Thursday, 22 January 2015

Nice and Icy

This last week or so has seen a spell of cold wintry weather throughout the country.There has been snowfall in some parts but Lancashire has escaped the worst of the weather.I have managed a couple of trips out with the camera.The first one was on a nice sunny crisp afternoon when I toured the lanes and backroads around Cockerham and Pilling photographing the scenery and wildlife from the comfort of the car.The following day I visited Leighton Moss hoping for a sighting of the otters on the ice.

The drive around the lanes was fruitful with nice views of brown hare, kestrel,lapwing and late on my first sighting for a while of a barn owl.The barn owl was returning to it's barn with a vole and I managed a few images as the light was fading.There were good numbers of fieldfare and redwing in the fields but they were very skittish and I couldn't get near enough for a decent shot.

The trip to Leighton Moss was less fruitful but still enjoyable.The otters had been seen early on but didn't show themselves whilst I was there.There was hardly any open water and consequently few birds on show.I amused myself with the birds visiting the feeders by the main buildings.On the way to and from the Public Hide there were a few very friendly robins which would come readily onto your hand for seed.On the ice at the Public Hide a waterhen looking for some open water slithered and slipped across the ice providing nice opportunities for the camera.All in all a good week with crisp and bright weather and good to get out and about again.

Shown above the robin and waterhen from a frozen Leighton Moss and kestrel,lapwing,brown hare and barn owl from the Pilling area.The image heading the blog is a shot across the estuary of the River Lune to Sunderland Point with the snow covered mountains of the Lake District in the background.Thanks for looking in and more hopefully to come soon from my travels through Lancashire.

Monday, 5 January 2015

A Colourful Start

The New Year had arrived and it was good to get out for some fresh air to blow the bugs away.I decided on a visit to Yarrow Valley Country Park where the kingfisher was still showing well on most days.On my arrival no one else was there and neither was the kingfisher.I kept myself amused photographing the various birds that were coming to the seed I had put down.The nuthatch is always a nice bird to photograph but they don't hang around and you have to be quick with the shutter.The robin is always a very obliging bird and does pose beautifully for his picture.I have shown above a couple of the robin and nuthatch to add to the colour shown by the overdue kingfisher.

It was a couple of hours before the kingfisher arrived and amazingly it stayed for around two hours.The spot it comes to is always dark and it is not easy to get correct exposures.The bird gave lots of opportunities however and it caught fish on a couple of occasions.It was however partly hidden behind branches as it swallowed the small perch it was catching.My best attempt at a feeding shot is shown above as the perch vanished down the kingfisher's throat.

Where it comes to feed is right beside a very popular footpath around the lake and  there are many people passing by.The kingfisher seems to be used to all the attention and it was nice to see many children and their parents having their first view of one of our most colourful resident birds.Eventually the kingfisher departed and so did I. It had been a super session with one of our enigmatic birds and I am sure I will return soon to try and capture that perfect image of this stunning little bird.Thanks for looking in and enjoy the rest of the New Year.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Final Flourish

This is my final posting of the year.This week Mike and I made a return visit to the Fylde Coast.Last week we had been successful with an excellent day out but we only had very brief views of the Great Grey Shrike at St. Annes.It was my plan to possibly get some decent images of this very scarce visitor to Lancashire.

We began our day out with a return to Newton Marsh at Freckleton.It was a very frosty and icy morning but with some stunning winter sunshine.The pools were mostly iced over but one corner was free of ice and occupied by dozens of mostly wigeon.They looked stunning in the brilliant light and I took many images of them as they posed for the camera.

We then moved on to St Annes where we knew of a local church which was being used by a peregrine falcon as a perching and roosting spot.We were delighted to discover the peregrine was in residence and I took many images from the adjoining car park.On then to our main target species for the day,the Great Grey Shrike.

The shrike had been present for many weeks and was occupying a large bramble field but it was flighty and could disappear for long periods.It was not long before we located the shrike and eventually it came very close to where we were standing to give some stunning views.I was kept busy with the camera and some of the results are shown above.This was a wonderful end to my photographic year and I now look forward to 2015.We returned home through the Fylde countryside hoping to see a barn owl but our luck was out. A fabulous end to the year with excellent company and good weather. Thanks for looking in and all the very best to all my photographer and birdy friends. See you all next year.   

Final Selection

A few more of my favourites from 2014.The last day of 2014 is here and it has been an enjoyable one with the camera.I have shown above a couple from the pelagic trip from Liverpool of the diving gannets,a couple of early morning brown hares from Bowland.Also from Bowland a barn owl with a vole returning to it's fellside barn and a tawny owl perched on a telegraph pole.A couple from my garden of a jay and a young robin.A large flock of black tailed godwits at Marshside was a memorable encounter as was the annual salmon migration when I was particularly pleased with the image of a leaping salmon.Thanks for looking in and all the best for 2015. I do have one more posting to do of another trip to the Fylde this week when I had super views of a Great Grey Shrike.  Stay tuned !!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

A Grand Day Out...Christmas Eve.

After all the dull and very gloomy mild weather recently, it was nice to see brighter conditions forecast for the Christmas period.Christmas Eve promised some sunny conditions but with very strong winds.Mike and I had decided on a trip to the Lancashire Coast as the very high tides and stormy weather might produce some good birding.Our first port of call was to Fleetwood and Rossall.It was a surprise to see that the Marine Lake had been drained leaving large muddy areas.This attracted numerous waders including four purple sandpipers.The sandpipers were roosting in the shelter of an island with a very large flock of turnstones.This made for some interesting images of the many turnstones,redshanks and purple sandpipers.It was also very convenient as the birds could be safely photographed from the comfort of the car thus avoiding the gale force winds pounding the coast.

Also nearby were three red breasted mergansers on the boating lake and again giving excellent photo opportunities from the comfort of the car.It's not often you get the opportunity to photograph these fish eating ducks at such close range.They provided some memorable images as they surfed the waves on the lake.We then moved on a short distance to see the much photographed shorelark at Rossall picnic site.

From there we took the coastal road through Blackpool and heading for St Annes to have a look for the Great Grey Shrike which has been present for a few weeks.The road along Blackpool seafront was being battered by the high tide and I stopped briefly to take a picture of the angry sea.Eventually we made our way to St Annes and the shrike site.The bird was still around but we only managed a brief view before it departed.

Next we went to Fairhaven Lake at Lytham.Another marine duck,the scaup was present here and showing well as they also rode the waves .I had never photographed scaup and this was an ideal opportunity to grab some images of these scarce marine ducks.We finished off our Fylde safari calling at Newton Marsh at Freckleton where many hundreds of wigeon were on the roadside lakes.However the highlight here was a very obliging roadside brown hare which posed beautifully for the camera.It was a super ending to what had been a grand day out along the Lancashire coastline.

Shown above are images from the day of the turnstones ,redshanks and purple sandpipers at the Marine Lake. The bird of the day for me was the Red Breasted Merganser and I have shown a few images of both male and female enjoying the stormy weather at Fleetwood.I had to publish an image of the shorelark,a rare visitor to the west coast but I felt this bird has been been harrased and photographed by too many bird photographers.A shot of the wild seas off Blackpool is shown as we made our way along the coast.My final selection from a very busy day with the camera is of the scaup at Fairhaven Lake and the lovely brown hare at Newton Marsh.An excellent day with good company and some memorable images from the stormy Lancashire Coast. Thanks for looking in ,may squeeze in another posting before the year ends.