Thursday, 13 September 2012

Great Flocks!

When seen in large flocks, birds create quite a spectacle!

I was made aware of this White Stork flock by a passing motorist while photographing waders along Ladies Mile Beach, to the east of the salt lake. I dashed back to Akrotiri, where I met up with June Neal at the Birdlife Cyprus visitor centre. She kindly allowed me to view the flock through the scopes at the centre, as they ascended from the lake trying to catch the thermals. The total number was estimated at over a thousand. Since they were quite distant, after leaving the centre, I drove over to the military base from where I managed to capture these images. Spectacular sight!



Later in the week, after a busy day baking in the heat, I was setting up the BBQ to cook the evening meal, when I was startled by the cries of a flock of over 60 cranes flying close to the villa. Dashing inside to grab the camera, I assumed they were Common Cranes, but on closer inspection (and after confirmation from web forums) I was chuffed to realise that they were Demoiselle's, a lifer for me. Fantastic!


Monday, 10 September 2012

A few more BOP's

Once again, Dave Gosney came good. Theletra was reported as being a good site for Long-legged Buzzards. Sure enough, before I'd even stopped the car at the entrance to the gorge, one flew low over the road giving me fantastic views. Unfortunately, by the time I'd screeched to a halt and got out the car, it was some distance away. Never-the-less, I was pretty pleased with the shots I managed to take as it soared on the thermals for the next 15 minutes or so.
The Monty's Harrier was a surprise find near Akrotiri, taking flight from a bush as I rounded a bend in the dirt-track near the Aghios Nikolaos Monastery. More clouds of dust as I slammed on the brakes.
 
The posing Kestrel proved an easier imaging target. Why aren't Buzzards so confiding? 
 
Escort




 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Colourful Characters

A selection of the more colourful bird life I managed to image.

A group of 5 Bee-eaters entertained me for ages at Acheleia reedbeds, the only time I saw these wonderful birds during the whole trip. Rollers, on the other hand, were quite regular sightings, both in the farmland around the villa and on the wires around Loukaides chicken farm; exactly as predicted by Dave Gosney's "Finding Birds..."  (perhaps he pays the farmer).
As for the Cockatiel, well, this is one of a pair that were enjoying their freedom at Goudi, just down the road from where we stayed.


It does what it says on the tin



Thursday, 6 September 2012

Kensington Cliffs

Fantastic site just West of the Akrotiri peninsula. The cliffs themselves were somewhat un-nerving, having no protection from the sheer drop of several hundred feet, but I crawled as close to the edge of the crumbly rocks as I dared, in temperatures of 38'C.
Unfortunately, there was no sign of the hoped-for roosting Griffon Vultures, but the incredibly close views of Eleanora's Falcons soaring and wheeling on the thermals were spectacular.





Tuesday, 4 September 2012

An amazing picture...

... not for the Cyprus Wheatear, but for the sign it's standing on.  In the entire trip, I think this was the only "Hunting is Prohibited" sign I saw that wasn't shot to pieces for target practice.

I knew Cyprus was well known for it's "enthusiastic" attitude to shooting, but having chosen to go birding early one Sunday morning to Evretou Reservoir, I soon realised I'd entered a warzone. Camo' clad, shotgun wielding, hunters lined the main road from Polis and were sat patiently behind almost every bush in the hills around the reservoir, waiting for something, anything, to move. On parking the car and turning off the engine, the constant roar from the guns was astonishing and, at one point, I actually heard the sound of metal on metal, as spent shot fell from the sky onto the car roof.

I was genuinely shocked, and came home both upset and angered, wondering how anything at all manages to survive in this part of the island.

These images were taken on a "less dangerous" day around Theletra, where I plucked up the courage to set foot outside the vehicle.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Francolin's were on my target list, but I was quite surprised at how common they were in the area around our villa near Polis. On a few occasions, I narrowly avoided hitting a beautiful male as it flew across the track down to the villa. Being quite late in the season, the fields had been harvested which I guess provided less cover for them to hide in. This said, I found them difficult to get good close images as they were very secretive and skittish, running for any available cover as soon as they spotted the car.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Welcome to Cyprus

Blog has sadly been dormant for the last year. No excuses, other than a combination of laziness and life just getting in the way. Our recent family holiday to Cyprus will hopefully trigger a resurgence of postings.

