My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
To view pictures in larger format, just click on any picture for the picture gallery....

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Wet, wet, wet with a working camera

Yesterday I took my errant camera up to Vauxhall to leave it for repair. The assistant, on receipt of my camera, attached one of their lenses and tried it out - it worked! The shutter clicked in its merry way without a hesitation. Doh. It was then suggested that it could have been the lens that caused the problem - and of course, I hadn't bothered taking the lens as it had worked properly on my other camera!

They offered to run a diagnostic test to ascertain the fault. This done, it determined that the first problem was a shutter malfunction with the camera followed by the lens having a malfunction.

I came home - attached the lens and hey presto! everything's working fine! I just don't understand it. So for the time being I shall continue to use both as they are and await events. If it happens again (even if it rights itself) I shall definitely take both back for them to look at as they suggested.

So today I wanted to try out camera and lens. The weather was appalling - grey dull and wet. I went into Bushy as soon as the worst of the rain was over and managed just a few shots. I tried taking RAW pics and these are the results.

(Don't forget - if you click on the pictures, they will enlarge and can be seen in more detail!)

Against the rain, a duck landing

The rain started again in ernest and as soon as I'd taken this group of Red-Crested Pochards I dashed back to the car!

I drove to the visitor's centre and waited for the rain to stop while I had a coffee. Eventually, it did and this Mute swan obliged by posing!

I then noticed frenzied activity - these two male Mallards were having a vicious fight

On a more peaceful note, this wonderful pink blossom brightened up the day... soon several of the trees will turn fully pink and it will make a good picture!

The silver birch looked good

With that the heavens opened and I had to protect my camera within my jacket whilst I ran some way back to the car.

Having dried out when I got home, I watched the Goldfinches and others having a snack. It was still raining and this was taken through double-glazing.

The reason the feeder has lost so much of its green coating, is that the Ring-necked Parakeets wear it away getting the seeds out!

So the camera and lens have both behaved themselves I'm glad to say!! Just hope it stays that way!!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Yesterday was far better than today

Yesterday I'd arranged to meet Phil at Painshill Park to show him the good spots for birds. It was dull with sunny intervals and we started by looking for the Kingfisher - dipped on that one!

But we did find this Terrapin before too long. I'd been told last year to look out for it and this was the first time I'd seen it. Nice one!

A little later on whilst waiting for the Great Crested Grebes to do their weed dance - which they didn't - HE just wasn't interested! - a couple of mute swans were ensuring the continuation of the race!

The poor female was totally submerged initially..

before having her neck grabbed in her partner's beak

and then finally indulging in the neck stretching!

We walked further around to see if the Grebes had moved any closer - they hadn't but, after a while we discovered a pair of Nutchatches. They were disappearing inside a hole in this tree and we concluded they were nesting there. I shall be back and will keep an eye on this tree!

The Grebes just wouldn't play ball and come any closer for me so this is the best I could manage!

We had a cuppa and a bit to eat and then, as the rain clouds gathered, we went back to look for the Kingfisher. We didn't see it perched but suddenly it appeared from the direction of the lake and flew at great speed down the river - a wonderful flash of turquoise blue. :D

We'd also seen a Treecreeper whilst waiting for the Kingfisher to appear. Heard wrens and robins singing. And all the usual water fowl were about on the lake.

As the rain started we headed back for the car and home. Thanks for your company Phil - a very enjoyable day :D

Today I headed off for the London Wetland Centre at Barnes. I met up with Brian, Jenny and Jai - great company - thanks guys! Haven't laughed so much for a while now...

The weather and light weren't that brilliant. It was lovely to see the buds beginning to open and many bushes had the first signs of leaf growth.

The cranes (collection birds) were in posing mood.

Around on the Wildside, two Great Crested Grebes sparked our interest but nothing much was happening. The other bird is, we think, a cross between a Canada and Greylag goose - odd looking bird indeed!

A couple of Egyptian Geese flew overhead.

We moved on to the Wildside hide when - DISASTER!!!!

