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Friday, 17 November 2017


I was up quite early today,as the forecast was quite good.I decided to head for a local nature reserve about 3/4 drive away, in the hope of seeing and photographing a Kingfisher.Usually they are about this particular place,but I hadn't,t been for a long time,so I was edging my bets a little!

There are numerous hides on the reserve,but I headed for the place that I saw them last!On entering the hide, another photographer was in position, and on enquiring with him, one bird had been present an hour earlier.So with that encouraging news,I set my stall.All was quiet for the next hour, save for a Heron patrolling the far margins, in the space of 20 minutes, it had caught 3 small roaches at least there was plenty of food about.

From out of nowhere a Kingfisher flew in and landed about 20 metres away on a known perch.Great,action at last! he never did much really, not even a dive, but I obtained a dozen or so shots with the camera!He was soon away though and again it went quiet for the next 11/2 hrs.The other photographer had had enough and made his way out.Action was quite slow really, even the Heron departed!

It really is a waiting game when I'm out with the camera, but I'm always confident that something will happen.If birds or mammals were constantly in view, it would be easy ,wouldn't it.I certainly don't mind a long wait.Sometimes of course, nothing happens, but 9 times out of 10 it does, keeping me on my toes and alert!I had the hide to myself, which is just how I like it.Kingfishers are prone to the slightest of movements and a hide full of chatting people is not good!

True to form, a Kingfisher returned to the same perch on the far bank.Again he wasn't in hunting mood, but what he did do, was to cough up a pellet, he had been hunting previously then.I managed a few shots of this regurgitation, after which, he preened for a while, then went about his travels.

So 3 hrs in the hide and about 3 mins of a Kingfisher,but I certainly wasn't complaining of lack of action.I,d set out to photograph a Kingfisher and luckily I achieved my goal, with a few decent images to boot.!Thanks again for looking in on my blog and I will catch up again with you soon!

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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Leighton moss

I had been thinking of visiting Leighton Moss reserve at silverdale recently, so I decided to make the effort and see if I could add some pictures of the Bearded Tits that frequent there.I knew that they would be visiting the grit trays, that are put out for them, but this can be a hit and miss affair!
 Luckily for mesas I walked down the causeway,I could see a group of 6 or 7 folk waiting by the viewing area!As I neared ,I could hear the "pinging" call of the Tits as they moved through the reeds.
 A pair of birds were feeding on the grit, but I wanted some natural images of them in the reeds.A male bird suddenly came into view and afforded some great views in the mid morning light!
 Most of the Beardies are sporting different coloured rings to aid with the monitoring scheme that goes on there!
 He hung around,spreadeagled across the reed stems, weighing up the grit tray.
 Unusually this female wasn't rung, she may have dropped in on migration, on her journey south!
 The grit aids with digestion of seeds that they feed up on, and of course makes them a lot easier to view.Usually you are lucy to see them amongst the vast roadbeds,so the trays serve 2 purposes.
 In one of the hides, I watched a cormorant hunting the shallow bays.This particular bird was rewarded with a jack pike, for its efforts!
It didn't hang around with it though and with one flick of its head, consumed the whole fish quite easily!There was a total of 4 cormorants on the mere fishing, so its no wonder fishery owners despise them.They would soon clear out a well stocked pond in days!
A dog Otter had been reported earlier, taking a coot, but i wasn't present when it was about ,so missed the spectacle.On my next visit,I will try to be there for first light and hopefully be in position, should the Otter show again.So thanks for taking the time out to view my blog and I will catch up with you soon!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

More Hawfinch

 A 5'oclock  alarm call had me up and loading the car for another trip to the Hawfinch site.I like to give myself plenty of time to make sandwiches/flask and check the photography gear!
Scrapping the ice off the windscreen, was a first for me in a long time, but a cool clear morning lay in wait, my favourite conditions.

Arriving on site for 7.00 the sun was just starting to appear over the moorlands to the East,hopes were high for some better images of the finches'.It was going up for 8 o'clock, when I heard the short zip of the Hawfinch and on scanning around, found this female high in the tree tops.She only stayed for about 40 secs, but enough time for me to grab a few record shots and 20 secs of video.

