"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Friday, 29 May 2015

Birding at a Local Reserve

We spent a couple of hours yesterday at Marsh Lane Nature Reserve - I've postponed the butterfly trip to Gloucestershire until its a bit warmer as its a two and a half hour round trip so a long way to go if there aren't many butterflies about.

I resisted the temptation to take the Olympus and took the Canon Bridge instead. Its certainly very versatile as you can take landscapes, zoom in on distant birds and take macro shots. I am slowly working my way through the instruction manual - its going to be a long process!! I am struggling a bit with the macro function and trying to get close ups of flowers and insects as you will see from some of the photos. I'm not sure if you can use the macro facility when zooming in but will keep practising.

The causeway was a mass of wildflowers - vetches, trefoil, cow parsley, buttercups, gorse, broom, clover and Lady's Smock.

Many of the buttercup flowers contained these beetles - I haven't had chance yet to try and id them but it could be one of the Longhorn beetles?

Cuckoo spit is appearing on many plants - a home to the nymphs of a Froghopper.

Blurred photo of Lady's Smock (or Cuckoo flower).

Gorse is still in flower - many people describe the scent as smelling of coconut but to me it resembles vanilla. There were lots of bees feeding on the flowers although I couldn't get any photos.

Broom - we used to have one with these colours in the garden.

We spent some time watching Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Tufted Duck and Reed Warblers in and around Reedbed Pool.

Mute Swan

Rubbish photo of Great Crested Grebe - the reeds got in the way!

Lots of Clover along the paths

and Cow Parsley.

Creeping Cinquefoil?

I will return to this meadow hopefully in a few weeks to see the Orchids - at the moment its a mass of buttercups.

We stopped off at one of the Hides overlooking Railway Pool watching

Grey Herons, Mallard, Lapwing, Tufted Duck and Black-headed Gulls. The latter were sitting on eggs and there were a few young about.

The meandering path that leads to Railway Hide - this is my favourite stretch of the reserve - good for insects and butterflies in the summer and today we saw a Green Woodpecker anting.

Bramble is coming into flower


Sadly, half of the Back-gate Copse seems to have been chopped down :( Work Parties have cleared an area near the back gate to encourage more Twayblade Orchids to flower but the remaining trees, according to the Marsh Lane newsletter, had to be removed by Western Power from the side of the wires.

Path through what is left of the Copse.

View of Railway Pool from Railway Hide

Sand Martin bank

This Oystercatcher must have been sitting on eggs or had young because it was constantly chasing away Magpies and Crows that came to close.

I only saw two butterflies during the whole walk - 2 peacocks. This one sunning itself on the path was very worn.

I got exceedingly frustrated with the camera trying to get a shot of this Flower (or Swollen-thighed) beetle (Oedemera nobilis)

I certainly need to spend a lot more time getting to know the camera and experimenting with different settings.


Dartford Warbler said...

What a beautiful place to walk.

I think that probably is creeping cinquefoil. We have a lot growing in short grass on the New Forest heathlands. I do sometimes get it confused with tormentil. A subtle difference in the leaves!

Countryside Tales said...

It looks a very beautiful place and you did well to see the Reed Warblers- I only ever seem to hear them :o)

Ragged Robin said...

Dartford Warbler - Thanks so much for the comment - hope you are keeping well.

Its a lovely reserve and very quiet as its members only :)

I realised when I got home I should have taken more notice of the leaves - I often get Tormentil and Cinqufoil mixed up too - in fact at the time I thought it was the latter!!

Countryside Tales - Thank you. It took ages to get positive id of the Reed Warblers and they were constantly flitting in and out of the reeds and it was hard to get a decent view - absolutely no chance of a photo!!

amanda peters said...

Thought I'd left a comment, if so here's another,
It dose look like a nice place to go, still think everything is a little behind, the promise of sun next week will make all the difference.
Have not seen a Swollen-thighed beetle in fact not many insects at all this year.
I often make the mistake of not taking enough photos of wild flowers, think I know which one it is , then get home look in my book at find there are another page full that look the same !

How are you getting on with the garden Bioblitz, numbers for bees and insects are low (due to the weather) and did some of my Plantlife plot on Saturday.Just have to sort through all my photos now!!!

I have a bridge camera and shamed to say I just use it on Auto all the time..
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks for the comment (I can't find another one :) ).
I love Marsh Lane but B not so keen so haven't been as much as I would like. Hardly any butterflies or insects round here at all either (its still so cold) yet this year.

Had to laugh at your comment re: wildflowers as that is exactly what happens to me!

I didn't do Garden Bioblitz yesterday due to FA Cup Final and Villa. A day I would rather forget :( Will try and do it today although weather was much better yesterday - its raining here at present :( I won't get anywhere near as many as last year I don't think due to weather and also B has been pruning and weeding far more this year so there are less accessible leaves to check for insects and wildflowers lurking at back of borders have been removed :( Such a shame you can't count native species you've planted!!

