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Calm Before The Storm

Summer is coming to a close with wet and windy breaking up whats left of those long drawn out days. It’s probably a little early to talk about autumn, but for me, it feels so far away from spring already. I was reminded of this while watching one of my Nightjar chicks fledging this week, both of which are nowhere to be found now, so I suspect they’ve travelled to more suitable feeding grounds while preparing for the big fly back to Africa!. Here’s a pic of the Chick before fledging. I think their first clutch failed, or they were just very late breeding this year. The parents are the two birds photographed in my last blog here. Look how short his/her bill is! Pretty adorable.

While we’re on Migration. I was sent this by my friend Craig last week. For those that wonder how these birds migrate over vast oceans, well, sometimes they do need a rest! And what better way todo that than on a big quiet ship deck? Check these birds out! Some really rare stuff too but the best by far is at the end.

Tomorrow we’re due for another storm, and today you could feel the calm before the storm as it was beautiful and really low wind! It’s not very often that I can take the windshield off around the coastline but conditions were perfect today so I tried to capture a Long-winged Conehead with the rising ride in the background.
As our Coneheads reach to almost the limitations of our hearing range, I’ve slowed the recording down slightly so you can appreciate the quality more but it’s not too slow that you can’t hear the sea background.

Long-wined Conehead

Rainy Day at Wentwood Forest

Spent a dark hour at Wentwood today. Plenty of Crossbill, Redwing, Fieldfare and the odd Brambling within fairly large Chaffinch flocks. I usually time my visits to Wentwood for autumn / winter with the intent to find a Great Grey Shrike. No luck today, so my attention went to the forest floor, where I found lots of Deer Signs, Fungi and autumn colours to keep me happy.


If you didn't know, I am actually colourblind. Colourblindness isn't what most people expect though, I can see colour, I'm just limited with certain shades of particular colours. For me Autumn is hard to appreciate, not just because everything gets colder and wetter but because I can't really appreciate the full spectrum of colour that everyone has come to love as the trees change over. I lack the ability to see Red, this includes colours that include Red in their spectrum so most colours wouldn't look the same to me as everyone else. Not only do I lack Red, I am overly sensitive to Yellows, Greens and Oranges, so that makes it ever harder for me in a sea of green. Once the leaves start turning yellow, that is when I start to appreciate the colours but by then its not really autumn anymore. 

I've mentioned this because the picture below, for me takes a way a lot of distraction for me. Simplifying this photo of kingfisher taken in the summer has actually made me appreciated the detail more. I'm going to call this the 'neon' project. I'll hopefully be able to do this same editing technique on some more of my colourful photographs and strip the photos down to the most vibrant colours only. Will be an interesting project which may not be for everyone, but I like it. 

(Plus I've been ill for a while and needed to do something..)

Coastal Migration

Autumn/Winter Migration is hot topic right now in the Uk because Birds that I've already mentioned in previous blogs like Redwing, Fieldfare and Brambling have all come from up north from countries like Scandinavia. 

Birds don't always migrate across the sea though as some of our native breeding birds remain in the Uk but still move south or to the coast-line. This is called local migration and for some birds like Redpoll, local migration is really important. On our very own coastline of the Gwent Levels, you can expect to see a lot more Redpoll turning up to feed on various seeds that autumn provides in our coastal plants. Redpoll will often stick in flocks this time of year (like many other species) and throughout winter, the seeds in which they seek are often in open areas which exposes them to predators like the Sparrowhawk. 

Stonechat's are another species that end up in random places along the coast and despite some birds actually breeding along the coast line in spring, most have travelled from our uplands. 

Moving down in altitude can make all the difference to survive our cold winters. 

Autumn/Winter Projects

This Autumn/winter I have a few target species that I'd like to get photographs of and also record the sound of. Other than the typical winter Robin singing, there are a few spectacles that bring incredible sound opportunities: 1 of which is the Starling Murmuration. That spectacle isn't just incredible to watch but it's incredible to listen to! You can hear the movement of the flock as they swoop together as one unit and when they land, thousands of Starlings gather in a very small area and that is well worth listening to as they communicate with each other in complete darkness!. 

My photography list is reasonably short this winter but that means I can be more productive with my time. 1 species on that list isn't actually a bird, but a Red Squirrel!. I've never seen one before so just seeing them will make my winter better but I have already arranged a trip out with a few other professional photographers NEXT WEEK! (Weather permitting) so hopefully you'll see some half decent shots of Red Squirrels here in a couple weeks time.