philm63

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David M
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Re: philm63

Postby David M » Mon Apr 15, 2013 8:27 pm

I'm surprised there are fledglings so early, Phil. There's hardly been a ready buffet of insects/caterpillars to raise them on.

Round where I live, most of the birds seem to still be building nests!

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philm63
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Re: philm63

Postby philm63 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:50 pm

Dave I think pigeons will nest in every month of the year in some places, and Crossbills will have finished breeding by now as they are very early starters, as are Grey Herons I believe. Today I saw my first Mallard chicks, two broods in two different places and I saw Blackbird, House Sparrow and Starling today with food so all probably have fledglings. However a lot of resident species seem to be nest building or sitting at the moment

Fri 19 April
Day off work and with tomorrow being on family duties and Sunday forescast as rubbish I decided to have a trip out, thought I would go down into the valley expecting that to present the best opportunities. Light rain to start then dry and overcast with finally some sunshine for the last 20 minutes or so.
The trip down provided no unusual sightings and also no butterflies. Along the canal and then turned off to approach Bingley Bog North from the top end, saw a few House Sparrows here, some carrying food (House Sparrows are not common around here at all). The Bog held a Mallard with chicks and two Chiffchaff but also no butterflies. Passed over the by-pass and railway into Bingley and then onto Riverside Walk which leads into Myrtle Park, did the riverside all the way to the allotments and round to Harden Beck before retracing my route and back home. Best bit of the day with a second Mallard family (but only two chicks left), at least 4 Willow Warblers and a few more Chiffchaff and a cracking sighting of three Common Sandpiper pausing on their way upstream. Also had a pair of Goosander and another Swallow - but once again no butterflies
Passing the allotments near 5-rise Locks on my way home saw my only butterfly of the day a Small Tortoiseshell feeding on dandelions. Still the only species I have seen yet.
Attachments
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One of the shots of todays ST feeding on dandelions
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One of the Common Sandpipers but on the wrong bank from my point of view
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A spot of colour with a gaudy male Pheasant in the allotments near Myrtle Park
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Pair of Goosanders on the River Aire just past Myrtle Park

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Wurzel
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Re: philm63

Postby Wurzel » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:03 pm

Great report again Phil and I really like the Goosander shot :D :mrgreen: They're cracking birds but down here are more of a winter speciality than a breeding species, the furthest south (in England) I've seen them during the summer months was on the River Avon at Worcester.

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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philm63
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Re: philm63

Postby philm63 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:57 am

Wurzel - Thanks. I expect to see Goosander most months, along with things like Dipper and Red Grouse one of the benefits of living here.

Mon 29
A deep low for me at the moment. The weather is awful and I have suffered a re-occurence of an old knee problem that means no walks either. I have struggled to work a few times but today I am having off as I am back to the doctor's to see what I can get done.

So all my recent stuff has been from the trip to work or this weekend the garden. In two hours this morning I clocked 27 species including Jay and Sparrowhawk so I am not getting bored at least. Highlight of the weekend has been a male Blackcap which for three days (seen again this morning) now has been around the garden taking fat from the coconuts. Possibly it is from the copse on the main road and is struggling to find enough insects
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Male Blackcap gracing the garden for three days so far

When I put the mealworms out they are rapidly grabbed by the locals to feed their young, with the usuals - Starlings, Blackbird, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Dunnock taking the most; however we are now getting a Mistle Thrush (or both) visiting to stock up. This has led to some real scraps with the Blackbirds and Starlings
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Mistle Thrush stocking up on mealworms

The finches continue to visit for the sunflower hearts next door with Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin and Bullfinch all seen regularly
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Siskin and Goldfinches, this image was digiscoped

Lastly I would like to introduce you to an old friend of mine - a Dunnock. I first saw this individual back in early 2011 he (I believe it is a male) was obvious as he had a leg problem and was trailing one foot he wouldn't use. Despite this he sang in the spring, mated and I believe actually raised a brood that year. During 2011 at some point the actual foot itself fell off leaving just a stump. I permanently have two fat coconuts out front of the house in a holly (seen above on the Blackcap) and this is where I see him most often. Then last year I saw him not at all for a long period and presumed his missing leg had left him as easy prey for one of the local cats or the Sparrowhawks that use the gardens here as a take-away. But no, he re-appeared. Now in 2013 he is still around and I took the picture below yesterday in the usual spot I see him. If you look at branch he is on forward of the white mark you can see the stump of his leg hanging down. This shows how remarkably stubborn life can be in adverse conditions I think
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My friend the one-footed Dunnock


No butterflies seen this week at all

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Re: philm63

Postby Padfield » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:01 am

I'm very glad you introduced us to Hoppalong Hedge Sparrow. He is an example to us all. Humans all too often waste their energies wishing things were otherwise or regretting they are as they are; but other creatures just seem to make the best of what they have.

