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Thursday, 16 March 2023

Spring! What Spring? - 1st to 7th March, 2023

Technically we are in metreological spring now, but with the cold weather and snow we have been getting, it doesn't seem like it at all. We have experienced the coldest March weather that the UK has had since 2010. Sadly, I have not been out as much as would have liked as I have been rather caught-up with household projects, plus sorting out the purchase of a new camera and lens with the associated accessories - hence the rather long gap between my last blog post and this one.

I now have the new camera, which has seen me switch from Nikon to Canon - something that I was disappointed to have to do. My old camera set-up was getting a bit long in the tooth, and I was finding it rather heavy to carry around. I wanted to get something more up-to-date and go mirrorless, while still retaining the same sort of reach as I have with the old set-up. To do that with Nikon was going to cost me over four thousand pounds and leave me with something that was not significantly lighter than my old set-up. To do this with Canon, I have spent around two thousand pounds and ended up with something that is less than half the weight of the old set-up and greatly superior (it would seem). However, the switch of manufacturer means that I am now embarking on a complex learning curve - something that may not come easily at my age!

For those tha might be interested, I have purchased a Canon EOS R7 and a Canon RF 100-400mm lens.

The new camera has only recently been wielded in anger, so all the images in this blog post were taken with my Nikon D7200 with a Sigma 50-500mm lens.

Thursday, 2nd March                    Garden

Although Carrion Crow is a reasonably frequent visitor to the garden they usually only drop to the ground momentarily to pick up a morsel of food. On this day one spent about quarter of an hour wandering around on the ground.

Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - garden on 2nd March, 2023
Happily for us, we are now seeing Wren in the garden far more frequently, busily probing for insects.

Not quite so welcome, was the Sparrowhawk, which now appears to be a young female.
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (female) - garden on 2nd March, 2023
Totally unwelcome, however, was the Brown Rat which decided to return this day.

Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) - garden on 2nd March, 2023

Friday, 3rd March                    Garden

We were, and still are, getting occasional visits by Redpoll. This is one of the two that visited this day.

Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret) - garden on 3rd March, 2023

That night, the garden trail cams caught our first Hedgehog of the year. I was surprised, and even disappointed, that it poked its head into both our Hedgehog feeding stations but did not stop to eat.

I was even more disappointed that, having seen it put its nose into one of our Hedgehog houses, when I checked that house the following day I found a very flat and dead Hedgehog that had clearly been there for some months.

Sunday, 5th March                    Kelham Bridge ; Sence Valley Forest Park

I spent some time at Kelham Bridge Nature Reserve this day, but very little was happening and I came away again after an unproductive hour and a half. Here are a few shots of some of the things I did see.

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - Kelham Bridge NR
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Kelham Bridge NR

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Kelham Bridge NR
Hoping for better luck, I decided to visit Sence Valley Forest Park, entering at the south-west corner. The place was quite busy with people, but there was more to be seen.

Five minutes beside Goss Water was more productive than an hour and a half at Kelham Bridge.

Teal (Anas crecca) (male) - Sence Valley FP
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) - Sence Valley FP

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - Sence Valley FP
I then moved on to Horseshoe Lake where, at one point, there is a ramp that leads down into the water. Here, it would seem, the birds are used to being fed by the public, as I was accosted by Mute Swans and Canada Geese as I approached.
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Sence Valley FP
I spent a little while here, attempting to photograph gulls. I was quite surprised to find a Common Gull - a species that is far from common in these parts. In fact, I believe that I have only knowingly seen this species in Scotland!
Common Gull (Larus canus) - Sence Valley FP
More common than Common Gull is Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) - Sence Valley FP
By far the most common gull in these parts is Black-headed Gull. I caught this one just coming in to land on the water.
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) - Sence Valley FP
I decided that it was time to give up and go home when a stupid woman stood in front of me and encouraged her two dogs to enter the water and confront the two Mute Swans that were close by. One dog decided to have a go. The female swan gently backed-off, but the male stood his ground and looked game for a fight. I was hoping that it would attack the dog or, better still, the dog owner, but the dog soon retreated.
Tuesday, 7th March                    Garden
For the first time in many weeks we had a garden visit from Long-tailed Tit.  There were two of these delightful little birds, but I only got a shot of one of them.

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - garden on 7th March, 2023

As the above represents the last images taken with my old camera set-up, this seems like an appropriate point to end this blog post, with the next one featuring my first efforts with the new kit. Given the long-range weather forecasts and my commitments, it will probably be at least another week before my next output.

In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and Nature - thank you for dropping by - - - - Richard


  1. Hello Richard
    Congratulations on the new camera, I've always been with Canon and I'm actually very satisfied, for me it's still the eos 5d mark IV but I'm already looking at a mirrorless model. It is of course also a huge cost factor to convert all of your equipment. I hope for you that you can get along with it quickly and show us nice pictures of your trips, good luck and have fun
    Greetings Frank

    1. Greetings, Frank!

      Unfortunately I am not getting many opportunities to work with the new camera as it seems that I either have domestic commitments occupying my time, or the weather is absolutely foul. It does seem that I am starting to get to know some of the functions and modes of operation of the camera which are new to me. However, as I always shoot in 'raw' mode, I am finding difficulties in getting to know Canon's DPP processing software, and also a little concerned that the actual computer processing time of the conversion from raw to .jpg is about five times long than it was with the Nikon software.

