The King

June 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

Golden Eagle
There is little doubt that the king of all Birds of Prey is the Golden Eagle. From a birdwatchers point of view no trip to Scotland is complete without a sighting of “the king”.
In the highlands the diet of the Golden Eagle comprises of mainly Heres and Rabbits but in the Hebrides the Eagles diet is different. In places like Islay some coastal Golden Eagles feed almost exclusively on Fulmars.They hunt them on the sea-cliffs and rely on surprise and speed to capture their prey. This weeks gallery shows a series of photos of one unsuccessful hunt before the Eagle alights on its favourite rock to rest and contemplate its next foray. Click here

Nuthatches Nesting in a Nestbox

June 10, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Nuthatch
Most people when they buy a house place a nest-box in the garden. Within a year or so Blue Tits will have found it or perhaps even Great Tits or Coal Tits. It would always be a dream to have a pair of Nuthatches take up residence in your nest-box. This weeks blog is all about such an event.
Soon after inspecting the box the Nuthatches will commence plastering with mud the underside of the lid to effectively seal it to the main structure of the box. This effectively means that from now on you will not be able to open the box to look inside otherwise you would break the seal of mud. However, should you decide to look inside the Nuthatches will re-plaster and seal it up again which is what they are doing in some of the gallery photos. click here

Dancing Adders

June 3, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Adders

As a keen schoolboy naturalist living in Bury I once came across a sign on my local moors which read”Beware of Adders”.It fired my imagination to find that Britain’s only venomous snake could be found locally. I searched and searched over the years but failed to find any and it was decades later in Scotland before I was to see my first Adder.
In recent years the big Adder challenge is to capture on film the combat dance of two males as they fight over a female. This dance occurs after male Adders have moulted their skins and go in search of a female to mate with. Day after day in April I waited for six male Adders to moult and then mate with the two female Adders that were nearby. Finally, one morning, five of the males had moulted their skins overnight and two were soon in combat. The fight lasted about five minutes and it was very difficult to photograph in the long grass.
Once the fight finished three of the males joined the female and provided me with some amazing photos as all their heads were visible on one occasion, as shown in the gallery photos. One of the males appears to have impaired vision. Click here

Dipper Success

May 28, 2017 at 5:59 pm

Dipper
This years dry Spring has been a big bonus for Pennine dippers with most now having fledged their first brood of young. This weeks photos are from one of those first broods and both adult birds were feather perfect. Spate flooding is always a problem for Dippers and it remains to be seen whether their second brood attempts will be as successful. Click here
During the last few weeks a great deal of time has been spent searching for Dotterel, Woodcock and Long eared Owls. One morning I was standing on the top of Pendle Hill before 7.00am but I was all alone with no dotterel present that morning. You can’t win them all!!

Wood Warbler Mystery

May 21, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Wood Warbler
Wood Warblers are summer visitors to Britain and in the last twenty years their numbers have declined by up to 90%. In fact forty years ago I could have found them breeding within one mile of my home in Rochdale. Sadly not any more, only a handful return to the Pennines each year. The male starts to sing immediately he arrives but in most cases he fails to attract a female and so moves on. No one knows why there has been a catastrophic decline in this stunning little Warbler and unless we can find an answer we have no chance to help reverse the current downward spiral. This weeks photos are of a single male in Bowland last week. Click here
In the garden this week we have had more than twenty different species coming to the food offered. These have included a male Great Spotted Woodpecker who has taken food away to a nestful of young somewhere nearby. On another day twenty three Starlings dropped in to devour the fat-balls.

Drumming Snipe

May 13, 2017 at 7:58 pm

Snipe
One of the attractions of Islay in Spring are the vast numbers of wading birds that breed at places like Gruinart. My favourite is the Snipe and the male carries out a display flight called drumming. In the evening he takes wing high in the sky then descends at more than 50kilometers per hour. As he reaches this speed, or more, he extends his outer two tail feathers at right angles and it is the vibration of these two feathers that produces this amazing drumming sound. Prior to digital cameras it would have been almost impossible to capture this display on film but last week on Islay conditions were perfect and I managed one or two acceptable photos.
I have always maintained that in wildlife photography you results are directly proportionate to the time that you put in. You make your own luck and a classic example occurred last week. I was hidden away on a sea cliff filming Ravens when suddenly a young Peregrine from last year flew past and gave me some unexpected photos that are in this weeks gallery together with others from a most memorable week. Click here

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