Thank you!

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

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philm63
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Re: philm63

Postby philm63 » Mon May 06, 2013 7:28 pm

Guy
Glad to oblige. There is a line of some kind crossed when it stops being a Dunnock and becomes a recognizable Dunnock (or any other species), it adds some additional dimension as you see it's life unfold over the months and years.

Mon 6 May
By far the warmest day of the year, but the previous week has not been spectacular. As I am still, to all intents and purposes, home-bound till I get my knee sorted (except for struggling to work) so the entire week has been limited to sightings from the train, bus or the garden. Until yesterday I had not seen a butterfly all week except for a distant view of a vanishing white on Thursday. Yesterday in the garden I had a few sightings of Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell and some unidentified whites but nothing was stopping. Today I sat out for a good few hours this afternoon and saw much the same with two male Orange Tips at the same time that clashed over the lawn at one point. However one of the male Orange Tips alighted for a few minutes next door and I managed to lean over the fence and take a few snaps (some below) this was repeated even more briefly by a Small Tortoiseshell later. Orange Tips certainly brighten up a spring day when you get a decent view.
Toady is the first time in over a week and half I haven't seen the Blackcap. The male about four days ago suddenly became a pair; as it started appearing with a female, or each would pop in on its own a few times a day, only ever taking fat. I managed to get a few shots of them together, one of which is below
With Swifts appearing locally also over the past few days it appears spring is really here
Attachments
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The male Orange Tip that paused next door
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Partial undersides showing
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I was suprised how hairy these can appear
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Small Tortoiseshell
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Male and female Blackcap in the garden
Last edited by philm63 on Thu May 09, 2013 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Wurzel
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Re: philm63

Postby Wurzel » Mon May 06, 2013 9:16 pm

Great close up shot of the Orange-tip Phil and a pair of Blackcap in one shot - that is a rarity :mrgreen: :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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philm63
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Re: philm63

Postby philm63 » Thu May 09, 2013 7:24 pm

Cheers Wurzel

The Blackcaps are still visiting, have seen them three times this afternoon already; I am sticking with my belief they are a local pair but are visiting the feeder to supplement their food intake, which is actually quite worrying if they cannot find enough insect intake. As both are visiting at the same time on some occasions it is unlikely they have laid eggs yet and after a few nice days we are back to high winds and rain. Watching the bird scramble to bag all the mealworms I put out which are collected and taken away by the beakful I think they are at those times forming a good proportion of some chicks intake - and I have nearly ten species taking them.We also still have a good number of Goldfinch, Siskin, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Bullfinch on the sunflower hearts and today I had both Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding in the garden so I am glad I have added to the choices of high energy food I am supplying - I fear this could turn out as a very bad Spring for wildlife all round.
No more butterflies in the garden since Monday but that is due to timing on Tues / Wed as I was back at work and the weather today. On Tuesday I had a very tattered Peacock, my first of the year, feeding on dandelions at work - have a few shots but not considered good enough to post. The journey home on the train only showed a few whites and a single Small Tortoiseshell along the valley rail corridor which was disappointing
My last trip to the park showed the bilberry there was just starting to gain new growth, I have had Green Hairstreak earlier than this on flowering bilberry out on the exposed moors. Locally we are getting to see some decent cover of leaves now on most trees, although some are still only in bud, I just hope it all comes out ok in the end and that the rest of the year is good

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Re: philm63

Postby Pauline » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:23 pm

Evening Phil

How are things with you? I am missing your postings and wondering how the birds are getting on. I still have 2 Blackcaps in the garden - they just love the suet logs as do all the others. Your bird photos are lovely.