She was soon joined by another bird 30 mins later but they were so difficult to gain clear, unobstructed shots of.I did manage a few later on mid morning, which I was quite pleased with, but I know that future visits should produce better images, when most of the leaves disappear from the hornbeam trees.As soon as they head for these to feed, they blend in with the foliage and sit tight, gorging on the abundant seeds.

It was a beautiful morning to be in the vicinity of these not so common birds, but the early rise and hour's drive is always worth the effort!Glad that you popped by to view the blog and I'll try to keep a more up to date account, of my wanderings with the camera!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Hawfinch,The cherry stone cracker!

At the moment, we are experiencing a large influx of Hawfinch to the UK, no doubt filtering over from  europe ,due to bad weather or a shortage of food!There are good numbers in eastern europe into Russia,so there could still be more birds to follow.I think the last documented invasion was back in 2005. These birds are, I believe ,heading to southern france and onto spain.Its not often you get the chance to see these birds in any numbers, so on hearing of a few  not too far away in the south of the lake district,I ventured out in the hope of gaining a few images.Most of the sightings reported around the country, were of fly-over birds, with not many actually resting up.

I was fortunate when I arrived on site, to find 4 birds evident in the tall trees, but the light was against me, so I only managed a few record shots.I knew that it would be a challenge, but I was going to give it my best shot!
                 Very very distant and against the light, but at least birds were present!

                     An odd bird did perch up in view, but again distance was an issue!
             This Nuthatch showed reasonably well, and I made the most of it, in some nice light!
          Another distance shot, but I wasn't really complaining, as it was a treat to see them here!

    I watched this male Hawfinch feeding on Sycamore seeds, for at least 15 mins. After feeding up,     he would fly across to a yew tree and rest up within the foliage for a while to digest his meal!I am going to return to the site next week, to see if the birds are still about, if so,I'll post another account for you.Again thanks for dropping by and keep well!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Marshside Merlin

 The juv long billed dowitchers have been the star attraction at Marshside recently, tucked in with the many other waders that overwinter there,however this in turn attracts predators, keen to capitalise on the abundance of prey at their disposal.One such raptor is the Merlin,it maybe only small, but that doesn't, stop it taking lapwing, golden plover, teal etc.
Whilst I was walking along the road to Nells hide, the waders took flight in their hundreds, no doubt being spooked by a raptor,a quick scan and I picked out a merlin carrying prey.Luckily for me it dropped down into the short grass about 50 metres from my position.It tried to take off a few times, but it was weighed down by what it had caught!
It decided to stay put and began plucking its kill, giving me the chance of a few shots with the camera.I don't know if it was a juv or female bird, but I wasn't complaining at all watching the spectacle unfold.Thanks for looking in on my blog and apologies to all for lack of recent posts lately!

                          One of the Dowitchers feeding with two Godwits!

                                                    weighed down by its prey.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Marshside Dowitchers.

Two juvenile Long Billed Dowitchers have been seen regularly at Marshside reserve near to Southport!They have been frequenting the large wetland in front of Nells hide.Hidden amongst hundreds of Godwits,it has been quite challenging to see them, never mind photograph these American waders.Undeterred,I made a few visits to see if I could capture an image or two.
They are a lot smaller than the Godwit with a very pale supercillium.Not much to go off,I know ,but its a start.Obviously plenty of birders were in attendance, which helped my course!Sifting through the flock of Godwits was a hard task, but a shout would go up that they had been spotted and people would be directed to the position of the birds!The trouble was, they were about a hundred yards away and the light was usually in the wrong direction, but I was determined as ever to get on them with my lens.The shot above is of one of the birds coming in to land, not a bad start!
Occasionally a raptor would put the waders up,and the task would begin again of trying to find them!This would sometimes work to my benefit as it would split the birds, and as above, would make them easier to relocate.
The distance was always going to be the problem, but a good few record shots were gleaned of the juvenile dowitchers!

