Welsh Redpolls

January 27, 2018 at 6:44 pm

Not a subspecies of the Redpoll but a small party of Common Redpolls found feeding last week  in Wales.
We have just returned from a snowy week in the Berwyn mountains alongside the River Dee.
Crossbills were quite common and I managed a few photos of one bird as snow was falling. If you compare the bill with the Parrot Crossbills of last week there is a significant size difference. Click here

For anyone wishing to visit this part of Wales, with the luxury of a hot tub and a wood-burning stove, then I cannot recommend the cottages at Rivercatcher enough. www.rivercatcher.co.uk

Who’s A Pretty Boy?

January 19, 2018 at 9:28 am

There are few birds more colourful than a Parrot Crossbill. This winter several small flocks of Parrot Crossbills are in Britain and one of these is to be found deep in the Derbyshire Pennines.This is a bird I have never even seen before let alone taken a photograph of so it never entered my plans at the beginning of the year. However, following a tip off and four hours under a camouflage cloth, in freezing conditions, I was able to obtain many photos of up to eleven Parrot Crossbills. They are very similar to Common Crossbills but have enormous bills that don’t cross over at the tip and their necks are much bulkier. It was a fantastic unexpected session to start the year and they will be a hard subject to follow.Click here

Global Warming?

January 13, 2018 at 6:30 pm

Common Sandpiper
When you walk around a moorland reservoir on the 5th January the last bird you expect to see is a Common Sandpiper. This bird should now be enjoying the warmth of Africa not the ice and snow of the Pennines. Whether it will survive the extremes of winter weather forecast for the end of next week remains to be seen – lets hope it does.
During the last week Roe Deer have been active in the local woods and on Monday I came across one that was resting in the winter sunshine. This is in the gallery which next week will feature a new bird for me, being the most colourful winter visitor to the Pennines. click here

All Steamed Up

January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm

This weeks photo shows Lapwings that appear to be deliberately roosting in the steam outlet from our local Industrial estate. It is another example of how Lapwings are taking full advantage of our central heating system in cold weather. There have been as many as three hundred Lapwings on this roof and they are perfectly happy to have the warm steam from the unit below blown over them. click here
During the week in fields near Heywood I came across twenty eight Tree Sparrows feeding on grain that had been put out for them by the local farmer. It is the largest number of Tree Sparrows that I have seen locally for many decades. A pellet and droppings on a post nearby indicated that the local Barn Owl had also been feeding on the mice and voles that would have been present on the grain overnight. A clear example of how one farmer can provide a great benefit to his local wildlife.

Happy New Year From Both Of Us

December 30, 2017 at 7:15 pm

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Another hectic year comes to a close and it is now time to choose my favourite ten photos from the thousands that I have taken this year. It is never an easy choice but top of the ten must be the male Long Eared Owl hunting at dusk. I have always dreamt of this photo and he finally flew past me and gave a perfect stare in my direction.
The first three months of the year were all about Waxwings – my favourite bird. I concentrated on flight shots and was very happy with the two photos in the top ten.
The Kingfisher season started well with food presentation and copulation in March but sadly cattle destroyed both nests and the Kingfishers may now move to another site.
On Islay both male and female Hen Harriers used a post put out for them – another first for me and a Golden Eagle hunted the sea-cliffs without knowing I was there to capture the ultimate photo when it landed. Speyside produced more fishing Ospreys with very little light at 5.00am!!
The target birds for 2018 are still Bittern and Marsh Harriers so I must make time to visit Leighton Moss or some of the Yorkshire reed-bed reserves.Click here

A Visitor From Lapland

December 23, 2017 at 6:21 pm

No not Santa Claus or his Reindeer but much more illusive, a Jack Snipe, covered in jewels – well droplets of water actually!
It is a rare event to encounter a Jack Snipe before it flies off and in the last fifty years I have achieved this feat only five times, the last time being ten days ago. The plumage of the Jack Snipe is designed so that the stripes down its back and across its head blend in with the boggy vegetation where it feeds. In this weeks gallery I have included two distant shots of the Jack Snipe to illustrate the effect of the stripes in relation to their surroundings bearing in mind that this latest Jack Snipe was the easiest to see of the five that I have found!! click here

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