Barn Owls In Decline

January 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm

BarnOwl 14
Following on from the wet Summer of 2012 and the cold Spring of 2013 we have now had more than two months of rain, much of which has fallen over night. This combination has been a disaster for Barn Owls with the recent report suggesting that there are now only 1000 pairs left breeding in Britain. This suggestion is confirmed in Greater Manchester where only five pairs bred successfully last year.  The most successful of these was a pair that fledged five young on the outskirts of Rochdale. Sadly the female has just been found drowned in a horse trough so the local situation goes from bad to worse. Horse troughs are the nemesis of  many British Barn Owls. Click here for Barn Owl photos.

With the inclement weather I have spent most of the week filming in the garden. The Long Tailed Tit party peeked at fourteen and during two nights two Tawny Owls were very vocal. Along the canal on the 21st a Kingfisher was fishing and is always a star bird to encounter.The most surprising event of the week was the finding of two plants of Herb Robert in full flower!!

Garden Delights

January 20, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Long Tailed Tits14

With the wet and dull weather over this last week I have spent time most days trying to film the large flock of the Long Tailed Tits that come to the fat ball feeder a couple of times each day. I finally obtained a shot where you can count ten birds together. On the 18th January we had a pair of Siskins feeding which is  a very early time of the year for Siskins as the main passage through the garden is usually late March into April. The female Great Spotted Woodpecker comes daily and  is featured in this week’s gallery plus some of the other birds that have visited our garden over the past twelve months. Click here.

On Hopwood on the 13th January I flushed my second Jack Snipe of the Winter. The local canal was visited by two male and one female Goosander on the 15th. Around Oldham more than fifty Redwings have now finished off the last of the berries which is a great shame as four Waxwings have just arrived in Blackburn!  A visit to a local reservoir during the week produced a juvenile Black Throated Diver which, sadly, stayed too far out to be photographed.

Only A Sparrow

January 12, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Tree Sparrow
The sparrows must be the most underrated and certainly the most under photographed family of British birds. This Autumn whilst I was searching the berry covered hedgerows for Long Eared Owls I came across a small party of Tree Sparrows. As it is more than forty years since I photographed Tree Sparrows I spent several weeks following them along the hedgerows filming where ever I could. Hedge Sparrows ,Robins and House Sparrows were also present enjoying the wealth of Autumn food. Click here Redwings in particular have been present this Autumn in exceptional numbers and are rapidly eating the last of the berries.

The first snow flakes of Winter fell on the 11th January but despite the weeks of mild weather there has been an increase in the number of birds feeding in the garden. A minimum of twenty different species a day have been present this week. Fifteen Long Tailed Tits were present on the 10th, equalling our record. A single Redpoll comes daily which, hopefully, is a good indicator for more in the future.

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January 5, 2014 at 6:50 pm

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Yearly Newsletter

January 4, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Scott Feb 2010 - Version 2I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year for 2014

After producing forty one hour cine films and five DVDs in the last forty four years you would have thought it was time for a rest in 2013. Well think again, with good weather for most of the year and armed with a Canon 7D camera and appropriate lenses I have just had my busiest year’s filming ever. Since I was ten I have maintained a wildlife diary of notable sightings and I have just counted up 326 days of entries during this past year which constitutes a record I don’t ever expect to beat.

The year started off with good Barn Owl sightings in North Lancashire and having criticised some photographers for the amount of shots they take I could not believe that in three mornings I had taken more than a thousand! Out of these the fifty I retained were spectacular and it was a species I had always dreamt of filming in flight, so it was a brilliant start to the year.

My lecture tour of South West Scotland in February was a sad end to thirty years of visiting that special area. This being due to the local wildlife groups  having seen all my presentations . I have taken some wonderful film in the area over those years, have met  life long friends and was most humbled by the two large hampers of local food and drink presented to me – I think we have just finished the last of it!!

We had our usual fortnight on Islay in February when the island is free of tourists and the snowdrops are at their best. The bonus was a fantastic series of flight shots of Chough that will take some beating on future visits.

Most people are aware that the Waxwing is my favourite bird so what a treat to be still taking photos of them well into April before they finally left us in early May.

As we are now all aware the Summer was one of the best ever and provided me with more photographic opportunities both on Islay and back home in the Pennines. During late Summer and Autumn I made several visits to Morecambe Bay and Leighton Moss and took great delight in filming Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and Bearded Tits all birds I had never filmed before.

The latter part of the year has been typified by a big influx of Redwings, Fieldfares and Bramblings. As a result I have spent many days searching the local hedgerows and obtained some delightful shots.

To view some of my favourite photos of the year please click here.

All five DVDs are still selling well with the Islay one on its sixth reprint. I am showing my cine films at many different venues with this coming March the busiest I have ever been in more than forty years.

Next year’s challenge is Marsh Harrier and Bittern!