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Saturday, 22 October 2011

Black Terns @ Brockholle NR.

On returning from a 3 hr walk over my local moors this fine morning,I learnt of 2 juv black terns down by the River Ribble adjacent to Brockholes NR near Preston.With it being such a fine day, I couldn`t help but put my walking boots on again in the hope of gaining some images of these wonderful birds.I thought most of them would be well on their way South by now but obviously these birds had lingered on a bit.I was soon onto them, thanks to one of the local birders and made the most of the occasion with my camera.Hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed taking them!!!!!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Hebridean conclusion

 She landed on a fence post in the distance.

 Stunning female Merlin

 Eyeing me with caution.
 Stunning light!!
 Absolutely awesome sunset!
To finish off my Hebridean adventure,I`ve posted a few shots of a bird that I really wanted to see on these western isles and thats the Merlin.I was fortunate to come across this female having caught what seemed like a Skylark,she flew away into the distance initially but I relocated her sat on a fencepost some 500 yds along the road.She stayed long enough for me to obtain a good few shots.

The Short Eared Owls were pretty regular throughout the trip but on the last evening there I had near perfect light to enable me to get some excellent shots.The conclusion to my weeks stay was the most amazing sunset looking out over the sea a truly fantastic end to my holiday!!!!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

South Uist/Hebredes2

 Thought I`d continue my sortie to the Uists with a selection of birds that I encountered.The starlings had began to flock up for the winter,no doubt many from the Arctic had come in recently.Although often overlooked by the photographer they are in fact quite an attractive bird in their spotty winter plummage!
 Large flocks of waders were beginning to appear on the coastlines so I grabbed the chance of some close ups with the effervescent SanderlingMany of these were juveniles but its always a pleasure to sit patiently and capture the moment.
 They really do allow you to get close and I often think as I watch them scurry about, of whence they came and where they will end up on their journey South!
 The Wheatear is one of our first migrants to arrive in the Spring,so it saddens me to see them departing our shores on their long journey to Africa as it means Summer is just a memory and a long cold Winter lies ahead!!
 They certainly use a lot of energy in their quest for food!
 Huge flocks of Golden Plover inhabit the Machair but trying to get near them with the camera proved difficult!
 This Buzzard alighted quite close luckily I`d stopped for a drink of coffee and had the camera to hand,again these can be difficult to approach.
I was watching the Short Eared Owls when this female Hen Harrier appeared and began hunting over the Machair,she suddenly spotted something and pounced  on the unsuspecting prey!!!

Monday, 19 September 2011

South Uist/Hebrides.

On a recent trip to the Uists I had some lovely encounters with some Otters.This particular one was hunting the edge of a rocky outcrop, which I used to my advantage to get within 3 metres,when it heard the sound of the shutter button it just give me a quick glance and carried on unperturbed!!
 I was that close to it, I watched it chasing this fish underwater before finally surfacing with it in its jaws!
 This was another Otter I stumbled upon whilst driving around a freshwater loch in Bernerey.In fact there were 2 together, 20 metres from the bank.I could see one had caught this eel and after a couple of minutes toying with it, it headed towards the bank to devour it.There wasn`t any cover to advance closer but I was happy to watch from a safe distance of about 40 yds and obtained this image!!
 Whilst driving back to South Uist, I stopped to investigate what I thought was a dead pine martin by the roadside,however it turned out to be a polecat.I didn`t think there were any of these on the islands,so maybe it was an escapee from one of the local gamekeepers,interesting never the less!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Lakenheath/Hockwold Fen.

                                                       Returning at dusk.
                                                       Bearded Tit.
                                                             Reed Warbler.
                                                            Marsh Harrier.
                                                      A photographers delight.
                                                       A bonus flypast.

F15 Eagle.
Stone Curlew.
A few days off work found me heading down the A1 and across country to the Suffolk/Norfolk border.On previous visits I`d gone down in early May,however I was confident that June would be just as rewarding.Lakenheath and a quick visit east to Minsmere were to be my initial destinations,with an odd early morning sortie round the local heaths!Golden Oriole are synonomous with the area and these were often heard amongst the poplar plantations on the reserve.Cuckoos were regularly seen patrolling, as hundreds of pairs of Reed and Sedge warblers breed amongst the dense reedbeds,they are of course perfect hosts for this parasitic migrant.

Marsh Harriers had bred successfully and numbers were on the increase again,proving that with good management and suitable habitat these fantastic birds will thrive.I watched them skimming the tops of the reedbeds on the lookout for small birds and Coot chicks which they seemed to favour.The weather was kind with blue skys which added to the enjoyment of being on the reserve.Many a time a deafening roar would be heard as the American F15 Eagle fighter jet would take off from the runway close by,maybe on their way to Libya on a mission.They are awesome beasts when seen at close range and the power they possess is frightening to say the least.

Also seen were Bearded Tits clinging to the reed stalks,their evocative ping ping call never to far away.There was so much going on, at times you didn`t know where to point the camera !Two pairs of Barn Owls were resident and both were feeding youngsters.Sightings were guaranteed of the birds,with dusk being my favourite time,most people had left by then and I had the place to myself as the sun went down!

Not too far away is another reserve, managed by the Suffolk wildlife trust and  noted for Kingfisher sightings.I set myself up in a hide and within half an hour was rewarded with great views of an adult bird diving into the shallow water emerging with sticklebacks to take back to their young.Perches had been strategically placed in front of the hide and the Kingfisher would regularly use them, allowing great photo opportunities!

