15 August 2007

Heat, Herons and Shelob.

A Grey Heron and a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron.

There are always a few Heron species around from late summer. And they're usually pretty jumpy. By the time you've got your camera up and ready they've already taken off. I'll never make a decent photographer. For flight shots I need a high shutter speed but my camera settings are always preset on the expectation birds will be relatively stationary. By the time I remember I need to switch from aperture mode to shutter mode they're flapping towards the horizon.

Over at Kamiso the wader passage has begun and the first Black Headed Gulls since spring appeared. 1 Bar Tailed Godwit (a local tick) and 3 Terek Sandpiper were close enough to ID but too far for a picture. We went back the next day but the jetskiers were out in force and there were no interesting birds about.

It's been really hot the last few days. 32-34 degrees celsius. Not that hot compared to many other places in the world but hot to the likes of me. Not much birding then. This little monster was hiding under the railing next to the river.

Still haven't quite worked out the 'macro' function on my cheap lens. Bits are always out of focus. It looks like it's preparing to spring on its prey like Shelob onto Frodo but actually it was upside down hanging quietly off the rail. It was flipped over in photoshop.

I watched the opening weekend of the footy season online. Not bad considering my low spec antique PC. I watched all the salient action but missed Gerard's goal live due to buffering. I sorted out my settings the next day and then Sky announced that they are showing the Premier League after all. Only a week late.

Around August 15 down the years:

1984 (Aug 17/20). Ribble near Penwortham. Wader passage underway. 11 species in all including 300 Golden Plover, 200 Dunlin, also Ruff, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank. Passerines on the move included Winchat, Lesser Whitethroat and Wheatear.

1986. (Aug 17). More waders at Penwortham including Little Stint and Black Tailed Godwit, 1 Peregrine and 30 Shoveler were also present.

1987 (multiple visits). 5 or 6 trips up the Ribble. This was the time of my A level results and I thought it may have been the last summer in Preston for a long time. Not quite true though I've only been back a handful of times in August since. As above lots of waders.

1995 (Aug?). The hottest summer I can recall in England. I visited a friend in Worcestershire and god it was hot. Is it hot everywhere I go in mid August? Here's a pic of me and a friend in England's yellow and pleasant land in 1995.

1997 (Aug ?) My only ever visit to Italy. 2 or 3 days in Florence (by train from Munich. My Italian list is zero. I may have seen Pigeons. A 3 day drinking binge in the burning heat of a Tuscan summer sounds a lot more exciting than the reality. Here's a pic of me looking dazed and confused in Innsbruck en route to Italy. My travelling companion gave me this several years later and is the only picture I have of the whole trip.

1998 (Aug?) A camping trip to the Austrian Alps and another very hot weekend. An idyllic weekend sleeping under the stars up in the mountains getting stoned, eating salami and cheese, drinking cheap red wine and watching shooting stars. I left Munich a few days later and turned 30 a month or so later. Like the Italy trip no photos survived (I lost them all in the move back to England). This really felt like it was the end of something (my youth I suppose) I can't recall any birds from this specific weekend although I remember hearing Marmots. Lots of them. And you know those Alpine cows with those tinkling bells? Annoying when you're trying to sleep. And one of them tried to eat my shorts too.

2001 (Aug 18) 4 Red Necked Stint in a tiny sewage outlet in front of a pachinko parlour in Hakodate.

2002 (Aug 16). A long visit back to the UK with my wife. Nowhere near as many waders as on the 80's. Only 5 or 6 species. Grennshank was the most noteworthy.

2003 (Aug 14) Hobby flying s over Hakodate.

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