Dream Fulfilled

August 3, 2018 at 6:29 pm

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In making forty full length cine films I was never in a position to film hunting Long Eared Owls at dusk. I did, on two occasions, film them at the nest feeding their young, through the night, involving twenty foot of scaffolding and using lights to illuminate the nest. It was a magical experience and one that is now impossible to repeat. However,I was still missing the hunting at dusk sequences and never got them as Kodak stopped making cine film.
This year everything coincided perfectly – an abundance of voles, endless sunshine at dusk and five young Owls to feed. To satisfy the appetite of the growing young both Long Eared Owls had to hunt in the evening light and provided me with the photos I had always dreamed of. Enjoy this weeks gallery as it is unlikely that I will ever see a repeat performance. click here

Shortie Success

July 29, 2018 at 5:14 pm

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The warm, dry, sunny weather of this summer has provided exceptional conditions for breeding Short Tailed Field Voles. The knock-on effect is that Short Eared Owls have been breeding all over the Pennines, although some will have lost their young in the two devastating fires. However, many have been successful and this weeks photo is of a hunting male. One of his young is featured in the gallery and was very aggressive when I approached for a photograph. click here

Fancy A Frog

July 21, 2018 at 4:23 pm

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This weeks Little owls are one of the three high Pennine Owl species, the other two being Short Eared and Long Eared Owls. The abundance of voles this year has enabled the latter two species to have a bumper year but the Little Owls have not been as successful due to the drought. Worms form a major part of the Little Owls diet and there have been very few available this summer. The result is that this pair of Little Owls only have one young this year compared to three last year. Click here
I have spent nearly fifty years hoping to film adult Long Eared Owls bringing prey to their fledged young. For only four weeks of the year do you have any chance to capture a photo and usually the weather is poor with no light at sunset to freeze the movement. Well, it all comes good to he who waits and the last week has produced results I could only have dreamed of – see the gallery in two weeks time!

A Steep Learning Curve

July 15, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Kingfisher
In the last three weeks I have spent thirty seven hours in my hide at the nest-site of a pair of Kingfishers. Every session has been in unbroken sunshine and in forty five years of filming Kingfishers I have never seen such settled conditions. I have been waiting for the young to fledge and this weeks photo is of one of those young, just a couple of hours after leaving the tunnel. Instinct tells it to fish to survive but unfortunately that instinct has not yet kicked in and our bird plunged into the water and came out with a leaf!!
The gallery this week includes some of the photos from the last three weeks showing the adults diving and bringing fish for their young.Click here

Catch-Again

July 8, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Hen Harrier
My recent Hen Harrier food -pass photos have always been popular so this week I have included another series from our recent visit to Islay. The weather during our three weeks was fantastic with just one storm that produced high winds and half an inch of rain. This week’s gallery also includes photos of Black Guillemots, Golden Eagle, Roe Deer and Islays special butterfly the Marsh Fritillary.Click here

Corncrakes and Whiskey

July 1, 2018 at 3:59 pm

Corncrake
This weeks blog and gallery is dominated by one of Islay special birds, the Corncrake. Twenty years ago there were only eight calling birds and the future of the summer visitor looks bleak. Scottish Natural Heritage stepped in with various grant monies and brought this bird back from the brink to more than one hundred calling birds. Sadly these grants have now been withdrawn and the Corncrake is now in freefall with perhaps their numbers being halved this summer.
Ironically Islay’s big money-earner is its Whiskey and this success may now be working against the Corncrake. Previously many of Islay’s fields lay fallow in summer and proved good for Corncrakes. Now they are ploughed and sowed with Barley which is of little value to the Corncrakes. If this iconic bird is not to disappear completely it may once again need a helping hand.
This weeks gallery includes a selection of Islays birds including its Waders. Click here

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