Islay re-visited

March 3, 2008 at 9:42 am

Winter on Islay

We have just returned from two weeks on Islay, mainly to establish outlets for the sale of the DVD. There are now six places where the DVD can be bought. It was also given a superb review in the local Islay newspaper, more about that later.

During the fortnight on Islay we had everything from the most perfect Winters day to raging gales and heavy seas.

We covered more than a thousand miles before we saw a Hen Harrier, this being only one mile from the ferry as we left the island! An Otter was seen in front of the cottage, with a female and young watched on another day.

The highlight of the visit was a party of four Snow Buntings that were feeding along a farm track at Ardnave. We watched and filmed these on several days but they were quite wary and we never got nearer than fifteen feet before they moved on further up the track.

On another day a Golden Eagle was admired as it stood on a fence post contemplating its next meal. The Geese of course are always a spectacle on Islay at this time of year.

Its now back to a heavy programme of talks for March when I shall be taking the Islay DVD around with me.

Wildlife Gems of Islay – DVD Movie

February 13, 2008 at 1:17 pm

dvd back cover.jpg

After a Winters work the DVD ‘The Wildlife Gems of Islay’ is now available for sale. For those of you who don’t know, Islay is part of the Inner Hebrides, off the West Coast of Scotland and is inhabited by approximately 3200 people. It has eight working whisky distilleries, stunning scenery, amazing wildlife and friendly people.

In the last two years I have spent nearly half a year on Islay incorporating all the seasons and amassing fifty four hours of material. It has been a ruthless task to reduce this to one hour but the finished product now portrays a good insight as to what Islay has to offer.

The DVD is for sale at £15 plus postage and packaging.

You can view a two and a half minute introduction of The Wildlife Gems of Islay on the DVD Movie page.

A Touch of Scarlet

February 9, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Scarlet Elf Cup

At last some better weather this week. I climbed up to the high Pennine tops and spent a good three hours with the Mountain Hares. Saw at least a dozen different individuals and finally found two in their forms that allowed a close approach and some good video was had. Unfortunately they don’t do anything but look at you with those big brown eyes, then run off! Golden Plover were also calling, which is a very early date to be on their breeding grounds.

Green Woodpecker and Dipper are still present on Hopwood with a party of a dozen Fieldfares at dusk – the largest local flock I have seen this Winter.

On a mossy dead tree there was a fine showing of Scarlet Elf Cup fungi – the first I have ever seen around Rochdale.

A Welcome Splash of Winter Colour

February 3, 2008 at 12:17 pm


January has come and gone with less than one hour of sunshine per day – one of the dullest Januarys on record. Its a good job I don’t need sunshine on video!

A day out in Bowland produce Sparrowhawks, Kestrels, Goosanders, Woodcocks but no Eagle Owls.

Over our house on the first February was a Peregrine – the first I have ever seen from the garden. The male Sparrowhawk has been active again, this time catching a Great Tit to add to his tally of garden kills. However, it has not stopped the birds feeding with peaks of twenty seven Goldfinches, fourteen Blue Tits and twelve Blackbirds. A Song Thrush was the first of the Winter.

On Hopwood was the Green Woodpecker, Dipper, Siskin and the first passage of Skylarks moving North East. A male Stonechat gave a splash of colour one afternoon to add to the Corvids that peaked at one hundred and fifty Jackdaws, fifty Rooks and fifty Carrion Crows going to roost on the first February.

Caught in the Act

January 27, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Sparrow Hawk

Well it had to happen – the male Sparrowhawk returned and caught a Starling on our lawn. It was a gruesome event, with the Starling still alive for ten minutes as it was being eaten. I filmed it from twenty feet through the window in the house but how could I ever show it? I have been filming raptor feeds for thirty five years and have never been bothered but to see the capture and the prey still alive I felt very sorry for the Starling. Apart from that the Starling was one I had fed all Winter!! This week’s photo is one of the still photos I took of the event.

Only two inches of rain this week so perhaps the weather is improving.

There are still Woodcock on Hopwood and at Dovestones one hundred and twenty plus Siskins were present. On the roof of an Indian restaurant in Oldham were two hundred plus Lapwings. – where else would one look for Lapwings in Winter??

Rain rain and more rain

January 22, 2008 at 11:32 am

Long Tailed Tits

With more than two inches of rain in the last seven days and only four hours of sunshine no filming has been possible.

On Hopwood, on three separate days , Woodcock have been flushed. However The remains of a Woodcock by some fox droppings were also found and predation from foxes must be quite common. Siskins and Goldcrests were seen and there are still big parties of Long Tailed Tits around.

A Sparrowhawk in the garden on the fourteenth proved to be a superb male with blue back and orange breast feathers – one of the best I have ever seen.

With the weather being so wet a lot of time has been spent on producing the DVD of Islay which is now in the final stages – watch this space!!