Haven't yet done Plantlife Survey (trouble finding time and my back over last few weeks wasn't really up to all the bending and stooping necessary! :( ).

Interesting what you say about using Auto on your bridge as your photos are so brilliant. My son uses Automatic on our Canon as he thinks it is better than Aperture Priority but as Mandy said there is not a great range of apertures to use. Disappointed so far in macro facility but no doubt I am doing something wrong so have to keep practising!!

Millymollymandy said...

Looks a lovely place to visit! Most of the photos look really good. I'm not sure about the unknown beetle, but I see ones like that, or similar, and it could be the female of the swollen thighed beetle, or a relation!

I struggled with with the macro function at first. You can use the zoom, and best results come from holding camera a little further away from the subject, then zooming in a little. If you've zoomed in too far, you get a yellow focussing box so you know to zoom back out a bit more. It is trial and error and of course sometimes you've missed the bug by then. And there are times when the damn thing flatly refuses to focus so you need to focus on something else a bit further away, then go back to your subject and try again. I can't figure out the manual focus on this camera which seems a bit odd.

I use the viewfinder except when I'm doing macro. For very distant/zoomed in shots, I find I can hold steadier when it's up against my face. But again, the electronic viewfinder takes some getting used to! Well done for persevering! :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much and the advice concerning the camera is really appreciated! I love it there and used to go a lot on my own before OH took early retirement. Its close to home so was ideal to go when you had a couple of hours spare to wander round. Sadly OH is not overly keen on the place :( Thanks re: the beetle - am not very good on plain beetle id!

The advice re: the camera is exceedingly useful! The photos I took of the peppered moth a few days earlier were all completely blurred so used the Olympus. Getting the Canon to focus on insects is similar to problems I've had with the Olympus and 70-300 lens! The tip re: the yellow focusing box is useful - haven't got that far in the manual yet so didn't realise why it was yellow!! I got in a dreadful state trying to take a picture of the swollen thighed beetle - so wanted a photo and it was seconds before I realised I still had the lens cap on!!!! OH thought it was hysterical which didn't improve my temper!! In fact, he got totally bored with the time I spent faffing around with the camera! Not tried manual focus! In fact, I rarely use it with dslr - find it hard to work out if the photo is in focus. My son has used it with my dslr last summer to get Small Blue butterfly photos when I couldn't get lens to autofocus.

Will continue working through the manual - still haven't got very far! Thanks so much again for your help :)

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Forget to mention that I can see what you mean about the Canon tending to over-expose at times!

Anonymous said...

I totally understand about husbands getting bored whilst we faff around with cameras! I only manually focus when I'm using the DSLR with my macro lens, because when I get really close up, the auto focus doesn't work. I'd just wondered if it would help for those times when the SX50 plays up with the focussing, but I couldn't get it to work right. I don't suppose any camera is perfect, or at least not the ones that cost less than £1,000. :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Anonymous - Thanks so much for your comment :) Whenever we go out I am always miles behind the rest of the family due to camera and photos! In fact, OH got so fed up once with me trying to get butterfly photos and id them on the Isle of Wight he marched back to the car and drove off and left me! Will let you know if we manage to get autofocus to work on Canon!! Believe me I would love a better dslr set up but sadly not likely to happen!! From comments I've read the Canon bridge seems good value for money :)

Millymollymandy said...

I'm anonymous again - rather bizarre as MMM is set as the default ID...... anyway good luck - and that's a funny story about your hubby driving off and leaving you! I hope he came back!!

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy Hi again :) Yes, I thought it was you but thought I had better not assume in case it wasn't! :) Yes, he did eventually return - after about half an hour! Problem is he refuses to go back to Newtown NR and its such a brilliant place for butterflies and birds :(

Pete Duxon said...

isn't it lovely to see so much colour about now??

cameras eh gotta love 'em!

Ragged Robin said...

Pete Duxon - Yes, its so lovely everywhere at the moment :)

lol! :) re: the camera. I was so totally naive in thinking it would be a doddle to use! - Totally different in every respect to the Olympus! but I will master the perishing thing one day.........

Chris Rohrer said...

Bird photography is tricky, but I love the tour. I know you've been here before, but each time, you seem to pull up something new like the nesting Oystercatcher and gull. Very cool. The Mute Swan seems to be a permanent resident here. The Great Crested Grebe is a beauty! Lucky you!

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much Chris. Will persevere with the new bridge camera because I am sure shots will improve as I work out the best setting :) Would love a 600mm lens for the dslr but they are far too expensive so have to try and make the best of what I have :) The mute swans are resident there - at least a couple of pairs and also a Black Australian Swan which I haven't seen for a while!