My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
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Sunday, 8 March 2009

A great morning's birding at Holmethorpe Sand Pits

Graham (of Birding with the Old Grouse fame) had kindly volunteered to give those that wished, a guided tour of his local patch, Holmthorpe Sand Pits in Nutfield - and what a great tour it was. Graham (who is nothing like his blog title suggests, and had a great sense of humour in addition to his extensive birding knowledge) was a great tour guide.

I'd left home at crack of dawn to drive over to Frank and Anita's and, although I'd volunteered to drive us from there, Frank kindly did the driving which left me free to admire the scenery (thanks Frank). We arrived in the car park well ahead of time to be greeted by a robin singing perched up above us.

We then walked around the lake - the sun was shining, the sky blue and catkins were bursting forth!

Along our initial walk we came across some nesting birds in a tree hole!
Evidence here of quite a few nesting holes

and one at the top

was occupied and the resident looked down on us
(so there's no escaping the Ring-necked Parakeets!

At about 9.30 a.m. we teamed up with Graham and various other members of the group arrived. At this point, I must also thank Richard who's knowledge of flora and fauna was impressive and, amongst imparting a great deal of knowledge, pointed out some Pyramidal Orchids that were poking their noses through the earth.

Graham's first "goody" of the day was the Barn Owl who was perched up, fast asleep, in a cosy hole in a tree. This was a wonderful sighting and I managed to get some pics (more of that later).
I took this on our way out for the walk but the Owl's face was in deep shadow.

(There will be a better pic later!)
Now on and around the sand pits. Following a comment I made on Graham's blog, had rather rashly promised me a sighting of a Little Egret and, true to his word, one flew over. Nice one Graham :).

Further around the water, a pair of Shelduck

Many gulls

and large numbers of Cormorants - mostly favouring the centre island.

Later on completing that part of the circuit, we passed the Barn Owl again. On this occasion, a birder/photographer was also taking pictures of said bird. Hmmmm, thought I, he has a rather large lens - *thinks* - I shan't look as I'll only be green with envy. Well - I succumbed. This very kind fellow birder/photographer was not only happy to talk about his camera (Canon 50D like mine) but his lens as well; which was a Canon 500mm. Ooooh. And, extremely kindly, he offered to let me attach my camera to his lens - well who could possibly say 'no' to such an offer! So, (and hopefully I've found the correct blog) my thanks to Phil (Birdmad Bird Photography) for the "loan" of his lens and helpful photographic advice as well. (If I've picked up the incorrect blog, then please do let me know!)

Now - here are some comparison shots.
This is my 400mm lens with an entirely uncropped picture

This shot is taken from the same spot, with Phil's lens and a focal length of 700mm.

and the final picture - cropped from the one above and the best of the bunch!
(and I'm reasonably pleased with it)

OK - so now I'm looking for a job so I can purchase a 500mm lens :D

And the birds seen today?
Little Egret
Ring-necked Parakeets
Blue Tits
Wood Pigeon
Great Tit
Barn Owl
(Peregrine Falcon - which I dipped on)
Great Crested Grebe
Little Grebe
Common Snipe
Mediterranean Gull
Black-headed (and other) Gulls
Heard - Reed Bunting
Grey Heron
Heard - Blackcap
Lesser Redpoll (whey hey - a lifer)

(Further sightings can be found on Graham's blog : HERE )
A great day with Graham, Richard, Frank & Anita, and all other birders there - thanks Guys and Girls :D


Anonymous said...

You have had a brilliant day Tricia.

Midmarsh John said...

You certainly get about to some interesting places, Tricia. Great shots of the Barn Owl - I would be over the moon to have taken those. I only see them when they are hunting and then it seems, only when I don't have a camera with me! I'm hoping one takes to the nest box a local resident has erected then I'll be in with a chance. :>)

Jayne said...

What a fantastic day you appear to have had Tricia, what superb viewings and photo's thank you for sharing them with us. I was really impressed with the owl pictures but the cost of that lens hey Oh dear back to the drawing board methinks!!!!!

Tricia said...

