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

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Great Northern Diver...Fleetwood

This week a Great Northern Diver was found on the Marine Lake at Fleetwood. It seemed to be hanging around so I decided on a visit to try and photograph this uncommon visitor to the Lancashire coast. I arrived at the Marine Lake on a lovely sunny morning and could immediately see the Diver and half a dozen big lenses trained on it's every move.
For the next hour or so we were treated to some fabulous views as the GND patrolled it's chosen area of the lake. There were also present a group of red breasted mergansers which kept trying to feed in the same area but the diver drove them away and fiercely defended his territory. It was perfect for photography and many images were taken of this uncommon visitor. It is apparently a young bird and is obviously in winter plumage but still looked splendid set against the blue water of the Marine Lake.
It would be very nice to photograph in it's summer plumage with it's black and white chequered back and white barred collar. This is possible as small numbers of birds do spend summer around the coasts of Scotland. As far as I am aware the Great Northern Diver has only nested successfully in Scotland on one occasion in 1970 when two adults were seen with two young. It is still there as I write this post but the current very stormy weather may not be to it's liking and it may move on. I have shown above my efforts at capturing this special bird and also an image of the red breasted mergansers as they were seen off by the diver. I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to see this splendid bird at such close quarters and dream of the day when I may see one in it's handsome breeding plumage.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Wonderful Waxwings

On Saturday I joined a group of local photographers at Barrow village just outside Whalley to enjoy an early arrival of waxwings in Lancashire. It was a large flock of over one hundred birds and was just a small part of the huge numbers currently in the country. It was the perfect morning for waxwing photography with blue skies,lots of rowan berries and an active flock of birds to thrill the gathered audience as only waxwings can do.
I spent a couple of hours with the birds and took around six hundred images of which only about one hundred were considered to be good enough to keep. It was all action at times as the birds came down to feed on the rowan berries. It had been a great season for berry production and there is certainly no shortage for the large numbers of waxwings and Scandanavian thrushes currently invading our shores. It was also very nice to catch up with other photographers who I had not seen for some time. A terrific session with what is definitely one of our most photogenic birds. I hope the few images I have shown above convey some of the beauty and character of these delightful birds.