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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!!

Goldfinch Spectacular

January 13, 2008 at 9:13 pm


Another wet and cold week with very few days available for photography

I spent a morning in a friends garden filming up to five Bramblings that had been feeding for more than a week. It’s typical doing this job that as soon as you are in position to film anything something unplanned happens ie. builders arrived on a house nearby to reslate the roof!! Luckily they started on the back of the house and I managed to get ten minutes of video of the Bramblings before they flew off. I had forgotten how colourful a male Brambling was but from six foot with a twenty times magnification lens I was soon reminded.

A lot of food is now going into our garden and we have been rewarded with a record number of thirty three Goldfinches. As you would expect the Sparrowhawk is still making an appearance every now and then

First Snow of the Winter

January 6, 2008 at 8:55 pm


Although to late for Christmas we had our first sprinkling of snow this week which made the Robins more seasonal looking. It also brought into our garden two Reed Buntings for their first visit of the Winter together with a male Siskin.

The return of milder weather brought both Mistle and Song Thrush into full song. A good view was had of Green Woodpecker in Hopwood together with a party of seventeen Long Tailed Tits feeding in the birches – a large number still together, confirming their good breeding season last year.

After putting it off several times I finally went up onto the top of the Pennines above Glossop on the 6th to search for the white Mountain Hares. The hares performed well and I saw at least six and managed to get some decent video. Unfortunately the local gun club spent three hours shooting nearby so none of the natural sound can be used on the video – just my luck so I must go up again! There were a good number of Red Grouse which augurs well for this years breeding season, after what I was told was their worst ever year.

Happy New Year To All

December 31, 2007 at 12:14 pm


Since last week the frosty Winter weather finally disappeared after the 23rd. On that day a Woodcock was flushed on Hopwood and six Snipe from the stream.

Christmas Day produced mild, misty conditions and a Green Woodpecker was feeding in the mist.

The Sparrowhawk was active in the garden again with a Starling producing a good impression on the window but this time it got away

Two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were in a tree at the rear of the garden but would not come into the garden to be counted before the year end – perhaps next year?

Happy Christmas To All

December 23, 2007 at 5:20 pm


A fantastic week of Winter frosts, every night with a low of minus eight degrees on the twenty first.

At last Jack Snipe have turned up in their regular wintering places that they use in severe frosts with one at Tandle and the other at Hopwood for two consecutive days. These areas never freeze over and it takes keen Winter weather to concentrate their feeding from other suitable places in the surrounding countryside. This pattern has worked over forty years but I still have no photograph of a Jack Snipe and I must admit that the thought of sitting in a hide , in water for four hours in minus eight degrees temperatures is less appealing now than it was forty years ago!

There have been some other good birding days this week with a hundred plus Siskins, Brambling, ten Wigeon, four Shoveller and a fine male Pintail at Dovestones on a day when it was still minus five degrees in the car at mid-day.

On Hopwood eight Fieldfares, Teal, Heron , Dipper, Siskin, Stonechat and a Green Woodpecker have all been seen. In Lords Wood, Hopwood Nuthatch, two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, Fieldfare , Redwing and Sparrowhawk were all present.

So the Fieldfare eating holly berries is an appropriate subject for Christmas week in the absence of a Jack Snipe picture!

Return of the Bullfinch

December 16, 2007 at 11:33 am


After last weeks rain we have at last had some good Winter weather with two sunny days and a low of minus five degrees centigrade one morning.

The Goosanders at Rhodes lodges increased to forty five then to sixty which is my record count and was particularly impressive as fifty were on one lodge! Ice cover the day after reduced this to twelve but just to make up for it two Kingfishers were present that day.

Both Woodcock and Green Woodpecker are present at Hopwood with a Kestrel hunting each day. A Buzzard was over Tandle Hill, rising in the sunshine but still mobbed by a Magpie.

I don’t normally go twitching birds but a Great Grey Shrike on Waddington Fell sent me up there on one sunny morning. No sign of the Shrike but a male Merlin and four Kestrels made up for it.

The garden has proved good as well with thirty five Goldfinches in the back trees one morning – more than double our previous highest count, eighteen Greenfinches is also a high and the re-appearance of a pair of Bullfinches has brightened up our garden birdwatching.