We fancied a day out to see the reindeer at Saltholme's Scandinavian Christmas so we set off for Hartlepool at about 10am. The roads were quiet and we seemed to soon be there. Unfortunately the reindeer were in a tiny pen where naturalistic shots would be impossible. With Sheila's camera we did our best.
Later we walked down to Saltholme Pool hide to see the [distant] barnacle geese. A reed bunting posed for us.
Look carefully at this berry-laden hawthorn bush!
Time for a snack! Song thrush 1: Waxwings 0
We walked the walk round the Headland [lots of red-throated divers], tried Steetley Pier for velvet scoter and lunched at Newburn Bridge with Medusa the med gull in attendance. We watched the big waves pounding in.
Sounds a bit like an early reader book for the under fives, doesn't it! Oh well, there you go. Tiggy came too and we set off fairly early at about 7.40 am for Harwood Dale to look for waxwings. No show but we picked up quite a few birds on our way. Long Nab, Burniston entertained us as we sought the lapland buntings in the adjacent stubble field. The problem is sifting them out from the skylarks as they fly up from almost under your feet!
Next stop at Scalby Mills. Sunshine and little wind made it feel very pleasant. Plenty of wigeon on the sea.
We were pleased to watch a purple sandpiper edging ever closer...
Then we drove down to the harbour. Unfortunately a yacht race and the inevitable movement of boats in and out of the harbour mouth meant that the great northern diver had disappeared. He's back again today [Monday 2/12] as I write this. We photographed the harbour sparrows - aka turnstones!
Sometimes you don't anticipate fully the effect the light will have on the final picture. The distant sandy beach provided the bokeh* in this picture; some dark object did the trick in the next one!
There were a couple of cormorants in the harbour so I took a picture of one [or did I?], mainly because I thought I could capture a nice lighting effect.
I had read in Steve Routledge's blog [try: juncea blog in a search engine!] that he had seen a juvenile shag in the harbour on Saturday so I looked at my photos a bit more closely...then I looked at some bird books...then I looked at on-line photos...then I decided: it's a shag! And with that lighting it's a jolly good shag!
Why is it a shag and not a cormorant? Well, at no stage of their lives do cormorants have a yellowish bill. Juvenile shags do. Pretty much end of the debate.
Holbeck car park next for a quick visit to the mediterranean gulls. Three appeared : see Barry's blog at http://barryjohnbishop.blogspot.co.uk/ for his account of the day and a picture of the 3 meds standing away from the black-heads. Here they are!
Two more stops planned. Firstly, Scarborough Mere where I snapped a mandarin in the fading light at a rather slow shutter speed. One hundredth of a second won't freeze a scurrying drake!
Last port of call was at Castle Howard lake where we saw a fine collection of wildfowl and gulls. Pretty good day for early December, I think - and we made the most of it.
The term comes from the Japanese word boke 暈け or ボケ, which means blur or haze and is used in photography to reflect the aesthetic or atmospheric nature of out-of-focus parts of an image. But you knew that already! I 'm just being pedantic again!!