Swifts Of Summer

May 25, 2014 at 5:33 pm

You can only really say that Summer has arrived when the Swifts are screaming through the picturesque Pennine villages, as they were in last weekend’s glorious weather. Most will nest under the eaves of the cottages. Some may breed in the crevices of quarries and in Scandinavia many now nest in the disused holes of Woodpeckers, something that has not yet caught on in Britain.

During the past week I spent an hour with a pair of Willow Warblers that were busy nest building and as usual they were very tame. Click here. Along the canal ten pairs of Canada Geese were nesting with two female geese looking after a creche of thirty one goslings!!

As a professional wildlife photographer I should know that you never go out without your camera and that was more than emphasised last weekend when I didn’t take mine in all that glorious sunshine. I drove up onto the moors and by the roadside were a pair of Curlew with four newly hatched young> Around the next corner was a Snipe on a post and further down the road a Little Owl was looking at me and I am sure it was laughing!!


May 18, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Whilst looking for Woodpeckers in a Pennine wood I came across a pair of Treecreepers that were feeding their young at less than three minute intervals. As is usual with Treecreepers they were extremely bold and I took many photos whilst I was in their company. I was amazed at the number of prey items that were brought in on each visit.click here

This Spring I have managed to find two pairs of Goosanders nesting, as they do, in hollow trees. It makes an unusual, photograph looking at the ten eggs at the base of a hollow tree. On a re-visit the female was incubating the last eggs with two young around her. Somehow all the young have to climb six feet out of the tree and follow her to the nearest water. Unfortunately that never happens when I am waiting with the camera!

In the Pennine forests most pairs of Long Eared Owls now have young out of the nest. At dusk these young make a hunger call that sounds like a creaking gate. It is an evocative sound on a still Pennine evening.

The recent warm spell has resulted in the emergence of Orange Tip butterflies with several sightings in our garden.

Otterly Fantastic

May 11, 2014 at 7:32 pm

The last three days on Islay were spent searching for Otters and for the first time ever we had 100% success rate with sightings on all three days. A female and her large young were located on the first day and surprisingly relocated two days later. On both occasions they provided me with hours of good filming. To view the photos click here. The female is the one with pink on her nose which is a common occurrence in Otters.

Back home wet weather has prevailed and I fear that one of my regular pairs of Kingfishers have had their young drown in the tunnel. The early breeding season continues unabated with Long Tailed Tits already fledging their young during the first few days of May. On Hopwood Linnets now have eggs which is a very early laying date for this normally late breeding bird.

If last years flowers were exceptional then this years Bluebells are even better with a profusion of Hawthorne blossom to follow.

Islay Magic

May 4, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Stonechat14With only two hours of rain in the last fortnight Islay has certainly made up for the dreadful weather that prevailed in February. Packed with newly arrived migrants and good sunshine I have had the best photography in Spring for many years.

The passage of Whimbrel continued to increase and on the 4th of May a flock of 126 was counted which must be close to the Islay record. Wheatears were everywhere and presented good photo opportunities along the roadside walls. The first Whinchats had just arrived as had the Grasshopper Warblers. Resident Stonechats had their first brood of young and looked magnificent on the gorse bushes.

Of the larger birds Ravens had young while Buzzards were just starting incubation. On one day we encountered five different hunting male Hen Harriers so hopefully  they each had females incubating eggs.

It is not just birds on Islay that attract the wildlife watcher it is the abundance of Hares, Deer, Goats, Seals and Otters that provide the spectacle. Click here for this weeks gallery.

Next week’s entry will feature Otters in abundance.