Saturday, 31 July 2010

Down From The North

This last week Kath and I have been entertaining her grandson Tim who has come down from Scotland to stay for a week in Blackpool. Timothy enjoys the great outdoors when we can get him away from his computer and we have all enjoyed a varied week of activities.  The weather has been mixed and we got a soaking when we visited Ingleton and did the waterfalls walk. We survived however having enjoyed some spectacular scenery and at last the rivers and streams were running full again . Tim and I also enjoyed an afternoon on the beach at Southport photographing the waders many of which would have also come down from their breeding grounds in the far north.
I have posted one or two images from the week showing Tim and his granny at Thornton Force,the budding bird photographer on Southport beach and a few shots of roosting dunlin showing the beautiful feathers of the juvenile birds. An interesting week and I hope Timothy has many happy memories of his stay when he returns home next week.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Seeing Red

Earlier this week I had excellent views of Red Deer at Leighton Moss. I finished the week with a trip to North Yorkshire to look for Red Squirrels in one of the 16 areas in Northern England that have been designated as areas where Red Squirrels have the best chance of long term survival. This area is in conifer woods in Widdale and requires a long walk up an isolated valley to reach a viewing area which has been provided by local landowners in conjunction with various local authorities.
It was a lovely sunny afternoon when I arrived at the location deep in the forest and I quickly glimpsed a couple of squirrels scampering up the trees. I took some nuts to tempt the squirrels out of hiding and eventually a couple came down to feed and return back to the forest with the food. Whilst on the ground the red squirrels allowed me to approach within a few yards and I was able to obtain some excellent close ups of these endearing animals. I stayed a while but midges were troublesome . I therefore beat a retreat to avoid further bites and trekked  through the lovely woodlands and back down the valley to civilisation and the waiting car.
It had been an eventful afternoon in this remote and beautiful part of North Yorkshire. I look forward to a return visit,  to see again these wonderful little animals as they go about their lives, remote from their grey cousins which have devastated so many of our native populations of red squirrels. I hope my readers  enjoy the images of the squirrels as much as I did in taking them.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

After The Rain

The early part of this week was memorable for the amount of rain which fell in a short space of time. I understand that parts of North West England had a month's worth of rain in a couple of hours. This rainfall was very welcome following one of the driest Springs since 1929. The middle of the week promised some better weather so I decided on a visit to Leighton Moss where I hadn't been for many weeks.
It proved to be a good decision as the weather was excellent and the wildlife wasn't bad either. My visit coincided with that of an osprey which was very visible perched on a dead tree at the Island Mere end of Leighton Moss. I managed a few record shots from the roadside and then made my way to the Public Hide hoping for a fly past or fish catching sortie. The Public Hide was full of expectant osprey watchers and I met up with colleagues whom I hadn't seen for some time. Eventually the osprey lifted off and came towards us but then soared up to great heights and was lost to view. I did see it again later with a fish departing to the north. I again managed one or two record shots but not the close ups we all hoped for.
I spent the remainder of my time at the Griesdale Hide watching red deer. Two hinds and a young " bambi " were feeding in the reed beds close to the hide and provided some nice photographic opportunities for myself and another local photographer, Stan from Lancaster. A quick look at the Tim Jackson hide was uneventful so I decided to head for home via the back roads looking for roe deer but none were seen. On the way home I stopped off at Harrissend Fell to watch a fabulous sunset over Morecambe Bay and headed South into more very wet weather around Garstang. I had however enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon at Leighton Moss and will be returning again soon. The images above show a record shot of the osprey, a fly past from a juvenile marsh harrier,a heron looking for an evening meal, the red deer enjoying their evening in the reedbeds  and finally the sunset over Morecambe Bay.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Songs Of Praise

As it is a Sunday and is currently very wet I am confined to barracks. It seemed appropriate therefore to sing the praises of one of my favourite parts of Bowland and a beautiful little church to be found there. The area in question is around the hamlet of Abbeystead and the church is Christ Church also known as "The Shepherds Church ". The church is situated in a very beautiful part of Bowland with gorgeous views from the churchyard out across the fields and hills of Bowland. It is known as the shepherd's church because at one time local shepherds used the church and hooks for them to hang their crooks on can still be seen in the church porch. There is also an appropriate inscription to be seen above the church lychgate which can be seen on one of my images.
The vicinity of the churchyard  is also well known amongst local birdwatchers as a regular spot to see spotted flycatchers and they were nesting in this area again this summer. Spotted flycatchers are delightful birds to observe and photograph as they go about their task of providing food for the young birds.Soon they will all be leaving for their African winter quarters. I paid them a brief visit before the current wet and windy weather arrived and managed one or two shots of these special little birds. I have shown the spotted flycatchers above and a few images of the  Shepherds Church and its peaceful and very beautiful surroundings.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Shift Work

During the recent very warm weather it has been too warm for me to venture out during the middle of the day. I have instead been out early and late in the day when conditions have been much fresher and the wildlife has also been more in evidence. During the last week I have made a couple of evening trips to the Bowland area and an early morning trip with good friend Paul Foster to the Lune Valley.
The evening trips to Bowland were quite productive and I managed some nice images of a roe deer and brown hare feeding in the cool of the late evening and the sight of the sun setting over the Lake District.The warm evening light was also conducive to photography providing nice lighting rather than the direct and harsh light during the heat of the day. The early morning trip with Paul Foster was excellent and as we traveled up the Lune Valley around five a.m. a young roe deer appeared in front of the car, it panicked a little but did eventually manage to return safely to the adjoining fields none the worse for it's encounter with the motor car. Hopefully it will learn from this experience as many deer are killed on our roads each year.
We arrived safely at our destination in the Lune Valley. Paul had on an earlier visit a sighting of an otter and I understand that they are frequently seen in the vicinity even during the daytime. It was not to be however on this visit but we did enjoy wonderful views of another roe deer as it made it's way along the river bank. Also seen were spotted flycatcher,great spotted woodpecker and a yellow wagtail a new bird for Paul and a species I hadn't seen for very many years. It had been well worth doing the early shift and maybe the otter will oblige on a subsequent visit.
As usual I have posted some images from the week. The first one showing the setting sun over Black Combe in the Lake District and taken from Harrisend Fell near Scorton. Also from the Bowland area Brown Hare, Curlew and Roe Deer taken in lovely warm evening light. The final three are from the Lune Valley taken in the early morning and showing dawn breaking and a roe deer having her breakfast whilst keeping her feet cool in the river.