Autumn Surprise

October 26, 2019 at 4:21 pm

When you have been involved with wildlife all your life you are ready for surprises and one such event occurred this week. A neighbour phoned up on the 24th to advise me that on his garden pond were a pair of Mallards with six newly hatched ducklings! As Mallards usually breed in Springtime and the young are attended by the female alone I rushed around to his garden to witness this astonishing event and capture it on film.It will be weeks before the young can fly so let’s hope that the pond does not freeze over otherwise the young will fall easy prey for any passing fox.
More birds are now on the move with a Goosander appearing on the local canal and the first Jack Snipe showing on the 14th October with three more shortly after. click here

Autumn Arrives

October 20, 2019 at 4:56 pm

A little later than usual but yesterday I watched my first Redwings of Autumn as they devoured the abundance of berries. This year there are masses of Rowan and Hawthorne berries so there should be some good photo opportunities and we may even be treated to some Waxwings if there are few berries in Scandinavia.
Autumn Crocus is now in full flower and I have included some in the gallery along with my favourite Pennine view of the river Hodder at Whitewell in the Forest of Bowland. Click here

A Spanish Interlude

October 14, 2019 at 4:30 pm

 

 

 

 

Last week we had a photo of me within 600 miles of the North Pole and in complete contrast this week’s photo was taken yesterday, within 60 miles of the Mediterranean! I was on a short non-birding break to the Murcia region of Spain, but on this job you can never switch-off. In the gallery are photos of a Black Winged Stilt and a Swallow-tailed Butterfly taken with a small pocket sized camera as I travelled around from the mountains to the sea. There would be plenty of scope for some serious photography in Spain if only you could get your equipment through customs and then who would carry it in all that heat? Click here

Brexit Day

October 5, 2019 at 5:24 pm

This weeks blog photo is from the wilds of Spitsbergen, less than 600 miles from the North pole. It was taken on the day that the rest of Britain voted to leave the European Union. Our cruise ship is in the fiord below and I was posing for a publicity photograph to help sell Oceanwide Expeditions cruises in Spitsbergen. As we all know it was more than three years ago and since then Oceanwide have built a new ship and all their cruises are usually sell-outs. I would like to think that it was from the popularity of my photo but realistically I know that it is due to the dire state of wildlife in the Arctic as a result of global warming.
This weeks gallery photos are of a Polar Bear, with Ivory Gulls scavenging its prey – two of the icons of the Arctic. They were taken the day before the blog photo and I would like to think that this bear is still wandering around Spitsbergen, but is it? Click here

Goodbye Dear Friend

September 27, 2019 at 2:58 pm

On Wednesday we were given the sad news that my lifelong friend Brian Oldfield had passed away after a long illness. We are all devastated that one of the nicest men you could ever meet is no longer with us.
I first met Brian in 1980 in a pine forest in Rossendale. I was twenty foot up a pine tree, at the nest of a Sparrowhawk, when he appeared at the base of the tree and thought I was about to take the young. We had an exchange of words and I climbed down the tree to explain that I was just ringing the young to identify them in case they were stolen. It was apparent at that first meeting that Brian and I shared the same values and I asked him if he would like to join me and photograph birds from my hide something he had never done before. He jumped at the invitation and so started a friendship that would last 35 intense years. During that time I made 30 one hour cine films, produced 5DVDs and took thousands of photos, none of which would have been possible without Brian putting me in hides and taking me out hours later.In return Brian was able to photograph, under my License, breeding birds he could only dream of before such as Merlin, Barn Owl, Kingfisher and Little Ringed Plover.
Brian never learned to drive a car and during our 35 years I wore out a dozen cars and drove over half a million miles! During that time we never had one argument and swear words were not in his vocabulary. Our travels took us to Islay, Skomer,Bass Rock, the Farne Islands and all over the Pennines. We even slept in our hides at a Blackcock lek awaiting the Black Grouse lekking at 3.00am! At the end of all our outings Brian always produced tea and biscuits and there were only a couple of occasions when we ended up drinking hot water because Brian had forgotten to bring the tea bags! It would have been Edna’s fault!!
Brian was ten years older than me but his fitness was incredible. In his seventies he climbed Pennyghent to photograph Purple Saxifrage and walked along the Striding Edge on Helvellyn. Our last outing was to the Farne Isles and Brian was in his eightieth year – with Brian climbing about the Pinnacle rocks as if he was still in his teens! It has truly been an honour to have been in your company Brian during the last forty years.
None of the photos in this weeks gallery photos would have been possible without Brian – thank you. Click here

A Mega Twitch

September 21, 2019 at 6:50 pm

In wildlife filming there are times when you can be at the right place at the right time and one of those days occurred on Tuesday.
For several years I have been planning to visit Blacktoft Sands the RSPB reserve on the Humber in Yorkshire to film the abundance of Marsh Harriers that breed there. Tuesday’s weather was perfect and with a good drive along the M62 I was parking my car before 8.00am, with only two other cars in the car-park. I set off north along a path that led me to a good hide overlooking a pool full of Teal. I had it all to myself and watched for two hours but no Marsh Harriers. A yorkshire birder then told me that the best place for Marsh Harriers was a hide at the southern end of the reserve so off I trekked and 20minutes later I settled in this hide – but still no Marsh Harriers. Suddenly the whole area was full of smoke that blew down-wind from an area that the wardens were “managing”. Reluctantly I was forced to abandon this hide and walk back to the original hide and settled into the same seat that I had vacated earlier. By now there were several good birders in the hide.
After a while there was a movement in the reeds on the far side of the pool – a good 300 yards away and a bird the size of a Starling could be seen as it fed at the base of the reeds. It came into the open long enough to be identified as a female Little Crake – the last one seen in Yorkshire being 73 years ago!! Word of its presence was put out on the Birding web-sites and I took a record shot through the heat haze before making my way back to the car park, passing dozens of Birders on the way who were almost running with their scopes and cameras towards the hide.All of a sudden the journey back home along the M62 seemed much more attractive!
To celebrate last weeks blog anniversary this weeks gallery includes some of my favourite and most amusing photos of the last decade. Click here