Norfolk. October 2012.

 My Dad, Sarah and I went up to the norfolk coast to try and connect with some of the birds coming in on the east coast. The wind had a definite chill to it and as usual the un-forecast rain was a burden. We headed to Burnham Staithe to try and connect with the Arctic warbler that had been frequenting the area and also report of a 'Locustella' species. But typically neither were to be bloody seen, I can still hear the wife in my ear "its you isn't it".
 We headed to Stiffkey and decided to see what was around. It was obvious there were lots of birds coming in still, and the thrushes were in huge numbers. Ring Ouzel was a name that kept cropping up in conversation with other birders, and we did not miss out, with a few showing well on the campsite, along with Blackbird,Redwing,Fieldfare,Song Thrush,Mistle Thrush it was a grand Thrushfest. Not connecting with the Yellow browed warbler was a shame but soon forgotten with 4 Black Redstarts turning up. All in all it was a good old birding day.

Wader Spectacle. Snettisham. October 2012.

 Sarah, my dad and I travelled up to Snettisham, Norfolk for the wader spectacle in October. The high tide forecast brought in the waders by the thousands, and there were a couple of hundred birders too. We arrived for first light and upon reaching the sea wall could already see many waders out ion the decreasing mud flats of the wash.
 As we headed along to the far end of the reserve, the flocks started to gather and amass in huge shoals flowing along the flats as they were continually pushed in by the approaching tide.
 The light was awful, that did not spoil things, I knew the images would be dull or edited to black and white, but that was not important, it was capturing this event of amazement and show the sheer brilliance of it.
 As the masses grew every minute, the flocks would take flight and twist and turn as one, how they co-ordinate themselves is unbelievable, they are packed so tight together.
 As the last segments of mud remained the waders start to head inland onto the reserve banks. The hundreds of thousands of waders filter overhead and then disappear below the grass banks in front of the hides. I left it too late to be able to gain access into the hides, instead I waited for the flight shows from the footpaths around. 
 You just cannot capture the feeling you experience on camera, the flocks fill your entire field of view. I took some shots as they quickly appeared above the bank before spiralling down out of sight.

 There are flocks taking to the air all around you, I didn't know what way to point the lens sometimes, and other times I just stared at them taking in their shapes and sounds trying to absorb every last bit of it.

 Then after some time of relative quietness, they once again take to the air, this time heading back out onto the mud flats where the tide is already receding. 

 As they head out some gather into wonderful shapes, passing over the heads of the watching birders. And as they move back out to the flats they take a more direct route straight overhead and very low, the noise of their wing beats are mesmerising, I couldn't help but just smile and watch this wonder of the world.

 And then its back to normality with the thousands back out feeding on the mud, until that is when a predator arrives on the scene. In the image below the flocks took to the air as a Great Skua passed through. I know I will definitely be back for more and next time I will make sure I get to the hide earlier.

Pectoral Sandpiper.Kelling Water Meadow.Norfolk Oct 2012.

 Sarah and I spent a couple of nights away in Norfolk, we moved around the north coast line throughout the two days there and planned on some general birding. Thanks to the 'oh so accurate' weather reports it did not go to plan, we were soaked at Titchwell and blown off our feet at Salthouse. Still we ventured out, but did not connect with the Yellow browed warbler at Wells. The cloud descended and the showers continued so we decided to head to Kelling water meadow to try for the Pectoral Sandpiper there. And although looking into the sun (when it showed) the wader showed very well. I grabbed some shots as the sun started to set, it was moving amongst the clumps of mud and grasses feeding well. So despite the weather this little wader definitely brightened our day.

Red Deer of Richmond Park. October 2012.

 With a few sightings of Hobby and increasing numbers of gulls, there was not much else at Bev's or worth travelling to see nearby, I took the opportunity to get back down to Richmond Park for some more Red Deer images. This time I was joined by my wife Sarah and Abby again.With a sunny start and plenty of stags around it looked promising.
 There was a lot more movement around the main harem of hinds, defended by the dominant one still holding ground. But the number of younger stags in the vicinity had increased from the previous visit. The tension could be felt as one stag split the 'main man' the others would then race into the group of hinds sending them in all directions. It would then take a while to get them rounded up again before calm was restored, for a time.

 The strong light gave against the grasses and bracken would give off some harsh light but in some I think added to the shots, so I tried to get some different images.
 The stags would rest up in the long grasses or move through the woodland ferns giving some alternative antler photos.

 At times the stags would rake up the bracken and grass creating showy head attire. 

 Nearer mid day the main group of stags rested up, but even though lying down they would still re-affirm their  presence by roaring away. 
 Some of the stags are huge and magnificent, and being in such close vicinity to people would give some great chances of deer photography, but you have to still respect these wild mammals and work with them, a great experience and I look forward to the next visit.

Roars from the fog. October 2012.

 For the first time I visited Richmond Park, London for the Red Deer rut. Accompanied by my step daughter Abby, we arrived if foggy conditions. We found the car park and set off across the fields, it was an eerie feeling with all the roaring of the deer around you but unable to actually see any of them through the fog.
The strong orange glow of the sun eventually gave up the parks wildlife and it wasn't long before we were surrounded by plenty of stags and hinds. There was one stag that was obviously the dominant one around, with around 20 hinds in his harem he had his job cut out keeping the younger stags away, but he was so strong none of them would hang around when challenged.
The younger stags would watch from the relative safety of the woods. 
 Two younger stags battle it out.
 The latest fashion in deer head garments.
The 'Dominant one' re-affirms his status by roaring continually.