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philm63
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Re: philm63

Postby philm63 » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:00 am

Hi Pauline I have been very restricted of late with being confined to the garden or very close to home, I hope to hear soon what the prognosis is to get my knee sorted out – the sooner the better from my point of view. The Blackcaps are no longer visiting but that is compensated by a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers that are visiting a couple of times a day. Your recent posts have been fascinating

We had a good emergence of Small Tortoiseshells locally during May with 7 – 8 showing in one spot but they seem to disappear very quickly, otherwise I have been limited to what passes through the garden or what I have seen travelling to and from work. A local birder on the birding group blog reported 26 Green Hairstreak spotted as he crossed Ilkley Moor, I will miss them this year as I cannot get up to the normal spot and by the time I expect to be mobile again it will be too late

A brief catch up since my last post

The Blackcaps stopped visiting around the 11 – 12 May, but that coincided with the start of visits from a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and an occasional visit by a Jay. Funnily enough the Siskins stopped calling around the same time.

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Jay on the lawn


On the 19 May I managed to struggle around my usual route, saw around 15 Small Tortoiseshells, 2 Peacocks, a Large White, 4 Green-veined Whites and a single male Orange Tip. The local Lapwings are now accompanied by chicks with 4 – 5 seen

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Small Tortoiseshell

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Lapwing near the breeding grounds


The birds visiting the garden later in May reduced but Bullfinch and Nuthatch put in good appearances and the first of the local songbird broods started showing. I was concerned that the Robins, Blackbirds and Great Tits that appeared were all limited to one youngster each. Has any one else noticed small brood survival this spring?
On the 26 May I managed a visit to Prince of Wales Park which produced a few nice Green-veined Whites and an unexpected Large Red Damselfly (a female of form melanotum or intermedia I think). Back home we had a male Orange Tip visit which I managed to photograph over the fences

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Green-veined White

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Female Large Red Damselfly

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Study of a sun-dappled Robin in the garden

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Male Orange Tip in the garden


By the last few days of May to early June I was limited to the usual common garden visitors and then in small numbers and sporadic visits except for a few species that appear to be feeding their chicks from what is on offer. On the 2nd June made another brief trip locally and found a small mixed flock of Grey and Red-legged Partridges then in Prince of Wales Park started turning up Speckled Woods. I had passed through the park on Friday evening coming home from work and saw none so expect these emerged on the 1st or 2nd, in addition a few more Green-veined Whites.

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Speckled Wood undersides

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Uppersides of the same butterfly- damaged but only a few days old

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Female Green-veined White

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And a nearby male


From the 6th onwards I have been trying to get to grips with my new camera. I have stuck with getting another bridge camera but switched to the Canon SX50 which gives me a top magnification of 50 – 100x (35mm equiv of 1200 – 2400mm) which I am hoping will pull in those more distant birds for good shots, make closer ones more detailed and still gives a Macro facility down to zero. All the initial shots are in Auto as I get used to the functions

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Goldfinch

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Great Spotted Woodpecker on the feeders

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Greenfinch on the feeders


On he 8th made a very brief hobble up to see if the Little Owls were at home about a half mile from our house. Spotted a Small Tortoiseshell over a wall, shot from about 10 feet away and also found my Little Owl. It appears to have an unusual or defective right eye pupil.

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Small Tortoiseshell undersides

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Little Owl


Back at home tried to get a good shot of the juvenile Blackbird that spends ages in the garden or nearby and also took a nice shot of one of the resident Dunnocks that would have been better without the foliage. The camera seems to be giving decent results so far but I still have lots to learn with it

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Juvenile Blackbird

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A bit more zoom applied

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Dunock - pity about the plant


The day after I wanted to see how big a difference dragging the zoom up made, the shot below has been cropped absolutely minimal and was shot from about 6 yards. The Image Stabilisation system is very good even at the top end of magnification. I made a train journey later down to the Butterfly Conservation reserve at Shipley station not too far from me; hoping to see Common Blue but to no avail, the plaque and info there stated June – July so may try again later. The females here are very blue so it says. The reserve itself is actually a quite small fenced off area sitting between platforms and car parks but still has a list of about a dozen species

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Dunnock after upping the zoom a bit more


I will try and post more frequently depending on what shows up, but the weather looks to be turning back to more unsettled. After struggling back and forth to work during the week I really need to rest my leg at weekends, I never expected to say I would miss my car so much but I do; but it would be unsafe to drive in my current condition

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Re: philm63

Postby Pauline » Thu Jun 13, 2013 3:28 pm

Evening Phil

Good to see your post. I hope you get your knee sorted out soon but in the meantime it looks like you have plenty of photo opportunities close by. I don't think my photos are anything special this year Phil as butterflies are thin on the ground and the weather here in Hants is dreadful. Still, your bird photos cheer me up so keep them coming.

