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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Cyprus 3 (Raptors)

 I think most birders and photographers if asked, would put raptors and owls at the top of their hit list.I for one just love watching these birds of prey in their natural environment.On first catching sight of the above raptor thermaling high up in the mountains,I thought Eagle,mainly due to its size.It turned out to be a Long Legged Buzzard,quite local to the area but not common.
 However there was no mistaking this bird of prey.It was one of a pair I spotted quite a distance away and slowly they edged nearer to allow identification.Bonnelli`s Eagle.They are also known to breed on Cyprus with good numbers reported every year fledging youngsters.
 Again an easy id on this one Peregrine falcon, which Nick spotted patrolling a large cliff face where there were lots and lots of pidgeons.Against a brilliant blue background just awesome.
 The area shown here is part of Anarita park looking out towards the coast,anything passing through can usually be picked up.In peak migration times all the main raptors are usually around.Merlin/Red Footed falcons/Kestrel/Eagles/Harriers/Buzzards/Hobby
 all have been seen here annually!
A slightly commoner raptor,Sparrowhawk.This one narrowly missed a Finch`s Wheatear which 10 secs earlier, had been sat on the very same rock.A lucky escape indeed.There were plenty of larks/pipits and Linnets around so she won`t be going hungry for too long!I`ll finish this account of the Anarita park area and next time I`ll concentrate on the coastal lowland areas were more interesting birds of prey were observed!thanks for dropping by and taking the time to view!!!!!!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Cyprus (2)

 My next days birding in Cyprus was in the good company of Nick Moss, who had also been granted a few hrs leave from familly duties.Nick had visited the island previously and had a good knowledge of some sites not too far from Paphos.We headed inland to the hillsides and were instantly rewarded with great views of Finsch`s wheatear,this bird was similar to the endemic Cyprus Wheatear in appearance, but was overwintering here, having left its breeding grounds further to the  north .Nick assured me it was a real find and it afforded us both good close views.

 Short distance migrant probably bred in Turkey!!!!
 A Blue Rock Thrush was spotted sunning itself on a prominent rock.These birds are very fidgety and can be difficult to approach, but it hung around long enough for us to admire!!

 The white nape on the Finsch`s Wheatear extends right  down its back, thus distinguishing it from the local Cyprus Wheatear, which are very common in Summer.They meanwhile had all migrated South by the time we got there!

 A juvenile Masked Shrike put in an appearence atop a small bush,another common bird to Cyprus.The males are stunning in their summer plummage!
Nick spotted a Red Backed Shrike on the lookout for prey,but we didn`t see it catch anything.It was a bit late in the year to find any warblers as such, but we still had an enjoyable time looking for any that might have stayed behind.What we did encounter later though, was a few of the raptor species that were here.I`ll tell you about those in my next blog on Cyprus.Again many thanks for dropping by and hope you enjoyed the images!!!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Cyprus Oct/Nov 2012

 Having recently returned from 9 days holiday in Paphos Cyprus with my familly,I`d like to share with you a few of the many images I took whilst out on my early morning jollies.I just love going to these different countries, not only  to experience the local culture and cuisine, but also to see the varied wildlife and fauna that is also on offer there!

Having done a little research prior to departing,my first place of call was the headland around the corner from Paphos Harbour.It was a usually reliable site for Greater Sand Plover, with up to 5 birds being present at this time of year. A 5.45 am start and mile and a half walk from the hotel found me scanning the the rocky coastline!  
A few of these chunky,long legged and thick billed plovers sometimes overwinter here after breeding in the semi deserts of Turkey and eastwards through central Asia.True to the book,bingo I found 5 individuals patroling the shoreline!
 They were approx 200 metres away when I first saw them, but with a careful approach I got within 30 metres which was sufficient for a few images.

 I was told later that it was a bit hit and miss finding the birds, as the coastline stretches a good few miles!

 As always when abroad, the weather is usually reliable and the early morning light adds favourably to the task of photography!

The Plover were spread out over about15 metres,I couldn`t quite manage a group shot!
I`ll post more images of the other species I stumbled across in forthcoming blogs,thanks for looking in...........

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Early morning stroll!

 An early morning walk around my local moor gave me an opportunity to photograph these Fieldfare.
 It was a lovely crisp day and a party of about 15 birds dropped in to feed on the insects that were hidden in the grass.
 Very skittish and difficult to approach, I was sat having a cup of coffee when they afforded me excellent views.I think they are the most handsome of the thrushes.Usually they are up in the trees feeding on the bright red berries of hawthorn and rowan, it was nice to see them at ground level!
A real bonus to the day was this pair of Little Owls who were making the most of the warm sunshine.I had only ever seen 1 bird at this particular site, on an old ruin of a barn,so I`m hopeful they will pair up for next season!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Garden visitors

 This Red Admiral was a welcome visitor to my back garden a few weeks back, as are indeed any sort of butterflies to be honest!This one appeared just as the last of the Buddleia flowers began to disappear!
 I think this is a juvenile Sparrowhawk.I`d only just put the peanut feeders back in position for the winter,when it gatecrashed the party and took a bluetit!
 Yes I did say garden visitors!News went out a few weeks ago of a Pallas`s Warbler being found in a back garden in Knott End.They are native of the far East, but sometimes turn up on the East coast during migration and are about the size of a Goldcrest!
The house owner being a local birder, was only too keen for people to come and view the Asiatic warbler and many people, myself included,took full advantage.Very difficult to photograph,I did my best.I believe it stayed around for 4 days before it continued on its way!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Stormy Petrels

