Saturday, 26 April 2008

Bird Snapping along Avon gorge.

I`ve been planning a trip to Avonmouth estuary for a while now to try out my digiscope. Last week I set out only to have my plans foiled by rain. Yesterday, however, I gave it another try and the weather blossomed into lovely sunshine and my date with Avonmouth birds was on.

It was just as I reached the portway, overlooking the Avon gorge, that I had my first photo op. I looked up to see a bird hovering above as if it was suspended in the sky. I was really excited, as I took it to be a peregrine falcon, as the Avon gorge is a known breeding site for this endangered species. I snapped away eagerly causing passers by to look up to see what was so interesting overhead.

I got quite a few shots but even with full zoom, the above one was the best I could manage as it flew past over and across where I stood. These are the times I desperately wish I had a zoom lens

However, it turned out that this one was not a peregrine, but rather a Kestrel, the typical suspended hovering, being a dead giveaway.

It was time to move on, and I headed to the Avon bridge which has a cycle path running alongside it over the gorge. I was surveying the paths below and noted a few pools. In one of the pools sat a Grey Heron, just begging to be photographed. I clicked away again. This is not the first time I`ve seen one or photographed one, but this was the first time one sat still enough for me to click away as long as I needed.

Thus I had the perfect digiscoping opportunity. I fished out my digiscope and braced it against the railings and clicked away. Unfortunately, my CP950 s LCD screen is almost useless in even low light, not to mention yesterdays lovely sunshine, and I had to take educated guesses about the focus, slightly changing it and clicking numerous shots, thus eventually getting atleast two that were good enough.


I soon moved on from the bridge and joined the National cycle network 41. I spent some time wading through the overgrown marshy grass, and spotted this starling, as well as a blackcap, but it got away before I could click at it.

I then moved on to the track just overlooking the gorge, and began digiscoping these yellow legged gulls, which took offense and flew away as soon as they were in focus.

However, as if in compensation, out fluttered two birds, which on later reference turned out to be wheatears, and sat within range of digiscope and camera. One of them flew away as soon as I turned my attention on it, but the other was content to pose. I first used the digiscope from a safe distance, and when I was sure I had enough shots,




I decided to take the risk and venture closer with the camera. The bird did fly away as soon as I got close but it sat close by enabling me to get a few good shots before it took off.

My next candidate was this gull. Identifying gulls is tricky business, but I think this one is a exceptionally bluish herring gull. The main difference from the yellow legged gulls above being just that.. their legs are not yellow.

Time was passing and I had a long way to cycle back, thus I began my journey back, but tried a short detour, where I chanced upon my first green finch. It wasnt a good poser and left me with few good shots.

My earlier snaps of the peregine-turned-kestrel inspired me to try a few more bird-in-flight shots. Heres two:



The one above is perhaps a buzzard or harrier, while the one below is quite clearly a gull.

...and those were my collections for the day. I had a tiring ride back home, but the days gains were worth it. My first sightings of a blackcap, wheatear and even the greenfinch, opportunities to put my digiscope to use and beautiful sunshine all day. Its been a day worth its weight in birds.


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