Although the trip was a family holiday, I did manage to take myself out and about during the early mornings, whilst the rest of the family slumbered. I'm still sorting through the images taken (mainly birdlife), but here's an opener of a critter that created a bit of a stir around bedtime one day.

On returning to our villa one evening and preparing to shut down for the night, this happy chappy greeted us as we entered our bedroom, resting directly above our bed, ready to pounce on unsuspecting passers by. I've never seen such a monster outside of a zoo, and the family entered panic mode. It was, of course, left to me to try and get rid of the thing. Not wishing to cause any harm (especially to me), I finally managed to capture it in a [large] glass tumbler and remove it as far from the villa as possible - which meant the other side of the swimming pool. Upon release, it procede to chase me around the pool (it could really move!) before running straight into the pool. After rescuing it with the pool net, it was last seen running off through the undergrowth.

Smile for the camera

My efforts to identify the beastie so far suggest it could be a specimen of the Cyprus Tarantula Chaetopelma karlamani.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Colourful garden tick !

British species can be colourful when seen up close in the right light, but come on! 

Clearly an escape, this marvellous creation was putting on a dazzling show in the afternoon sun. It stayed around for quite a while, spending time on the feeders and taking the odd drink from the garden pond between rest periods in the neighbouring bushes.

Through the wonders of internet bird forums, I'm told it's an Eastern Rosella, native of SE Australia.

Checking the time on the garden sundial
 


The last view was of it flying from the garden being chased by the resident collared doves. Sadly, it's future is unlikely to be as bright as it's fantastic plumage, but I hope it enjoys it's all too brief freedom from the confines of a cage.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

To capture a Swift....

Another try for the local swifts this evening. Most of my shots are still ending in the recycle bin, but I was quite pleased with this one, though if my "keeper" success rate is anything to go by, I think this is more due to luck rather than skill on my part, I think. When up close, the birds are travelling far too fast to either freeze them in flight or to keep them in the frame. When at distance its difficult to get a decent image size and quality suffers. This is, once again, heavily cropped.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Nest Building

Progress continues under the eaves ...and I must confess, they're much easier to photograph when they're still like this!


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A Welcome Return

House Martin's nesting under the eaves of our house used to be a regular annual event for several years after we moved into the village. However, for the last few years, numbers of visiting Martin's have dropped noticeably and, although birds have sometimes started nest building, these have been aborted before completion.
This year, the Martin's are back in higher numbers, which is great to see. Nest building has started in about 4 location around our eaves - considering the prolonged lack of rain, which must be reducing the availability of suitable nest-building mud, I hope they're more successful this year.


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Swifts

Nice to see the swifts circling around the village a few evenings ago, but mighty difficult to get decent images of them. Not the best of shots, but a starting point to try and improve upon.



Friday, 13 May 2011

Dawn Chorus

Went out yesterday morning just before dawn on an unsuccesful astronomy imaging session. After watching a stunning sunrise I did a bit of birding before driving back for breakfast. Lots of dawn chorus activity with some good birds on show - my first Little Owls of the year and a range of open country birds. This Whitethroat put on a particularly good show.




Monday, 9 May 2011

Willington Wag's

The local Grey Wag's are fascinating to watch, constantly on the move catching insects for their growing brood. This made them tricky to get good images, exposures being a compromise between ISO setting and shutter speed to try and freeze their frantic movements. A heap of images were resigned to the recycle bin as a result, but I was quite pleased with these shots.



Monday, 2 May 2011

Zygoptera

A great name for the order of these attractive little insects - the Damselflies. Not as impressive, perhaps, as their larger cousins, the dragonflies, but a lovely sight to see along the River Great Ouse over the last few days. Emergence seems a bit early this year, probably brought on by the recent mini-heatwave we seem to be enjoying. The river bank is certainly a place where you can easily lose yourself, wandering lazily in the gorgeous sunshine enjoying the wildlife. A few kingfishers darting up and down stream completed the idyllic scene.
The Large Red Damselfly resting on the marsh marigold was our first garden damselfly of the season.


Banded Demoiselle (female)

Banded Demoiselle (male)

Common Blue Damselfly (male)


Large Red Damselfly (male)


Large Red visiting the garden pond


Red-eyed Damselfly (male)