The Deluge

June 24, 2012 at 10:13 am

Sorry no photo this week, back to normal next week.

A very hectic week watching amongst other things a pair of Short Eared Owls feeding their young that were almost ready to fly, that is until Friday came along and dropped four inches of rain on their moor. It was the heaviest and most prolonged day of rain I have ever seen in the Pennines and I fear that they will have perished in the deluge. The flooding in the valleys hit the television headlines. Closer to home all the Whitethroats on Hopwood have lost their young. It couldn’t have come at a worst time and I would imagine for Kingfishers it has been a disaster.

On a brighter note a puddle on a farm track caused me to stop suddenly in the car when I almost ran over a male Crossbill and its young having a drink. I returned twice thereafter but they had moved on – just my luck!

The highlight of the week has been filming my first ever local pair of Green Woodpeckers feeding their young. At one point two heads of the young could be seen in the hole as the adult regurgitated food. Next week’s photo should show this event

Home Again

June 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Long Tailed Titl

This week’s photo is one of Scotland’s rarest butterflies the Marsh Fritillery. I was lucky in finding up to ten a day on Islay as it is one of their strongholds.

The only drawback about being away for three weeks is that when you return most of the nests that you found before going away have now fledged their young. However during a hectic week I managed to film a Great Spotted Woodpecker with young about to fledge, Green Woodpeckers with newly hatched young and Kestrels with young just out of the nest.

It is not often I praise our water authorities but this time praise is due to United Utilities. A month ago a moorland reservoir, where I have filmed Little Ringed Plover in the past, was full to capacity and there was no where for them to lay their eggs. I made a phone call and the water level was reduced by a metre . Not much you might think but when I checked the reservoir during the week in the gravel now exposed around its edge Little Ringed Plovers had laid their four eggs. An excellent result and all due to one phone call.

In the garden there are now many recently fledged Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins and even a Wood Pigeon. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers are taking their food away for their young in a nest on the golf course and maybe when they have fledged they will also come to the garden.

Islay Magic

June 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Long Tailed Titl

Three weeks on Islay has now come to an end and we have had only half a day of rain which is pretty remarkable in view of the poor weather back home in Rochdale.

Having spent some time before going to Islay looking for Dotterel it was ironic that the first birds we saw on Islay were nine Dotterel feeding in a ploughed field. One hour later they continued their journey further North and as they do not breed in Iceland they may well have ended up in Scandinavia.

Unlike the Pennines Islay still has good numbers of Cuckoos and at present nobody knows why they are in decline locally and not so in Scotland. It was only on the seventh attempt that I finally obtained some film of one on its song post/

One day I spent four hours in my hide at a Buzzard’s nest that contained three young and an event occurred that I have waited a long time to capture on film. The male Buzzard, having already brought a vole and then a frog to the nest earlier, alighted with a large Adder that was alive and wriggling about. It was amazing to film the feed and then the young trying to swallow what was left of Adder. As shown in this week’s photo.

Islay is of major importance for Corncrakes and during the Summer there are regular counts to ascertain the number of calling males. Last year they peaked at eighty one and as I was lucky enough to hear nine different calling birds on just one evening it looks like there may be even more this year.

As usual three weeks is never a long enough stay on this magical island.

Hen Harrier Delights

June 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Long Tailed Titl

Long Tailed Titl

During the last week I have spent twenty five hours, in hot weather, trying to obtain film of a breeding pair of Hen Harriers. This was part of my long term study on the Hen Harriers but this year instead of two very mature birds there was a two year old colour ringed male paired off with a three year old female. This has never happened before during the thirty years I have been filming at this site so you have to ask the question what has happened to all the adult birds I have filmed previously?

In the last weeks good weather we have done lots of walking and finally watched an Otter bring a large crab ashore to devour. It was on the only day that I left my camera behind in the car!

With a maximum temperature of 28°C flowers are beginning to appear but are still weeks later than normal.