Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Not the best summer weather!

Summer can be tough for birding with heavy foliage, the compensation should be in the better and warmer weather. This year has provided neither improved or warmer weather with quite a lot of cool and grey days with chilly winds, not ideal for birding or photography!

Another concern for me is the commercial hide photography set ups, one that I have become concerned about recently published a sparrowhawk photograph captioned "Raw, primeval predatory carnage" fine that describes what a sparrowhawk does, except....the greenfinch it was devouring was nailed down, the nail head clearly visible.

Now for me there are some serious issues, as the hide is open year round how is there a supply of dead birds available? Small birds are rarely killed on roads. Another issue is that sparrowhawks are not scavengers and rarely eat carrion, so the birds hunting instincts have been compromised to suit the pleasure of photographers and the pocket of the hide owner, despicable really.

Sat in the garden one rare sunny afternoon, camera and binocs always near to hand and a lovely buzzard flew close overhead...

The peregrine watch team have an end of season de-brief with the RSPB and YDNP and this year Snaizeholme Woods was the destination of choice, situated near Hawes it is a delightful place.

After some morning coffee and a chat about the peregrine season we took the short drive to the woods and Yorkshire's only area for our beloved native red squirrels.

A few shots for you to enjoy...

A super day and what delightful creatures they are. They have feeders, filled by YDNP staff a couple of times a week only to encourage them to forage for natural food.

I had a day out on the east coast with a birding mate, on the way there we called at Wykeham Raptor Watchpoint.

Even with my new 150-600mm lens I could only get a couple of very distant shots as this pair of juvenile goshawks tussled in mid air. A long way away believe me!

On the top shot you may just make out the very thick legs which are a characteristic of these magnificent and rare birds.

We also saw honey buzzards, summer visitors and even further away so no shots!

On to the coast and gannets...

Juvenile herring gull

Juvenile kittiwake

And more gannets

A grand day!

A week in Wales promised much, a lovely cottage near Machynlleth just below the Snowdonia National Park.

Long and tedious drive but on our first day we visited the Dyfi Osprey Project and surprise surprise we saw an osprey, tired from driving I did not get the settings right for sharp shots!

A couple of shots of the cottage's resident house sparrows feeding a youngster.

We had a good week with visits to some lovely beaches for long walks, a boat trip dolphin watching...no dolphins appeared!

Plenty more osprey sightings at another location which I was requested not to divulge, grey and dull skies limited photo quality so I will spare you those!

Anyway a good week and an area to return to.

Back home and spotted flycatchers are showing well...

A robin takes off just as I focus on it!

A visit to RSPB Leighton Moss and a life tick for me, a juvenile purple heron!

...and an encounter between our native grey heron and an eel, fascinating to watch the story unfold...or unwind as it were 😀

The heron finally flew off to dry land where it could manipulate the eel more easily prior to consumption, fascinating to observe the watch, the catch and the battle.

And that for me sums up wildlife photography, I will happily sit in observation hides watching nature unfold its beauty and at times savage beauty too.

I will sit on riverbanks waiting, often unrewarded but when the rewards arrive they are appreciated, a sight of a dipper or kingfisher stirs and heartens the soul.

Waiting at my raptor watchpoint knowing we will see our regular birds of prey but will a rare bird show...and if it does what a glow, what a buzz. Compare that to a sparrowhawk devouring a greenfinch nailed to a perch in front of a hide full of photographers who carried away memory cards full of something that had no wildlife content, sad isn't it.

I'll leave you with a proper sparrowhawk image, small in frame yes but it must have been desperately hungry to chase swallows and house martins...but that is nature.

Many thanks to all who read the blog, I really appreciate it. Don't forget if you do wish to comment that they come to me first for moderation.

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