Thursday, 21 February 2013

Spring-like then Winter gets a grip again in the Lower Derwent Valley

I've been getting a tad bogged down with masses of photographs to process now that I've decided to start shooting in RAW format ... this means using software to deal with the resulting unprocessed images (I'm using Lightroom 4.2) and as yet I'm still feeling like a novice with it. It's taking me ages and beginning to affect my social life!

So, very much in 'catch up' mode and starting with a couple of recent visits to the Lower Derwent Valley, here's the first of a few quick posts with mainly pics and less narrative.

Day 1 (Feb 15th)

As I'm sure you've noticed there's been 2 or 3 days recently when the sun has shone, the needle has crept up the mercury and Spring feels like a returning friend. On such a day last week it was a pleasure to be out and about and I was rewarded with some good birds including my first singing Chaffinches of the year at Aughton Church and in another churchyard (Bubwith) I saw these lovely Crocuses along with the many Snowdrops that have been popping up everywhere for some weeks now.

A little less Springlike and never the most photogenic of birds this White Fronted Goose did in fact make a reasonable portrait and was one of 5 feeding alongside Greylags on the grass at Ellerton. There was also a single Pink Footed Goose in there too but too far off to photograph.
As I was watching the geese and hoping to catch a glimpse of the Bean Geese that have been around I clocked a Common Buzzard flying low over the flood water .... it scared and scattered all the geese and ducks but that solitary Lapwing (on 2nd pic) was no scaredy cat and saw it off down the valley!

A bit further along the valley at Bubwith the flood waters were still high but there is now enough dry land for waders to peck around on and along with the usual mass flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover there were smaller groups of Dunlin and Ruff being put up constantly by these microlights that seem to be more common these days .. easier to photograph (if I was into them) than roaming Peregrine Falcons .... also getting more numerous and also responsible for putting up the waders on a regular basis, but I don't mind that, I could watch Peregrines all day!

I did manage to take some reasonable shots of a couple of Black Tailed Godwits that went up amongst all the rest of the waders .... a good record for here and and another symbol of the approaching Spring because I'd like to think this was a pair looking for a prospective nesting site. The first pic is best, the second is cropped and over sharpened too much but evocative all the same and the 3rd, whilst not a great pic for all sorts of reasons I had to include because of the setting with Drax power station in the background!

Day 2 (Feb20th)
The fickle trickery of the British climate and how it can change so quickly should not really be a surprise to us anymore of course, but after that brief promise of Spring, we're once again thrust back into chilliness and as a bitterly cold wind blows in from Scandinavia we're reminded in no uncertain terms that Winter still has a firm grasp. I can only wonder in a hopeful way that those beautiful Crocuses (or is it Crocii?) I snapped last week are bearing up!

Northern Swans meanwhile are still grazing the fields and yesterday, wrapped up warm, I was determined to get a closer look at a herd of Whooper Swans I spotted from a distance last week. Driving around where I thought they should be I finally located them in a field nr the hamlet of Menthorpe. There were exactly 70 in total and here's 4 that were in range of my lens ...

..... a couple of bonus Berwick's Swans in amongst this lot too. They're slightly smaller and have a rounded rather than pointed yellow markings on their bills (extreme right on the pic below)

To save you enlarging and getting freaked out by the 2 blurry Whoopers in the foreground, here's one I cropped earlier of the 2 Berwicks ..... not pin sharp by any means but hey they were still 150 metres away and that's a damn good manual focus that that range!

The flooded area nr Bubwith was once again bursting with ducks and waders and here's a pretty decent shot of some Golden Plover that were swirling around over my head at one point.


.....  bit dour this next pic but it's the only time I've ever managed to capture Ruff in flight. Never appreciated that wing shape before -almost beeater like ... minus the colour, light and lovely hot weather  you usually see 'em in of course!

Other notable sightings from last week and what was a very cold day's birding yesterday included a flock of about 50 Dunlin, Curlew (heard), 2 Snipe, a couple of Sparrowhawks, 4 Common Buzzards,  a Peregrine Falcon, Tawny Owl (heard), a flock of about 60 Tree Sparrows and plenty of wildfowl with maybe 60 Shelduck and some lovely Pintail that I so must get some pics of before they depart.

I leave you for now with one for the mammal lovers, a cheeky Brown Hare that ran along the bank and posed for me as I was watching a wader flock

Roll on Spring!!


Andy Kiz said...

Some cracking photos there tim love the crocuses. Where was your tawny still need for the year? Great pics of the bewicks best I've seen this year around here

Tim Ward said...

The Tawny Owl was flight calling from somewhere in the old vicarage at Aughton and as for the Berwicks well after being told by a tractor driver that I could walk down a green lane at Menthorp I proceeded to get lost and ended up on the old dismantled railway ... its best to check access around there as I suspect its a bit unclear!

douglas mcfarlane said...

Hi Tim,
I had similar issues efecting me when I switched to RAW but the situation does improve, eventually. I'm not familiar with Lightroom as I use Capture One.However try these different forums they might be helpful.
I often read the articles on photonaturalist Steve has covered some great topics involving photoshop etc I hope that helps you rediscover your social life :)

Tim Ward said...

Cheers Doug, looks like some useful links for me to explore there ... i might even give capture one a try as i find lightroom hangs a lot and not the easiest of intefaces to work with. Hope you're doing ok and snapping away, not been checking out other blogs for a while but will catch up with your posts & pics soon enough.

LDV Team said...

Hi Tim, you've some cracking photos there, we wondered if it would be possible for us to reproduce some on the LDV report/monthly sightings if at all possible? Hope you don't mind us asking!