BIRDS 117 – EGRETS ON THE SOMERSET LEVELS (MONO)

 

 


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Great White (the two larger birds towards the left) and Little Egrets, feeding in the mud and water of old peat workings on Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels.  (For info: egrets are in the heron family)

Climate change?  I started birding, not too far from where these pictures were taken, in 1967.  And, as a friend from those far off birding days says, if we had submitted records of such a gathering to the Somerset Ornithological Society in those days, we would have been treated with total derision, with doubts about our honesty / mental health probably being thrown in too.  In 1971, anxious to see a Little Egret, my first in the UK, I had to travel all the way to the far west of Pembrokeshire, in Wales, for the treat.  And the Great White Egret has changed its status from being a rarity in the UK late in the last century, to being quite common now.

So, is this climate change?  I don’t know, is the simple answer; although, equally simply, I do believe that climate change is taking place.  But, from my mapping of the ranges of Kenya’s bird species, I know that factors other than climate change can influence bird distribution.  What is certain though, as my old birding friend said on seeing these pictures, is that this is not the Somerset that we used to know, 50+ years ago.

And of course, although we are seeing dramatically increased number of these egrets, numbers of many, many other UK bird species have fallen dramatically over these 50+ years: climate change may have had an effect here, but intensive farming practices are probably a bigger culprit at the moment.

Other recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 .

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 12,800 ISO; jpegs produced by in-camera processing of raw files, using the Graphite profile; no further processing; Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels northwest of Glastonbury; 25 Oct 2019.

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STILL LIFE 170 – THREE HERONS (MONO)

 

 


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Left to right, a Little Egret and two Great White Egrets – three herons – processed with Silver Efex Pro 2.

And good news!  Google acquired Silver Efex Pro 2 (and the other Nik Collection plug-ins) sometime back, but had ceased developing them and was plainly losing interest.  The situation has (hopefully!) now been saved by DxO, who have acquired these plug-ins from Google, apparently with a view to further developing them.  I’m very happy with SEP2 and Color Efex Pro 4 as they are, and so just knowing that they’re not going to disappear will be a big thing.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: the X-T2 firing at 200 ISO, and really quite a tribute to what this APS-C format camera can achieve with distant subjects.  X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset; Capture NX2; Herons Green Bay, Chew Valley Lake; 24 Nov 2017.
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BIRDS 86 – LITTLE EGRET

 

 

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Little Egret, fishing at low water in Porthleven harbour, in the far southwest of Cornwall; 18 Oct 2016.

This bird was stalking through the shallows, thrusting down with its bill towards any fish appearing in the clear water.  The circular ripples from the most recent of these thrusts can be seen spreading out in front of it, swamping smaller ripples emanating from its moving legs.  The slightly blue-tinted play of light on the water makes a useful, abstract backdrop in the photo’s upper half.

I was a very active and enthusiastic birder for decades, from 1967 to 2002 in fact, and it really shaped my life – for example I went to Kenya “for a year or two” in 1977 to see African birds, and only managed to tear myself away from the place 12 years later!

And when I started birdwatching in 1967, this little white heron was a rarity in Britain – in fact I can recall travelling quite a long way in Wales, in 1971, to see one.  But now it is expanding its range northwards into the UK, and flocks of 10-20 or more often occur out on the Somerset Levels, for example.

Many wild birds have taken a real beating in my “green and pleasant land” during my lifetime, mainly due to urban sprawl, pollution and industrialised farming, but here is an example of a wild creature on the up, something which is very good to see.

This image is a substantial enlargement from the original – the bird was a long way from me – and I must say I’m impressed with this Fujinon telezoom’s performance at such long range.  This lens gives focal lengths very close to the 70-300 of my favourite Nikon lens, and I find it extremely useful.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO.
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