Sunday, December 26, 2010

Icily does it.

Managed to get out a couple of times recently, despite my wussiness about the ice. On Tuesday, I went out to Bradfield on the bus, intending to walk home along Damflask Reservoir and the River Loxley, but the lure of Agden was too great, so I walked around the reservoir and was fulsomely rewarded with some fine landscape views as well as the reliably good wildlife. I managed to flush out what might have been a woodcock (or was it a snipe?), but it was way too fast for me. At the feeders, the usual array of blue tits, coal tits, great tits and eventually some brilliant long-tailed tids (my favourites - sooo cute!), blackbirds, robins, a single nuthatch  and the bank voles were obligingly coming out to feed on the bird seed, and towards the end of the walk, a brown hare was highlighted against the snow as the light began to fade. Getting a blackbird, a bank vole and a coal tit in one shot was a bit of a highlight for me, although I have to say, I'm proudest of the long-tailed tit pictures.
Yesterday, Christmas Day, with fond memories of last year and a dipper that made my day, I set off via an atmospherically frosty Walkley Cemetery, down to Rivelin Valley. With all the ice along the river, it really was most magical. I had not got too far along before I arrived at a spot where there were lots of birds flitting around so I set up base camp, took a few photos and has my hot drink and mince pie. I saw wrens, treecreepers, jays, goldcrests, and - wait for it - long tailed tits. Although I got photos of the jay and goldcrest, they were not brilliant, but the treecreeper and the wren were a bit better. As well as the birds, I also spotted, and had a pleasant chat with the family from across the road, who were also enjoying a Christmas Day stroll. Also, and with a degree of inevitability, I final ran into Roger Butterfield, a fellow Tweep, and Flickrer, and a wonderful photographer, with whom I've had quite a lot of communication, but never met in person, despite the fact he lives only a few hundred yards from me. (see links).
I also took quite a lot of shots of the icy river, and did a bit of experimenting with the guide setting, a new feature on my new camera body. which looks like a good learning tool, as well as a handy shortcut to advanced settings.
When I got home, I realised that I had got 2 key settings wrong, so the fact that I got some reasonable shots was really a bonus. No dippers this year, but I'm sure it won't be long before I see some again. I've booked myself on a couple of day courses to make me try harder to get the best out of my camera, rather than just stick in Auto, so that's all part of the plan for next year.
Happy New Year to everyone! I'm looking forward to even more wildlife watching in 2011.

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