28.01.07 | Discovering local treasures
A weekend spent in nature reserves right on my door step.

I've discovered this weekend, that I don't need to travel far to get out in to some real quality wildlife locations. Saturday morning was spent with my good friend Anthony. We are both interested in walking and wildlife and more recently in wildlife photography.

We arrived at Hem Heath and Newstead woods around 8.00a.m. The largest area of woodland in Stoke on Trent, Rich ancient woodland just minutes away from the City.

Anthony set up with a Canon Eos 30D and his new Sigma 50-500mm telephoto lens. Combined with a 2x teleconverter, the amount of telescopic power was tremendous. I set up with my Olivon T90 ED spotting scope and tried my Contax SL300T* digital camera for the first time.


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Anthony lines up the big
Sigma 50-500

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DSLR & Digiscoping
Different method,
same objectives

The weather conditions were too poor to achieve sufficient shutter speeds to capture wildlife motion with both systems, so we spent the morning practising on static objects.

On Sunday, I spent the day walking through Apedale Country Park, only a 10 minute walk from my door, Apedale offers a variety of habitats including Alder plantations, open grassland, water, oak woodland and reed beds. I knew about the location of Apedale Country Park but the wealth of wildlife has only been brought to my attention recently after reading a West Midland Birding Club annual report. It's an area that I intend to explore in great depth this year.


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Burley pools, Apedale, Home to
9 pairs of Reed Warblers
in the summer


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Hem Heath Woods
100 acres of woodland within the Potteries



Treecreeper
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for larger image

25.01.07 | Crisp winter morning at Tittesworth

Spent Thursday morning at Tittesworth Reservoir, with snow on the ground and the surface of the reservoir as smooth a mill pond.

Had a fantastic morning at Titteswoth Reservoir, it was so peaceful, not a soul around and not a breath of wind. Took pictures of Pochard and Tufted Duck, but they were a bit to far away to capture enough detail.

There were lots of Redwings dotting about in the carpark, but their continuous movement made them hard to locate in the scope.

Managed to get a snap of a Treecreeper, not good enough for the picture gallery but nice for my records.

View towards the Roaches Upper Tier
from Tittesworth Reservoir


20.01.07 | Braving the weather at Doxey Marshes

Saturday was a beautiful morning apart from the strong winds blowing across Doxey Marshes, Staffordshire.

I arrived at Doxey Marshes around 10.00am, it's a real wildlife haven next to the hustle and bustle of Stafford Town Centre.

The strong winds gushed across the open marshland, making it almost impossible to digiscope. I set up my scope and lowered the tripod to its widest position, even then, it still rattled in the breeze. At 1000/1 shuttter speed on the camera I managed to capture some sharp images of Mallard sheltering in the reeds.

I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the resident Merlin or Peregrine but unfortunately due to the heavy rainfall recently, most of the paths through the marsh were submerged so access was limited. Still an enjoyable morning - roll on Spring.


A pair of Mallards shelter from the wind

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for a larger image


14.01.07 | Bright start at Bates Wood

Sunday 14th January brought sunny skies, I made the most of them, arriving at Bates Wood around 9.00am.

After last weekends terrible weather, it was great to finally get out in to some sunlight. I travelled to Bates Wood, a local Staffordshire Wildlife Trust reserve just outside Newcastle Under Lyme. A friend of mine is lucky enough to live in a cottage within the grounds of the nature reserve.

I spent the morning trying to improve my digiscoping skills by taking shots of the birds feeding in his garden. The sunny weather allowed much faster shutter speeds - up to 1/500. Although even at this fast speed, the Blue Tits ad Great Tits still moved to quickly and a lot of my final images were blurred.

I can see that some species are going to be more difficult to capture than others.


A group of Long Tailed Tits
enjoy an early morning
meal at Bates Wood.

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for a larger image



07.01.07 | Rainy day at Blithfield

The on-going bad weather continues to frustrate, once again very low light levels, rain and wind - not the ideal conditions for digiscoping!

I spent the day at Blithfield Reservoir, near Rugeley with a friend with the intentions of capturing some nice images for the website, the conditions were so poor that we gave up after 30 minutes and decided to walk along Tad Bay down to the Causeway along Blithe Bay, all the way round and back to Barn Farm. The walk was longer than expected and with poor conditions underfoot, it took nearly three hours to get back to the car.
I did use my new Olivon T90 spotting scope at various hides and spotted Goldeneye, Cormorant, Ruddy and Tufted Duck.
Lets hope this weather improves soon.


Even the Mallards looked
miserable at Tad Bay




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