran Jones, on Flickr

 

I have a bridge camera which cost me around 330 which I typically use for record shorts as I only find them to be really sharp unless you're virtually on top of the bird like this one.

31249625233_0f98914920_b.jpgExtreme close up! by Darran Jones, on Flickr

 

If I'm feeling strong or am going to a hide then I take my Canon 600mm prime lens which I paid £4000 for second hand (I've still got another year and a half to pay it off, but I'll have it for life and it holds its value well). Here's an example shot from a hide.

27894044310_72fcac13ca_h.jpgWaiting for a fish by Darran Jones, on Flickr

 

Finally a good prime lens will take a 1.4 teleconverter giving you more reach with very little drop in image quality (unless you're a pixel peeper). This is probably about a 35-40 percent crop of an image from around 15 meters. An official TC is typically around £300.

28251735575_7e1ce04fac_b.jpgThe littlest grebe by Darran Jones, on Flickr

 

You ideally want a tripod for all images as when you are dealing with big lenses the slightest vibrations (including mirror slap) can affect the image. I'm by no means an expert compared to some of the guys here, but I feel my bird shots are typically of a high standard (when I get all the bugger in focus).

 

A lot of guys swear by the £1000 Sigma lenses but I find zoom lenses are nowhere near as sharp as the primes.

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Just seen the waxwing update - lovely pics! I've been lucky enough to see them a couple of times, and they are gorgeous. I live in Leamington, and used to work in an office on the main road (the Parade). For reasons best known to waxwings they seem to fly along it on their migration from time to time. The first time I saw them there were just a couple perched on top of Wetherspoon's of all places, and they flew off shortly after - stayed just long enough for me to be sure what they were. The second time was almost exactly a year later - I happened to look out the office window and saw that the tree outside was full of them - must have been a couple of dozen. They rested there for several minutes, so I got a good long look. They seemed to be flicking their crests at each other - delightful to watch. The street below was packed with people completely oblivious that just above them was a sight many bird watchers would give their left nut for.

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you get them in all sorts of public places because they like the berries on the trees that are planted for decoration purposes. I've been hit by a combination of bad weather and work, so I am hoping to get out this weekend and create a new update. Hopefully you've been enjoying what you've read.

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Lovely picture of the reed bunting.

The Grebes near us have been doing their little dance next to the bridge I cross on the way to work so I've caught it a couple of times but I never have time to stop for long, and obviously no camera with me.

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Just now, Gaz said:

Lovely picture of the reed bunting.

The Greebs near us have been doing their little dance next to the bridge I cross on the way to work so I've caught it a couple of times but I never have time to stop for long, and obviously no camera with me.

Thanks. Ideally I should clean them up and get rid of spare branches etc, but I prefer it's more natural.

I've never seen grebes mating, so I'm quite annoyed I missed it. Will try again this weekend but fear I'm running out of time again.

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OK - today I saw one of our local herons land in the shallow river, and spend some time fishing, which was brilliant (I missed a shot of it with a fish in its beak - I'm gutted about that). But the thing I noticed was that after each time it had a stab at a fish there was a trail of heron-coloured "stuff" floating down the river, which I'd not seen before (I usually see them fishing on the fast-moving sluice near the weir, or on the opposite side of the river where it's quieter). My first guess was some kind of oil - but I doubt that  would be heron-grey. I've had a quick google and come up with nothing but then I don't know what I'm looking for. So I thought posting here might be a good start point. Here's the pic that best shows it (and if it had not been blurred would have been one of my best photos ever). The grey trail to the right of the heron that curves back in front of it - what the hell is that?

heronTrail01.jpg

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