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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.


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Togetherness

Still can't get near enough for some decent pics, still much too far away, so I must be patient. In the meantime I will watch and wait. I like this shot because it is the first time I have been able to identify the difference between the male and female. The male is known as the tiercel which means two thirds. The male being the smaller, two thirds the size of the female.With her extra size and weight she defends the nest against predators while the male being smaller and more agile does the hunting.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Peregrine nest ?

I passed the peregrines today and noticed a bit off action, so always having my camera with me I stopped the car and and went for a climb. It was wet and slippery so I decided discretion was the better part of valour and didn't go too far. I was near enough to catch this bird about to land on a ledge. On loading it on to the computer I noticed a few twigs. I wonder if this is their new nest site.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Badger

A few years ago a very good friend invited me to photograph the badgers in his garden. I sat on his veranda with a floodlight on and as you can see it was pouring with rain. I hadn't sat there for long when this badger appreared just a few feet from me to sample a mixture of peanut and oats.
Totally ignoring me he got stuck into his meal, the oats now  turning to mush due to the pouring rain.
The bowl was almost at my feet but it didn't seem to bother him.
When he had finished he glanced up at me with a satisfied look on his face as much to say 'I enjoyed that'. 
I learned a lot that evening about animal behaviour. There is no such thing as taming a wild animal, it's trust.
Getting a wild animal to trust you is easy if you have time and patience. Regular meetings with a titbit in your pocket and they soon learn that you can be trusted. I have succeded with a number of creatures including birds. At the moment I am working with foxes, hedgehogs and a pair of blackbirds.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Much closer

It was a miserable afternoon but I thought 'What the hell' at my age I might not get another chance so of I went down to the quarry. I parked the car, grabbed my gear and set off to make the climb and as you can see it was well worth it. I would have stayed longer and got a lot more pictures but I was getting wet and at my age it could be disasterous so I decided now that I know it can be done I shall wait till the sun shines.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Peregrines

 As the peregrines were so active yesterday I though another trip to see them would not go amiss. I waited for about half an hour with not seeing anything when all of a sudden all hell broke loose and the pair appeared with one with a kill in its talons.
 They dissappeared behind the trees for a few moments before reappearing much lower and well within the range of my camera. This one seemed to have part of the kill in its beak.
After darting in and out of the trees for a while they vanished to devour their supper in some quiet spot.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Getting ready for spring

I have spent the last few weeks preparing my garden for the arrival of spring. Planting trees ( fruit and berries)  for the birds to feed on and roost in. Nest boxes, for robin, sparrow and tits and any other species that would care to live here. I had a rest from the chores today and popped down to the quarry to see how the peregrines were doing. The pair were busy mating at the top of the cliff, I tried to grab my camera quickly to get the shot but by the time I had set it up it was too late and all I got was the male departing. The foxes and hedgehogs have been regular visitors to my garden right through the winter showing up on my infra-red camera's most nights. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Barn owls

A few years ago I was told of the barn owls were nesting at Pulborough Brooks in a special box in the roof of the building. This was  my first encounter and photo's of this photogenic bird.
I was keen to see more and found this one near Selsey but alas it was my only siting. After several visits I never saw it again.
But not giving up that easily I scoured the countryside and was amazed how successful I was in the number of nest sites I found. Some were less than a mile from my home.
I became addicted to photographing barn owls and was out every afternoon and evening visiting local sites with my camera. They are a creature of habit and have favourite haunts so in fact you can just sit and wait for them to turn up.
Soon you become something that the owl gets used to and accepts you as the norm and will ignore you. I have had one that used to fly to me and sit on a post and watch me.
Low light photography seems to enhance the pictures.
 Because of their slow wing beat and movement through the air they become easy to get good action shots.
Will often sit and pose.
This was taken early evening just as the sun was setting.
Conditions and timing was the same for this shot.

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.