21 Feb 2015

21 Feb 15 - South Haven Hat Trick

The very Northern tip of the Studland Peninsula is South Haven. Soon after I started Birding the Studland/Ballard patch seriously, I subdivided the patch into a number of sub-patches. This has proved interesting as it has helped to highlight some of the local boundaries for a number of species. It has also spurred me on to Bird the different sub-patches. The boundary of South Haven is the land North of the nudist beach track to the East of the road & North of Jerry's Point to the West of the road. The total land area is about a square km, albeit there is easily another 10 square kms of sea & bay views. Up until this morning, the South Haven patch was only 1 Bird ahead of the Brands Bay, Greenlands Farm & Godlingston sub-patch, by after a stunning 5 minutes this afternoon, it is now 3 Birds ahead on 172 species (ignoring Crap Pigeon). This compares to my Studland/Ballard list of 215 species seen & Nightingale heard.
The view looking South from the Pilots Point high dune: Taken on a misty morning on 22 Jan 15. The Great Grey Shrike was about 400 metres away
I had planned to spent the afternoon out at Brands Bay for the falling tide, but a pager message indicating the Great Grey Shrike had moved to the heath near Shell Bay, gave me a different plan. I couldn't get out till mid afternoon, 2 hours after it had been seen & I wasn't that optimistic. There was no real directions & its a large area of heath to scour. Also there were a number of people walking around on this part of the heath, which is unusual at this time of the year. But I walked out to the high dune by Pilots Point & tried another scan. Bingo: it was sitting on a small bush about 400 metres further South of Pilots Point. After putting the news out, I was about to start walking towards it, when I saw a distant Egret flying towards the Eastern Lake. I figured it was most likely to be the Great White Egret & putting the scope on it, it was. My second South Haven Tick in 5 minutes.
Great Grey Shrike: It also good to get these photos as my photos of this individual on Godlingston Heath in Mid Jan were only record shots
A bit of careful walking up the dunes & some shots on the way in case it flew. But it stayed put & allowed me to approach to 20 metres. Don't think I've been that close to a UK Great Grey Shrike before. Not having the Canon 7D with me probably helped as I doubt it would stayed put with the good camera. Still I was able to get some reasonable photos with the SX60.
Great Grey Shrike: Great to add this to my South Haven list
As to the third species in the South Haven hat trick, that will be revealed tomorrow.
Great Grey Shrike: It relocated with a bit of the sea behind. An unusual background for a Dorset Great Grey Shrike


  1. Hi Steve, Great shots considering. I've just bough an SX 50 and am having trouble avoiding minor blurring. That is on auto, mind. Do you have any tips for using these cameras for bird photography, such as what settings to use. Any help appreciated.

  2. Hi James
    I am still trying to work the SX60 out myself. I tend to use AV as it allows me to over & under expose. I havent been able to do that in the full auto mode yet. Also havent tried Sports mode yet so still going for single shots. I often end up trying to balance it on the tripod or attach it to the tripod if I can for more distant shots. But I find the biggest problem is the massive zoom. I am still tempted to over zoom in & this considerably increases the camera shake. One option is to put it on the 2 second delay as that should reduce camera shake. That only works if the bird is stationary. On at least 1 occasion a bird has flown in that 2 second gap. But I am still trying to work the camera out myself. Might be worth trying to contact Ian Ballam as he seems to get stunning results with his SX50.

  3. Thanks Steve, I am trying AV out on the goldfinches on the niger seed and getting better results already. A lot to learn still!