Waxwings Are Still Around

March 11, 2017 at 6:02 pm

It is now nearly four months since Waxwings arrived in our area and I never expected, upon returning from Islay, that there would be some still with us. During the last week I have filmed seventeen in Hollinwood as they fed on the berries of a single Cotoneaster. It was an industrial site and disturbance was considerable but they kept feeding as there was no alternative food source. Among the birds was a colour ringed one and I have now obtained details of its journey through Britain. It was ringed in a village near Aberdeen on the 4th December 2016. On the 28th December it was in Accrington but eleven days later it had moved south to Pitsea, Essex and was still there two days later. By the 3rd March it was back north at Hollinwood in Manchester and still there on the 9th March. Where will it go to next?
Activity in the garden has increased recently with twenty different species seen on the 8th March including pairs of Bullfinch, Siskin,Redpoll and Reed Bunting. This weeks gallery includes a final look at Islay from our February visit click here

Hunter and Hunted

March 4, 2017 at 6:24 pm

As promised last week this weeks photo is of an adult Sea Eagle hunting Shelduck on Loch Indaal, Islay. The Shelduck, on this occasion, did escape the Eagle but on many other occasions the roosting Barnacle Geese were not so lucky. The Sea Eagle success benefits the local Buzzards and larger Gulls such as Greater Black Backed as shown in the gallery. Click here
A winter break on Islay is a treat no raptor enthusiast should miss. Hen Harriers were seen on every one of our first eight days with good numbers of Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Golden Eagle. The most illusive raptor on Islay is the Kestrel – too much competition from other raptors perhaps?

Forty Shades of Grey

February 26, 2017 at 7:54 pm

When you visit somewhere over forty years for the one hundred and fifth time you do not expect to film a new species. Last week on Islay I was filming a group of sixty Sanderling when from nowhere a solitary Grey Plover walked into the picture and commenced feeding with the Sanderlings. It was an unexpected bonus for Grey Plover on their own are usually very wary birds to approach with a camera.
The last two weeks on Islay have produced extremes of weather with gales, snow, heavy overnight rain and cancelled ferries! However, we have had many encounters with wildlife so be prepared for a raptor feast next week! Click here

Waxwings and Apples

February 19, 2017 at 9:46 am

It is almost impossible to believe that last Autumn’s phenomenal berry crop has now been exhausted with Waxwings now searching for an alternative food source. Last week a solitary apple tree in the centre of Manchester was spotted by three Waxwings. I spent a couple of days filming them,then the next day they were gone, with apples still left on the tree. Other Waxwings still in the area have been eating rose-hips and any cotoneasters are well worth checking as Waxwings will still be with us for another two months. Long may they stay. click here

Synchronised Lapwings

February 12, 2017 at 5:15 pm

If I want to see Lapwings locally it is unlikely that I will find any in green fields.Instead I go down the road to my local Industrial Estate where on one occasion this winter there was a flock of more than three hundred present.As they are on the roof they are elevated nicely for photography.It is then only a waiting game before they fly around and give me the photos I am after.Click here
On the 5th February my local Snipe record increased even further when sixty five Common Snipe and twelve Jack Snipe were feeding in an only recently discovered area. While the twelve Jack Snipe may be an east Manchester record I am reliably informed that the County record stands at a mind boggling sixty eight!!

The Welsh Twister

February 4, 2017 at 8:42 pm

No visit to Wales is complete without a search of its vast pine plantations for the bird with that incredible twisted bill, the Crossbill.Amongst British birds it is unique with a bill specially designed for extracting seeds from pine-cones. In Wales Crossbills lay their eggs in mid February so that in January there is plenty of activity as they pair off and commence nest-building. Unfortunately the immense size of the Welsh forests makes finding Crossbills very difficult. After a great deal of time we located a small number of birds drinking at a pool in some dense willows and I was able to obtain a couple of photos of them before they returned to the high pines.
While Crossbills are the star bird of the pine forest there are always good numbers of Siskins present and these are nowhere near as wary as the Crossbills so I have included some male Siskins in the gallery.Click here