They would paddle across between what bits of dry land they could find and were constantly feeding, probing rapidly with their bills on the edges of the islands!They were a bulky little wader, ever so busy and really not much bigger than a Snipe,but a real welcome addition to any reserve.A few had been reported up and down the country, mainly a confiding individual at Saltfleet in Lincolnshire and at Oare marshes in Kent.To have two on our doorstep here in Lancashire was a real bonus and people travelled from far and wide to view them.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Wirral.... Leache's Storm Petrel

Having kept an eye on the weather forecast and tides, conditions were very favourable for Leache's storm petrel to be moving along the wirral peninsular.I had encountered these birds about 7 yrs ago in the same place, but views were always distant.

Strong North/North westerly winds had been the norm over the last few days, and I anticipated that these conditions would bring birds in close to the shore, I noticed that a few sightings had already been posted onto the local websites,soI headed to a favourite spot that I knew, knowing that the tide would still be out, I decided to recce other areas for any future trips!

Some interesting places were found, particularly Hilbre island, which involved getting the tides right and a 50 minute walk across the sand..One or two other birders had made their way back from the island and he had had good views of the petrels coming through!

Heading back to my initial spot and with the high tide due in,I set up my camera hoping for a few images.The first couple of hours produced a few birds, but always out of range.I made a few record shots, but knew that I could do a lot better.

The following day I was back by the Mersey mouth, ready for a few birds to venture out.They are known to take shelter up the river when conditions prevail and this is what I had hoped for.I tucked myself in behind a break water and sat it out.Almost within 20 mins, a bird was spotted moving out, but again distant.The wind was beginning to build in strength,and some heavy showers were endured,conditions were spot on for some close encounters!

More birds began to show albeit distantly, then from nowhere one appeared 20 metres away, the wind was pushing them right in as they came out of the bay.I felt that I had a better opportunity with the Petrels about 400 yds higher up to my left,as the earlier bird had followed the tide line.I knew that I would be really exposed to the elements but decided to brave it out!

Other photographers and birders were also in position too.The wind and swirling sand was quite taxing and I was worried about my gear getting damaged.I saw one or two tripods blown over, which foolishly had been left unattended!Plenty of Leaches were now showing well, some even flying low behind me onto the sand.A grey phalarope flew in and flopped down amongst the waves, just metres away!Sometimes the birds were just too close to focus on,so I repositioned some 30 yds back from the tideline.Trying to hand hold a heavy lens in these conditions was becoming hard work, but I persevered!

I braved a few hrs of the elements and counted over 50 birds coming through.It was a memorable encounter and well worth the  100 mile round trips!Some of my better images are below,I hope you enjoy them and please keep well!

                                      A posse of birders gathered!

                                                       Grey Phalarope
                                                 Literally yards way.

                                        They hip hopped along the tideline!

Well wrapped up and a close encounter!

                                What hardy little birds they are, about the size of a starling!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Wilson's Phalarope Lancs

Yesterday afternoon, news came through of a juv Wilson's Phalarope being reported from a local wetland.Gathering the camera equipment together,I set out to try and get a few images of this North American wader.With all the bad weather and hurricanes out there at the moment, it had been blown of course and made landfall here.The last time such a bird had been reported in Lancashire,was 2010.
 There was a few other birders about, keen on seeing the wader.Views were rather limited, as you had to cram behind a screen and look through the different slots.The bird was about 50 metres away and flitted between the main and small shallow pools.
 It was really active in its search for food.It's needle sharp bill picking off flies from the surface.Every now and then it would start spinning around in circles to displace the mud which held invertebrates.
 They usually migrate to South America on lakes high up in the Andes,but it certainly was a welcome bonus here!
 In between some heavy showers,I gained a few images!An interesting fact is that it is one of the only shorebirds that swim in deep water too.
The bird has not yet been reported today,10/09/17,so lets hope it returns!
 This particular site has held all three Phalarope species now,so credit must go to the local birder who found it and put the news out!
I hope you enjoyed the small account of my afternoon and thanks for dropping by!