Jeff Clarke Ecology

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On Golden Pond

It was a Golden Wedding celebration weekend for my Parents-in-law and I'd taken my wildlife camera gear more in hope than expectation. During a brief hiatus in proceedings I met up with Paul, my brother-in-law, cameras in hand, at Budby Common for a 2 hour sojourn. The light was poor and I thought I might not even press the shutter.

Even when there is nothing to see or photograph Budby is a fine place to walk. After an hour I thought that was all it would be, but the sound of crossbills caught my ear and I watched the flock land in some smallish Scot's Pines, just a couple of hundered metres away on the heath. Paul had never seen crossbill so I suggested we make our way to the pines and 'pish out' the crossbills and see if we could photograph them.

A spot of high volume pishing later and we had 13 crossbills decorating the tree like Christmas baubles above our heads. The light was pretty abysmal and I fired off a few random shots at what looked like, through my viewfinder, rather heavy billed silouhettes . I expected the images to be really rubbish so I didn't even bother looking at them at that time, though this was mainly because Paul suddenly realised he had left his keys in the ignition of his van, with all the rest of his camera gear on the front seat!


We legged it back to the vehicles and thankfully everything was fine, so we spent a few minutes photographing some Whirligig beetles strutting their stuff on a nearby woodland pond; a testament to the mild conditions. No light meant a high ISO rating but the images were good enough to identify them as Gyrinus distinctus.


Later that evening, as Adele and I drove home, we became aware of a fabulous and evolving sunset. It was so eye-catching that I pulled off the A1 near Elkesley to try and capture the golden spleandor using a combination of phone, compact digital and my 100mm lens on the 7D. As we were doing this Adele's phone rang and it was her Dad saying "have you got a camera, as this sunset is amazing"? They had gone out to walk their dog and were enjoying the same spectacular.

Once home I uploaded my photos to the computer (mainly to look at the sunset pictures) but when I perused the crossbill images I immediately realised they were in fact Parrot Crossbills, with their hefty, thick, deep-based, bills. The latter part of 2013 has seen a mini-invasion of these pine seed loving heavyweight crossbills into the UK. It is always more satisfying to find your own rarities, even if the Id is a little belated, rather than rock up to somebody else's discovery. The irony is that my Brother-in-law still hasn't seen Common Crossbill.

All the images in this blog are copyright Jeff Clarke 2013 (unless otherwise stated)


©Jeff Clarke 2013
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