An Islay Winter

February 18, 2018 at 9:32 pm

A dramatic week on Islay with heavy snow, gales, rain and one sunny day! It is winter of course and both we and the wildlife have to put up with it. On the plus side it does lead to dramatic photos so enjoy this weeks gallery.Click here

Breeding Season Commences

February 10, 2018 at 9:35 pm

On a superb sunny day I visited my local Heronry to find six birds were present and had already re-occupied their two pine trees. Although there was much vocalisation no nest-building was seen during my one hour of observations. I was some distance from the two pines and the photos in this weeks gallery are no more than record here.

The harsh weather during the last few weeks has resulted in some good local records – the Lapwings on the roof of the industrial estate peaked at a new record of five hundred. On the 7th Feb there were five Woodcock in Hopwood woods which is my second highest count in fifty years.

The Plastic Menace

February 3, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Glaucous gull
This weeks photo is of a first winter Glaucous Gull trying to eat a black piece of plastic. It is a bird of the Arctic but was filmed at Hollingworth Lake only three days ago and is still there today. I find it sad that a bird from the pristine environment of the Arctic can be found amongst the myriad of water-birds eating whatever it can find around the lake edge even if it is plastic. Within an hour it had found an apple core which, thankfully, will not do it as much harm as the plastic. More photos in the here
The big event of the garden this week has been a record count of fourteen Long Tailed Tits. Clearly they have survived the winter so far and should commence breeding in five weeks time! Maybe in your garden?

Welsh Redpolls

January 27, 2018 at 6:44 pm

Not a subspecies of the Redpoll but a small party of Common Redpolls found feeding last week  in Wales.
We have just returned from a snowy week in the Berwyn mountains alongside the River Dee.
Crossbills were quite common and I managed a few photos of one bird as snow was falling. If you compare the bill with the Parrot Crossbills of last week there is a significant size difference. Click here

For anyone wishing to visit this part of Wales, with the luxury of a hot tub and a wood-burning stove, then I cannot recommend the cottages at Rivercatcher enough.

Who’s A Pretty Boy?

January 19, 2018 at 9:28 am

There are few birds more colourful than a Parrot Crossbill. This winter several small flocks of Parrot Crossbills are in Britain and one of these is to be found deep in the Derbyshire Pennines.This is a bird I have never even seen before let alone taken a photograph of so it never entered my plans at the beginning of the year. However, following a tip off and four hours under a camouflage cloth, in freezing conditions, I was able to obtain many photos of up to eleven Parrot Crossbills. They are very similar to Common Crossbills but have enormous bills that don’t cross over at the tip and their necks are much bulkier. It was a fantastic unexpected session to start the year and they will be a hard subject to follow.Click here

Global Warming?

January 13, 2018 at 6:30 pm

Common Sandpiper
When you walk around a moorland reservoir on the 5th January the last bird you expect to see is a Common Sandpiper. This bird should now be enjoying the warmth of Africa not the ice and snow of the Pennines. Whether it will survive the extremes of winter weather forecast for the end of next week remains to be seen – lets hope it does.
During the last week Roe Deer have been active in the local woods and on Monday I came across one that was resting in the winter sunshine. This is in the gallery which next week will feature a new bird for me, being the most colourful winter visitor to the Pennines. click here

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