Reflections Of Summer

July 28, 2013 at 8:16 pm


With more than nine hours of sunshine per day this July has been the sunniest I can remember and with the late breeding season I have never been as busy. I have spent three hours each morning this week filming a male Kingfisher as he fed young that were about to fledge. As we have had no wind all week I was looking for reflections in the water and conditions were perfect producing the best results I have ever obtained. (Click here) I can think of nothing better on a classic Summer’s morning than spending time in the presence of a male Kingfisher.

During the week the three young Sparrowhawks have fledged on Hopwood with the single young Buzzard now ready for its maiden flight – this will make it the first local breeding record during the last century! Also on Hopwood there was a singing Grasshopper Warbler, the first I have heard locally for more than a decade and a bird which is in short supply this year.

In the garden a fledged party of four Robins have appeared – the second successful breeding of our local Robins this year. Reed Buntings, Redpolls, Bullfinches and Coal Tit are all still feeding on a regular basis.

Little Ringed Plover’s Success

July 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Little Ringed Plover

In recent years I have had a licence from Natural England to photograph Little Ringed Plover at the nest on one of the moorland reservoirs. This Spring the birds returned to breed but had a major problem in that the reservoir was completely full of water with nowhere for them to lay their eggs. They remained on site for weeks but the water level did not recede and it looked as if they would have to move on to find a more suitable breeding site. What happened next was unbelievable as the female plover laid a clutch of eggs in the gravel on the anglers car park a good fifty yards from the reservoir. With the co operation of the anglers the car park was closed off and a notice was erected to ask all dog walkers to keep their dogs on a lead as they walked past. Would the eggs survive the twenty three days to hatching and would the young then make it back to the reservoir to feed? Well they did and it was an incredible success story. As the Summer progressed the water level receded and a second pair stopped to breed successfully. This week’s photo and gallery shots illustrate this second success. Click here

On Hopwood the Sparrowhawks and Buzzards now have young ready to fledge. Linnets are breeding successfully for the first time in some years with Chiff Chaffs and Whitethroats still in full song. The Roe Deer now have a fawn and the sun has produced an abundance of dragonflies on the ponds

Little Owl Des Res

July 14, 2013 at 8:20 pm

3 Little Owls

I have to admire any builder who makes provision for breeding birds when he developes an old moorland property. A pipe was placed in the gable wall leading into a nest box placed in the roof. Immediately a pair of Little Owls decided that was the ultimate Des Res and moved in. I spent five hours over two evenings but only obtained the odd shot of the male and female. I was waiting for the night when the three young would appear at the entrance prior to fledging. It finally happened and in perfect conditions I had a magical two hours in my hide with not only the three young appearing but also the male resting on the wall only ten feet in front of me and it stayed there for twenty minutes!  Click here of view some of the photos taken on that magical night.

Every day this week I have been out in the hills before 7am as there are still breeding birds to be filmed. Six hours of searching has failed to locate any breeding Nightjars and with temperatures with up to 28°C it has been exhausting work. With the exception of the raptors all the birds seem to have had a good breeding season.

Rogue Buzzard

July 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm


It is always a pleasure to film a pair of Redstarts feeding young especially when it is a late pair in July when most others have already reared young. They had chosen an old Tree Creeper nest box and had five young which were six days old. Both adults were very obliging and perched where required during my first two hour session.  For the photos  click here  Two days later I had a second session and all was going well for the first fifty minutes. Then, after a great swish of wings from nowhere, a Buzzard clung to the nest box and somehow took four young from inside. It returned a few minutes later but I managed to frighten it off and saved the last young. I would never have thought it possible that a Buzzard could predate  nesting Redstarts when inside the box but it had happened before my very eyes. There is no doubt that the expansion of the Buzzard in the Pennines is not good news. Already Little Owls and Woodcock have disappeared from their regular sites as a result of the spread. There have also been two sightings of Buzzards killing young Barn Owls on their maiden flights. Last year a friend had two broods of Hobbies predated in the nest by Buzzards.

During the week I have been searching the Pennine forest for Nightjars. Some have been located but finding a nest is almost impossible. Eight hours of hard work resulted in flushing a Woodcock off four newly hatched young which for July is unheard of.

The big event in the garden was the arrival of a Nuthatch which fed for one day only. Still it was the first we have seen for more than a year and would always be welcome back.