PS love your Little Owl.

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Re: philm63

Postby Wurzel » Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:53 pm

Great report Phil, it seems that camera is working out well for you with some great shots :D Good luck with the knee

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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philm63
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Re: philm63

Postby philm63 » Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:06 am

Pauline, Wurzel – thanks for the kind comments

Apologies up front for the lack of butterfly images, have had no opportunities presented recently
I am still mainly on garden watch mode, have made a few observations whenever I have been out such as the trip to work, but few present photo opportunities. There has been very little seen of butterflies except for a few whites travelling about. On the occasions I have come home through Prince of Wales Park have had no sightings of Speckled Wood either. So, one again, I am limited to reporting on the birds in the garden. I have tried out a few new feeders with mixed success, but a suet pellet feeder has proved a great success and has drawn in thrushes, Robin, Jay and even a Jackdaw, some days it is empty by the time I get home. This is mainly due to the larger birds that cannot perch on the edge; they deliberately hit it on a pass, spilling some onto the ground where they can get at it. I have seen Mistle Thrush, Jay, Blackbird, Magpie and Jackdaw doing this now. Apart from the odd day the weather has precluded sitting out; so most of the pictures where shot from the living room through the windows, this adds usually a cast to the colour. Siskins are starting to appear again, and Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Nuthatch are quite frequent; the occasional visit by a Jay is also welcomed.
I have noticed a drop in quality in the images taken inside against those shot sitting out, besides adding another 4 – 5 yards to the range the sharpness decreases but I am still pleased with some of the results, and with the larger images you start to notice things that were not obvious with shots of the same birds with my last camera. I am still waiting for the chance to actually get out in the field and give the new camera a good testing. I have now got my appointment for surgery this month so hope to be mobile again in August
Attachments
IMG_0343.jpg
Dunnock
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Pheasant - hen with chicks
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Nuthatch
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Siskin male
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Jay
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Jackdaw
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Mouse sp
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Great Spotted Woodpecker
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Greenfinch
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Goldfinch
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Song Thrush
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Mistle Thrush
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Grey Squirrel

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Re: philm63

Postby Pauline » Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:40 pm

I know this is a butterfly site Phil but I love seeing your bird photos which are fantastic. Thanks to the members on this site I am learning a lot about photography but still can't manage shots like those - although mine are taken through glass. How do you get so close?

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philm63
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Re: philm63

Postby philm63 » Fri Jul 05, 2013 10:20 pm

Pauline

Glad you like them, I love most of your butterfly shots as I have indicated on earlier posts, most of subjects I have no chances of seeing locally; making them twice as welcomed
I work with a bridge camera, up to a few weeks ago I used a Fuji S5600 which has served me well since I bought it about 5 years ago - this has a 10x optical zoom. To get some of the better close-ups such as the earlier Goldcrest and Robin shots I would take those from my front porch window looking at some feeding spots I had put in a holly out front about 8 feet away. Even then the key is to still shoot at the maximum magnification possible to get the maximum image size to reduce cropping required. Other shots would depend on luck and starting from the first view, shoot - move a bit closer, shoot etc till you consider no further without disturbance. Butterflies and Dragonflies as you are aware allow a much closer approach and it is as much about composition, backgrounds etc with these.
However, back to the birds, it was obvious I was not recording decent shots of the more distant birds; record shots yes but not exactly pleasing. So, as the camera needed replacing I read up as much as I could on user views of the newer super-zooms in the bridge range. I had considered going DSLR but I wanted a camera I could take anywhere, use at a moments notice; and shoot a bird then a butterfly without changing equipment. An entry level DSLR with a moderate zoom (say 300mm) would cost enough and still offer no more pulling power than my 10x Fuji. I must stress I am not a photographer, I just like to record the beautiful creatures that I am lucky enough to see, so no to a DSLR and I was back to my super-zooms. I narrowed it down to 3 and the Canon had the best user shots on the various forums. So I now have 50x zoom which at the press of a button becomes 75x then 100x zoom, but still it means being as close as possible, and getting the largest image possible at the minimum zoom necessary. So the Grey Squirrel shot was at around 80x and is not cropped in anyway and shot from around 20 feet, at the same time I shot a number showing the whole squirrel at a lower zoom. I just think the real close-up is a view we seldom see and adds a new dimension; but is not necessarily any better. At 50x I have the equivalent of a 1200mm telephoto and at 100x a 2400mm, so now I can get some decent record shots of more distant objects and on a camera that is standard size with no additional equipment needed. They will never be as good as shots from a DSLR but that is not the important point, it is decent shots across different subjects from a practical perspective for me, so I only shoot in jpeg - though the camera will do RAW and RAW+jpeg, I have no desire at this moment to get into post shooting routines in Photoshop etc either.
My main desire now is to get out there and try it out properly.
Oh dear, on reading it back, it seems very long-winded - hope I have answered your question after all that. Just two more points:
1. These cameras have been heavily field tested by other interested users so the optimum settings have been worked out, tested and posted - I have these and most could be applied to any camera that is either a Bridge or DSLR - if you are interested drop me a PM and I will e-mail you the data. I have been using them and they seem fine
2. There is a web-site run by two Americans showing wildlife (primarily birds) shot on this Canon and its previous version in their gardens. To say the images are stunning is an understatement. If I could get 30% of the quality of them I would be over the moon. The site also gives some background to how they achieve it (all manual settings, RAW and post shooting Photoshop) but it is worth looking at just to savour the images. Let me know if you want the site address

