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Friday, 26 May 2017

Barn owl

 Last night with nothing much to do I thought I would check on the peregrines, still not sure if they have young. When just as I was about to leave having packed all my gear into the car this barn owl appeared.
I quickly grabbed my camera and took these shots before it vanished into the woods.
 Wrong lens, wrong camera settings and failing light and with just a few seconds to get the shots off.
Still, now I know where to look and at what time so I shall be waiting with everything set up correctly and I bet it doesn't turn up.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Unbelievable!

I found this scene extraordinary, not that the peregrine was so close to the rabbit, the peregrine would be little threat to it, but the rabbit was half way up a cliff with no signs of how it got there. It must have fallen over the cliff edge, some 100ft down and survived and there it was having a meal quite unconcerned on how it was going to get back up, or down as the case may be.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Peregrines

Rarely do I catch both the male and female together. Its either one or the other. This leads me to believe that they have a nest nearby with young in it. First the male will feed then the female will arrive and have her lunch while the male stands by.
 She has what she wants.
Then flies off to the nest to feed her young. The trouble is that when she does this she disappears from view and I don't see her again.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

My evening walk.

I went for my usual evening walk. The pain killers that I have to take for my gout were working well today. On the way I found this bullfinch having a good time in a crab apple tree. There was a female with him but she was shy and kept herself hidden.
Egyptian goose was a bird that I hadn't seen for a long time when I came across this pair. After a lot of noise and wing flapping the male failed to interest the female and so they went their different ways.
It was a different matter with this pair of black backed gulls. After chasing her around for half an hour he finally got his way. When he had finished he just flew off into the sunset and left her sitting all alone.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Missing the shorties

One of the classic birds that I get each winter is the short-eared owl which I love to photograph but this winter they didn't come. They usually arrive late in the year and stay until spring. This year I spent a lot of time through the winter months looking for them but no such luck. These pictures were taken  last year when we had about ten birds locally.
 They are quite used to people walking their dogs and will fly quite close. They are usually active in the early afternoon and late into the evening.
 This one, after I had taken several shots passed over me just a few feet above my head.
I am posting these pictures as it is so quiet nature-wise and I have a lot of difficulty finding anything to photograph. The local peregrines are confusing me as to whether they are nesting or not. I rarely see them as a pair, mainly just the male so the female could be sitting but I can find no trace of the nest site. I shall keep looking.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Pond again

In view of the changing weather conditions today I ventured no further than the village pond. As usual there was lots going on, mainly mallards and canada geese with the odd gull here and there. I sat in the car with my camera on the window ledge when this black-headed gull decided to pose for me just a few yards from the car.
This mallard duckling seemed to be on its own unperturbed by all that was going on around it. I 've seen  many of this size taken by gulls, herons and crows as a meal. I don't think it will be around in the morning.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Heron

In a bit of a twist
On the way to check on the peregrines I passed our local pond and found that the heron had returned after an absence of several months.
The pond is now dominated by several pairs of canada geese which seem to annoy him somewhat and he spent a lot of his time shouting at them. The geese had young and as a heron is rather partial to a gosling for his supper he might have been trying to scare the parents off.
Occasionally a fish caught his eye which changed his tune a bit.
After an unsuccesful dip he climbed back up to his perch and shook the water off.


Friday, 14 April 2017

Peregrines at dinner

 This is the male bringing home a wood pigeon for dinner. The male has more darker tips to its feathers in the upper chest region than the female.
 I had decided to leave them alone for a while but I could not resist the opportunity today to get in close. It certainly paid off. Lots of activity but I still don't know if they are going to produce this year or not.
 Wood pigeon was on the menu today. This is the female.
 The male took a piece and sat some distance away to enjoy it by himself.
 The female had the lions share and was closer to me often looking at me but taking no notice.
This all happened in about ten minutes after which I had got all the photo's I needed so I left them to enjoy their meal.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Local walk

Red legged partridge is a bird that I rarely saw but since moving into the country it is more commonly seen than a house sparrow, in fact I havn't seen a house sparrow  in my village for months but a partridge I see every day.
I only went for a short walk from my house and as I was taking a photograph of the partridge a peregrine flew over my head and I was more than 5 miles from the nest site which I had decided to give it a miss this evening and go in the opposite direction.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Barn owl

I paid my regular trip to the peregrines, still hoping to see some sign of nesting. I had my multi lens set-up on the camera and had just started to pack it all away as the light was fading when I saw way over the other side of the marsh a barn owl emerge from the trees. I laid the camera on the roof of the car and took several shots thinking that I would be very lucky if  any of them were any good. 250m away and this is the best of them so tomorrow I shall be going prepared. From the spot where I park the car in the past 12 months I have seen marsh harrier, red kite, buzzard, kestrel, short-eared owl, now barn owl and of course the peregrines. What more could I want?

