Bright days have been all too few, we seem to get day after day of dull grey skies that do little to lift the spirits or the shutter speeds. Despite vast improvements in camera technology and the availability of processing software that can enhance an image there is still no real substitute for some real early morning or late afternoon good light.
I ventured over to Wharfedale one morning and managed to get a dipper in fairly close...
A male goosander was having a wing stretch...
A short while later a young hen harrier flew through, distant but unmistakeable to the experienced eye!
Looks like a young male with the slim body, great to see.
We had a day at RSPB Blacktoft Sands, nr Goole and a great day if you are within travelling distance.
Plenty of ducks to see with some wigeon in close...
A few marsh harrier shots, mainly juveniles as most of the adults migrate and will return over the coming months...
The reserve is huge with various options for walks, our own experience plus a healthy dose of local advice led us to concentrate on a few walks to good vantage points.
Scanning around for the harrier we discovered another treasure, a hunting short eared owl, with sightings scarce at home this year this was another delight!
Since seeing the young male hen harrier at my new location I have been hoping for some decent light to get some really good shots, maybe hope pays off...in the company of a great mate....what an absolute treat and reward for my patience...
The rewards for patience are wonderful, and it feels like almost like nature does reward patience.
I shall never stop preaching this way above the pay per shot hides where artificial shots and values abound, they alter the natural behaviour of wildlife by feeding predatory birds for the pleasure of photographers and the financial rewards that follow, they will say it is no different to garden feeders, believe me it is. The birds that use feeders are able to re-adapt to different foods, seeds, berries etc at different times of the year. Predatory birds need instinct and razor sharp reflexes, if the meal is provided too easily they lose that, and that is passed on in their genes. The young won't move away from an easy food source and so it goes on.
One of the best examples of this is the osprey feed ponds, tiny pools with hides close, these set ups are drawing more and more young birds which are disrupting nest behaviour of previously reliable parent ospreys. The young males, drawn by by easy prey will attack the nest site trying to attract the females attention, several nests sites have failed because of this in recent years...all in the name of photography, really...it saddens me.
If you see birds of prey while you are out at this time of the year it is a great time to watch out for "display" flights from them as they will soar up on thermals to attract a partner or to re-bond with an existing one. Sometimes locking talons and tumbling down together it can be an exhilarating sight.
If the tumbling continues to the ground or near it, this may well be birds of the same sex competing for a partner or territory but this is a much rarer sight.
Please support wildlife by staying away from artificial set ups and by not supporting photographers who use them.
Many thanks to all who read the blog, please don't forget if you do comment that they come to me first for moderation, the support of all readers is much appreciated.