Tag Archives: Bee-eaters

Five Favourite Photos

I’ve decided on a post to cover up my lack of recent photography. I will, of course, be dressing it up as a listing of my favourite photographs. It will also make a change of pace from the last post,

Common Blue

Male Common Blue

I was on the way to visit Men in Sheds when I stopped to take a picture of round bales. We have a Hockney post card showing a scene like this and I keep trying to reproduce it photographically. So far I haven’t managed, but this Common Blue flew past and after twenty minutes of stalking I had a couple of decent shots. That’s about as good as it gets – butterfly photography can be tricky.

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Small Copper on castor oil plant

This was one Julia spotted in the front garden. It’s a small garden and relies on self-seeded red valerian to attract butterflies, though it has plenty of marigold and allysum as back up. We’ve had quite a variety this year, with the favourites being the Hummingbird Hawk Moths.

Though they are great things to see, they are very difficult to photograph, so they haven’t made the cut.

This was the opposite of the previous photograph – no stalking needed. All I did was get the camera out as I walked from the car to the door.

Goodbye, cruel world

A Puffin thinks about ending it all

I know it’s only contemplating flight, but it does seem forlorn as it looks down. The clown face adds to the general air of despair. This photograph was taken as a group of birds loafed about just below a viewing platform at Bempton Cliffs.

We also went to Flamborough Head that day, and spent an enjoyable time on the cliffs there too. With a mixture of poor health, work and creaking knee we’ve not been out and about much this year – which makes the good days all the more special.

Bee-eater at East Leake quarry

Bee-eater at East Leake

This is a poor photo, but we had an interesting trip out and saw, albeit distantly, some exotic birds. The quality of a photograph, for me, lies in the memories of the day it was taken on, as much as in obtaining a pin-sharp picture of an event. Even people with top quality equipment were struggling because the heat was making the air shimmer and at the distance we were working this was causing problems. With low quality optics and a dirty lens I never expect perfection…

They were very much on the edge of their range, despite global warming and the nests failed in the end, but it was a brave attempt.

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This one always  cheers me up. The photo, that is. The subject of the photo always has a list of jobs for me.

This was taken as a new profile photo when Julia started the new job at the Mencap Garden. It’s a typical pose – outdoors, dressed for gardening and with that enigmatic smile. It’s a smile that shows how happy she is to have been married to me for all this time.

Well, I think that’s what it means.

Bad News for Bee-eaters

I checked up on the Bee-eaters a couple of days ago. According to the website the watchers noticed a change in behaviour a couple of weeks ago, with adults no longer taking food into the nests. A couple of days later they gathered together and flew off, never to return.

It’s a shame, both for the birds and for the volunteers who put so much work in.

Who knows what might happen – at one time Magpies and  Buzzards were unknown around in the eastern counties and Red Kites were virtually extinct in the UK. Now they are all common, or commonish, sights around the area. yet be able to tell my grand-children about how they are lucky to have Bee-eaters and Hoopoes in the garden.

Then again, if the sea levels do rise as predicted, it might be exotic ducks we are watching.

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Bee-eaters at East Leake

 

Bee-eaters and Bad Photos

We went to see the Bee-eaters at East Leake Quarry today. I had been planning a visit to Bempton to see the Puffins but Julia persuaded me that we really should visit the rarities. My experience with rare birds is that they have normally gone by the time I get there, or if they are still there I wouldn’t recognise it if it pecked me on the bottom.

Take Richard’s Pipit as an example. They turn up regularly and excite twitchers. To me they’re just a brown bird, as are most of the other pipits.

The postcode is LE12 6RG if you want to pop along. Parking is £5, split between farmer and RSPB. The car park is 385 yards from the viewing area, according to the volunteers at the car park. These things are important when you have a bad knee.

The meadows on the way to the viewing area were full of butterflies, including Ringlet (hundreds of them!), Meadow Brown, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Large Skipper. There were some Whites too – but at a distance they all look the same to me. I need to get my eye in again. I didn’t manage many photos as they kept fluttering about instead of settling.

Eventually we arrived at the viewing point. The birds proved to be very obliging, using a selection of dead branches to perch on when eating bees. Julia managed to watch one eating a dragonfly., which I missed because I was watching one posing in the sunlight.

They are bright and exotic birds, but in truth just a little bit garish, like a bird designed for a Primary School project. Still good to see though.

We only saw three against the maximum of seven that have been seen, but with any luck the others are off nesting. There are records of successful breeding in the UK, as detailed in the links at the beginning of the post, so there is no reason why they shouldn’t be breeding. They like to burrow into sandbanks and this is a sand quarry with an active population of Sand Martins, who also burrow into the banks.

Sorry the photos aren’t very good, but the birds were a long way off. It wasn’t just me having problems – the people with the big expensive lenses were having problems too. When the day heats up, things start to get hazy, and this spoils the photo quality. I don’t feel as bad about my photos now…