Monday 30 October 2023

Purple Heron, October 2023

Travelling from Witney to Seaton presented the opportunity to try for a Purple Heron at Whelford Pools, WWT Slimbridge and finally a Squacco Heron near RSPB Ham Wall.

There was nothing of close interest at Slimbridge and the Squacco Heron was as elusive as it was the last time I looked, but the Purple Heron was magnificent.

I have been lucky enough to have seen one before at Seasalter, although it was a distant view and partially hidden by reeds.  They are much more secretive that Grey Herons or Egrets, almost at Bittern levels of sneakiness.

The hide a Whelford was perfectly set up and after 15 minutes of waiting, the bird appeared.  Fortunately it was not disturbed by the loud chatting by two of the local birders!


Tuesday 24 October 2023

Hothfield Osprey, Oct 2023

An Osprey was reported by a keen-eyed birder on his local patch, at the Hothfield fishing lake on Waterfall Lane. 40 minutes later, we there and the bird still showing, if a bit distant from the available viewing area.

It was an unringed bird, presumably a juvenile. As the Osprey that was seen this time last year at Appledore was also thought to be a juvenile, it is unlikely to be the same bird. Juveniles typically take a year out, feeding in hotter climates.

A good looking bird, as are all Osprey.  A second visit produced more shots, including catching the bird in flight.


Saturday 14 October 2023

Birding road trip, October 2023

A casual birding road trip in October, starting with a Rutland Water, followed the next day by a Raptor photography workshop near Market Harborough, then WWT Slimbridge before arriving in Seaton. While in Seaton, I made two excursions, BOPH Autumn cruise and RSPB Ham Wall. Both were fairly quiet, especially Ham Wall.

Rutland water

No late Osprey this year, but 12 GW Egrets were showing at the Crake hide.



A large, professional and educational wetland centre.

BOPH cruise

No sign of 511, the Scottish Osprey, but the two WTEs were visible but rather distant.  There was a large number of Spoonbills (61) on the lagoon, apparently the second largest group in the UK.

Seaton Wetlands

Good to see the Kingfisher but in general the BHM was very quiet again. On one visit NO birds were visible at all from the Island hide. I can't help but think that the poor management of fresh water inflows is leading to uneven water levels, drying out of large parts of the scrape and therefore poor food supply for visiting birds.

Curlew Sandpiper


Bowling Green Marsh

Visited at high tide, a positive because of the higher number of birds, but a sunrise, which was a big mistake as it made photograph almost impossible.


Wednesday 11 October 2023

Raptor photography workshop, October 2023

My wife was kind enough to give me a Raptor photography workshop day, as a birthday gift.  The venue was the Bird on the Hand site in Church Langton near Market Harborough.  The site is run as a falconry centre but an experienced wildlife photographer is brought in to run the photography workshops.

They have a well-considered schedule of birds and scenarios for the photography and Andrew and John were on hand to help the attendees get the most out of the day.

Andrew, who runs wildlife photography trips internationally, suggested sticking to aperture priority, using a shutter speed of at least 1/500, even for stationary birds, and using ISO to adjust the light levels.  Needless to say, I stuck to my ‘idiots’ approach of 1/500, maximum aperture (f8 usually) for my dark zoom lens and auto ISO.

Barn Owl (and my favourite shot of the day)

Tawny Owl

Red Kite

Asian Wood Owl

Eagle Owl 1

Eagle Owl 2

Buzzard/Red Hawk cross

Kestrel ("Nipper" because of his habit of nipping!)

Vermiculated Eagle Owl

  Great Grey Owl

 Burrowing Owls (very cute birds)





Slimbridge, late November 2023