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Re: philm63

Postby Pauline » Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:44 am

Hi Phil - thanks for such a comprehensive reply. If you could pm me with the name of that site and also the camera details I'd be grateful.

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philm63
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Re: philm63

Postby philm63 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:56 pm

Another catch up
Like most of the country we have had some spectacular weather, but apart from some specific sites this has not led to a major increase in butterflies being seen around generally. The morning/evening trip on the train has produced very few sightings along the railway corridor.
On the 7 July I managed to do a quick transit through Bingley Bog North - 40+ Ringlets, 20+ Large/Small Skippers, 8-10 Peacocks (none new) and a handful of Meadow Brown and Whites made for a pleasurable period there. On the 13 July I did a circuit locally with more ringlets, a few Skippers, nymphalids and Meadow Browns but not much else butterfly wise. Sightings in the garden have been few and far between with the occasional butterfly passing through, a damselfly earlier in the month and today a dragonfly sp that didn't stop, however bees have been plentiful
Knee surgery next week and hopefully fully fit and able to get around a week or so later
Attachments
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Burnet Moth
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Small Skipper
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Ringlet and Cinnabar Moth caterpillar
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Woodpigeon study
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Juvenile Blue Tits - appearing as if enjoying a game of leapfrog
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Bullfinch on my feeders
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Large Red Damselfly in my garden - seen twice in one day but not since
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Large Skipper
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Peacock undersides - upperparts were quite worn
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Great Tit - showing the cost of raising a family
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Lapwing chick (one of two) enjoying a mud patch which cattle had created near a seep in a field
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Two Meadow pipits on a wall nearby
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Male Pied Wagtail on the same mud as the Lapwing above
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Mistle Thrush - currently a regular visitor in my garden
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Bee in the garden

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philm63
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Re: philm63

Postby philm63 » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:07 am

Some recent photos that I have taken, most in the garden area but the Comma and Holly Blue were from a a local walk I did. The garden has seen a multitude of whites passing through with over 100 sightings a day in the time I was out, mainly Large White but decent numbers of Green-veined and Small as well. In addition there have been sporadic visits from Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and even a Comma (a garden first for me)
Attachments
1.jpg
Large White
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3.jpg
4.jpg
5.jpg
6.jpg
Small White
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Mating Small Whites
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Green-veined White
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Small Tortoiseshell
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Red Admiral - it was a rather worn individual
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Comma
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16.jpg
Holly Blue
17.jpg
18.jpg
19.jpg
Juvenile Blue Tit
20.jpg
Greenfinch
21.jpg
Dunnock

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Re: philm63

Postby Wurzel » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:43 pm

Cracking closed wing shot of the Comma Phil, the rest are pretty great too :D It's been a good year for Whites by all accounts.

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: philm63

Postby philm63 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:07 pm

Hello again to all, it seems ages since my last post back in August. A lot has happened since then and now but I feel things are back on track, especialy considering the arrival of our first great-grandson 3 weeks ago. An utter joy as we can hand him back at the end of the day, all the good bits but still a good night’s sleep as well. I was active in September but had computer issues meaning I could not post due to file size, then it was quieter in the last 3 months of 2013 as my attention was primarily on some family matters. Hoping to see a full year in 2014, weather permitting.

