Monday 28 July 2014

Russia preview

A dearth of coverage about the above trip on here admittedly, but the past month or so has seen me slowly processing photographs and writing the trip report in my limited free time. The trip report is gradually nearing completion and I should have it online for reading by mid-August, available on the blog as normal.

A few tasters in the meantime; a full album of images does currently reside on Flickr which is available for viewing - here's the link.

Thursday 24 July 2014

More orchids

Since returning from Russia, my birding has been limited to the Great Knot twitch and the odd bits and bobs seen while on forays for non-avian targets - results have not really advanced much beyond the odd Yellow-legged Gull and Spoonbill.

Flowers, on the other hand, continue to be a source of inspiration for excursions in what has been a very pleasantly warm and settled July so far. That said, the morning I traipsed round Holkham looking for Creeping Lady's-tresses was frankly miserable - damp, dreary and definitely depressing, at least until I stumbled upon my quarry. Which were fantastic!

Creeping Lady's-tresses: most just opening up, but this one already looking great

This week on what was a very warm Monday, I popped down to a Surrey reserve not too far from me for Narrow-lipped Helleborine, another news species for my burgeoning 'orchid list' (if I kept such a thing). Given it's a small site and many of the orchids are caged, it didn't take long to locate them. This species is about the only thing going in the darkness of the beechwood understory, and photographing them in low light is actually quite difficult with such slow shutter speeds on the macro lens - especially if there's a light breeze blowing the plants about, as there was that morning. As such I improvised by using the torch on my iPhone to illuminate the plants, naturally giving better lighting and improved shutter speed.

Narrow-lipped Helleborine in all its glory

In an open area nearby, Broad-leaved Helleborines were looking spectacular - not quite at their best (which will come in the next week or so), but impressive nonetheless. Many were approaching peak condition and a number of the plants were impressively altitudinous; one particularly regal and imposing specimen must have been at least a metre tall.

Broad-leaved Helleborine in fine fettle

It's getting towards the end of the orchid season now but I've had some most enjoyable mornings out this spring and summer, visiting many sites I'd not been previously (and would probably never visit anyway). With plenty more targets for next year (plus some species revisited, no doubt), there's still no shortage of stuff to go at.

More images at my Flickr page:

Monday 14 July 2014

Great Knot!

A brief post to break the duck, here are a few photos of the Great Knot at Breydon Water today. Initially not on show at all, Kit Day and I grabbed an hour-long nap in the sun before the bird happily reappeared on the ebbing tide. It was, as birds so often are at Breydon, bloody distant initially but you could nevertheless make out just about everything you'd want to see - the largely black underparts spangled with pale gold, the black-spotted upper flanks, dark grey head, black chest and white underparts. It was also a hefty bird - as Kit said, a bird that looked familiar but different at the same time. After a while, it flew west and was relocated showing well on the Suffolk side of the channel some 1.5 miles west of the rugby club. Here, views were much better - down to 100m or so - and I managed a few handheld shots below.

If I had a better camera (my old one has been dropped countless times and it should be clear from the below that it has evidently suffered as a result) and a more steady hand, I suspect some half-decent records might have been possible.