Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas Fox

I am posting a few more images from the three visits I made to my local Nature Reserve at Brockholes Preston in the few days prior to Christmas. It was a wonderful experience to see some beautiful wintry scenery and all very close to home . Very often we don't realise that beauty is all around us and constantly delights us through the seasons.
This Winter so far has been very special giving us a taste of real winter weather throughout the country .It has provided many opportunities to observe Nature at it's most severe yet at the same time at it's most beautiful and I hope I have managed to convey some of that beauty in the images I have shown.
The final images of the fox were a wonderful Christmas present. I came upon this hunting fox unexpectedly at the edge of woodland as I was returning home and of course the photographic gear was in my rucksack !! I retreated back into the woodland to reassemble the tripod and camera and found that the fox was still preoccupied with looking for prey. This enabled me to quietly observe and photograph this beautiful animal over the next ten minutes. I was very well pleased with the results from the camera in capturing this close encounter with a hunting fox in the snow. It was a wonderful way to end these Christmas visits to my local Nature Reserve.

Brockholes.. Christmas

Christmas has now been and gone and I just wanted to publish a brief account of three fabulous afternoons I spent down at my local Nature Reserve at Brockholes just prior to Christmas. The temperatures had been sub zero for many days and in the countryside the powdery snow was undisturbed and still lay as it had fallen during the previous week.
I had decided to walk down through local woodland so as to avoid the treacherous and very icy roads. It was a lovely walk and after crossing the footbridge over the M6 Motorway a wonderful wintry scene awaited me as I made my way down through Boilton Woods towards the Nature Reserve at Brockholes.
There was plenty of activity along the hawthorn hedges lining the public footpath through the Reserve. Fieldfares, redwings,song thrushes and blackbirds were the predominant birds to be seen but many others were present including a water rail which appeared very briefly but managed to avoid the camera.
I have shown above a few images of the scenery and some of the birds present. In Part Two of this account I will post more images of the lovely winter scenes and also of a hunting fox which it was my good fortune to come across as I returned home through the woods.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Just a quick post before the festivities begin. I would like to wish all my followers  Best Wishes for Christmas and The New Year. The fox above was a surprise Christmas present whilst I was out and about this week. I will post more details and images in due course from what has been a  wonderful week in a very frosty and snowy countryside.  

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Owl Time

This is the time of year around Christmastime when my thoughts turn to going to look for owls. So it was this week when I made three trips to see if I could find and photograph these evocative and spectacular birds. I visited areas of Lancashire where I had excellent sightings in previous years, notably two years ago in the Pilling area when there was an  " invasion " of short eared owls. Sadly this year this doesn't appear to be the case and during this week I have failed to find any shorties. Whether this is down to lack of prey or whether the SEO had a poor breeding season I don't know.
It is a different story however with the Barn Owl which is resident in parts of Lancashire and can usually be relied on at this time of the year to be found hunting over it's favoured areas of rough grassland. So it proved this week when I visited three sites ,two on the Lancashire Mosslands and one on the moorland of The Forest Of Bowland. The barn owl does tend to appear mid afternoon onwards hunting it's territory and the light then can be good for photography. One afternoon gave some lovely views of a barn owl hunting in the warm glow of a setting sun and enabled me to obtain some nice images with which I was well pleased.
I have posted a few images of one of the mossland barn owls in this lovely light and I hope my readers enjoy them as much as I did in observing and photographing this lovely bird. I will probably do another post before Christmas to show some more including the Bowland bird returning to it's hillside barn with a vole.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Frozen North

This last week has seen severe frosts every night and even during daylight hours the thermometer has barely risen above zero. The landscape has begun to resemble the Arctic with even the sea beginning to freeze and the wildlife has struggled to survive. As I write the temperatures have risen above zero but we are promised more severe frosts in the run up to Christmas.
The west coast of Lancashire has been spared the snowfalls that have occurred in other parts of the country but the temperatures have been very cold by day and by night and you needed to be well wrapped up and keep on the move when out and about. I visited the Pilling and Fleetwood areas during the week and good friend Paul Foster joined me for a trip to Fleetwood and Rossall Point. We had excellent views of sanderlings and turnstones at a high tide roost and were treated to some great views of goldeneye and mergansers at the Marine Lakes. The waterfowl were concentrated in a small area of open water which may possibly have been kept open by the Fire Brigade who came down to play jets of water out into the lake.
I have posted a few images from the week showing the goldeneye and red breasted merganser on the ice covered lake at Fleetwood.Also some general shots of the views across Morecambe Bay to the snow covered Lakeland Fells and a couple from Rossall Point with sanderling on an ice covered beach and a nice male eider which obligingly drifted by on the high tide.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Sanderling...Rossall Point

