Thursday, 24 December 2009

Snow on Christmas Eve

Here are a few photos out of my windows this morning.  The first one was just before 8am when the snow was still falling quite hard.  The streetlights are giving most of the scene an orange glow which is contrasting well with the bluish haze in the background.  Unfortunately there's a bit of reflected light from inside the house but that's one of the problems with taking photos through the glass.



About half an hour later I took the next three photos with my very wide angle lens.  The first from an upstairs window and is taken down the close and across the valley.  The sky is still full of snow in the distance. 



The second is looking straight down into the garden.  All the area that I cleared  yesterday afternoon is completely covered again.  We're going to clear it again so we can move my car out of the way and get Lynne's car out so we can pick up my daughter from the railway station.





The last photo is my back garden from the bedroom window.  Might take some more later.


Monday, 21 December 2009

Wendy Woodpecker in Winter Wonderland

I've fallen behind on posting my recent photos but today I had an unexpected visitor into my garden so I felt I needed to post it straight away.  I was WFH (working from home) because I couldn't get into the office because of the snow.  I've made sure that there is always food out for the birds and as you may have seen in my previous posts I get a fair variety of wild birds coming to feed.  As I was returning to the lounge from the kitchen with a well deserved cup of coffee I spotted a medium size bird go past the window.  I crept up to the window and saw this lovely woodpecker hop onto the branch above one of the famous fruity balls.  I ran out to my study, picked up my camera, put on the long lens and quickly checked all the settings before returning to the lounge window to get this first shot.



I really had expected her to have flown off before I got back from the study but no, she stayed for quite a while.  Then she swung down and grabbed the fruity ball with one claw as she held on tight to the branch with the other.



Then she got down to the job of pecking the food out of the ball.  I have lots of blurred photos at this point as woodpeckers move their head very fast and the ball was also swinging about wildly.  I changed some settings on the camera to open the aperture, reduce the ISO setting and speed up the shutter to try and get some better quality and less blurred shots.



This last image was as she started to get back up onto the the branch after she'd had her fill.  Unfortunately she didn't stay long before she flew off.  I didn't get a decent picture of her back on the branch as the camera decided to focus on the piece of branch in front of her and the wider aperture made it a shallow depth of field which meant she was out of focus.  I didn't get chance to change the settings again before she had gone.



You might be wondering why I am referring to her as she in this blog as you probably know I'm no great expert on birds.  Yes, of course, I looked it up on the RSPB bird identifier and the male great spotted woodpecker has a red patch on the back of his head.  I'm getting there, slowly.  Maybe someone will buy me a bird identification book for Christmas, three more sleeps to find out.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

More Garden Birds

I've been off work a couple of days, not very well.  I'll spare you the details but just to say I didn't want to be too far from a toilet.  I was feeling a bit better today so I spent some time trying to get some more pictures of birds in the garden.  As usual the weather is dull and overcast but I persisted.

The first picture is one of the many great tits that come to visit.  He's sat up high in the tree looking at the other birds feeding in the lower branches.



The next is a less frequent visitor who seems quite reluctant to use the feeder or go near the fruity balls.  Here's a chaffinch even higher up in the tree looking quite aloof.



We also had a quick visit from a bigger brown bird (BBB) which I think is a thrush.  It was over in the other tree so not a very good image at all.




Yet another little brown bird (LBB) but this time with a nice white breast.  I think it might be a female or juvenile finch, maybe a goldfinch.



In the next image we have a great tit and a blue tit sharing a fruity ball.



Now this next image, it's exactly the same as one of the images in the last post, but is it the same bird as the image before the last.  If it is then I'm pretty sure we have a juvenile goldfinch.



This time we have a couple of blue tits sharing the other fruity ball.  The tree was really busy at this point, must have been eight or nine birds on the feeder, the fruity balls and sat around waiting for a turn.



Yes, another LBB.  I think it's the same one as a couple of posts ago which I decided was a female robin.




Maybe this is the partner.



The sun came out very briefly when I caught this blue tit on the fruity ball on its own...



... and then with a friend.




Then my friend the jay came back.  He'd been here earlier when it was very dull so I didn't get any good photos of him then.



He had a strange method of getting food from the fruity balls by lifting them up with one foot to peck them.  Didn't manage to get a photo of him doing that, but I'll keep an eye out and see if I can catch him doing it again.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The First Snow of Winter

To be honest there wasn't that much snow by the house but for a little while it was coming down quite hard and the sky looked quite full of it.  I had arranged to drive over to my daughters' house in Mossley this morning (Saturday) to go Christmas shopping in Manchester which is at the other side of the Pennines.  I was a bit concerned that the road over the top might be blocked as there had been reports that Woodhead Pass, which crosses the Pennines a few miles further South, had been impassable earlier in the morning.  Anyway I thought I'd fire a few shots off of the snow before I set off.

Firstly a couple of the back garden.  The first one out of the study window.




And the second one from the kitchen door which was a little later and the white streaks of snow falling is visible.



My car on the drive with a thin layer of snow that I'll need to brush off before I set off.



Down the road there's no sign of the snow settling on the road but the sky looks full of snow.  In the photo it looks as if the horizon is just beyond the trees but in reality there is a hillside hidden behind which would go right to the top of the frame.



There was another LBB (little brown bird) on the feeder.  I guess it is probably a female or juvenile tit but maybe not.



I'm fairly sure this is a great tit (but it could be a coal tit) which was high up on the tree away from the feeder.




Just caught it as it flew off, the next image on my camera was an empty branch.  They go pretty fast.




Shortly after taking the photos I set off over the Pennines where the snow and wind were making driving conditions a bit hazzardous.  On the very top it was also a bit foggy (or low cloud really) and there was a coating of snow on the road.  The peat bogs at either side of the road looked to a good layer of snow settled on them which was still there when we drove back in the late afternoon.  At the Manchester side of the Pennines there was no snow at all and while we were on the train from Mossley to Manchester there were even patches of blue sky.  Strange weather.