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Forest Farm

Last week I made a visit to Forest Farm on what ended up being a beautiful sunny (but cold) day. Most of the day was spent in the first hide with a perfectly lit perch!.. but no Kingfishers. My patience in this case was working against me, as a later trip along the canal brought about some great opportunity with the Kingfishers along the canal, where they are so used to people, you can stand 10ft away from them without them flying away. I wished it was always that easy! A brief day time visit of a Red Fox was a highlight, that and sharing the hide with some great like minded people who share my love for wildlife. 

Is spring here already? Snowdrops and Daff's seem to think so, and I'm happy with that. 

Autumn Gone?

What is your favourite part of Autumn? For most people, it's the change of colours in the leaves before they fall. Red being the most popular and vibrant.. It's a shame I can't see it though uh? lol Red is one of those colours I know is there, so long as it isn't amongst other colours and isn't too dark (Needs to have light shining on it or emitting its own light). So how did I know which of my photos had red in it? Two reasons, 1. While looking at the photographs digitally, I can tweak the colours individually and physically see the changes. Usually I need to boost the reds up to extreme levels for me to see them, and then I can dial them back to a level that is acceptable to everyone else. I probably still get it wrong but nobody has complained so far lol.. would you tell me if I did? Probably not lol. 

For me, Autumn is more about the winter visitors and the summer departing birds. Much like the Brambling that seemed to have come back this year in decent numbers, unlike last year where we got very few reports in Gwent. Every year is different, dependant on weather conditions and available food. This is what makes autumn / winter special in my eyes, as you really have no idea what may turn up in what has to be the most energetic season of all. Everything is on the move, even your Garden birds tend to move down to warmer climates. I hate to burst any bubbles, but your resident Robin probably isn't the same Robin you've been seeing all summer. We get thousands of Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Robins moving down from Scandinavia in the winter time and most never truly settle till they've found a stable food source in manageable temperatures. If it's too cold here, they'll even skip the Uk into France.. Joys of being a bird! I can't even begin to imagine the things they must encounter on their travels..

Back on track

Back to work and back on track! I think it goes to show I lucky I am when the place I spend my days off at, is also the place I work. Llandegfedd will always be a special place for me and this weekend it revealed some more of its secrets, this time in the form of a lovely Butterfly called a Purple Hairstreak. I've heard they were present but never seen them for myself till today. I didn't get anything great photography wise to show you, as they remain high up in Oak tree canopies, not to mention they are pretty darn small so even a bigger lens than my own wouldn't quite cut it. Other notable species this weekend - Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Kingfisher, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Little Egret, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Scoter and the today ended with a Juvi Cuckoo. 

Kingfisher Extended

Time spent is time earned in wildlife photography and I've certainly spent a lot of time on these Kingfishers these last couple of months. I've learned so much about these guys through this process, not just their feeding habbit's but their distribution and behaviour in the latter half of the year post breeding. During the breeding season they can be quite territorial but at the moment, parents will be pushing their youngsters out and may move off themselves quite far from their original breeding sites. This location is a fair distance from the nearest breeding site but is ideal for small fish, hence the large numbers that I've been seeing. They're actually quite tolerant of each other, only very rarely the males having a little tussle over best perch spot. Thankfully, I've provided them with enough perches to keep them all happy. Not to mention all the natural perches. 

The King

Finally. The end. Next Blog. 

No really, next blog. 

Kingfisher Month

Hope you're not getting bored of my Kingfisher images yet. I have lots more to share haha. I'm slowly getting the hang of timings now and this shot is by far the sharpest I have got so far but not the best pose unfortunately. Always self critical but so happy to finally get an image of a Kingfisher that i'm proud of and will happily put on the wall. 

Brecon & Monmouthshire Canal

This time of year you can expect to see a lot more Kingfishers in our waterways, this is because most (if successful) would have finished their first brood of chicks and will hopefully be starting a second. This provides us with the great opportunity to see the youngsters spread out into areas you simply wouldn't otherwise see them in. Local ponds, canals, rivers and lakes will likely have a few Kingfishers around so keep your eyes pealed for that orange and blue flash that flies straight as an arrow and very fast wing beats. 

This is the closest I've ever been to a Kingfisher and despite seeing many before, there is nothing like getting up close and seeing all the subtle movements and poses they take when on the perch fishing. I've just about worked out the best time to photograph them so will hopefully get some more pictures to share with you. 

Some other notable species from local patch were the many Toadlets hopping along the path and grassland. Quite a few Green Orb-Weever Spiders in the meadows and a surprised Pied Flycatcher that was looking a little worse for wear. Possible malting feathers or this years youngster finally reaching adult plumage. 

Pied Flycatcher Male (Possibly Juvi or Malt)

Kingfishers and Friends

Took way too many images today, so much so that I actually ran out of memory and was forced to borrow a friends spare memory card to capture the last few shots before we lost the light. 

Had such an incredible time with great company. This perch was setup by myself, miles away from the nearest nest location and should hopefully produce many more images this year before the youngsters disperse and find territories of their own. 

Happy New Year

Not too late am I?..

Managed to get out on my local patches (Other than Llandegfedd) today. Was nice to be greeted with birds in full song! Heard my first Song Thrush, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Robin, Blue Tit, Dunnock and Coal Tit singing together on what ended up being quite a lovely evening. Goosander and Kingfisher were quite entertaining but hearing that Song Thrush really made my day. 

Forest Farm Inspiration

While Llandegfedds Feeding Station is in the making, I've taken the time to get some inspiration from Forest Farm. They have a very successful feeding station with regular activity and plenty of photographers there to lap up the opportunity. Plus, they have Kingfishers. The end.