On the way back to my campsite, I checked the local heathland for Stone Curlew and discovered up to 5 birds present in one particular area.Access to the heaths are prohibited till Nov, to give these rare birds space and encouragement to breed.It seems to work well, as again I believe numbers are up on last year.
I really enjoy visiting the Breks of Suffolk and wish I had more time to spend there with the camera.I`ll certainly return for my annual fix next year and hope to share with you again, some more magical moments of what it has to offer.Hope you enjoy this years account and images!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

More of the Leos!!

 Just a few more of my local long eared owls that I have been watching.They really are a delight to watch quartering the rough pasture.I have spent hours observing these fantastic birds on my local moorlands and never tire of them,absolutely superb creatures.
They give superb views hunting the roadside verges,sometimes only feet away from passing motorists.I fear for the young ones when they fledge the nest as fatalities will surely occur!


Saturday, 16 July 2011

Portugal concluded

Azure Winged Magpie
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Kentish Plover

Rather distant Blue Rock Thrush

Spanish Iris were quite common.

Pallid Swift.

So to conclude my stay on the Algarve,I`ve posted a few images of a few of the other species that I encountered whilst out and about.Having rented a car for the week, I made full use of it travelling down to the southern most tip, Sagres.Here were Black Redstart/Blue Rockthrush,four species of Swift, including a rare Little Swift all to be observed.Further inland, away from the coast, the habitat changed to scrub and vast area of meadow were Spectacled Warblers/Tawny Pipit/Short Toed Lark/Thekla Lark, a few more pairs of Little Bustard and Iberian Yellow Wagtails were encountered.Melodious Warbler/Rock Bunting and a Hobby were to be found along a track which led to a raptor viewpoint.There really were large areas of different habitat that I came across, all offering something different!Bee orchids and Spanish Iris were seen, with many plants to difficult for me to identify.I really must brush up on plant species, but its not easy and very time consuming.With that I`ll end my account of Portugal and look forward to returning maybe in Autumn when migration will be at its peak and hopefully more images can be obtained of this wonderful place!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Size comparison with Kestrel.

Stunnin birds.

Stunning plummage.

Roller investigates a nest box.

Little Bustard.
Still in the region of the Alentejo,Simon took me to a set of old ruins were a colony of Lesser Kestrels had taken residence.Lots of nest boxes had been put up to encourage the Kestrels to breed.Amongst the many Kestrels were a couple of pair of European Roller,now this bird was high on my wish list to see never mind photograph!The Rollers were also evident around the nest boxes, for they were also known to use the boxes to breed.They had even been known to oust the Kestrels from the nestboxes and take over it,successfully rearing chicks.What amazed me were the size of the Rollers,they seemed to dwarf the much smaller Kestrel.The colours of the plummage was something else.I obtained a few shots of them going about their daily business which I hope you enjoy plus on the road away from the colony,I was fortunate to get good views of a Little Bustard calling, surrounded by the stunning fauna that abounds here...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Portugal.3 Types Of Eagle.

Golden Eagle really close!
A sub adult bird gliding on the thermals!

Golden Eagle, just beautiful to admire!

Short Toed Eagle
Booted Eagle.

Simon my guide decided it was time to head up into the mountaineous region of the Alentejo to see if we could spot any more raptors.It was after midday and the thermals would suit anything that was out hunting.He has a couple of favourite places he goes to and was confident that a few birds would be coming through.A few pair of Golden Eagles patrol these high ridges as well as Vultures and other Eagle species!Anticipation was high as we made our way past a few small villages which eventually brought us to the viewing area.Being so high up the vista before us was staggering.Away in the distance was Spain and as we looked behind us you could see as far as the Monchique mountain range!

Slowly but surely odd Griffon Vultures would drift lazily past us with a few Black Vultures for good measure,A short Toed Eagle was spotted hanging in mid air looking for snakes its main prey item, then a Booted Eagle appeared shortly after!On the whole it was preety quiet on the raptor front so we decided to move onto to another area that Simon knew.Stopping every now and then on the descent we would scan the rocky out crops,Simon was suddenly scrutinising this particular cluster of boulders when he suddenly exclaimed`quick Paul take a look at this`.Through his scope something slowly moved away, he`d chanced upon an Eagle Owl hidden amongst the rocks,what a find!He`d always knew they must be about this particular areabut had never actually seen one here before,A new site for him which he was going to monitor closely.A survey had been done previously on breeding Eagle Owls and up to 30 pairs had been recorded about the region!!Driving on a little way I caught a glimpse of a large raptor disappearing over the ridge to our right,Simon was immediately out of the car and crashing through the bushes in pursuit,he leaves nothing to chance.Golden Eagle he exclaime and its bloody close.I couldn`t set the camera up quickly enough and was on it in a flash.It hadn`t spotted us and was cruising the ridge looking for prey.It was a sub adult bird that Simon had seen before right in front of us and with the backdrop of the plains below, made for some wonderful photography.`Wow how good was that` then Simon shouted,`doesn`t get much better mate`I totally agreed.On that note, we made our way back down the bumpy track to go and have lunch at the small restaurant Simon uses and have a few cold glasses of beer,It had been a long morning out in the baking heat and we both needed time out to recharge the batteries for the late afternoon!