hit counter

Friday, 13 August 2010

A week in the sun!

Female Black headed bunting.
Sub alpine warbler!!

Black eared wheatear.

Fan Tailed Warbler.

Southern Grey Shrike feeding fledgeling!

Turtle Dove

Woodchat Shrike.

Marbled White.

Marbled White..

Beautiful Swallowtailed Butterfly.
We recently had a weeks break to the Greek island of Corfu.It gave me the chance to photograph some of its local inhabitants and my good wife and daughter the chance to do some serious sunbathing in the near 100 degree heat.
As usual with me, I was up and out early before the sun got too high,my favourite time for a stroll with the camera.I had been to the same area the previous year, so knew the lie of the land.A 10 min walk from the apts led me to the banks of the river Tyflos at Sidari.There was lots of scrub and plenty of thorny bushes to negotiate but a small track led along the riverbank.Numerous butterflies sunned themselves along the path and I noted meadow brown,gatekeeper,brimstone,painted lady small and large whites and small coppers.Birds of note were Grey Shrike with fledgelings,Kingfisher,spotted flycatcher,Turtle Dove,Subalpine warbler,Red rumped swallow,Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike,Cuckoo and one or two others which were unidentifiable!
Not too bad for a few hours walking really.I wouldn`t say there were lots of different birds,but August isn`t really the best month to visit for birding!
It was just pleasent to be out with the camera really.I did see a stoat, but it didn`t hang around long enough for a photo unfortunately!!
On one of the last days there I hired a car, and again saw me on the road at first light.I headed up Mt Pantokrator, which finishes 920 metres above sea level.At the top the views were staggering and when its clear you can see the southern tip of Italy 80 miles away.There were one or two interesting birds encountered along the way, with my favourite being a superb Black eared wheatear which posed nicely for me alongside the road.A black headed bunting was seen perched from the top of a small bush but unfortunately it was a female,the male has a strikingly black head and yellow plummage,there was one nearby singing, but I just couldn`t locate it amongst the thick scrub!!Plenty of Woodchat shrikes were seen, as was a pair of Red backed shrikes feeding young! Buzzards and a few Kestrels were noted around the cliff faces but I didn`t see any Eagles which are known to be about.I pulled into a small layby and found one of my favourite species of butterfly, the wonderful Swallowtail.They really are gorgeous to admire and I took a good few shots with the camera.They hardly seem to rest always flitting about from plant to plant!With that I called it a day and headed back to the lowlands.Lisa and Harriet would still be sunbathing, so I took my time back reflecting on what a fantastic time I`d spent up in the mountains.Again I`ve promised myself to return, but in Springtime next year when all the birds will be singing and the weather not too severe!
I`ll leave you with a few images I managed to take whilst out and about,hope you enjoy them!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Loch Lomond (Trolling for Salmon0

Osprey overhead!
Female Gooseander with brood!

Looking North towards Ben Lomond!

Trolling the Loch!

Closer inspection of the trolling rods and reels!

Two pristine Salmon taken on the troll.Notice the
sea lice on the top fish!

My gillie and close friend Paul Davis!

Master fisherman!

Juvenile at rest!
As usual at this time of year,I accompany my good friend Paul Davis on a Salmon fishing sortie to Loch Lomond in Scotland.Paul has been travelling up to the `bonnie banks` for nearly 30 years,primarily to fish for Pike, but having
caught countless fish to just short of 30lb,he decided to have a go for the Salmon and Sea Trout which run through the Loch, before they head up the rivers and streams to spawn!
Fishing for these game fish is always from a boat,either by trolling a spoon or artificial lure or by the more traditional method of fly fishing, however both methods are totally dependant on the weather conditions.The rougher the weather and you troll, a nice ripple ,overcast sky and out come the fly rods.This particular trip we opted to troll in the hope of picking up one or two
Grilse (small Salmon) which were currently running through the Loch.There had been one or two high tides with a good bit of rain thrown in for good measure,which to any game anglers out there, will know, are exceptionally good fishing conditions.
With the boat loaded up we set off down the Loch, with expectations high.
Paul is one of the most helpful of anglers I`ve ever known,always ready to give advice and show you the latest methods, as well as being really good company to fish with.When you`re spending up to 12 hrs a day on a boat with someone you have to work as a team, especially when a fish is hooked.This all come together 25 mins later when one of the rods buckled and the ratchet on the reel started to sing its merry tune.Fish on!It had took a silver spoon fished just below the surface in 5 ft of water.I duly slipped the net under the fish for Paul,a fresh run Grilse of about 6lbs,fantastic,not often you catch one straight away but thats fishing!
The weather deteriorated somewhat with gusty winds and heavy showers,but we fished on regardless.No more fish were had that day, but as Lomond is one huge nature reserve, there is always plenty to see and admire!One of the highlights of being out on a boat on the big Loch is the chance to watch the Ospreys that breed nearby.Paul told me where they would probably be, as they had raised one chick on one of the islands and as the chick had fledged it wouldn`t be too far away.Turning the corner of the island we saw an adult perched high up on an exposed branch and not far away was the juvenile calling for food.I`d took my big lens with me and was rewarded with excellent shots of these magnificent fish hawks!
The following day we decided to head out early and fish the Northern areas of the Loch.Paul as ever, was confident we would be in with a chance of another fish or two, as conditions were again bang on to troll.On the way up to the Hen Isle we saw a Peregrine come in to a cliff face carrying some prey.Gooseanders are quite numerous on the loch this time of year and a few parties were encounterd with their brood of youngsters.These `sawbills` also feed on small fish and some anglers despise them for eating the young salmon smoults,but they are only doing what comes naturally to them.The Ospreys were never too far away circling the islands and I`m sure there is more than one pair that breed there.These birds are truly wild and not the ones that are stock fed rainbow trout by the owners of some fish farms.I believe they charge up to 20 pound a time for the privelege of being able to watch them catch the trout.
So with so much to see and talk about, you sort of forget that you`re actually fishing and it was only the screeming of the reel that brought me back to my senses,this time one of my lures had been hit,Paul immediately gunned the engine to further set the hooks and I began to play the fish.A spirited fight and Paul slipped the net under a pristine looking salmon.Another Grilse of about 4lbs had succumbed to the silver spoon, again taken over a known lie near to `Ptarmagain Point`.Fantastic stuff this,if you get one fish a trip you`ve done well but two !The fish had 7 or 8 `sea lice` attached to it, which meant it had probably just come up the river and into the loch the last 48 hrs,as sea lice die and drop off the fish when in fresh water!Again we carried on fishing and enjoyed the scenery for the rest of the day, but no more salmon were to be had.We were definately not complaing though, as just being afloat on the Big Loch is a pleasure on its own.Again I hope you`ve enjoyed my account of our trip and look forward to posting my next blog soon from somewhat sunnier climes, Corfu!