April 27, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Welcome to my April edition of my recent photographic exploits. April was a strange month in that I had got used to staying local due to lockdown restrictions that I wasn't really bothered about travelling further than 'local'! This pandemic has affected us all in different ways and hopefully we never have to witness anything like it again. Now we have a bit more freedom I eventually got round to visiting some of my old haunts. More of that later.

The Spring migration is now in full swing with many birds arriving to breed and spend Spring/Summer here in the UK.

Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Barn swallow will spend the Summer in the UK after migrating form Africa.

I bet a few of the birds arriving in the UK had a bit of a shock with the very cold easterly winds and snow in places. April was a weird month weather wise with temperatures in the low 20's one minute then we had plenty of frosty mornings.

Roebuck (Capreolus capreolus)Roebuck (Capreolus capreolus)Roebuck (Capreolus capreolus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
A Roe buck in frosty conditions at RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.

Most evenings after work I like to visit the reservoirs near Tring in Hertfordshire. This are a good stop off point for migrating birds. This year there has been record numbers of common terns, little gulls, yellow wagtails and black terns and I even managed to get shots of them all. I was particularly glad I got some good shots of the yellow wagtails. They always brighten up a dull day.

Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava)Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava)Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Yellow wagtail at Tring reservoirs, Herts.

I tend to visit locations before sunrise when wildlife can be at its most active and there is less human disturbance. You never know what you will see and usually the light conditions are the best which in turn make for great photographs.

Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Great crested grebe at sunrise.

Mute swan in the SnowMute swan in the SnowMute swan in the Snow
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Snow in April!

Snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)Snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)Snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)
Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire.
Snake's head fritillary is now making a come back in managed sites.

Now more nature reserves and green spaces are opening up again I decided to visit a couple of places I missed during 'lockdown'. Like most places at the moment you still have to pre book your visit which I find a bit of a faff to be honest but that's the rules. My first trip was to the Hawk conservancy trust in Hampshire. I really enjoy the flying displays here and they fly a good variety of birds of prey and not just one at once! 

Great grey owl (Strix nebulosa)Great grey owl (Strix nebulosa)Great grey owl (Strix nebulosa)
Hawk conservancy trust, Hants.
Great grey owl at the Hawk conservancy.

Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Hawk conservancy trust, Hants.
Peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on the planet reaching speeds of up to 200mph in a dive!

During the last weekend of April I visited the wetland centre at Arundel, West Sussex. This was my first visit in over 2 years. On my last visit I got a speeding ticket which is another story!! I was keen to see the new aviary they had just recently opened. Even though the wildlife hides are still closed till mid May I still had a great time seeing the new display. I think I spent most of the day in the aviary.....and frequent visits to the cafe for coffee and cake! 

Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus)Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus)Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus)
WWT Arundel, West Sussex.
Feeding time for the Dalmatian pelicans in the new aviary at Arundel.

Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
WWT Arundel, West Sussex.
Black necked grebe at Arundel. Those eyes are amazing!

Most of the shots I took in April were with my new lens which is the Nikon 200-500mm f5.6ED. I normally use a 500mm f4 prime lens but they are big and heavy but the quality is amazing. I am very happy with the new lens. It's lightweight and sharp but my only gripe is the auto focusing speed which is a tad slower especially when the light levels drop. I am going to persevere with it. This weekend 1/2 May I am planning on visiting Bempton Cliffs on the Yorkshire coast for my annual seabird fix. This will be a real test for the new lens as fast focusing is vital here with so many birds flying above the cliffs. I will still take the prime lens just in case!

Also during May I'm making a visit to my native Lancashire to see family and visit a few wildlife locations. Hopefully during May I can also get to Rutland to see the Ospreys.

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments over this difficult period we are all experiencing.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.






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