Further experiments with my new lens.

There was a bit of blue in the sky, I was not at work today and I have a new telephoto lens; no more excuse needed for a trip to the Country Park.

I was interested to see how well the lens would perform with a bit more light than is available in our north facing garden, particularly after I dropped it on some concrete slabs! (It still appears to function, and, if anything, the image stabiliser and autofocus seem to be somewhat quieter!) I have also hankered after getting some shots of the goosanders that arrive each Winter.

The Country Park seemed to be busier in terms of people rather than birds, and I did notice a few female goosanders in one of the more sheltered areas where I hadn’t seen them in the past (and where I could not get a decent shot due to the number of trees growing at the edge of the water).

When we made it to the dam I was a little disappointed to find that the usual group of males and females was not there this time, my opportunity for wildlife photographer of the year had vanished! However, further along the reservoir I did spot a lone female and managed to get a few shots, one of which was not too bad for an early attempt (not great either, but I was pleased to get a shot).

Female Goosander

I’ve got a new lens.

Just a quick post because I am excited by my new present, a telephoto lens.  I bought the lens primarily because I wanted to take some shots for this blog, and so I finally bit the bullet and spent some money.  As I finished early for Christmas today, I thought I would try it out, although the light is apalling and there were no birds in the garden (whenever I get a camera out they all do a bunk).

Imagine my surprise when, camera in hand, a jay flew into the garden (I had the camera, not the jay).  I feel doubly lucky because I have never seen a jay in the garden before.  The pictures aren’t great (a bit blurred), but, I was hand holding the camera and for some reason, I hadn’t turned the image stabiliser on!


I then had the opportunity to photograph a greenfinch (it looks a bit stripy so I think it may be one of this year’s).  The results are shown below, OK, not perfect, but as you can see, it was quite dark, and I had to zoom in quite a bit. (This time the image stabiliser was turned on.)

Greenfinch    Greenfinch close up

There is a long way to go, but I am quite pleased with my new lens (although it is a little noisy – no chance of sneaking up on any unsuspecting birds with this lens), I am just hoping for some better light over the Christmas period.

The rest of the Winter guests have arrived for the party.

Just a quick update today on my birdwatching quest. For some weeks I have been on the lookout for the more obvious Winter visitors, fieldfares and redwings, which seem to have been regularly seen in the county for the last few weeks.

Following a week of frost and grey skies the weekend was surprisingly bright (and even quite warm in the sunshine). A walk into town along the old railway track yielded lots of birds (in contrast with a fortnight ago) but no overtly European visitors. (By this I mean that many of the finches, robins etc may be visiting from the continent, but I would never know.) The main surprise was a female blackcap. These are warblers that usually migrate south for the Winter, but in recent years more and more seem to be found in the UK in the Winter (although these may also be continental visitors).

A trip to the Country Park saw about 14 Goosander, as well as the usual gulls and ducks, but not many small birds. The highlight of the afternoon was watching a sparrowhawk being mobbed by a crow and chased off into nearby shrubs.

Sunday, another sunny day, not an opportunity to be missed. We went for a walk to the north of Daventry to an area where we had seen flocks of redwings and fieldfares last year when doing a bird survey. There were lots of small birds squeaking in the shrubs, but not the longed for redwings. We wandered towards the canal (mainly because we hadn’t been there for a while), still nothing. Finally, on the way back towards Daventry we think we saw a lone fieldfare flying overhead, a small triumph even if we had to go halfway to Braunston to find one.

Redwings? The final piece of the winter puzzle fell into place on my way back to work this lunchtime when I spotted one redwing sitting in the sea buckthorn, looking as though it wished it were somewhere else. (I also got really close to two goldcrests that were darting about some trees, almost oblivious to me, making small squeaks that almost sounded like tiny tinkling bells – something to brighten the dreariest of Mondays.)

Bare Winter Tree Against a Blue Sky