Glorious Twelfth

August 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Red Grouse

There is little doubt that the high moorlands of the Yorkshire Dales are at their very best when covered in purple heather during August. On the 23rd I drove through thick mist in the valleys to reach the high tops before 7am. It was a magnificent morning with no wind, no traffic and Red Grouse everywhere. The warm dry weather of June has been perfect for the young grouse and both Red and Black Grouse have had their best season for decades. In two glorious hours I obtained all the shots I was after of Red Grouse in purple heather. A Whinchat was also present providing a bonus but not a bird of prey was seen. I wonder why! Click here to view the Grouse and scenery of the Dales.

On 22nd August a party of tits in the trees at the bottom of the garden included a record seventeen Long Tailed Tits. Four Wood Pigeons are still feeding regularly as are a reduced number of Redpolls.

Late Summer Birds

August 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm

During the last few weeks I have been filming a collection of late Summer breeding birds. These include Willow Warbler and Meadow Pipit with food, a Spotted Flycatcher with a large item of prey along with a fast flying Swift  all can be seen in this week’s gallery together with a photo  of a mass of midges! Click here.

A walk in a quiet part of Cheshire produced a pair of Little Owls with a recently fledged young and better still two fledged Hobbies awaiting the return of the adults. In the hills a last search was made for Nightjars but all to no avail, instead time was spent gathering my favourite fruit of Summer the Whimberry – now in the freezer ready for my Christmas Day dessert. There is nothing quite like a Whimberry crumble.

Locally along the canal charms of Goldfinches have been feeding on the thistle heads. In the garden we had a record four Wood Pigeons feeding in pairs and a very late brood of House Sparrows still being fed by the adults.

Spotted Red

August 11, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Spotted Redshank

There is little doubt that of all the Scandinavian waders which come to Britain in late Summer none is better than the Spotted Redshank especially in its resplendent Summer plumage. Better still when I photographed one at Morecombe Bay this week there was no wind and I had a perfect reflection. After forty four years of filming this was the first Spotted Redshank that I have ever filmed and it produced some stunning results. Click here to see these and other photos from two days spent in North Lancashire.

One day I visited the Fylde and found it was a journey back in time to see and hear Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings singing by the roadside – something I have not seen locally for more than forty years. It was also refreshing to see a field full of Hares with some of them still boxing. At Warton Crag I was able to add Gatekeeper and Brimstone butterflies to this years butterfly list.

The sad event of the week was the drowning in the nest of the second brood of Kingfishers following Monday’s heavy rain. In the last two years this pair have only fledged one brood of young out of five attempts. Let’s hope for better luck next year.

Butterflies Galore

August 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Dark Green Fritillary

The big bonus from the July sunshine and warmth has been the emergence of vast numbers of butterflies. In a two hundred yard stretch of thistles by the local canal I counted sixty eight Small Tortoiseshell butterflies and this after receiving the Butterfly Conservation Newsletter which stated that they were in a 77% decline this year! A day out at Silverdale produced several Dark Green Fritillaries one of our most impressive Summer butterflies. On another day the flowers around a Pennine reservoir were full of Common Blue butterflies. Click here to see these and others filmed during the last few weeks.

Overnight on the 28th July more than two inches of rain fell. This deluge has wiped out the late breeding attempts of Stonechat, Whitethroat and Grasshopper Warbler.

In the garden we have had a Willow Warbler and on two days a welcome return of the Nuthatch.