Xmas Lunch

December 28, 2018 at 9:40 pm


On Christmas eve, flying against the back-drop of Manchester flats, my local Barn Owl is carrying its lunch back to the barn to devour. This was its second attempt as 30 minutes before this it had been dispossessed of its vole by the local Kestrel! Not every pair of Barn Owls hunt during the day and before I was able to obtain todays distant photos I had to endure twelve hours hidden away under hedges hoping for some sun and Owl activity. And to think that all this may be a distant memory next year if the Greater Manchester Spacial Development Plan goes ahead. click here

Waxwings Are On Their Way

December 22, 2018 at 7:32 pm

RN2A8342If there is one bird species that excites bird-watchers it is the Waxwing. None came to us last winter as there was an abundance of berries in Scandinavia so they stayed over there, but this winter the situation is different. At present there are hundreds of Waxwings in Scotland eating their way south . This week seven have reached the Burnley area so Christmas may bring the best present of all – a Waxwing in your own garden! So start checking your own berries today! click here for gallery of photos from previous Waxwing visits.

Acrobatic Goldfinches

December 16, 2018 at 5:48 pm



The long hot summer has produced an abundance of thistles which have been an absolute bonus for our Goldfinches. During the many hours that I have been waiting for Long and Short-Eared Owls to appear the charms of Goldfinches have kept me entertained with their acrobatics as in this weeks blog photo. click here
All our winter visitors are now with us and I flushed two Woodcock today and had a third highest count ever of seven Jack Snipe on the 7th December.

To Intervene Or Not To Intervene?

December 8, 2018 at 5:56 pm

RN2A9248Much has been said in recent weeks about the BBC cameraman’s declared policy of not intervening in any wildlife event that they are filming. That rule was broken last week when Emperor Penguins were helped out of a glacier to enable them to return to their rookery. Death would have followed if the cameramen had not stepped in.
This week’s blog photo is of a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker in the talons of a female Sparrowhawk on my lawn this last summer. I make no apologies for taking one photo before rushing outside to liberate the Woodpecker. It was a lucky bird being so large that the Sparrowhawk could not fly off with it when it initially pounced. As far as I am concerned I put lots of food out to attract a variety of birds and the Sparrowhawk can hunt in someone elses garden!! However, lets not forget that when I photographed my first Sparrowhawks at the nest in 1975 they were as rare as the Merlin is today and have already started to decline again.

The Dive

December 1, 2018 at 6:48 pm

RN2A9610I have always maintained that in wildlife photography your results are directly proportionate to the time that you put in and last week I had a perfect example of this with my local Barn Owl. I spent days watching the hunting pattern of this bird and noted that it started to hunt around a field by the farm sometime after 3.30pm. I erected a post by the edge of the field opposite an old farm trailer, under which I could hide covered by a camouflage cloth.
During the first week of waiting the Owl, on one occasion, hunted along the hedge and then when it was only twenty feet from the post it turned away and hunted across the other side of the field. In the second week some afternoons were too dark to even go under the cloth. Then along came an afternoon when the sun was shining until 3.30pm. It would have been too dark to film after 4.00pm so I waited in anticipation. At 3.40pm he appeared down the hedge and proceeded to hunt, working his way towards the post and me! He flew up onto the post and paid no attention to the shutter of the camera as I picked off my photos in the failing light.This is when luck took over for he stared at the ground and pounced on a Short Tailed Field Vole, returning to the post and transferring it to his bill before flying off!! Click here for the photos