Archive for May, 2010

A birding day out

18 May, 2010

I like photographing birds because they’re challenging, interesting, colourful and of incredible variety but I’m not one to tick them off lists, like serious birders do. So it was a new experience for me to go birding with a some real enthusiasts at the weekend – and in the company of a true expert. My aim was to increase my chances of seeing some interesting birds to photograph – without me having to do the hard work of working out where to go, how to find them or even to have to spend time identifying them!

I had a grand day out and we saw an amazing 69 species of bird, from the humble sparrow to the Black-throated diver. Obviously, it wasn’t possible to photograph all of them and I could only get decent photos for a relatively few because some could only be seen with the aid of a telescope or we got a fleeting glimpse only. So what follows is a small selection of some of the better photos. I’ve also included a particularly pleasing shot of a Northern white-tailed bumblebee (Bombus magnus) taken at Kergord and a group shot too, taken at West Voe, Sumburgh, to round off the set. There’s a couple of images I wouldn’t normally upload but include them here as “record shots”. One is of a Linnet that we saw at Virkie (taken through the window of the bus with the engine still running as we pulled up just before  a starling frightened it away) and the other is the Black-throated diver – from about half a mile away! That shot is severely cropped but retains just about enough detail to be able to see what it is.

‘Vyeshch’ a Textile Installation by Hilary Seatter

14 May, 2010

вау! (Russian for wow!) You must see this. Make your way to the Museum and Archives, pass it and head round to the far end of the Pier Store because you’re in for a treat. As well as (apparently) a rather special coffee machine, that Hilary tells me can’t be had “for love nor money” there is a marvellous and mysterious collection of large scale silk panels. These panels are hanging in groups together such that they appear layered one on another, but – better yet – are transparent so that the bottom one can be seen to create an impression of depth.

Hilary explains “the title ‘Vyeshch’ is a Russian word that means ‘thing’ or ‘object’: a thing with soul, something infused with personality through its history and its personal meaning”. Inspired by and developed from a series of pinhole camera imagery of her coffee machine Hilary has created visual and audio works which play with your senses.

Go and see it soon so that you have time to go again before it finishes on 12 June.

Warbler update – and Spring really is here!

11 May, 2010

The weather has continued to be cold for May today with heavier snow flurries and continued hail showers – but still no lying snow, so it really must be Spring. Anyway, an update on my uncertainty over the weekend’s warbler – it was a Chiffchaff,  not a Willow warbler. Thanks to all who confirmed the ID; it is a new sighting for me so I was pleased to get some photos, especially since those who know have agreed it’s quite a tricky target!

On the siskin family I was pleased to see that the female is still happily chomping on our peanuts but there was no sign of the male and juvenile, though there are plenty of trees around for them to hide in.

Just to round up this post, here are a few photos taken in Unst last Friday to remind us that Spring really is upon us, despite the recent chill! A Shag, a Wheatear, the beach at Burrafirth and 3 close-up shots with the new macro lens.

Unusual Avian visitors

10 May, 2010

The weather has been really cold for May this weekend with a keen northerly wind blowing in snow flurries and hail showers – not what we should normally expect! But the wind also blew in some unusual visitors as well. A possible willow warbler was in the garden most of the afternoon on Saturday and part of Sunday – I say possible because it’s way beyond my ID skills and the experts think it could be that or, possibly, a chiffchaff. Having listened to the song on the RSPB site, I now think it might be a chiffchaff though!

No such difficulty IDing the siskins that came on Sunday afternoon; first an adult female, then a juvenile and finally a striking adult male.

All in all a real treat for such a cold weekend!