Have not written for a while so here is a summary of the last few days.
On Friday, I went into London for the annual European Astrofest, meeting up with some of the members of LADAS. Had a pretty good time, and as usual a lot of very expensive optical products to lust over, including a very nice APM 10" refractor ( a few pence short of £50k!). A bit impractical, but tempting with a suitable lottery win.
Its been some time, but I actually spent some money there and came home having bought a nice little tracking mount for my camera. Will take smallish telephotos, and with a couple of bright comets coming up I hope to get out to a dark sky and get some images. Since my last comet photography had Hale Bopp as a subject, and was taken with a film camera I may need a bit of practice. I did a few tests with my 35mm and 100mm Zeiss lenses from the garden a while back, mainly to check the image quality as it is so light polluted that exposures have to be kept very short.
This is a crop of the Pleiades in Taurus. Something like four seconds at f2 and iso 400 on a static tripod.
Saturday I decided to go for a walk around Aston End and up the river Beane-now flowing but despite the heavy rainfall over the last year the water level is still pretty low. Debris suggest the occasional flash flood at times. Rather dull, cloudy and cold, there was not much to see until I got to the ford east of Aston when I accidentally put up a Buzzard lurking around the pumping station. A pair of Bullfinch at the usual spot near High Wood was nice as I had not seen them for a long time and assumed they may have gone. The usual Little Owl was in the tree in the paddocks. Unfortunately i looks like the stables had been targeted by arsonists and a lot of the hedges nearby are badly damaged.
A few Fieldfare and Redwings are in the area, and there seems to be a pair of Red Kites as well.
Today I took Mum shopping, and getting back home I heard at least two, maybe more Goldcrests in the Bay Tree and Pittosporum. Having had several visits in recent months, I am now wondering if they may be resident. Still getting lots of Goldfinch, at least three House Sparrows, and a pair of Blackbirds. The lone Greenfinch has also turned up again.