A week in Wales and during that time I noticed thousands of Starlings gathering together at the end of the day and going to roost in a remote pine forest. They came together from all directions and gathered in the nearest tall trees. Unfortunately unlike other Starling roosts there were no aerial flights or murmurations and I can only assume that as I never saw any raptors having a go at them then spectacular flights were not necessary. It could well prove that the Starlings mass murmuration flights are only performed to confuse any potential predators. Click here
I had almost forgotten how common Buzzards are in Wales and without really trying we saw at least a dozen per day. It was pleasing to now encounter Kites in many areas but I am afraid the Hawfinches evaded us.
It is always a good winters day when a Jack Snipe is encountered. Usually you come across them in ones and twos and my local record comes from 2010 when a severe bout of cold weather brought five together feeding in an unfrozen iron-water ditch. This winter, so far, has been relatively mild and not the sort of winter when records are broken but earlier this month all that was about to change.For years I had walked past an insignificant local peat bog and occasionally flushed a Common Snipe. After a period of heavy rain six Common Snipe were feeding in this bog together with six Jack Snipe. If that was not good enough at dawn on the 4th January, following three degrees of frost, I checked the bog again. To my utter amazement after eighteen Common Snipe flew off eleven Jack Snipe were found feeding, including four together. This must be one of the greatest concentrations of Jack Snipe ever recorded in Greater Manchester. On the 16th Jan despite thirty three Common Snipe being present there were no Jack Snipe – all had moved on to some other secret locality.
Today I was snowbound in Wales while looking for Hawfinches so this weeks gallery includes some that I took earlier! Click here
With its flamboyant crest there is little doubt that the Waxwing is the punk rocker of the bird-world. Last week’s hundreds of Waxwings have now moved on but during the week I have found several small parties that are still devouring the local berries.. One such group of five are featured in this weeks gallery. They were feeding on a Rowan, with pink berries, in a local housing estate. Ironically this single Rowan was planted in the front garden of a house that was once owned by my son!! Click here
During the week ten Goosanders, including eight males, were feeding on a pond by the local railway and better still were four Woodcock feeding under gorse bushes in Hopwood woods.
What a fabulous New Years treat to spend four days filming my all-time favourite bird the Waxwing as they descended on Rowans still heavy with berries. The spectacle of a hundred or more Waxwings flying back and forth on red berries is something to behold. In perfect conditions I have taken a lot of time trying to capture flight shots of these fast moving birds. Enjoy the largest gallery I have ever mounted! Click here
Happy New Year to all my followers and in a year when I officially “retired” as a professional wildlife photographer after twenty years, I have never been as busy. This weeks photo of me in Spitsbergen, less than six hundred miles from the North Pole, was taken by an official photographer from Oceanwide Expeditions to illustrate the wildness of their cruises. I just happened to get in the way and had no idea I was being photographed! The cruise ship Plancius is in the fiord way below where I am sat. This photo is now on their web-site as a sales tool!
In what should have been a quiet year I ended up going to Iceland, Spitsbergen, Speyside and Islay three times. Thousands of photos were taken and I have included a small collection of my years favourites in this weeks gallery.Click here
The year started off with my monitoring up to five Long Eared Owls in a winter roost. These gave me great enjoyment and many photos although most of the time the Owls had their eyes closed! My 70th Birthday was spent in Iceland in March and we had all the snow that I wanted and some good seafood but no Aurora. Out of the blue in June I was on my way to Spitsbergen to look for Polar Bears and Ivory Gulls. I have always wanted photos of a Polar Bear with prey surrounded by Ivory Gulls. Not only did I manage this but I also came across a female Polar Bear with three cubs which is almost unheard of in Spitsbergen.
On Islay in June I finally managed to film a Hen Harrier food-pass. In July I visited Speyside to film Ospreys catching fish and in the same month managed to take some high-speed shots of Kingfishers in flight something I have been after for a long time. In October I was back on Islay for the Geese and the year finished perfectly with the arrival of my favourite bird the Waxwing – hundreds of them!! Perhaps 2017 will be more restful?