Tuesday 28 November 2023

Slimbridge, late November 2023

Third visit to WWT Slimbridge on a quiet Monday. Weather was overcast with drizzle.  The Rushy pen was busy with winter birds and plenty of their curated waterfowl collection available to spot on the various ponds.


Common Eider

Red breasted Merganser


Tufted duck







The Aviary was interesting to walkthrough as always but I noticed a couple of concerning issues.  There was only one Little Egret visible and it did not look well, and two of the waders, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit had broken/deformed beaks.


There is never a dull moment with a group of Lapwings. They seem to spook very easily and are always bickering.  These were on the Rushy Pen.

Portbury Wharf NR, November 2023

Portbury Wharf nature reserve is almost directly on the route from Seaton to Slimbridge, so I stopped there to try and catch a Black necked Grebe on the North Pool.

Success, although the bird was reluctant to come into view from the hide, and when it did it was rather distant.  It seemed to be keeping company with a Little Grebe. One of two Little Grebes visible on the water.

A Kingfisher made a brief, 30 second, appearance before shooting off.

Friday 17 November 2023

Winter cruise with BOPH part 2, November 2023

Aside from the White Tailed Eagles and the usual harbour fauna. We spotted Spoonbills, Great Northern Divers, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Eider and a Kingfisher near the pier.




Winter cruise with BOPH part 1, November 2023

A winter cruise with BOPH was its usual informative three hours trip round the expanse of Poole harbour. Towards the end of the cruise, the White-tailed eagles, G463 and G466, attempted to hunt a Cormorant in the rapidly falling light.

Huge birds and great to think / hope that they will stay in the Poole area and attempt to breed in 2024 or 2025.


Thursday 16 November 2023

Devon & Dorset October/November 2023

Two ‘ticks’ on this trip.  


A birder at the Seaton Wetlands recommended the footpaths around Branscombe village sewage works as a good site for Goldcrest in the winter.  The first visit failed but the second with a bit of prolonged lurking in the trees on the east path produced several Goldcrests, one of which I was able to photograph. Tricky conditions and a flighty bird but still very pleased.


Male Black Redstart

There have been serveral reports of Redstarts in the wider area but none seemed to 'stayers'. However a male and female pair were reported over several days in Portland so, as I was passing, I took the opportunity to look.  Both were found quickly but only stayed for two minutes before heading off further into Portland.  Great to see nevertheless.




Tuesday 14 November 2023

Phalarope, late October 2023

I visited the Lower Otter Restoration project, hoping to see a warbler. Unfortunately, it was high tide, and the water covered a substantial amount of the designated walkway.  At the end of the path, where it would normally cross the ‘drain’ to the west path, there were a large number of gulls, a few ducks, and a Grey Phalarope. The first one I have seen. A small but very busy shorebird.






Sunday 5 November 2023

AI Generative Erase: An easy option for casual editing?

I’m not fond of spending a lot of time tweaking my photos. And that is particularly true when unwanted elements in the picture need to be removed.  Cloning is often very exacting and therefore time consuming, if you are a novice like myself.

Luminar Neo is my current editor, as its sliders offer simple ways to enhance the image without resorting to layers etc. (Note that other software packages are available and no doubt just as clever.)  Skylum have just introduced an AI Generative Erase tool, which I believe is based on Stable Diffusion.  Within limitations, it does a fantastic job of erasing part of an image and inserting a suitable, contextually accurate, replacement.  All the hard work is done by an online server, so the results may take some time to appear back on your desktop.

The limitations are the pixel dimensions of the object to be erased, and the complexity of the object to be removed e.g. jessies on a falcon in flight that cross over the bird, the background and possibly a perch in the same image. So far, I have found the best approach is a step-by-step erasure, one small piece at a time, followed by a minor bit of cloning to tidy up the image.

Below are a couple of examples of removing jessies from Eagle owls, photographed at a falconry centre workshop recently.  I’m pleased with the results. They are not pixel perfect, but as they will only ever be desktop backgrounds, they don’t have to stand detailed scrutiny by experts.

Original picture

Edited version

 Original picture

 Edited version



Slimbridge, late November 2023