Well Choughed

February 25, 2013 at 6:17 pm

A week on Islay with two superb Winter days and the rest dry with a cold South East wind. I came to concentrate on flight shots of `Chough and I have had two great days with shots like the one featured on my blog.

During the week we have seen two Otters and both eluded the camera. HenHarriers have appeared daily with Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel observed on some days. Three pair of Ravens have been building their nests on cliffs so the breeding season is now under way.

Amongst a flock of two hundred finches in a stubble field there was one male Brambling present.

Solway Farewell

February 16, 2013 at 8:04 pm

This week I have made my final journey to Stranraer, Dumfries,New Galloway and Moffat to show my films. On the drive to Stranraer I saw nine Buzzards, four Kestrels, one Kite and a Barn Owl still hunting after 9am. By the roadside near Newton Stewart there was a flock of thirty Whooper Swans and at high tide a Little Egret was feeding in a flooded river channel. In the sea off Stranraer there were good numbers of Scaup plus a Slavonian Grebe.

On Wednesday I made a precarious journey to Dumfries with four inches of snow covering the roads. I sat in my car in Gatehouse of Fleet for an hour overlooking a garden full of feeding Chaffinches. There were at least eighty present plus a Yellowhammer. Ten years ago this same garden had more than ten Yellowhammers present each day indicating the present plight of this stunning bird. On another day I spent some time under my camouflage cloth filming Siskins. As this garden was surrounded by pine trees it was perfect for them and more than seventy individual Siskins were feeding.

On Thursday I spent time in a third garden filming Red Squirrels in the snow. At least six different squirrels were feeding on hazelnuts. Some of these squirrels had more of a grey coat and it was a matter of waiting for the more colourful ones to come in camera view. With more than seventy Kites at the feeding station there is no doubt I am going to miss my annual visits to South West Scotland with its wildlife.

Back home in the garden on the sixteenth, with a temperature of 10°C the male Blackcap was merrily singing away!.

Siberian Gem

February 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I finally took some decent photos of the Chiff-Chaffs along Wince Brook in Middleton this week with the Siberian race clearly much lighter and with a pronounced eye stripe. Both birds were photographed only five minutes apart and there are at least four normal Chiff-Chaffs present along this semi polluted brook. Everyone who sees them is amazed at their concentration to this one small area, the attraction being tiny flies still present in the mass of rotting vegetation overhanging the brook.

During the week I filmed one hundred and twenty Waxwings in Stockport on the 6th and saw a flock of fifteen in Middleton on the 9th, ironically less than eight hundred meters from where the Chiff-Chaffs were feeding. If the Waxwings can find berries perhaps they will hang on locally until late March. On the canal on the fifth were six male and one female Goosanders, now able to feed following the melting of ice cover.

The male Sparrowhawk has caught twice in the garden this week. I rescued a Starling that he was trying to drown in a pool of water by the lawn and he came back three times trying to find it! The male Blackcap has now disappeared and may have been his other victim – let’s hope not.

Snowy Owls

February 3, 2013 at 11:49 am

It is always a special and rare moment to come across a roosting Long Eared Owl. To come across two is even more special and to find them after a heavy snow fall is almost unknown. I have never seen a photo of roosting Long Eared Owls in the snow so this week’s photo may be unique. In wildlife photography your results are directly proportionate to the time you put in the field. If you don’t go out searching you can’t expect to photograph Long Eared Owls in the snow.

With the return of the wet weather most of the action this week has been in our garden. On the 31st two Siskins fed for the first time this Winter making them the thirty first species to feed in the garden this month. Three Robins were present one day with the male Blackcap chasing another male Blackcap on another day. The Goldfinches peaked at fifteen but one was unfortunately captured by one of our three male Sparrowhawks.

On the only good day of the week, 2nd February, I had a morning out on the Fylde. It was good to see plenty of Tree Sparrows and Pink Footed Geese but better still was a Short Eared Owl and eight Barn Owls. A good reason to return!