Friday, December 17, 2010

Splashing and splurging

Since the last lot of snow, pretty much all of my organised activities have been cancelled. I've done a few more local walks - Rivelin and Loxley Valleys in even deeper snow. It was nice to get into Loxley Valley again as it's been a while. As I was walking from home, I didn't get very far, but that didn't matter as there was plenty to see. The first highlight was a flock of long-tailed tits, and a wren by the first dam. I decided to head for an area where on my last visit I had seen kingfishers and grey wagtails. No such luck on these, but possibly even better, as I was entertained for about half an hour by a lovely dipper going about it's daily business.

As I climbed up the steep bank above the river, I got some good views of 3 jays amongst the trees, and a couple of treecreepers.
After a few days at home, the snow began to clear and I ventured out to Manchester for a wander round the Christmas Market, which I think is one of the best. and then along the Sheffield Canal to Blackburn Meadows SWT Reserve. There is always plenty to see along this stretch, and as well as the ubiquitous long-tailed tits, I was rewarded with sightings of kestrel, goosander, song thrush, goldfinch and a squirrel doing a circus act using one of the pipes across the canal as a bridge.
I'd been toying with the idea of getting a new camera body and when I noticed that mine was in need of cleaning, I went up to the camera shop to explore my options. To cut a long story short, it cost me a lot less than I was expecting to upgrade and I now have a higher spec camera which is actually simpler to use. One feature is that it is supposed to perform better in low light, so the following day I paid a long overdue visit to Old Moor to really put it to the test. It was a grim day: one of those where it never seems to get light, but in spite of this I saw a good number of birds, and the camera stood up well to this test. No masterpieces, but some good record shots in very poor light, so I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do in better light. Here's a shot I got of a brambling - a first sighting and a first photo with the new camera.

I had hoped to go waxwing chasing again today. Lots of reports still in the area, but I wussed out as it was icy on the pavements after another snowfall yesterday. At least I can stay in the warm watch birds at the garden feeders and draw them, even if I don't get out to see them. I've added a few more drawings to the drawings page. I'm hoping for more snow - the forecast is for sub-zero temperatures - at least I can do local walks in the snow, whereas the icy pavements make getting out and about no fun at all.

1 comment:

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely photos, dippers are one of my favourite birds to watch, they're very entertaining. I've very rarely seen bramblings.