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Peregrine update.

I have been experimenting with my Sony A77 with various settings. It has a built-in 2 time coverter to which I have added a 1.4  converter on a 3/4 lens and on a full frame camera it works out at something like 40 times magnification. These shots are the result. The camera laid on the roof of my car propped up on my binoculars. The bird was over 200m away.
This is the female which I understand is a young inexperienced bird and it is likely to have abandoned the nest because of the many corvids interfering. We shall just have to wait and see.
In the meantime I will make regular checks on them and keep my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

First visitor

Whilst waiting for a bit of action from the peregrines I spotted in the corner of my eye, flitting about in the brambles, my first willow warbler of the year.
The peregrines are still hanging about. They have been mating on several occasions over the past few weeks and still no sign of having chosen a nest site. The female hangs about all day while the male brings her the food.
When she flies it is no longer than a few seconds in the air often coming back to the same spot. Other peregrines in the area are sitting on eggs but not this pair.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Fallow deer

These are fallow deer, a variety  which is quite common in the area in which I live. They can vary in colour from white through stages of brown to black. We have all colours here in Sussex.
While I was viewing a newly found heronry I was being watched by these two. Normally fallow deer are found in herds but these two seem to prefer each others company.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Peregrins mating

 I know I said I would leave the peregrines alone for a while but I paid a visit yesterday afternoon just to check everything was OK. As always my camera was in the car and I was treated to close ups of peregrine mating. I won't bore you with all the pictures I took.
 The female sat in a tree waiting and watching for the male to return.
When he did they both flew up to a ledge and in two minutes it was all over.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Peregrines

 I know I said I would lay off the peregrines for a while but I am having a bit of camera trouble so I visited the peregrines to do some test shots. I am glad I did because these are what I got. This first shot you can really see the difference in size between the male and female.
Over 100m away and he heard the camera click.
 I think he had something on his mind sitting for quite some time with one talon in the air.
I shall now give them a rest  for a bit and give them a chance to breed.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Peregrines again

I promise no more peregrines for a while unless I get something really good. You can't blame me when you have got such a magnificent bird so close to home sometimes flying over it. I just had to post these pics as this is the closest I have got so far.
Still not sure which is which. I think this is the male looking up at the female. Please correct me if I am wrong.

More peregrines

The camera set up that I use for these shots is equal to about 30X magnification or a lens of about 1470mm.
It takes a bit of getting used to. For the the static shots I rest the set up on the roof of the car or on the window ledge if I am inside. The flight shots are hand held. I rarely use a tripod or monopod so there is a bit of luck involved and a lot of pics are discarded.
The birds are so far away they are difficult to see with the naked eye, I estimate about 200m. I am hoping to get a lot nearer.
Checking on another nest site a metre or so from the last one.


Mike Attwood - Photographer

About Me

My photo
Evacuated during the second world war to a village in Yorkshire where I lived in the home of a good photographer for more than five years who taught me the basics and a great deal about nature. Well past retirement age I have been a wildlife photographer for more than 30 years. Red Kites have been my speciality for much of this period. I did spend several years snapping wheelchair athletes and organizing the British Road Race Championship. In the year 2000 I was awarded a distinction by the Royal Photographic Society for my portfolio on wheelchair athletes. Most of my pics are digital, using Sony cameras and Sigma lenses. I used to spend many weeks each year with friends in Wales which is close to the Elan Valleys where I got many of my raptor pics. I now get these pictures more closely to home, specially red kites and peregrines. I support my pension by selling my pics, cards, coasters, fridge magnets and key rings etc. at craft fairs, something I wish I had done much earlier in life. I give illustrated talks to clubs and societies on wildlife and other branches of photography that I have been involved in.