Following on from my last posting about the Great Northern Diver at Fleetwood ,which has I think now departed ,I am posting some images taken on the same day of a sanderling roost a little further down the coast at Rossall Point. The sanderling is a delightful little wader to observe and photograph and at Rossall Point on a high tide they come quite close.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours spent with the waders and in the company of some respected local birdwatchers. With the sanderling was a purple sandpiper which I think I would have missed had I been on my own. Also present were turnstones and ringed plovers and again they were remarkably tame and willing to have their portraits taken. The turnstones and plovers will feature in a further posting when I return to Rossall on the next high tides in a week or so. However if the current very wintry weather continues it may not be possible to travel far.
I hope my readers enjoy the sanderling images and the one showing a purple sandpiper which was roosting with the sanderling and a bird I have not seen for many years. Rossall Point is a delightful spot with wonderful views across Morecambe Bay to the Lake District Mountains and I look forward to a return visit in due course.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Worth Another Look.....GND at Fleetwood

I returned to Fleetwood yesterday for another look at the Great Northern Diver which over the last couple of weeks or so has become a local tourist attraction as many photographers and birdwatchers have visited the town for a close up look at this uncommon visitor. I arrived on a beautifully sunny morning following a hard overnight frost to find that thankfully the bird was still feeding and performing on the Marine Lake.
It doesn't seemed bothered by the presence of people or by the frequent activity of the Nautical College launching a type of lifeboat quite close to the bird. It was therefore possible to get quite close at times and with the bright and sunny conditions it was to be perfect for some good images of the action
What was special on this visit was to see the diver catch a flounder which for the next ten minutes or so it tried to swallow. It seemed to have difficulty holding onto it's slippery prey which almost escaped but eventually it did manage to swallow the fish. This protracted action gave me some excellent opportunities to capture the action on camera and I was well pleased with the results.
 The Great Northern Diver has been on the Marine Lake since November 7th, well into it's third week and has provided some wonderful views and images for many of Lancashire's birdwatchers and photographers. I also managed a few shots of the very handsome and colourful red breasted merganser which was performing on the nearby boating pool. I later visited some high tide wader roosts further down the coast at Rossall and this will be the subject of my next posting. Meantime I hope my readers enjoy my account and images of a super session at Fleetwood Marine Lake.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Waxwing Watching...Preston

The flock of waxwings has been present in the Euston Street area of Preston for maybe a couple of weeks now. It is a decent size flock and varies between forty  to well over one hundred birds at times. This has meant that local and not so local birdwatchers and photographers have been travelling to Preston to see and record the spectacle.
I too couldn't resist another afternoon session with these super birds which are a photographer's delight as they pose and perform for the camera. I make no excuse therefore for posting yet more waxwing images and also one showing some of the many watchers and photographers who have visited Preston to witness this infrequent occurrence.
This may not be the last time I post waxwing images as this Winter promises to be one of the best for seeing waxwings as there are many thousands of birds currently in the country and the supplies of berries should be sufficient following an excellent crop of fruits in the Autumn.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

More Waxwings...Preston

This week found me on the waxwing trail again. The good numbers of waxwings now in the country have been entertaining birdwatchers and photographers nationwide. Lancashire has been blessed with some decent flocks which first arrived in East Lancs but this week found a good number in my home town of Preston. I still can't think of Preston as a city but I was there in 2002 I think it was, when The Queen bestowed the new city title on Preston.
I digress so back to the waxwings. Yesterday was to be a beautiful day after early frost so I decided on an early lunch and then took myself and camera gear to search for the waxwings. I didn't have far to go and a twenty minute journey across the city found me on Euston Street where the waxwings had last been reported. It didn't take long before I heard that delightful little trill of a flock of waxwings perched high up on a dominant tree.
For the next couple of hours the gathererd birdwatchers and photographers were treated to some spectacular sightings of the flock of about seventy waxwings coming down to feed  on a nearby rowan tree which was being rapidly stripped of it's supply of berries. It was delightful to watch them as they descended to feed in their typical smash and grab raids on the berries before retreating back to the tree tops to digest their intake of berries. It never ceases to amaze me the speed at which a waxwing can strip a tree of it's berries.
It was also nice to catch up with friends I hadn't seen for some time  and we were all treated to a magnificent display from these fabulous visitors from Scandanavia. The weather helped greatly for photography as it was a magnificent sunny afternoon with no wind and blue skies. Perfect waxwing watching weather. I hope the images above convey to my readers some of the character and beauty of these very special visitors to our shores. Looks like this will be an excellent winter to see some waxwings and if you haven't yet done so I am sure they will turn up in most parts of the country in their quest for berries and more berries.l