With the arrival of stiff North Westerly winds ,I decided on a last minute trip to the Mersey estuary Liverpool.  There was a good chance of observing migrating Leach`s Storm Petrels.These starling sized birds are blown inland by stormy conditions and the areas around New Brighton/Wallasey and Leasowe are some of the best places in Britain to watch them at such close quarters.
    They are named after a famous zoologist called William Elford Leach who obviously spent a great deal of  time studying them and their habitat.They are known to breed on remote islands in the cold northernareas of the Atlantic & Pacific.Strictly nocturnal in the breeding season helps them from being predated by gulls and Skuas.They are mainly black in appearance with a white rump and slightly forked tail,somewhat akin to a large House martin!Their flight is fluttering and they patter the water with their feet when feeding.

 I arrived quite early and started my search into the bay,though nothing was about, only a manx shearwater which whizzed by.The wind was beginning to increase and the tide was rapidly approaching.I was really confident that they would put in an appearence in such windy conditions.I moved further down the coast towards the Wallasey lifeguards building were one or two other birders had also gathered.It wasn`t long before a Petrel was spotted skimming the waves,though it was a good way out.Slowly but surely other birds began to appear in the distance and we had good views over the next couple of hours.I managed a few shots with the camera but it was difficult in the strong wind.The spray was also a problem, but I persevered for a good while enjoying these special birds. Thanks for looking in at the blog and hope you enjoy the rather limited shots of the Leach`s Storm Petrels!!!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Badgers at dusk!!

 With the weather conditions being favourable,I decided on a return to the local Badger sett that I had discovered a few weeks previous.Arriving an hour before sunset, I took up  position concealed within my small bag hide that I use for these close encounters.The wind was blowing south westerly straight into my face,perfect!!Time quicklly passed with the sun setting low to the West.Suddenly without warning an adult appeared at the sett entrance sniffing the air.
 Keeping perfectly still and not reaching for the camera,I let him become accustomed to his surroundings,letting him gain confidence that any danger was not present.He slowly edged   nearer,constantly stopping and listening for the slightest noise.I knew that to depress the shutter button now would be fatal and would have him immediately scurrying back to the  safety of the sett.
 Soon a part grown cub decided to venture out into the late evening light to be joined shortly after by 2 more.
 These 2 began to play and push one another about snapping and biting in turn.
 Some serious wrestling entailed as they jumped and frolicked less than 20 metres from where I was hidden.I was frozen with excitement as I watched this superb insight into the life of this usually nocturnal animal!They carried on with their antics for the next 5 mins at least, each trying to get the upper hand.It was hard to maintain focus with the camera , with their constant movement and low light conditions,but I tried my best!
In total there were 3 cubs and an adult within this familly and they soon ambled off to begin their nights foraging and feeding amongst the surrounding fields and streams.I knew I had witnessed one of those special moments one gets as a nature photographer and I  let them get well away from me, before I stealthily retreated to the bottom of the bank.I didn`t want them to know they had been observed for the last 20 mins and as Hugh Falkus once said `only if you can watch Badgers without them knowing you`ve been there can an observer call himself a true naturalist`.Well I`d like to think I hadn`t caused them any duress as I`m sure I`ll be back to witness these enthralling animals again!! Thankyou for looking in and I hope you enjoyed the images!!!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Badgers on my doorstep!!!

 With bird activity pretty low at this time of year,I decided to concentrate on a local Badger sett I found recently.I had evidence of Badger activity within the area with all the tell tale signs evident,however it wasn`t until I had a chance encounter with a local land owner that I discovered the sett.It was situated up a small gully within a hay meadow and I was given permission to watch from a safe distance.The 2 badger cubs above were totally unaware of my prescence!
 I believe it had been used for the last 15 yrs and was the home to 2 adults with 4 large cubs.It is not an easy area to approach as it is quite open within the field.My viewing point at the moment is roughly 100 yds away across a small stream and on the side of a bank, almost level with the sett.It`s not the best vantage point for photography, but I am working on a plan to advance another 50 yds closer,this will incorporate the use of my small hide as cover.These 3 cubs emerged as I waited patiently.
 It`s usually about 8.30 pm when the Badgers emerge,always sniffing the air cautiously.I always have to make sure I`m well downwind of the sett, as their sense of smell is very acute and they will not tolerate any human disturbance!This Badger above and below is well within its comfort zone and hunts the damp grass for slugs and worms!
 Last night whilst in position,I had the pleasure of a fox appear from within the the undergrowth,

 He soon caught scent of me before he slipped quietly away.
 Thanks for looking in and I hope to bring you some more images of the Badgers and their ongoings shortly!!!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Back to Bowland

 A return trip to Bowland produced varied sightings of birds normally associated with the upland fells.This male ring ouzel was back and forth feeding a fledgeling.I believe there were 3 pairs  that bred within close proximity of each other.
 Again a male Stonechat perches sentry like on the bracken!
 Often overlooked but often heard the Linnet.This male was taking grit from the footpath.
 The next 3 pictures are of a female Whinchat that posed extremely close to me.The use of a small throw over hide and keeping still made these shots possible.
  Nicely posed on the thistles!

The cock Linnet was highly prized as a cage bird in days gone by,they are much better appreciated in their natural environment though don`t you think.Its near cousin the Twite used to frequent the uplands as well,but numbers are well down round in my locality!