Sunday, 20 March 2011

Sticks and Stones May Ruin My Pictures

When I opened the Tern this morning I looked across Ibsley Water and in a group of about 40 sand martin was my first swallow of the year. On the shore belowthe hide a pipit caught my eye, yesterday there were reports of both water pipit and a possible Scandinavian rock pipit. This bird was a water pipit, almost moulted into breeding plumage. I got a picture of it, but as so often, there was a bit of vegetation in the way.
It was a busy morning with two groups visiting and a willow weaving class at the Centre. After getting everything going I returned to the Tern hide and there out on the water was a fine female scaup, not a duck we get at Blashford very often.
Out near the western shore the black-necked grebe was still in much the same place as it has been for a good while now, although it is rapidly moulting into breeding plumage now. On the shore near the hide was a very smart male lapwing, they are fabulous birds and I never tire of them.
The pair of redshank were also there again and a got another picture of the female.
The lesser spotted woodpecker was seen again yesterday and I had a third hand report of it today. With so many people looking for it I though I would see if I could find it, I failed by by the path near the alder carr came across a clump of fungi, I am not sure what they are, they look reminiscent of the shaggy ink caps so common in autumn, the common ink cap is a spring species, but I though it had smooth caps and this fungus also seemed to be growing out of a log rather than the ground.
The alder trees themselves are host to a fungus that causes black tar-like spots to form on the bark. The flow of nutrients from the roots becomes blocked and the trees die. This is probably a good thing for woodpeckers but a real problem for us. When the trees are within falling distance of the paths we have to fell the trees, often not an easy task.
The water pipit picture had a piece of plant in the foreground, in the case of that picture it just blurred the shot, but as every digi-scoper will knows what usually happens is the auto focus helpfully decides to focus on the twig or bit of grass rather than the chosen subject. Recently I have been trying different settings to overcome this and today tried taking the heron below in a classic situation that usually fools the auto focus and it seemed to work. I used the macro, manual focus and set it to infinity. I don't think the result is a sharp as it could be, but at least it is focused on the bird rather than the reeds in front.
There was also a moorhen, looking splendid in the sunshine, although they are quite common at Blashford they are not seen all that easily and I don't think I have posted a picture of one on the blog before.Other than the usual flocks of brambling I saw rather little else today, the mealy redpoll reported yesterday did not show, despite a good look by several people. There were several chiffchaff around and a willow warbler was reported from the shore of Ellingham Lake.

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