Unique Barn Owls

August 30, 2014 at 7:05 pm

BarnOwl with young

This week’s blog and gallery are devoted entirely to the amazing pair of Barn Owls that this year laid six eggs on the ground in a barn, as there was nowhere else in the barn to nest. I was granted a licence by Natural England to film this unique event and spent three weeks recording on camera the young as they were fed and continued to grow, although always vulnerable to predation. This exceptional breeding event was triggered off by last Winter’s mild weather and an explosion of voles and mice this year and has resulted in many pairs of Barn Owls rearing second broods , as is the case with this pair who now have another six young but this time not on the ground. Enjoy the photos, I did while I was taking them. Click here.

Fishing Greenshank

August 24, 2014 at 4:02 pm


GreenshankIt is always  worthwhile visiting Morecambe Bay in August to film the vast numbers of wading birds and butterflies that have all benefitted from this Summer’s good weather. On the coast good numbers of Greenshank were present including one that had mastered the art of catching fish. Black Tailed Godwits were in good numbers with some still in breeding plumage as was a single Knot.

In the limestone areas around Silverdale were plenty of butterflies including the English rarity Scotch Argus. The woodlands were echoing to the calls of Green Woodpeckers many of which were anting on the ground.

On our local canal the first Kingfishers were present this week with two sightings. On the downside were the two hundred Canada Geese in only a two hundred yards stretch of canal!

If you enjoyed the Nightjar photos in last week’s gallery then don’t miss next week’s gallery which will include a unique series of  photos of Barn Owls nesting on the ground. Click here

The Goatsucker

August 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm


One of the most elusive and mysterious of all our Summer visitors is the Nightjar.  In medieval times because of its crepuscular and nocturnal nature and its habits of feeding around goats (because they disturb flying insects on which it feeds) it acquired the name of Goatsucker. This name was further enforced by its enormous mouth and pink fleshy lining, the result of drinking goat’s milk! Today we are more enlightened but none the less it remains a bird of mystery.

In the forty five years that I have been filming birds I always dreamt of sitting in my hide at the nest of a Nightjar and recording on camera what the female did during the day when her eggs had hatched. This Summer it all came to fruition, in a remote Northern forest, as I spent three weeks filming this magical bird. I was able to capture her removing the discarded eggshells, yawning in the hot sunshine and looking after her two young as they remained with her for more than two weeks. The young would also yawn at an early age and the whole family was remarkably camouflage as they lay motionless amongst the young pines. It was an experience to spend the diurnal hours with them. Click here

Heads Down

August 8, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Red Grouse14

With the approach of the 12th these Red Grouse had better keep their head’s down if they want to survive to next years breeding season. Along with most other birds this year Red Grouse have had their most successful breeding season for decades. The purple heather is now full of family parties of grouse many of them comprising of more than a dozen birds.

While I was up on the moors this week I came across a late pair of breeding Short Eared Owls. They were visibly feeding at least two young that were well able to fly. In another valley a Tawny Owl was actively hunting for prey at noon.  Normally this exceptional behaviour is only seen in the depth of Winter when there is little prey available. There is plenty of prey this year so I can only think that this pair of Tawny Owls have so many young to feed that they are forced to hunt during the day also. I am already aware that one pair of Tawny Owls this year have fledged five young which is totally exceptional.

The garden is now full of young birds with the latest juveniles to appear being Song Thrush and Dunnock. Click here

Copulation – At Last

August 3, 2014 at 10:29 am

Kingfisher cop
After more than forty years in waiting this year I finally filmed Kingfishers copulating. As shown in my blog of 29th June first he passed a fish to the female. He then rises into the air over a foot before landing on her back and balancing in final position for seven to eight seconds. To protect her eyes during copulation a membrane closes over in case there are mishaps. After the event the male launches himself into the air and leaves. He may then bathe. Click here

The sad event of the week  has been the putting to sleep of our thirteen year old golden retriever Robbie. He has been to Islay more than fifty times but never quite mastered the technique of finding a sitting Woodcock. However , one day on Jura whilst we were sat in the car looking for Otters he barked, something he rarely did, and upon checking we found he was watching a female Otter and two young that we had not seen!!