Corncrakes and Whiskey

June 15, 2019 at 8:51 pm

We have now returned from our summer visit to Islay and once again the number of calling Corncrakes are down on previous years. Cold weather has not helped but this recent steady decline was blamed on the withdrawal of Government subsidies that paid the Islay farmers to leave their fields until after the 1st August, allowing Corncrakes to rear two broods of young. Some haymaking was already underway as we left Islay this week but is this early harvesting the real reason for the Corncrakes decline? – I fear not.
The Whiskey industry of Islay is going from strength to strength with one new distillery opened this year and another planned for next year. By then vast amounts of Barley will be required and already the once flower-rich meadows of Islay are being turned into continuous fields of Barley which are of no use to the Corncrake. I fear that we are already on a downward spiral of Corncrake numbers and serious research is now required to address this trend.Click here

Escort Duties

June 10, 2019 at 3:41 pm

The last few weeks I have spent many hours on the moors looking for Long Eared and Short Eared Owls. Whilst sat still waiting I have seen good numbers of Red Grouse. The male Red Grouse does not incubate the eggs but twice a day he escorts the female while she feeds before returning to incubate. This weeks gallery shows a few of the Grouse photos but the next four weeks promises a feast of photos of four of our special birds – Corncrake, Hen Harrier, Kingfisher and Long Eared Owl. Click here 

Bluebells and Woodpeckers

June 1, 2019 at 6:10 pm











Last week I spent a glorious couple of hours sat in a local bluebell wood whilst filming a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers feeding young that were about to fledge. The blog photo of the bluebells also shows in the top right-hand corner the Alder tree with the Woodpeckers nest-holes. Feeds of the young were at ten minute intervals and the prey comprised mainly of green caterpillars as shown in the gallery photos. click here

Bluebells and Roe Deer

May 26, 2019 at 11:36 am

This Spring’s warmth and sunshine has produced fantastic carpets of bluebells. May is the time of year when Roe Deer give birth and I have spent some time following female Roe Deer hoping to find their fawns amongst the bluebells. I finally stuck lucky but, unfortunately, the Roe Deer and its fawn were not in the bluebells as shown in this weeks gallery. Click here
The highlight of the week in the garden was a visit by a Brimstone butterfly – the first we have seen in more than fifty years.

Home Sweet Home

May 19, 2019 at 6:05 pm

When you visit the same woodland all your life you get to know each tree present and are able to recollect where different birds have nested over the years. The old tree stump in this weeks blog has plenty of history – for the last ten years it has been used by Goosanders who have reared over one hundred young from inside the tree-stump . Before that for fifteen years Tawny Owls were in residence and reared over thirty young. Sadly the stump is about to fall down with age, having played its part in the success of two local species. Gallery photos click here

Hunting Shorties

May 12, 2019 at 2:00 pm

After many visits to the high Pennines it is pleasing to find that there are good numbers of Short Eared Owls present and hunting. After the disastrous fires of last summer and this spring I was pleasantly surprised to find Shorties present and breeding. This weeks blog photo is of a male that has just caught prey and is eating it by the roadside. As I was filming a cyclist rode past and the Owl crouched in fear showing its ear tufts which are not often seen in Shorties. Other hunting photos are in the gallery. Click here