Thursday, 3 April 2014


3rd April.  I’ve done little bird watching these past few days but have just had sighting of my first Sand Martins of the year on patch over Killingworth Lake.  In fact they are my first Sand Martins of the year.  They were flying over a small flotilla of eight Goldeneye.  I was down there just before 7:00pm and it was cold and misty once again.

On Monday I called at the Rising Sun, but this was a prearranged meeting for coffee rather than birding, although a walk past Swallow Pond did bring the likes of eight Shoveller, numerous Little Grebes and a handful of Lesser Black backed Gulls.  The weather was as per today, chilly and misty which actually lent quite an atmosphere to the area, but I do think someone should try and clean up the area around the edge of the pond near the hide where many seem to drop their litter.

As well as having coffee on my mind on Monday I also had books on my mind as I had been offered a copy of Keartons’ Nature Pictures published in 1910, the authors being Richard and Cherry Kearton.  I’m a go between as far as the book is concerned as it will eventually find its way to a friend.:-)  Thanks go to another friend Hilary, who passed the book to us.

Now I’ve long thought that in many ways that today’s photographers have it somewhat easy in having use of all of the modern digital equipment.  I held off getting involved in photography again for reasons which included that I thought it was not the skilled pastime that it once was and that everyone seemed to be ‘into it’ now.  I have to admit I was wrong on this count and having tried my hand at nature photography I realise that digital or not it ain’t easy to capture good images.  I cringe a bit when I look at some of the images produced early on in my blog by my pocket Canon IXUS.  Having moved on a little I find I really do enjoy using an SLR again and I’m about ready to invest in some new equipment again.  It definitely adds to nature watching rather than detracting from it.

I still do think that the ‘old’ photographers had special skills and ways.  I’m not sure many of today’s photographers would take with them a stuffed OX skin as the Keartons’ did to use as a natural looking hide.  Although mind you some of the larger telephoto lenses I see out and about might weigh nearly as much.

The Kearton brothers were from Swaledale.  Richard published his first book, Birds Nests, Eggs and Egg Collecting, in 1890.  I believe his brother Cherry took the first ever photograph of a bird’s nest with eggs.  The brothers worked together on a book entitled British Birds Nests in 1895 and this was fully illustrated with photographs. 
Keartons’ Nature Pictures is a good addition to an already good collection.

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