A Visitor From Lapland

December 23, 2017 at 6:21 pm

No not Santa Claus or his Reindeer but much more illusive, a Jack Snipe, covered in jewels – well droplets of water actually!
It is a rare event to encounter a Jack Snipe before it flies off and in the last fifty years I have achieved this feat only five times, the last time being ten days ago. The plumage of the Jack Snipe is designed so that the stripes down its back and across its head blend in with the boggy vegetation where it feeds. In this weeks gallery I have included two distant shots of the Jack Snipe to illustrate the effect of the stripes in relation to their surroundings bearing in mind that this latest Jack Snipe was the easiest to see of the five that I have found!! click here

The Winter Thrushes

December 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm

It is seven years since we had weather as severe as last week. Deep snow and severe frost can make some normally wary birds more approachable and one of those species is the Fieldfare. A phone call from a good friend in Cheshire to say that he had many Fieldfares in his garden, eating crab apples, had me travelling down there the next day. It was to prove to be one of the most magical winter’s day filming that I have ever had.
During the day I filmed all five of our Thrushes for the first time in over fifty years! All the Fieldfares had different plumages and I was even treated to some Redpolls , including a stunning male looking resplendent in the winter frost. Enjoy this weeks extensive gallery.Click here

Pink Feet

December 10, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Pink footed geese
Every winter tens of thousands of Pink Footed Geese spend winter on the Lancashire mosslands. This year there are record numbers due to an abundance of food because the local farmers have been unable to harvest their root crops in all the recent months of wet weather.
Last week, at long last, we had four days of sunshine and I was able to visit this waterlogged area. Pink Footed Geese were moving from field to field and provided some good photos, although close-up feeding shots were out of the question as they were very wary. Kestrels were in abundance and a solitary Barn Owl was asleep on a fence-post. On one occasion a Short Eared Owl was seen hunting but I left before its main hunting period at dusk. Click here

Hawfinch Eruption

December 3, 2017 at 1:06 pm

For the first time in at least the last fifty years there has been a massive migration of Hawfinches into the UK. Unfortunately for people in Manchester most of these Hawfinches have flown over and not landed! The main reason for this is that we have very few of their favourite Hornbeam trees in Manchester.
To have any chance of any photos I have been to a large estate in east Yorkshire where Hornbeams were in abundance. Even so I only obtained a couple of shots of a female in the top of the Hornbeam as shown in this weeks blog. I spent lots of time un?er a camouflage cloth looking at Hornbeam leaves on the ground waiting for Hawfinches to drop down to feed. It never happened but a raging blizzard did descend. As I looked through the lens I spotted something red in the snow that turned out to be a Red Campion in flower! See photo in gallery which must be more unique than one of a Hawfinch!! On the way home I was treated to a spectacular sunset.click here

Ninety Minutes Sparrowhawk

November 26, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Usually when a Sparrowhawk appears in the garden it is a quick fly-through that scatters all the feeding birds. The young male in this week’s photo did just that but then stood around in several places for more than ninety minutes. He was, of course, waiting for birds to return to the garden feeders but none appeared as they could all see him. Our bedroom window was slowly opened to accommodate my big lens and then I was given plenty of time to choose my shots. Those in the gallery clearly show the brown juvenile feathers that contrast to the blue adult plumage. The orange feathers around his breast are also beginning to show.Click here
During the week the first Woodcock have arrived on Hopwood and my local Snipe record has now increased to an incredible ninety one. Unfortunately high water levels everywhere have resulted in some Jack Snipe moving on so my hopes for better flight shots have had a setback!

Jack Snipe Challenge

November 19, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Jack Snipe
There are now so many people taking digital photos of birds that whatever photo you take someone somewhere has got a better photo. You have now got to create your own challenge and keep at it until you have a decent shot. To find a Jack Snipe is never easy but to photograph one in flight – impossible? Well, as far as I know no one has achieved it so I have been working on this challenge and finally this weeks image is a starting point. It is still very much a work in progress.
During the week Lapwings have increased in number on the local Industrial estate and have now peaked at two hundred and thirty. Some of these feature in this weeks gallery. Click here