National Mega, Buff-bellied Pipit; my first proper twitch

Queen Mother Reservoir, Berkshire ~ 15th and 23rd December 2012 ~ 

On the 12th December, an American Buff-bellied Pipit was reported to have been seen at a reservoir not all that far from me. So, naturally, as it was still present at the weekend I managed to get to the reservoir for about midday on the 15th where we paid our £2 for a day permit and parked the car.

From the road approaching the entrance gate we spotted a number of people walking along the bank of the reservoir carrying scopes, cameras and assorted tripods. From the car park we walked round the edge of the reservoir and headed towards the growing number of people congregating on the bank. It took us about 20 minutes to reach the crowd of birders and photographers.

To our amazement, the bird (bearing in mind this was only the second ever mainland Buff-bellied Pipit and only the 22nd for whole of the UK) was casually strolling along the bank just metres from the on-looking birders, photographers and general observers!

We stayed until the light had totally gone and then made our way back to the car, amazed at the tameness of the bird - which at one point had come within the min focusing distance of my lens (3.5m)!! Anyway, enough of my ramblings, here are a few shots of the bird I got on the 15th:

Despite managing the shots above, which I am pleased with, I decided that I wanted to have another go at photographing the pipit and so persuaded the parents to take me once again to see this rare bird.

When I arrived, the bird was down on the bank in front of the Sailing Club feeding along the edge of the water. I decided to wait a bit, take a few shots to see what the light was like and determine what its feeding habits tended to be. After about 5 minutes of watching it feeding, I moved away and as I did that the pipit turned round and started heading the other way.

Knowing that it tended to keep in a fairly straight line and  ignore most things, I decided to make my way round past the sailing club and down the boat ramp before the bird got any closer to the ramp.

By doing this I knew I was chancing it, but in the end it paid off very well indeed as the pipit made its way towards me slowly but surely, feeding contentedly as it came!! I was very lucky that at one point, while I was lying on the ground at the bottom of the boat ramp, the pipit came within 2 feet of me! I have to say that this encounter will not be forgotten easily and I got some decent shots as well! Here are a few of the images from the 23rd that I am very pleased with: 

Wonderful Waxwings

Elvetham Heath ~ 8th December 2012 ~ 

All over the UK Waxwings have been the most numerous species to have been reported recently, however none of these reports were even remotely close to me.

So when I received a text late in the afternoon saying a flock were in the local vicinity I decided that I would head over there in the morning. Excited, I couldn't sleep and so reminded myself of their call and behaviour and flicked through the hundreds of photos already taken of Waxwings until I finally fell asleep.

In the morning I waited for another text which would confirm the Waxwings were still around and as soon as it came in I gathered all my gear and headed out. Upon arrival the Waxwings were not present, but I was informed that they had disappeared and returned 9 times already. I set up and waited for their return, chatting to another young photographer also present.

The birds eventually returned and became tamer and tamer as the morning went on! The flock grew to an amazing 56 and allowed me to get pretty much as close as I needed in order to achieve some decent shots!

Here are a few of the shots I got throughout the day: