On holiday I was staying in a village called Settrington, equidistant between York and the coastal town of Scarborough. Within a 30-40 mile radius were sites such as Wykeham Forest, Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head, two of those which I would visit during the holiday. Settrington was your archetypal village, situated in the countryside, which thus meant common countryside birds were in prominence. Swallows and House Martins were breeding in some of the houses, there were plenty of Collared Doves, plus a scattering of other commoner species. When I got out with my camera equipment for the first time I was surprised by its weight, but would soon get used it. I decided that walking around Settrington and picturing the commoner birds was a fantastic way to start my photography and would help me familiarize myself with its several functions - after all, its always best to start simple. I quickly got used to my camera, and took great enjoyment in photographing the commoner birds. I had a wander round most nights, and to be quite honest I'm quite happy with my results.
Swallow - Settrington
Song Thursh - Settrington
House Sparrow - Settrington
Wood Pigeon - Settrington
Collared Dove - Settrington
House Martin - Settrington
A few days before I left, I ended up at Flamborough Head on a family day out - a place on the East Yorks coast which is famed for its drift migrants and seabird passage at times (about. When I visited there wasn't much going on to be honest, but there were a few commoner birds that kept me entertained (see photos below).
Pied Wagtail - Flamborough Head (5/8)
Kittiwakes - Flambourough Head (5/8)
On the way back to Aberdeen I met Andrew Kinghorn, a young birder, and went in search of Long-eared Owls at a site near him in Durham (previously having seen a distant Honey Buzzard at Wykeham Forest before travelling up). I was successful, with one young bird late on. Photograph wise there was a stunning sunset which I captured and a rather silhouetted Yellowhammer (see below). A big thank you to Andrew for showing me the Owls, it was a pleasure to meet you!Sunset over the Durham Countryside
Yellowhammer sings the day to sleep at undisclosed site, Durham
It was painful for me not to be able to get out to my local patches with my camera for a week or so after returning from North Yorkshire. I found that in the garden there was very little to photograph, and going up and down my street or to the local park seemed odd to me. As a result, I didn't photograph much near the house, until an unexpected visitor entered, spending a surprising amount of time in my garden. A very pleasant experience indeed, and a surprisingly photogenic bird (photos taken through window so a bit blurry and bird quite a distance away)!
Juv. Sparrowhawk in my garden, 11/8
From the moment I got my camera, I was looking forward to the first time I'd be able to get out to my local patches of the Ythan Estuary, Loch of Strathbeg. Unfortunately that time didn't come till this time last week (13/8) when I decided to go down to Girdleness for some sea-watching. On the way I had a small check to see what was in by the harbour, and found a very obliging flock of 18 Goosanders, quite a common sight at Girdlenss. I pictured a few of the closer in birds. The sea-watch was quite good, with a good number of Bonxies and Arctic Skuas through. To my delight, one of the Bonxies we saw came very close in, close enough for me to photograph well. Many Gannets were passing too, some of them coming to fish quite close in...
Goosanders, Girdleness, 13/8
Great Skua at sea, Girdleness, 13/8
A fishing Gannet, Girdleness, 13/8
The next day I was lucky to have a full day's birding, visiting my other local patches (the Ythan and Strathbeg), plus a few other locations. A seawatch off Peterhead produced 10 Bonxies, 6 Arctic Skuas, 2 Velvet Scoters, 15 Manx Shearwaters and the highlight, 4 Sooty Shearwaters. Visits to Kinnaird Head (a place for seawatching), Annacheil (sp?) Lagoon in search of Green Sand and Cairnbulg all proved relatively unsuccessful, although a few Bonxies and an Arctic Skua passed through Kinnaird Head. Very few photos were taken at these locations, with the large bulk of photos being taken at Loch of Strathbeg and the Ythan. At the Loch of Strathbeg it was quite entertaining, with one Spotted Redshank amongst a few other passage waders - 9 Ruff, 40 G0lden Plover, plenty of Lapwings and 4 Greenshanks. A Red Kite was also around (unfortunately too far away to photgraph), my second of the year and an absolutely fabulous bird. The waders were mostly too far away, but I managed to get some shots of the Lapwings and Golden Plovers when they were put up by the Red Kite. Whilst I was there a woman with far better equipment than mine (a Canon 5D Mark II I think and an 800mm Olympus lens, don't ask me to specify the exact type!) kindly let me use her 800mm Olympus lens with my camera so I could get some photos of a very obliging Grey Heron on the pool (note that one photo is cropped). Meanwhile at the Ythan a single Ruff, Greenshank and 2 Blackwits were the highlights passage wader wise, but the best of all was a very obliging Osprey. Ospreys breed around the Ythan, and can often be seen fishing over the Estuary during the spring and summer months. When fishing they often come obligingly close as you'll see in the photos below! It was slightly to high up in the sky to get great quality shots, but I'm happy with them nonetheless. Below you can see the photos I took from the entirety of the day.
Grey Heron, Loch of Strathbeg, 14/8
Lapwings and Golden Plover (and perhaps Red Kite in the very distant background?)
" " (but not in flight)
Black-headed Gull, Cairnbulg, 14/8
Turnstone and Redshanks, Cairnbulg, 14/8
Osprey, Ythan Estuary, 14/8
And that is that so far. I have only been out the once with my camera equipment to my local patches, and I'm looking forward to going out with it again. I'm very happy with how I'm getting on with my new photographic equipment. My photos aren't exactly high quality yet, but with perserverance I'm sure I'll improve. To see more of my photos feel free to check out my flickr page that is linked below. Beware however that I am having a problem with flickr right now, as I have apparently past my 100MB limit for the month, thus meaning I can't upload any recent photos... Any feedback or advice you may like to give me on my photos can be posted on here, or on flickr if you prefer.
Thanks very much for reading, tune in after my next day's birding for more.