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

An Islay Spring

May 7, 2017 at 7:47 pm

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A visit to Islay in Springtime is a wonderful experience. The island is a mass of yellow from the gorse and the woods are deep blue from the bluebells.Add to all this ninety hours of sunshine in six days and I cannot think of anywhere better to visit at this time of year.
Last week migration was in full swing with hundreds of Whimbrels feeding and moving through as Corncrakes called from the nettle and Iris beds. I had the unique privilege of spending two hours watching a single Corncrake feed and call from a distance of less than fifteen feet( I was in my car!). This weeks gallery includes photos of this single Corncrake. click here
Many of Islay’s resident birds performed well last week and coupled with some fabulous sunsets they will be included next week.

Buntings and Redpolls

April 30, 2017 at 7:59 pm

Reed Bunting
During the last two months there has been an increasing number of Reed Buntings and Redpolls coming to feed in the garden. A minimum of five male and two female Reed Buntings have been feeding together but the number of individual birds could well be into double figures. Redpolls have peaked at seven and have included a ringed bird. It would have been interesting to know where it was originally ringed but only part of the ring number could be seen. A pair of Siskins and more than a dozen Goldfinches added colour to the garden. The close proximity of the Golf Course has no doubt helped provide a safe haven for all these extra garden birds. Click here
Although still cold the sunshine has brought out more Orange Tip butterflies. I have never seen so much Hawthorne blossom in April!!

Garden Buzzards!

April 23, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Buzzard
Who would have thought that after nearly fifty years of filming birds that your best flight shots of buzzards would have been taken stood at the back door of your house. A couple of weeks ago I was returning from a session filming Waxwings when, as I entered the house with my camera gear, two Buzzards were descending overhead into a field nearby. I didn’t even have time to put the lens hood on the camera as I fired a short burst of shots.
This spring started very wet and mild which was perfect for Ear and Scarlet Elf Cup fungi. I have included photos of these in this weeks gallery.click here

Copulation

April 16, 2017 at 9:55 am

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For the female kingfisher copulation can be a dangerous event. The bill of the male is extremely pointed and could cause damage to both her feathers and her eyes. To protect her eyes a membrane closes over the eyes during copulation(as in this weeks blog photo). Whilst this works perfectly for her from the camera’s point of view the photos obtained with this membrane in place usually end up being deleted – and there can be a lot of them! As promised last week this weeks blog photo and gallery are just a few of the seventy odd taken during a seven second copulation.Click here

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