All images © Peter Garrity


25-11-2017 - Yorkshire Arboretum

Following news of really good numbers near the visitors centre a few days previously we decided to make the journey on a cold and slightly snowy Saturday morning. On reaching the centre at around midday news was not so good and only a few birds had been seen.

We managed to get views of one bird fairly quickly and it was feeding in small trees in the low sunlight. This was to be the best opportunity for photography albeit slightly obscured by branches. Typically whilst having lunch in the cafe a couple of birds appeared briefly where we had been previously stood. A second sortie out into the cold and fading light was successful when two birds appeared in the small trees and allowed reasonable views although backlit. Probably 5 or 6 birds seen in total.

I used a 2 x TC with my 500mm as I never really got that close.


Pwll-du, Gwent - 02-11-2017

I was conveniently working in Powys on the 2nd and 3rd of November and located near Brecon. For the previous week I was watching Birdguides for news of the long-staying Rockthrush at Pwll-du and hoping that it would stay a little longer (a new UK bird for me).

I set off from Sheffield at silly o'clock (3am) and following a scary detour around the A42 made it to the site at 6.20am.

Only one fellow birder at the site but I set off alone down the track to the third quarry. I arrived at the quarry about a mile and a bit later, exhausted carrying all the gear, but excited and nervous at the same time. I set the tripod up and got myself organised as dawn arrived, turned around and amazingly the bird was 15 feet away from me feeding on the ground.

Panorama above shows the track in both directions looking away from the quarry

I had this bird around me, on and off, for around two hours all alone except for the other birder who made a short visit and left me alone. Sunshine appeared for about 15 minutes and I got some acceptable shots. I was so close, I had to use a very small aperture (up to F22) to get a larger DOF. I was astounded with the amount of dust on my sensor which I could see on the images later. I used a range of apertures so below are the resulting images (got to get the sensor cleaned now though !!!).

Trying a selfie - bird just in the background and I was alone in the quarry

The bird was feeding on earthworms while I was there but also some residual mealworms. I thought it was calling and you can hear it on the video, however I was later informed it may have been sneezing. It looked healthy enough but was last seen the morning of the 3rd.