      I'll get there eventually - I hope!!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  2. Hello Richard, Spring will come and as a matter of fact today will be a splendid day 17 Celsius and sunshine on this part of the Channel. You parted with Nikon so did I about a year ago. I have now a Sony A7R with a 100-400 mm lens. It is also mirrorless. I am verry happy with it. It took some time to get used to it but now I am ok with it.
    So I am curous to the photos you will make with your new camera. Succes!
    Warm regards,

    1. It's not so cold now, Roos, but it seems to be changing between sunshine to rain and then back to sunshine every hour of the day lately.

      So far, my output from the new camera is not too good, but that is my fault, I believe, not the cameras. I need to get to know it better. I am mindful of the old English proverb - "you can't teach an old dog new tricks".

      Thank you for the encouragement. Best wishes - - - Richard

  3. The images in this post are terrific, Richard, whether taken with the old camera or the new. There seems to be a bit of a divide here between the professional, or at least serious, photographers, and one is a either a Nikon person or a Canon person, and ne'er the twain shall meet. So the fact that you have joined the other team so to speak, is a gesture of defiance to say the least! I can only imagine the machinations that must take place to familiarize yourself with the new equipment. There will no doubt be frustration but ultimately great success. It's probably better that you don't record your vocabulary during the transition! Best wishes from Ontario where Spring is definitely threatening to appear. It climbed to nine degrees yesterday. David.

    1. That divide between Canon and Nikon users is very strong in UK too, David, and I have noticed that there has been a regional aspect to the divide. In this neck of the woods, Canon is in the majority by far. However, go to some areas further north, Yorkshire for example, and Nikon seems to dominate.

      The daytime temperatures suddenly rose by around 12°c a couple of days ago, but we are getting a lot of rain. Hopefully we will get some pleasant weather soon, although it's looking a bit wet for the next five days.

      We had a garden 'lifer' today, in the form of a Linnet. Sadly, I only got distant record shots of it on a feeder, but it was here for most of the afternoon, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will return tomorrow.

      Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

  4. Hope the Canon EOS R7 and the weather both come good sooner rather than later Richard. Good to see you had your first sighting of the garden Hedgehog, we await ours with apprehension.

    Regards from up't north....Pete.

    1. The camera is looking good so far, Pete, but the operator has a lot to learn! The weather is still not being very cooperative, however. Had a garden 'lifer' today - Linnet !

      Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

  5. Hello Richard, :=)
    I'm slightly envious of your visit from the beautiful Long.tailed Tit, and the lovely shot you took. I rarely see them, because they are high up in the trees. You already take such brilliant photos with your Nikon camera, but if the weight is burdensome, it takes away some of your pleasure. I look forward to seeing your photos from your new Canon camera. In the meantime, thank you for all these wonderful images.
    ps It would be great if the female Sparrow hawk did you the favour of removing the Brown rat from your garden.
    My best wishes, and I hope your grim weather improves.

    1. Hi Sonjia. We do not get visits from Long-tailed Tit very often but they are such a beautiful little bird and seem to have delightful characters, that they always lift the spirits when they do show up.

      It was not just the weight, but the diminishing reliability of the old camera kit that made me change. The first photos from the new camera that I expect to show on here in my next blog post will probably be inferior to my usual output as I still have a lot to learn, not just in taking the shots, but in processing them in the new software too..

      I have not now seen the Sparrowhawk or the rat for a few days, and fingers remain crossed. Our main problem now is neighbours' cats - we have six different cats that visit most nights and I got footage this morning on one of the trail cams of a cat taking a bird in our garden.

      It is warmer now, but it has been raining nearly all day. Spring can't be far off !?

      Best wishes - stay safe - - - Richard

  6. I love the header image! Wrens are always a treat to encounter. Small bundles of huge fearless attitude!

    Having seen how ferocious a Swan can be, I'm with you. Would have been entertaining to see it go after that woman!

    All of the images are wonderful but I really love the final shot of the Long-tailed Tit! Great quality photo of a very adorable bird.

    Best of luck as you climb that Canon learning curve! New equipment can be challenging to learn but with your experience it won't be long before using it will be second nature.

    Gini and I send our best to you and Lindsay and we certainly hope your weather catches up with the calendar and becomes more Spring-like!

    1. I wish I had your confidence in my ability to assimilate the machinations of a new camera, Wally. It's not just the camera itself, but the Canon DPP software for the occasional adjustments and the raw to .jpg conversion process too that I need to get to grips with. Nevertheless, it's looking good so far!

      It's now beginning to look like Spring may be just around the corner - fingers are crossed.

      My very best wishes to you and Gini - - - Richard

  7. Hi Richard!!!Beautiful and varied series of images... Happy Sunday

    1. Thank you, Ana - we're having a very good Sunday here, and hope that you are having a very enjoyable one too. Take good care - - - Richard


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