Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Every little helps

I was most entertained, when visiting the local supermarket after work this evening, to see a large rat scuttling across the car-park.

It made me smile to think of the chaos a small mammal could cause if the shop's proprietors found out about it, or if any of my fellow shoppers spotted it...

Wildlife is everywhere, even in the most artificial, man-made of situations.




photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Printing photos

There's a special report in today's Guardian about the cheapest way to get digital photos printed. Apparently, less than 10% of photos taken actually get made into a print these days.

If you do want to print some, is it cheaper to do it yourself or go to the shops and have someone do it for you? Interesting reading.

Read the report here

Monday, February 20, 2006

A raid on the kitchen

And now for something completely different...

Big, fat red chilli from Zambia

Small, green 'finger' chillis from Kenya

Half a bulb of garlic, origin unknown

Got a bit bored this afternoon but the bright colours of the chillis caught my eye (not literally, that would be quite painful). I also like the more subtle charms of the garlic skin.

These photos were taken with the veg sitting on a white sheet of paper on my windowsill, while the low afternoon sun shone in. I balanced my camera-holding hand on the edge of the windowsill in an attempt to be a bit more steady. Not a very sophisticated set-up, but quite fun...

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Sunday, February 19, 2006

It's cold outside

'Welcome to the Nene Washes... Arctic tundra', said Jonathan as today's RSPB guided walk began at Eldernell.

That felt about right, as with a biting north-easterly wind and 100% cloud cover it felt grim indeed. We walked up to just past Lord's Holt to look over the reserve floods, and saw four Marsh Harriers and a selection of cold-looking wildfowl.

I was worried that people would start asking us for their money back because of the relative lack of birds (it's so much better on a sunny morning!), so we were relieved when the resident Barn Owl pair came out to hunt and flew right past us.

Thank goodness for Barn Owls.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Happy Birthday Darren.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Bring on spring...

Today is sunny and calm and there are flowers popping up in the garden. I can't wait for spring to get here properly.

I feel like I have a lot to look forward to this year. Of course, the same things happen every year at the same sites, and probably have done so for many decades... so why don't I make the most of them every year?

Don't know, really. Lack of time, I suppose.

This year should be different. I'm doing the 'Not Very Big Year' [list] with Darren and we have plans to see lots of nice things in nice locations.

Things like...
  • The seabird cliffs at Bempton
  • Capercaillie, eagles and Crested Tit in Scotland
  • Black Grouse (in Wales, perhaps)
  • Tasty upland things like Redstart, Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher
  • Dipper (anywhere with a Dipper is a nice location - even the grotty beck in Carlisle city centre where I think I saw my last one)
  • Displaying waders on the washes
  • 'Roding' Woodcock
  • 'Churring' Nightjars
So, you see, there is a lot to look forward to this year. Our year-listing aim is fairly simple - to try to see as many British breeding birds as possible - so we don't have to worry about whether we've missed the Ross's Gull or whatever.

I'd also like to see some new insects, which shouldn't be too hard, as I'm not very well-travelled, insect-wise. For example, I've only seen one fritillary species, Marsh Fritillary, and that was in Spain last May. There is a disappointing lack of fritillaries in this part of the country, and I'd like to see some more.

Hopefully there will be some good blog-fodder (both words and pictures) along the way, too.

digiscoped photo taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece

Saturday, February 11, 2006

American Wigeon

Did some dirty twitching today. Yes, some more...

We had fun waiting to see the American Wigeon at Needingworth or Barleycraft or Ouse Fen, whatever you want to call it. But eventually he played ball and we had reasonable views through the trees on one of the pits there. A truly beautiful bird, but unfortunately he soon disappeared from view and there were no photos to be had.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bathtime again

Back to the Lodge pond to try a bit more digiscoping. It didn't help that the pond was mostly frozen, but there was nothing I could do about that...

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Coal Tit


Starting to think I'm wasting my time trying to digiscope small stuff. They move too quickly!

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

White-fronted Geese at Roxton

click on the pics for bigger ones

We (me, Mark Ward and Lucinda King) enjoyed a successful twitch to Roxton for a skein of 27 White-fronted Geese this lunchtime.

Things didn't look too good to start with, as we drove in the direction of the infamous Black Cat roundabout, only to come across the horrible sight of about two miles of queueing traffic. Gahhhhh! Undaunted, we pressed on in the hope that we'd get to Roxton before it was time to go straight back to work again.

Fortunately, the delay wasn't too bad and we found the site OK. The first goose was saw was a lonely-looking Greylag - where were the Whitefronts? Would it turn out to be the worst lunchtime twitch ever?

Just as well it turned out to be our lucky day, and we viewed the geese from a comfortable distance as they fed in a newly-mown game cover strip (not sure what they were eating - probably maize).

Hooray for birding in Bedfordshire!

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20-60x eyepiece (thanks Mark!)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Lesser Scaup

Went over to RSPB Ouse Washes for a little light twitching - the Lesser Scaup which has been there for a while now.

Read more about it at The Not Very Big Year.