Rather than write much prose I have decided to do a month at a time showing my favourite or most interesting pics with a more detailed caption to explain what was going on

Since last post
In the days leading up to and directly after the surgery I was mainly observing around the garden area, but with the weather being excellent I could sit out for long periods. I had missed the period for some of my annuals such as Green Hairstreak, and also for my trips for some annual birds in the breeding season that I do not get locally. Whilst other individuals posts were showing good numbers at various places we do not seem to have had anything exceptional here that way, whites seemed very common at times with some days 30 or 40 sightings in the garden but the numbers may not have been that high. As some recognizable individuals turned up repeatedly throughout a day it was nice to have something around nearly all the time but I still think we did not have very high numbers; however much better than some previous years. In addition to the butterflies we had an excellent period for birds with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Nuthatch and lots of juvenile commoner species back and forth between the gardens. Red Kite were seen on a good number of days from the back garden, it showed what I would normally miss being at work or in the house. In addition to my established buddleia I bought a dwarf one and put that on the paved area near the room window, it attracted more butterflies than the other, both seemed to bloom for a good period this year

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A pair of Bullfinches were regulars at the garden feeders in my garden and next door, they continued to visit well into the autumn, then the sightings of Bullfinches dropped off till January. I managed to shoot quite a few shots of these and usually from around 8 feet or so. They would ignore the fact I was sitting nearby as long as I moved slowly and carefully

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I just love Robins, could photograph them all the time. This was one of the garden residents that sometimes approached to within a foot or so as I sat out, there were a few juveniles about as later shots will show. A bird that looks totally different depending on the angle seen and the weather. Back views do no justice to the vived colours seen head on, and summer birds more sleek than the almost circular puffed-up appearance of the winter visitors

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Another firm favourite, the Blue Tit. We had both adults and juveniles around. Out front I have another feeding station of just fat-filled coconuts but it attracts some really nice birds, and from the porch window it is only about 8 – 10 feet so almost acts as a hide. The only down-side is the positioning of branches that they like to perch on, I am unwilling to remove them just to make the photos less cluttered. This one obligingly sat on top of the coconut. Some nice feather detail showing in this picture

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Well not a rarity but I usually take shots of the local Rabbits when they pose well enough. I had gone out on the 17th to do my local patch and as you enter Walsh Lane a sloping field over a high wall on the left usually holds Rabbits, sometimes in double figures and handy at one spot for photographing, as this one shows. I was well pleased with how this picture came out, the overall colours seem complimentary

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A cock Pheasant seems to think that hunkering down means I can no longer see him. A few seem to take this defensive posture instead of racing off across the fields. Taken also on the 17th and about 100 yards further on from the Rabbit, but the grass here has weathered better. There are a few of this distinctive colour pattern of Pheasant here and some are even more flamboyant, Ring-necks however do seem to be the commonest variety

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Further on the walk I passed the cattle wallow on Heights Lane – a seep deeply messed up by cattle that had become a largish wet and muddy area. I had earlier posted a shot of a juvenile Lapwing here, but these have moved on and Pied Wagtails were much more common for a few weeks. Visits post autumn has seen very little here so I enjoyed it while it lasted. This is a juvenile bird

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The following day the early afternoon sunshine brought a few butterflies into the garden on the buddleias including this Small White, numbers of these are their larger cousin were about equal I would say during the late summer and early autumn period. The occasional Green-veined white would also show up. I still feel whites are amongst the hardest butterflies to get decent shots off, much more skittish than nymphalids even when having a good feed

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And talking of nymphalids, a few minutes later this Peacock showed up and continued to show on and off for the rest of the day, never seeming to move that far away from the gardens here. Peacocks are really a delight and common enough to brighten up any day. This one is showing the classic “owl” pose

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Later the same day I popped down into the valley to the canal and on to the Bog. Micklethwaite Bridge usually has Black-headed Gulls and Jackdaws as well as the well-fed feral geese and Mallards. This Jackdaw was near the canal where the wildfowl had started moulting, hence all the feathers. A bird seen locally in some good numbers at times and that nest near my home in chimney stacks most years

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Here at Micklethwaite Bridge or nearby the wildfowl are joined at times by Mute Swans. Took the opportunity to try and get a head-only shot of a bird swimming on the canal. Later in the year the juveniles will also be around this area as well looking for easy pickings from the numerous people catering to the wildfowl’s insatiable appetite for the humble loaf

