Thursday, 8 December 2016

Moving towards winter 2016

The leaves are falling, the daylight hours are getting shorter it can only be late autumn. Although there are probably less bird species to see they are easier to spot with less foliage on the trees and if the paths remain reasonably dry some great days can be enjoyed.

We had a long weekend up in south west Scotland with our friends John and Karen, a lovely cottage near Dalbeattie was booked for three nights and we met up with them at RSPB Mersehead for an afternoon's bird watching before heading off to locate the cottage.

Many thousands of barnacle geese arrive from northern climes at this time of the year but our first bird was a lovely greenfinch...

The barnacle geese were all around in the fields...

Shoveler duck (male) out on one of the lagoons...

Easy to see how they gained their name!

The geese came in close now and again...

...and then as often happens with recently arrived migrants, something would spook them and thousands would circle round before landing again!

As you can see the weather was not too photo friendly!

Returning the next day the skies had brightened and a sweet robin posed nicely...

A yellowhammer too

If it wasn't for the intrusive twig!

Out at sea the sky was interesting...

Reed buntings showed well

A male pintail duck

Ken Dee Marshes is another great RSPB reserve in the area and we always pay a visit when we are in the area.

Plenty of common species show well and a the now uncommon willow tit has a stronghold here,

Blue tit


Coal tit

Great tit

Willow tit

Nuthatch again

And another blue tit

Fieldfare in flight

Rather than head straight home on our day of departure we called at a little nature reserve near Lockerbie, red squirrels thrive here and come amazingly close with a little bit of patience. It is amazing how close the world of wildlife photography can be and within minutes of being there I realised two great Facebook friends were there, great to meet Stuart and Gill and we had a good chat between snapping away at the squirrels. Another gentleman who was using the hide introduced himself and so the circle of like minded wildlife photographers increases! Great to meet you Tony!

Anyway squirrel shots...

As usual a great trip with dear friends, virtual friendships made a little more real and a new friendship too.

Back home and reports of waxwings all down the east coast and heading our way, I got a report from a mate of them near Silsden and we dashed off to find them. We do not get these visitors from Scandinavia and Siberia every year, how true the stories of them being a sign of a cold hard winter to come are I don't know, but they are stunning birds.

Just my luck a grey and murky day but at least we had sightings and photographs.

I kept a routine check on the waxwings hoping for a brighter spell of weather

Finally a bright day arrived!

A red kite from my raptor watching...

More waxwings!!!

Although we have had some great sightings at my raptor watchpoint including, goshawk, hen harriers, peregrine, merlin, red kite, sparrowhawk, buzzards and kestrels recently not much has been close enough for photographs.

Some small birds are really comfortable there and one of my favourite photographs was this blue tit.

 The sun is usually setting when I leave the watchpoint giving me the opportunity to stop off on the way home to get a shot or two.

Splendid ends to splendid days, me and nature seem to get on quite well. The love of being out there in natural surroundings enjoying what the day brings is calming, peaceful and relaxing. The company of my friends at the raptor watch is treasured, learning is never over and I still have a long way to go to reach the levels of knowledge I aspire we enjoy a fair few laughs!!!

Many thanks to all who read the blog, don't forget if you do comment that they come to me first for moderationn

Friday, 18 November 2016

October 2016 - A Time of Transition

This time of the year is when we have to cope with a loss/gain factor, our swifts and swallows and martins, plus most of our warblers migrate to warmer climes after breeding here. Waders such as lapwings and curlews head to the coasts for winter, as do most of the meadow pipits and skylarks.

But there is a gain, finches like brambling overwinter here and we can expect plenty of redwings and fieldfares, who knows maybe the colourful waxwings may turn up after a couple of winters without them!

I have some regular patches I check near home, at one I had a really close encounter with a carrion crow...

Long tailed tits as well, always a delight to see

A kestrel with a kill, they usually use a post to tear open their catch - in this case a mouse or vole...

Another long tailed tit

My raptor watchpoint disclosed some hen harrier sightings, distant but great to see...

Chaffinches come in close the watchpoint where a mate puts some nutricious food on a wall for them...

We had a day up in Cumbria to see the red deer, the stags were roaring but we were probably a week early for full on rut action. Many visit public parks with captive red deer to photograph them, as wildlife photography has become more popular there have been instances of stags being surrounded by groups of photographers to the point where they lose interest in mating...I totally abhor this type of photography, instances of photographers being charged by the stags are a classic example of the intrusion that takes place nowadays.

Our preferred location means we are at a discrete distance, no disturbance and fair enough the shots are not close but they tell a story of wild red deer, no fences and not hassled by photographers who are trying to prove they have as much testosterone as the stags....

A lovely robin on a post the same day...

Stonechat as well...

And finally for that day... a stag so laid back he just roared as he rested :-)

A local nature reserve and a grey heron


Mute swan juveniles in flight

Little grebe

Mute swan preening

Black headed gull in flight

...and a jay in flight...

The first clear fieldfare sightings of the season...

Visitors from northern climes and a delight to see!

Our raptor watch chaffinch again...

An adult peregrine falcon with a very full crop i.e. food in its throat not yet digested...

and a majestic red kite

A closer look at a hen harrier, the light was very poor and it took a lot of processing to get the shots looking somewhere near right!

A red grouse in flight!


Answers on a postcard...why did the grouse cross the road :-)

and another graceful red kite

So, we lose and we win but life is like that and the seasons reflect life all too well, the trees will lose their leaves and our daylight lessens.

The young birds have a tough winter ahead of them, many do not make it through to spring but the majority do and they will be there to herald another year of exciting times. Meanwhile I eagerly await the first short eared owl sightings of the season, many have arrived around the coasts and hopefully will make their usual passage to my local moors.

The next blog will be about a short break in the Dumfries area, after that waxwings! Their arrival usually heralds a cold winter, visitors from Scandinavia and Siberia and there are flocks of hundreds arriving recently!

I got lucky locally, more later but one shot for now...

Many thanks to all who read the blog, and to those who make the time to comment, please don't forget if do comment they come to me first for moderation.

Cheers for now and thanks for your continued support.