A brilliant day

Woke up this morning to bright clear skies and it remained like that all day.

It was still chilly first thing in the garden

But I was on a mission – to see and hopefully photograph a Kingfisher. One had been spotted in Johnstone Gardens, a short walk from our house.

Now I have a small bucket list of birds I would like to see:

  • A British Kingfisher.
  • An Owl – any sort would do. I have heard these so many times from inside the house at night, but whenever I venture outside all I have seen is a darkish shadow flying off.
  • A Woodpecker actually pecking a tree. Again I have heard these on numerous occasions, but never managed to see one.

So armed with my longest lens, a tripod, a remote control and a bottle of water and snack bar I set off.   I wasn’t alone in the gardens and I soon felt rather lacking in the lens department! However everyone was very friendly. One man had seen the Kingfisher the day before, but there had been no spottings today.

I am not one to hang around in the off chance of a sighting, so I wandered around the gardens to see if there was any more obliging wildlife to photograph instead.

The first rhododendrons were almost out.

Rhododendron in Johnstone Gardens

Rhododendron in Johnstone Gardens

There were some lovely pinkish Epimedium leaves.



I was crouched on the ground taking this next photo when a rather puzzled lady asked me what I was photographing, as she couldn’t see anything very interesting. She didn’t know about my fascination with grasses.



On the way back to the Kingfisher’s favourite spot I saw some rather comical Gulls walking on the ice.

Still no Kingfisher. . .

But I did meet a very nice man who told me he was off to Aberdeen Beach next to photograph the owls.  OWLS!!!  Seeing my excitement he showed me on a map exactly where I would be sure to see them. I couldn’t believe it.

I dashed home and picked up The Traveller.  He really couldn’t miss it, could he?

For the second time in one day I felt rather inadequate. You should have seen the sneer a passing photographer gave my not particularly cheap lens! I didn’t really care though, all I wanted was to see a real live wild owl in the flesh.

And they were there, a couple of them, flying fairly close!

Of course with my little lens I couldn’t get the shots I would have liked, but I am delighted with them just the same.

What I could have done with a real wildlife lens though. . . . . . . . .

Still one item on my list ticked off – and maybe I will get the Kingfisher tomorrow.


44 thoughts on “A brilliant day

  1. This is thrilling Annette, I can imagine the joy at seeing an owl and I really admire your bucket list. I get intimidated by those very long lenses and dedicated bird watchers, I wish I wasn’t as everyone has to start somewhere and you’ve made a brilliant start!

    • Thanks Jessica. It was a wonderful experience and so close to home. If I hadn’t met that nice birder I would never have known about them. Hope to go again on Saturday as it looks like rain tomorrow. Bet there will be loads of people there then.

  2. I see the Little Owl that has chosen our roof as its home many times on summer evenings but I hear it almost every day. But I have only one or two very poor photographs so I’m very impressed with your shots, very well done indeed. Could you tell us what camera and lens you were using.

    • Thanks Christina. We have a Nikon D7000 and a brilliant Nikon lens that is 18 to 200mm zoom so it does for everything apart from macro. Let me know if you need more details on the lens. I just used it on Auto as no time for anything else. I then magnified the photos in IPhoto. The quality is fine for viewing online, but I don’t expect they would print so well. Still as I rarely print my photos it doesn’t matter too much. I was just so happy to see them. I think I will go along with binoculars next time and just enjoy them.

      • My husband is quite a keen bird-watcher when he has time. He has a telescope that in theory can have our Nikon attached to it but so far he hasn’t had much luck with producing any quality shots. Our Nikon is the D750 with a 24 – 120 lens, yours sounds a more useful lens, I’ll have to look at it. Thanks for responding to my questions it is really helpful.

        • Attaching a camera to a telescope sounds very complicated. We have really enjoyed having this lens as it saves changing them all the time. The only time I need to change it is when doing macro shots needing a short depth of field.

  3. well Annette all I can say is ‘WOW’ to the last photo of the Owl landing with the sun coming through the wings, just beautiful, I’ve never seen a wild owl either, I once saw a kingfisher, along the canal near Bath, it’s plumage was beautiful, I hope you get to see one, Frances

    • Thanks Frances. It was such an experience. There were at least two of them, but may have been more. I do hope they stick around and I can go again. Trying for the kingfisher shortly.

  4. Amazing owl shots, well done. What a treat. I find bird photography really difficult. Like butterflies, they just won’ t keep still. Having said that, I did get a photo of a barn owl sitting on a post last year, which was a delight. I was in the car and only had my little canon with me.

  5. Congratulations on finding your owl and getting such nice photos. I’d love to upgrade to equipment that could capture some favorite birds. I live in a small college town and I often used to see an owl in the branches of an old tree along a path to class.

    • I had never seen a wild owl before so it was very exciting for me. I hope to get more shots next week. I think over the weekend will be difficult with the number of photographers that will be there.

  6. Well done Annette – I often see owls when I am work during the night. They are quite a sight. They hunt on the airfield. Just who would have thought to go down to Aberdeen Beach to see the owls? Not me that’s for sure.

    • I would never have guessed it either, Angie as there are no trees there. Apparently this type roost in the ground instead. It is a whole new world getting to know some Twitchers – I am learning a lot of stuff.

  7. I think they are great pictures Annette, especially the last one. I think it is easier to take good close up pictures with the very expensive zoom lenses. Good luck with trying to photograph a Kingfisher, the only time I saw one it was as a blue flash!

  8. Annette-
    I love this post! Persistence and feeling connected with nature produces that wonderful thrill you describe here. You had quite an impressive photo shoot with lovely results. The owls… Wow! Hang in there, Kingfishers are a challenge… This, I also know from experience. But, it will happen when you least expect the shot!!!

    • Thanks Jane. I am hoping to see the owls again, but I won’t go this weekend as it will be far too crowded. I hope they don’t get scared off. Likewise I will keep trying for the Kingfisher – luckily we only live a short walk away.

    • This kingfisher was apparently quite obliging last Wednesday and perched on branches between darts up the pond for about three hours. Can’t believe I missed it! I think I need a bit more patience, because if he isn’t there when I first get there I lose interest and leave!

  9. How did I miss this? Brilliant shots lucky you. First rule of kingfisher spotting patience. Second rule patience. And ignore the sneers it’s the shot that counts not the gear. Good luck can’t wait to see your kingfisher

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