Iced Over

January 25, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Canada Geese
Whether you like them or not you have to feel sorry for the Canada Geese when the canals and lakes freeze over as they have done this week. On our local canal more than one hundred were stood around on the ice with little or no food available. They must be able to survive long periods without food as you very rarely see any dead Geese lying around or perhaps the local foxes have taken the carcasses away?

Another benefit of the recent period of ice and snow is that the local Golf course was closed and turned into a wonderland of footprints and tracks. Two Woodcock and seven Roe Deer were seen one day with a couple of photos of the deer in this weeks gallery. A photo of a Woodcock in winter is my ultimate challenge and is a feat that few photographers achieve.

A visit to the Ribble valley during the week produced a good sunrise over Pendle and twenty Bramblings in a beech wood near Clitheroe. Even more surprising were two foxes playing in a field alongside the busy M66 motorway. I wonder how long they will survive? Click here

Goldfinch Record

January 18, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Laid up with a chest infection all week is normally bad news but on the 14th, by watching the garden all day, I was able to record an exceptional days feeding.It had been frosty overnight with an inch of snow on the ground at dawn followed by sleet for most of the day. These are always good conditions for feeding birds in our garden and by dusk twenty three different species had fed. The Goldfinches kept coming and coming with an all-time record of forty one present by mid-afternoon. Other birds that visited during the day included Willow Tit, Sparrowhawk, Nuthatch, Long Tailed Tit and Reed Bunting plus all the rest! Click here

Jack Snipe Arrive

January 10, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Jack Snipe
With the arrival of the freezing weather at the year end I was finally able to search for one of the most illusive of all winter visitors the Jack Snipe. It took five mornings before I made contact with one and in typical Jack Snipe fashion it flew off when I was only three feet away. Last winter with no prolonged frost or snow there were none in the marsh where they have appeared during the last forty five years, conditions have to be severe to bring them in from the surrounding fields.

On Hopwood there are very few Woodcock this winter with only one being seen on the 5th. The corvid roost continues to grow with more than five hundred being present most nights.
Along the motorway link road in the last couple of days both Buzzard and Kestrel have been seen to catch prey from convenient low down trees.

This weeks gallery is of Merlin that I filmed under licence in Bowland a couple of years ago. Can you spot the flat fly on the male? Click here

Annual Newsletter

January 3, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Best wishes and a Happy New Year to you all for 2015 What a twelve months 2014 has just been. Almost eight thousand photographs later I am able to look back on a year that will surely never be surpassed.

In the early part of the year I was filming Bramblings as they drank from a forest pool, something I had never done before. Our February visit to Islay produced more Chough and Otter photos but not the pristine winter weather that we had hoped for. That came in the Cairngorms in March when I got my best ever photos of Mountain Hare, Ptarmigan and Snow Bunting.

After returning to the Pennines in late March my local farmer informed me that his Barn Owls were incubating eggs on the ground in his barn! In disbelief I checked and this was the start of the most amazing year for Barn Owls, with a second brood not fledging until mid October. I never dreamt that on our Wedding Anniversary (21st September) I would be taking my best ever pictures of Barn Owls!

With the brilliant summers weather Kingfishers have also done well and the three pairs that I monitor have reared a record twenty five young between them. For the first time I was able to film copulation and the food pass. By spending many early hours along the streams I was also treated to good views of a dog Otter and better still two young Otters, the first I have ever seen in the Pennines. One day, perhaps, they will come within camera range.

However, the bird of this summer has to have been the Nightjar. Not one but two nests were found in a remote Pennine forest and six weeks were spent in my hide filming and admiring these amazing birds. It was an experience I will never forget and will probably never see again. Inbetween the Nightjars I managed six days on Mull and came away with great film of Sea Eagles and Otters – its a place I intend to return to. Not forgetting that we spent three weeks on Islay with great weather and my best ever encounters with Hen Harriers and Corncrakes.

The sad event of the year was the passing of our Golden Retriever Robbie, featured with me in last years yearly newsletter. He came with us to Islay fifty four times and no doubt enjoyed every minute of it having spent more than two years of his life there.

The target birds for 2015 remain the same as last year being Bittern and Marsh Harrier plus anything else that comes along!  Click here to view  12 selected photos from 2014