Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 - My Photography Highlights

For various reasons, 2017 was a year with minimal travel and holidays, so any photographic opportunities were never far from home, in Guildford, Surrey.  In fact, one of my most satisfying moments, was capturing lightning for the first time, taken from my house.  A few of the shots were picked-up in some of the online editions of UK newspapers, earning me a somewhat underwhelming £20 in commission!

Lightning Storm over Guildford, July 2017

Guildford Cathedral

My primary focus has always been on wildlife, and with minimal time on my hands, birds took a front seat this year.


Various interesting birds made appearances (clear highlight being the Red Footed Falcon), alongside some common species.  Here are some of my highlights:

Cuckoo, Thursley, April 2017
Kestrel, Titchfield Haven, May 2017
Buzzard, Guildford, August 2017
Redstart, Thursley, April 2017
Hawfinches, Dick Focks Pond, December 2017
Blue Tit, not looking its best, June 2017

Juv. Blue Tit, July 2017

Avocet, Titchfield Haven, May 2017

Red Footed Falcon, Frensham Common, June 2017
Little Egret, October 2017

Garganey, Shalford, March 2017
Peregrine Falcon, with prey, November 2017

Fallow Deer Rutting, Petworth Park, October 2017

Best of the Rest

Red Arrows, Wings and Wheels, Dunsfold, August 2017

Friday, 16 June 2017

Red Footed Falcon - Frensham Common

On Saturday 10th June, there were reports of a rare vagrant, a Red Footed Falcon (1st Summer male), being seen on Frensham Common, in Surrey, UK, a short distance from where I live.  Although I popped over for an hour or so on Sunday, my main opportunity to see it was on Monday evening (12th June), heading over there at around 6:30pm.  

Here's a map of the area (original source here), and I've added in red the approximate area I'd seen the Falcon spending time in.

Frensham Common, area in red was  the approx. area I saw the bird flying around

With a few others watching the Falcon (two of whom decided not to stay on the marked path), it didn't take long for me to spot the Falcon. The Falcon's usual behaviour seemed to be to wait towards the top branches of one of the dead trees, then suddenly swoop down to catch some prey, before returning to the same or other branch.  Realistically, most photographs are therefore were always going to be of the bird waiting on the branch.  With only a monopod, some wind, and a fair distance to the subject, I was never going to get a good shot, either.  But nice to get what is known as a 'record shot' (photographic evidence of the species, but certainly not going to win any awards!) - eating a dragonfly

Red Footed Falcon eating a dragonfly, Frensham, June 12th 2017

 Enjoying the view

We were treated to a Hobby mobbing the Falcon for a minute or two, but the Hobby soon left the area, with the Falcon holding its ground.  It all happened too fast for any photos, unfortunately.

After everyone else headed-off, and with the car park only due to shut at 9pm, I thought I'd wait for a while longer, and with the wind dying-down, I was treated to a spectacular show. The Falcon's behaviour changed markedly, climbing high above the tree-line, hovering at times, but also trying to catch insects on the wing (similar to what a Hobby does).  It also meant that as well as spending time over King's Ridge (the North-South path to the East of the red), it came South of the East-West path I was standing on, so was much nearer than had been seen previously.  See below for some of the shots I was able to get.

[As ever, depending on our device/browser, you should be able to click on the photos to see them in a better quality.]

Red Footed Falcon flying, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon flying, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon flying, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon angling to catch some prey on the wing, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon enjoying the sun starting to set, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon flying with prey, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon flying, eating prey, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Discarding some of its catch (bottom-left of photo)

Red Footed Falcon flying, Frensham, 12th June 2017