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Popping down into the Bog area I came across these Small Whites mating. I was really struck by the size difference between these two individuals; one appears only half the size of the other. The Bog area was pretty quiet and I found no remaining skippers there at all

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23rd August. The garden is now being visited by a nice-sized flock of mixed-age Goldfinches. Here is a juvenile on the feeders, not yet showing the glorious colours of the adults but still recognizable as a Goldfinch, especially around the wings and tail areas. Greenfinches, Bullfinches and Chaffinches are also showing well but Siskins have moved on for the moment, re-appearing just before Christmas

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25th August. I went up to Whetstone Gate on the moors, parked up and walked back down to the small quarry. Here the sides were resplendent in flowering heather. I was amazed - miles from anywhere and here were a few Painted Lady. I had seen none previously this year and saw none after, I wondered later how many years they may appear up here but not lower down the valley. These were my first since 2009 so I enjoyed them whilst I could, the steep sides of the quarry limited photo opportunities and I was still taking care at that stage not to aggravate the recent surgery so no silly climbing to get better shots

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If the Painted Lady were not enough the site also had a few Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Small Coppers. A Peacock undersides here as it fed on the heather. Though not brilliant a picture I really enjoy looking back at, nice pose and some lovely colours

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And if the above were not enough for the day I found my first Small Heath ever here with about 3 individuals seen. Regrettably al the shots are obscured in some way by the rough grasses they frequented on the quarry floor. Now I have a location will be returning next year to see if I can improve on the images, this is the same area where I usually come for Green Hairstreak a bit higher on the moors. It was a day to savour with also good sightings and shots of Red Grouse and Wheatear

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A second shot of a Peacock taken at the site later on, but with a upperwing view. Never enough pictures of Peacocks in my opinion

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26th August. Great Spotted Woodpeckers continue to frequent the garden, with two seen together one day. Most are usually seen out front from the kitchen window, although they will visit the back garden. I occasionally manage to get a few shots without scaring it off as here, a pleasing shot of what is a most unusual and almost exotic visitor to the garden, I now have quite a collection of photos taken in the garden area of this bird, but most are like this one with the odd branch obscuring part the shot, but as mentioned earlier the birds love these as perches, and it has led to shots of Jay, Jackdaw and Magpies at the coconuts

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Later that day I walked along the River Aire from Dowley Gap to Cottingley Bridge, very few butterfly species seen but some good number of whites around. The occasional Speckled Wood brightened up the walk, like this one on a riverside bush

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Further on I found two Small Coppers around a field fringe; and got some odd looks, as I tried to find a good angle to take a shot, from locals walking their dogs or playing on the grassy areas. Not many seen this year due to limited time out and about so enjoyed these

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As the playing fields gave way to a narrower path and vegetation I turned up a few more Speckled Woods. This one looks quite fresh despite the damage to the hind-wing. A butterfly I usually see in good numbers most years except this one. By the time I was fully mobile they all seemed to have gone apart from the odd one

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31st August. Walked over the fields and then down to Eldwick Reservoir on what became a day to remember. This Small Tortoiseshell was in the fields enjoying the sun. Low down on the grasses it was elusive to photograph and this was the best of the few taken, not as many this year as last when this field held 20+ one sunny afternoon. It appears to be holding its own locally with a widespread distribution in a variety of habitats

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The first of the day’s highlights was this Buzzard by Eldwick Reservoir. It was on the wall around the field opposite and this was taken from about 100m away, I love the shot, most are just shapes as the soar overhead so was glad of the chance to take this in a more presentable pose. It stayed around for twenty minutes and I got one or two more good images before it moved into a tree area

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Not 15 minutes later a call from some bushes alerted me to this female Redstart which then conveniently posed on the wall nearby. It is not a Redstart area although they breed not too far away, so this must have been a passage bird moving south. The first (and possibly last) for my local patch. Two cracking birds with good shots taken in 15 minutes, I probably floated home in a daze

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But not before another Rabbit shot. This one looks a more mature individual than that posted earlier in the month, but in the same field. The overall appearance seems to shout it is an older animal unless I am just imagining it

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We nearly started this retro with a Robin so I decided to finish with one. Taken on the lawn in the back garden as I sat with a cup of coffee reflecting on my Buzzard and Redstart, I say lawn there is not much grass showing here. An adult bird looking for its evening meal

Hope that was of interest and so in the next post we move into September and go further afield. By far the busiest month to recap on, so I may have to split it we will see how it goes when I have got the photos reduced to posting size.


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