Thursday, 20 July 2017

Getting to grips with new gear.

At long last I finally decided it was time to upgrade from my trusty Canon 450D that has served me well for many years to something with a great deal more fire power and also add a macro lens to my tool box.

So earlier this week I paid an early morning visit to the lower chalk downland slopes at Juniper Bottom together with my new 80D and a 100mm f2.8L Macro lens in anticipation of finding some 'flutters' to photograph.

Whilst the temperature was a reasonable 19 deg.C there was a blustery wind and nothing appeared to be on the wing until I spotted a lonely male Marbled White hunkered down in the grass.

Over the following twenty minutes it constantly flitted around the hillside rarely stopping to perch for a second or two but finally came to rest long enough to test the new set up.

As the morning wore on I found a few other species.

A male Common Blue.

And fairly close by was a female Common Blue (below).

When the sun disappeared behind the clouds I turned my attention to the varied selection of wild flowers scattered over the grassland.

Attaching an extension tube to the macro lens gave me an opportunity to test its use with some close-ups of Knapweed bracts (below).

A male Small Skipper.

A chance find was this Silver-Spotted Skipper hiding close to my feet and I only managed one shot before it flew away never to be seen again!

There were plenty of Six-spot Burnets all over the grassland.
One species I was hopeful of seeing was the Dark Green Fritillary (below). I followed several up and down the slope for what seemed ages before getting just one shot of this individual as it perched briefly.

Having reviewed all the images taken during this test excursion I am very pleased with the outcome and performance of the new gear ... just need to get used to the different button layout on the 80D and maybe read the instruction manual. FAB.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

R.I.P. Don.

It has been a rollercoaster ride over the past few weeks for my wife Anita and her close family culminating in the passing away on Monday morning in the very early hours of my Father-in-Law, Donald Reginald Cox (1929 - 2017), following a very eventful time in hospital.

The Nursing Staff at the Royal Berkshire are to be commended for their helpfulness, dedication and compassion. Despite their constant demanding routine nothing was too much trouble for an ailing patient or his concerned siblings.

I have fond memories of much better times including several holidays that we shared together with him and his late wife, Jean. His final passing was a blessed relief for both him and his immediate family to whom I offer my sincere condolences.

R.I.P. Don.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Birding on Lake Kerkini (Part 2).

So here is the continuation to my previous post Birding on Lake Kerniki (Part 1).

Leaving the drowned forest our guide and boatman quietly drifted within range of one the lakes' iconic species, the Dalmatian Pelican, a globally endangered species that I had last encountered during two visits to Bulgaria along the Black Sea coast some ten years ago.

Dalmatian Pelican.

Just one gentle flap to change its perching location.

This species which needs secluded islands on which to breed has historically suffered massive declines due to wetland drainage, persecution and disturbance of breeding birds. Whilst regularly present on Lake Kerniki outside the breeding season they had not bred here due to the lack of suitable nesting habitat. In 2002 funds allowed a small wooden platform to be built and in the following Spring seven pairs nested but disturbance by local fishermen, including scavenging wood, resulted in nesting failure.

During 2003 the original platform was enlarged and a second was constructed resulting in 20 pairs breeding in 2004 producing over 20 young and in 2005 about 50 pairs raised 55 fledglings. Similar numbers fledged annually until 2010 when new extended platforms permitted 120 chicks to fledge successfully and was the first recorded expansion of the Dalmatian’s breeding range in more than 150 years.

Sub-adult Dalmatian Pelican.

The breeding population of Dalmatian currently numbers around 250 pairs with maybe another 100 birds present in total and Kerkini is now the most important winter roosting site in the whole of Europe for this species.

From a distance the much newer rock platforms look just like a white upturned boat hulls. Only when you get closer is it possible to discern the numbers of Pelicans in residence.

For such a large bird I am always amazed at how effortlessly they are able to glide just above the water. Dalmatian (above) and White Pelican (below).

With Lake Kerniki traditionally being such a fertile feeding site White Pelicans that nest at Prespa, over 300km away, regularly make daily excursions here to feed. In 2016 White Pelican bred successfully at Kerniki for the first time with 11 pairs raising six chicks. Up to 2000 of them pass through the lake from March to September.

White Pelican in breeding plumage.

Time seemed to pass for too quickly during this enjoyable wildlife experience and I  subsequently wished I had taken more photographs ... maybe I will just have to go back.

In the meantime my sincere thanks go to Nikos our local host, guide and boatman.


Linking to:
Nature Notes
Wild Bird Wednesday 


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