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Better news for the Long Eared Owls

June 22, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Young Long Eared Owl

Two very wet days this week have curtailed some filming activities but there are still plenty of challenges around if you are prepared to put time in.

A moorland plantation near Burnley provided fledged young Long Eared Owls which is a nice plus after those near Oldham have been taken. I would urge anyone reading this blog to keep a sharp look out for anyone with young Owls in captivity. Remember all captive birds must have rings on their legs that are registered with the authorities. To put it simply any without rings are held illegally and police should be informed.

I spent two sessions filming young Kestrels being fed in a hole in the gable end of a rest home near Burnley. Three and a half hours on the 21st produced a feed every half an hour but none of the prey could be identified as it was passed to the young quickly and with their backs to the camera.

A gale blowing today, twenty seconded, produced some wonderful views of Crossbills at Dovestones. Whilst the moving branches were a major problem at least it made the birds feed lower down and gave bigger images.

A Better Week

June 16, 2008 at 8:57 pm


After last weeks disappointment with egg collectors this week has been more rewarding and the weather has remained dry and sunny all week.

Locally three different Whitethroat’s nests have been found and some great video of one pair with five young about to fledge. What a joy it is to film a species that feeds its young every few minutes rather than a three hour wait for a Merlin feed. Talking of Merlins I have had an unsuccessful attempt to film the male Merlin’s plucking post but this weeks picture shows I had better luck last year! – What an absolute gem he is.

The highlight of the week has undoubtably been filming Green Woodpeckers with young about to fledge. Only the female fed the young at thirty minute intervals and one or two of the young would lean out of the hole to meet the female, calling loudly, it was all action and on one occasion a Great Spotted Woodpecker came to the hole but soon flew off when a young stabbed at it.

All Good Things Come To An End

June 10, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Port Charlotte Islay

All good things come to an end and after five weeks it was time to leave Islay. Five weeks of fantastic weather with only two days of rain and mostly clear and sunny. Perhaps the view of Port Charlotte bay will remind us of it?

During the last week I filmed the Peregrine intensively with results usually proportionate to the time you put in. One morning I was rewarded with film never before seen let alone captured on camera. The male Peregrine brought prey to the cliff and called the female off the nest to take it off him as per usual. She returned to the three young and commenced the feed. Suddenly the male called from nearby and landed on the nesting ledge below the female. She ignored him and carried on feeding the young. He walked up to her calling lowly and she tore off some prey and fed it to him! An unique event but more was to follow. After flying off he called again and returned to the female. This time he walked up to her and took the prey from her talons and flew off with it. I have not checked the video yet but it should all be captured on film – I hope!

After five weeks of searching we finally found an Adder in the last few days. They used to be more common but Buzzards like them, so with the increase of Buzzards the Adder population has declined – much to the delight of most people.

As we were leaving Islay on Friday a pod of six to eight Dolphins provided an ideal send off being the only ones seen during our stay. Otters have also been illusive only five encounters in all

It was always going to be an anticlimax when we returned home and the first two days have proved this. One pair of Long Eared Owls have fledged young but the other site has failed. Worse was to follow with two Merlin sites failing, one a direct result of its eggs being taken by an egg collector. So my message for all you out there is that if you find the nest of a rare bird tell only the County Recorder as egg collectors are still sadly with us.- Lets hope its better news next week.

A Hen Harrier Week

May 28, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Hen Harrier

Dry and sunny weather on Islay all week but with a strong easterly wind

Good news from the Peregrines, they have now hatched – at least three young and possibly four. Both birds have been filmed together on the eyrie with the female brooding continuously but on one occasion the male has also brooded for a short while. Unfortunately the strong easterly wind has made filming impossible for the last five days.

Five days have been spent on Hen Harriers obtaining some very pleasing shots of the male bringing heather to the nest. This has now stopped and he merely flies over the nest when the female is away eating the prey he brings for her. Unfortunately long waits for me are involved with the male visits at three hour intervals!

No Otters this week, the rough seas making it impossible to search. Most of the Great Northern Divers have now flown to Iceland with the south east tailwind.

A search for Islay’s most illusive flower the Narrow Leaved Helleborine produced only one plant in flower ,which is better than some years when there are none.

Filming is going well

May 20, 2008 at 1:49 pm


Another superb weeks weather on Islay with warm conditions early in the week then turning cooler with a freshening southerly wind.

Some good encounters with Corncrake during the week with plenty of good video and photos. With the vegetation now increasing rapidly finding a good view of a Corncrake is now getting much harder and I have decided to leave them alone as too much time is involved. Cuckoos are everywhere and I have had one good session which produced a good minute of video

I am filming the Peregrines but their four eggs have still not hatched. The next few days will be crucial as to whether we carry on filming

Male Hen Harriers are now encountered all over the island and we had a brilliant display flight put on by one male, high over his breeding site. It is a very late season with some females only just starting to incubate their eggs.

The highlight of the week was filming an immaculate Wood Sandpiper in perfect conditions and only fifteen feet away. It is only the second one I have seen with the last being 1972!

A good week

May 11, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Heron and young

Here we are on Islay and after rain last Sunday we have had four fantastic sunny days with temperature up to 22c and no midgies yet!

I spent some time filming a colony of Herons on Jura and with small young in the nest it indicates what a late season it is this year

A female Otter and her young were watched for two and a half hours until they climbed into their holt for a well earned sleep

I have spent two days filming a Peregrine on four eggs on a cliff face and now await the hatch but this pair have had infertile eggs for the past two years and this may not happen.

We have walked through woods with a magnificent carpet of primroses and bluebells looking for Woodcock but it appears we are out of luck again. Our ground nesting Tawny Owls have laid eggs in a different site this year and for some reason have left them just when they were about to hatch.

One day we saw seven male Hen Harriers during the day and on one occasion even watched a pair copulate and another male doing display flight.

Best of all have been the Corncrake with good numbers now arriving and one night I filmed one feeding and preening from only twelve feet away for ten minutes! It can’t possibly get any better than this, can it?