Newsletter December 2009

December 19, 2009 at 12:57 pm


Another year comes to a close and what a year its been. In 40 years of filming wildlife I have never had a better year.It started off with a classic Winter with snow and frost on many days. Coupled with that there was an invasion of Waxwings and New Years day started off with a spectacular hoar frost and 100 Waxwings feeding on Rowan berries at Offerton.

The highlight of February was the filming of a Jack Snipe in a local marsh. I have spent a lifetime trying to obtain film of Jack Snipe and finally I spotted one on the ground before it saw me and flew off as all the others have done! February also brought with it my lecture tour of South West Scotland for the Scottish Ornithologists Club. Good weather for that produced some good film of sixty plus Kites at the feeding station on Loch Ken.

Somehow in a busy month we also made our annual February visit to Islay. It was great to see the Geese in their Winter quarters but the highlight was filming a flock of twenty seven Snow Buntings, another bird I have been after for a long time.

At the end of March I visited Teesdale to inspect the Blackcock lek that I had filmed eighteen years ago. This time as a professional I had to pay a fee to put my hide up . On the morning of the 1st April I was in my hide and this turned out to be a morning I would never forget. The calls of the wading birds in the valley as it came light were unbelievable and when the Blackcock started to display it was truly amazing. I had the option of going back to obtain some more film but that one morning produced all I needed.

During the year our garden has produced plenty of birds with up to 33 Goldfinches feeding together on one occasion. The highlight, however, has been regular visits of a Willow Tit and on one occasion I did obtain some film.

In the local Pennines I had in mind filming Woodcock, Ring Ouzel, Kestrel and a male Merlin and managed to obtain good film of them all!

We spent five weeks on Islay during Spring and were blessed with fantastic weather and the best year for Short Eared Owls for twenty years. I obtained some amazing film of them together with that of Hen Harriers and Buzzard that will be saved for a future DVD.

In late July I joined an expedition to Spitsbergen and again had some fantastic weather with the sighting of 26 Polar Bears during circumnavigation of the islands. On the 30th July we saw 7 bears in one day with a female and her two cubs spending more than 2 hours around the boat in perfect conditions. I have never before taken more than an hour of video and 250 still photos in one session and probably will never again.

Since returning from that voyage Pauline and I have spent nearly 3 months producing a new DVD entitled ‘Polar Bears and other Wildlife of Spitsbergen’. details of that you will find on my website

Polar Bear DVD

I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year.