I took a picture and heard the shutter open - it sound very odd and then I got the dreaded "Error 99" code on the preview screen. I switched on and off; removed and replaced the battery and removed and replaced the CF card. And then took a picture

This is the result!!! I was taking a "normal" picture in daylight.

However, as an experiment I tried a picture in the hide where a much longer exposure was needed. This was OK. So I'm sure the problem lies with the shutter.

I shall be off to a company I've used before, up in Vauxhall, on Monday. I've been advised that this is not an unusual problem with the 50D in that the shutter is liable to failure after about a year or so. I've had mine since December 2008.

I had my Canon 20D with me so at least I was able to continue taking pictures. However, it was nearly time for me to leave and the light was getting worse.

Stretching Greylag.

And bovine lawn mowers...

Finally I attempted without much success to get a picture of yet another wren... it only came out of the wood pile very briefly...

and then I headed off for home! Not the best of days and I think, watch this space.....

Friday, 26 March 2010

Birds in Surrey and Sussex.

It's been an odd few days. The weather seems to have reverted to more winter-like conditions. And, rather like Keith, my pictures seem to have been building up a bit so there's rather a few in today's post. I seem to be playing catch up!

Just a quick garden note. The Great Spotted Woodpecker that's been drumming virtually daily (and is doing so as I type - yes it's 6.15 a.m.!!) for the past three weeks is still drumming every morning. He sits in exactly the same space in the same tree still. I do wish he would get an answering "drum" one of these days. I'm beginning to feel quite sorry for him.

The frogs have finally finished spawning - well at least I hope they have. The spawn almost reaches across the width of the pond in one place!

I was down in Sussex visiting Mum the other day. It was extremely murky and misty and visibility was reduced considerably. However, we still had a visit to our favourite pub - the Sportsman in Amberley. Fantastic views over Pulborough Wild brooks but most of the birds had now moved on. This area floods every year and the waters have now receded somewhat.

From there we drove through Arundel and called in to the car park of the WWT Arundel. The weather didn't permit a visit into the reserve itself but I had an agenda - I wasn't disappointed. Quite often high above the high hills overlooking the reserve you'll see buzzards. I heard them as I drove in and we sat there for sometime watching four of them calling and gliding high above us - lovely!

There were hardly any cars in the car park but this rather handsome chappie kept us company. He was obviously very bored with our company and kept dozing off! I've never noticed before how strange their eyes are when they are closed!

as opposed to when they are open!

He obviously wasn't at all bothered by having a camera lens pointed at him and continued to sleep through the proceedings.

Then a couple of days ago, I went for my usual potter about in Bushy. Delighted to discover that one of the Great Crested Grebes was back - still no sign of the second one however.

Another sleeping bird who lazily stretched a leg while dozing - well he didn't want to overdo things now did he!

The Mute Swans have just started nesting again. They're in exactly the same spot on the same little island as last year when they successfully raised all 8 cygnets.

A coot has a wash and brush up - but it's missed the top of its head which is still a bit grubby
(click on the picture to enlarge it!)

A new breed - this is a Helicopter Black-headed Gull ;)

Now, regular readers will have seen Punk before
(Punk is a Pochard crossed with a Tufted Duck)

So what is the parentage here please?

Into the woods and this little wren paused for a minute so I could grab a picture. The wren's are singing a great deal at the moment - a wonderful sound!

I noticed this nest - it was very high up and therefore difficult to see the bird.
Initially only the tip of it's tail feathers were visible.

Then it had a wriggle and more of the tail appeared!

It then flew off the nest and came back with more nesting material. I'm pretty sure it's a Mistle Thrush (?)

And now the cute bit - the three Goslings are still - three!

I love walking through the Silver Birch woods. The ground is covered with daffodils and should be at its best in a few days - IF we get some sunshine!

The following are various points around Bushy - mostly taken in the two gardens.

Out in the main area of the park is this wonderful Weeping Willow. It must have fallen many many years ago. The tree has long since recovered and doesn't seem to be suffering from the metal guard (to prevent the deer eating the young sapling). It's amazing how it's grown into an upright position although lying on its side.

Along one of the many small streams.

And finally, (phew I hear you gasp - assuming you've made it this far!) one of the rhododendrons now fully in flower.

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