Roy - yes, indeed it was!

John - Thanks - I was rather pleased with them considering how far away the Owl was. Good luck and fingers crossed for occupancy of your neighbour's nest box... I await events....

Jayne - yes it was really good. I don't think the lens will be a reality for many years!

swatson said...

brilliant photos as usual Tricia but that shot of the owl.....what a magnificent bird you are sooo lucky

Graham James said...

Hi Tricia,
It was super to meet you. What a lovely lady you are. Thank you for your kind comments, but you've now blown my Old Grouse image! I really must stop being amiable.
Hope to see you again soon.

Graham James said...

Oh, and by the way, Tricia, super photos. The one of the egret is superb.

Tricia said...

Aw Graham (blush) thank you. Sorry to have blown your cover Lol.

I won't mention the Merlin though ;)

Richard said...

Hi Tricia,
It was lovely to meet you today and great that you found a Redpoll for yourself!
There is so much more to Holmethorpe in the warmer months so we’ll look forward to welcoming you back.

MaineBirder said...

What a wonderful day Tricia! And the photos are excellent!

Liz said...

Lovely photos Tricia, and oh so lucky to have tried out the 500mm!

I'm always worried about buying L-glass, well I'd buy it but whether I'd ever go out in public with it I'm unsure.

Perhaps I'm just far too nervous??

I was in the city cente on Saturday and there was a group of people taking photos, one of which I later noticed had an L-lens, made me wonder how many people walking past him realised how much the gear he was carrying was worth... lol

SPD said...

wow a bar owl (according to your list) how rare! hee hee Fab photos and sounds like a great time had by all LOL SPD

Anonymous said...

Like the owl!

Tricia said...

Richard - likewise! and I was sooo pleased with the Redpoll.

And thank you for your warm welcome and passing on your knowledge. I'd love to come back and hope we can all meet up again? Dragons & flutters?

Liz - thank you - I know what you mean about being conscious of a lenes' value and it would be very heavy; and you've got to carry a tripod... so I'm trying to convince myself that the cons outweigh the pros here! Lol

SPD - well done for spotting the error posted to test observation. I've now corrected typo but perhaps this was an Owl with a taste for alcohol??

Leazwell - glad you liked it and thanks for popping in :D

Cheryl said...

Hi Tricia......I love to see the birds nesting in tree holes.....the parakeet popping out is lovely....we don't get them here, which is lucky as we have a lot of orchards around here. Don't think the farmers would be too happy........

The owl is just of my favourite birds.....they are so beautiful......such good photographs, thanks for sharing.....

Cheryl said...

Hi Tricia......I love to see the birds nesting in tree holes.....the parakeet popping out is lovely....we don't get them here, which is lucky as we have a lot of orchards around here. Don't think the farmers would be too happy........

The owl is just of my favourite birds.....they are so beautiful......such good photographs, thanks for sharing.....

Liz said...

Lol Tricia – That’s exactly what I also regularly tell myself. The sheer weight of the beast, therefore of course I don’t need the lens……… I must say, I’m not overly successful with that so far. I do keep an eye on our local camera shop that has second hand cameras/lenses in… A while ago they had one of the L lenses, and I should’ve got it when I had the chance, but I bought the 50D instead. I should’ve just bought both at the same time and saved myself a few hundred pounds because obviously, I haven’t seen one since!! Grrrr.

Tricia said...

Cheryl - I hope they don't find their way to you. I understand they rather like the flower buds on fruit trees! Owls are lovely birds and ones I don't see very often.

Liz - I hadn't thought of 2nd hand *goes off in pensive mood*

Phil Wallace said...

Tricia, I'm so pleased you are happy to have tried my lens. I blush at your kind comments on your blog. Someone let me use their 600mm lens on my new (then) 30D before I received my 500mm and I was grateful. It has been worth every penny. I use it every weekend.

I like your photo of the parakeet peeking out from the tree. Very nice.

Best wishes,

Tricia said...

Hi Phil and thanks for popping in and your kind comment! I loved the lens and can understand why you get so much from using it :D

Very many thanks again!

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