To Intervene Or Not To Intervene?

December 8, 2018 at 5:56 pm

RN2A9248Much has been said in recent weeks about the BBC cameraman’s declared policy of not intervening in any wildlife event that they are filming. That rule was broken last week when Emperor Penguins were helped out of a glacier to enable them to return to their rookery. Death would have followed if the cameramen had not stepped in.
This week’s blog photo is of a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker in the talons of a female Sparrowhawk on my lawn this last summer. I make no apologies for taking one photo before rushing outside to liberate the Woodpecker. It was a lucky bird being so large that the Sparrowhawk could not fly off with it when it initially pounced. As far as I am concerned I put lots of food out to attract a variety of birds and the Sparrowhawk can hunt in someone elses garden!! However, lets not forget that when I photographed my first Sparrowhawks at the nest in 1975 they were as rare as the Merlin is today and have already started to decline again.

The Dive

December 1, 2018 at 6:48 pm

RN2A9610I have always maintained that in wildlife photography your results are directly proportionate to the time that you put in and last week I had a perfect example of this with my local Barn Owl. I spent days watching the hunting pattern of this bird and noted that it started to hunt around a field by the farm sometime after 3.30pm. I erected a post by the edge of the field opposite an old farm trailer, under which I could hide covered by a camouflage cloth.
During the first week of waiting the Owl, on one occasion, hunted along the hedge and then when it was only twenty feet from the post it turned away and hunted across the other side of the field. In the second week some afternoons were too dark to even go under the cloth. Then along came an afternoon when the sun was shining until 3.30pm. It would have been too dark to film after 4.00pm so I waited in anticipation. At 3.40pm he appeared down the hedge and proceeded to hunt, working his way towards the post and me! He flew up onto the post and paid no attention to the shutter of the camera as I picked off my photos in the failing light.This is when luck took over for he stared at the ground and pounced on a Short Tailed Field Vole, returning to the post and transferring it to his bill before flying off!! Click here for the photos

Goose Feast

November 24, 2018 at 6:49 pm

IMG_9433As predicted the first International Goose count on Islay last week has produced a lower than expected count of just over 30,000 birds. The reason for this lower number is that very few juvenile birds have returned with the adult Geese due entirely to a devastating Spring blizzard in eastern Greenland. It was already known that Knot and Sanderling, that breed in eastern Greenland, had not been able to breed because of the snow cover.The Barnacle Geese that rear their young on Greenlands 200 metre sea-cliffs were expected to bring few young birds and that is exactly what has happened. Perhaps now they will be left to feed in peace on Islay?
No trip to Islay is complete without a few photos of its raptors and this weeks gallery includes some that we encountered last week together with all those Barnacle Geese. click here

Whooper Swan Spectacular

November 18, 2018 at 6:02 pm

There is one bonus of wild weather on Islay in Autumn, you may be treated to a spectacular sunset at dusk. That is exactly what happened on our recent visit – six days of stormy weather then two sunny days that produced incredible colours at sunset. Add to that thousands of roosting Geese then a flight through of seven Whooper Swans and you have this weeks blog photo. No Autumn is ever the same on Islay and this years  was the presence of over a thousand Whooper Swans. With more and more Barley being grown for the distilleries the passage of Whooper Swans from Iceland is more prolonged and, as has happened this year, hundreds have remained to gobble up the spilt grain. click here
Islay Geese are a spectacle in their own right and next weeks gallery is devoted to them.

Hibernation Time

November 11, 2018 at 6:54 pm

IMG_9359For the last couple of weeks the Hedgehog in this weeks photo has been visiting our garden later and later each evening. It finally got to 10.00pm before the food was left overnight and it must now be curled ups in a bed of leaves until next Spring. Lets hope that we don’t have any unseasonal mild spells over winter to cause it to awaken which would be a here
We have just returned from a wild week on Islay and the next couple of weeks galleries will be full of Whooper Swans and Geese.

Trick Or Treat

November 4, 2018 at 9:01 pm

The 31st October is a special day and I don’t think I have ever taken any photos on that day before. The weather was perfect but the subject matter extremely wary. In two hours under the camouflage cloth I only managed a couple of photos, one of which is this weeks blog photo.
In the late afternoon I hid awaiting the local Barn Owl to start hunting. Five minutes before sunset it appeared along a hawthorne hedge that was covered in berries. Although it never came close the gallery photos have a perfect Autumn atmosphere with plenty of red here