Welcome to my birdwatching blog. This blog will contain stories about my bird watching trips, interesting bird news and other tales that may or may not be bird related. I want to make it useful to the avid birder as well as those who may only have a passing interest in bird watching. I enjoy photographing bird life, common and rare through a spotting scope, not that they always sit still long enough for me. Being on the outskirts of North East London, my reports will not only cover my local patch of Redbridge/Waltham Forest, but also dip into deepest Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Norfolk.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The weekend was the wrong way round

I’m not complaining but...

...this weekend was the wrong way round and I’m the only one who noticed.

This is probably because it only affected me. It began you’ll notice on Saturday – no point there and I took myself off to Northaw Great Wood when really I should have gone for my haircut. I can’t see treecreeper in my local barbers because I’ve looked. These little devils have been a bane for me this year and now in mid November, I hadn’t had a sniff of one.

North Great Wood is great for these mouse-like tree scamps and I was determined to see one. I’m sure most riders get their bird in early Jan but they had eluded me to the point of hysteria. Dreyfus meets Clouseau territory I suppose.

I arrived at the wood, near Cuffley in Herts at 9am. Nuthatches were calling in the car park but not visible and a few Jays ferries acorns to their burial grounds. I always take the yellow path out of habit and soon saw a couple of Nuthatch in a Hornbeam. Coal Tit, Blue Tit and Great Tit soon followed and my hopes were high. Always follow a tit flock is my philosophy (in life) but no sign of any creepers.

Northaw Great Wood
My urge to use my camera focused on fungi. Digiscoping little bids flitting high up on the canopies is next to impossible so to the ground I looked.

How I wish I could ID fungi. They are worse than gulls. They change shape, colour and smell with age and I really have no patience with my inadequate book on edible mushrooms so you tell me!

For some reason, I left the yellow path and found myself on the blue one. This proved to be somewhat fortuitous as almost immediately, the wood was full of birds. Chaffinches, Tits of all sorts were feeding on the ground by a huge pool left by the overnight rain. Nuthatches – at least 5 bounced from one tree to the next and Goldcrest called from above. Then I had a bird fly straight into a tree trunk. A Common Treecreeper. Finally. What a relief but although I tried to get it in the scope, I was too slow.

Never mind. I had the bastard and that’s all that mattered. I ended up with 3 treecreepers and 8 Nuthatch in a two hour visit. Most happy.

From here I went to Lee Valley for some camera training at the Bittern Information Point. We now have state-of-the-art HD cameras and software here so we can record activity and direct cameras to ket action for our lovely public. This was also a chance to meet up with Brenda who had kindly suggested I borrow her DSLR camera kit for a few weeks as it was gathering dust for her.

I have to say I was excited. I have digiscoped for a few years and think I have reached the point where the quality I take can’t improve unless I invest in new kit. My experience told me to invest in a real camera with a decent lens but I have been trying to save money but it always has to go on more deserving causes. Anyway, I accepting this trial with glee and although the pictures I took that late afternoon were all rubbish, I knew all I had to do was get to know the camera and the lenses at my disposal.

On the Sunday I had an hour to myself so popped over to Connaught Water for a test shoot. I was blown away by the results.

I am now officially a child in a sweetshop. These aren't perfect; the light was poor, my understanding of the camera setting is non-existent and I should have used my monopod. However, I couldn’t have had the spontaneity with a scope and camera combo as I currently use and the speed of capture is like going from a peugeot to a porsche.

So if I had had this camera and the Sigma 500mm at Great Northaw Wood, I would have proof that I finally got the Treecreeper to share with you.

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