Saturday, 28 May 2011

Arctic Bound

In what has been a poor week weatherwise opportunities for getting out and about have not been good. So I am posting some more images of sanderling mostly in summer plumage taken recently on the Lancashire coastline.
The sanderling has to be one of the most delightful of our shorebirds as they scurry about the beaches looking for food.They eat small crabs,shrimps,shellfish,sandhoppers and marine worms that live in mud and sand or are washed in by the tide. On the Arctic breeding grounds they eat insects and some plant material,including buds,seeds and shoots. The birds shown above were very busy probing in the sand for food and came close allowing some nice portrait shots.
Hopefully next week may bring more settled weather.The birds above may by then be on their way to the breeding grounds. These lovely little waders breed high in the Arctic tundra - on the closest land to the North Pole - in Siberia, or in Arctic North America. The birds I saw are quite possibly heading for breeding grounds in Eastern Greenland. I wish them well and a safe journey.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Dock..Duck..and Swan

Title sounds a bit like a pub name but it's a summary of my afternoon yesterday spent close to home. The weather this week has not been conducive to trips further afield and very strong winds and some heavy showers have kept me mostly catching up on jobs at home. However I did find time yesterday afternoon to visit Preston Dock where a number of common terns are nesting on pontoons in the former dock which is now an exclusive residential area . I had not been to see these terns before and it was a nice spot to set up the camera and await the action.
It was fun watching the terns,beautiful elegant birds and very graceful in flight. The terns have nested inside some tyres provided for them on the pontoons and it has proved to be very successful as this small colony has been there for a couple of years. Also nesting on one of the pontoons is a mute swan but it would appear that most of the eggs have been predated as only one egg remains from an original clutch of five eggs. Whether or not the remaining egg hatches is debatable but I hope it does.
After enjoying the session at the dock I travelled a few miles down the coast to where a drake garganey had recently turned up on the entrance pool to Newton Marsh. This handsome duck was still there but the light was not favourable to decent images and those shown above are published as record shots and maybe I can return when conditions are better and if the garganey remains. All in all it had been a very enjoyable couple of hours not far from home and I look forward to a return visit to see the terns feeding young in a couple of weeks or so.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

More From The Coast

As promised in my last blog I am showing a few more of the many images I took on last week's visit to the Lancashire Coast at Southport. More waders from the big high tide roost and a couple of the Curlew Sandpiper which was present at the nearby RSPB Reserve at Marshside.
Nearly all of the birds shown will soon be departing for remote breeding grounds on the tundra of Arctic Russia and Greenland. The breeding season is short and takes advantage of twenty four hour daylight and abundant food supplies in the brief Arctic Summer.Most birds will probably be making their way south again in August after what is hopefully a good breeding season. I look forward to seeing them all once again on the Lancashire coastline.
The images shown above are from the top... two showing the curlew sandpiper going into it's summer breeding of two dunlin fattening up for the long journey...a mixed flock of dunlin sanderling and knot...three of grey plovers showing their spectacular black and white breeding plumage...and finally one of a posing ringed plover one of hundreds present at this spectacular roost.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Heading North

This will be a two parter as this week I have obtained lots of images of waders on the Lancashire Coast. There were literally many thousands of waders pausing on the coast and feeding up prior to the long journeys ahead of them to their Arctic breeding grounds . The huge numbers of birds consisted mainly of sanderling..dunlin..and knot with a sprinkling of grey plover and bar tailed godwits.
For this first post from the coast I will concentrate on the sanderling which are now colouring up nicely in their breeding finery and provided many opportunities for close up portraits as they probed in the sand for food. I had gone to a stretch of the coastline south of Southport which is a favoured roosting site on big tides. There have been a series of big tides this week around lunchtime allowing me time to get into position and await the arrival of the birds.
I had a great time with the camera and at times the sanderling came almost within touching distance and were completely oblivious to my presence. I hope you enjoy the results of my efforts and next time I will post images of dunlin,ringed plover,grey plover,and a curlew sandpiper which was present at the nearby RSPB Nature Reserve at Marshside.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Rain Stopped Play

A new week has arrived and with it a very wet spell of weather. The rain seems to have been continual for the last two days, not heavy rain but that very wetting kind of drizzle. This has kept me confined to barracks and has given me an opportunity to post a few more images from last week's encounter with the Great Crested Grebes at a local Nature Reserve.
They are more of the same with some close up portraits of these beautiful birds and ones where the wonderful red eye is shown. This is an adaptation found on grebes and obviously aids underwater vision when hunting their prey. I have also included one more of the weed dance which was one of those rare events when I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I have also included an image showing the lake occupied by the grebes which currently has yellow flag iris growing around the area where the grebes appear to be nesting. Hopefully the rain will go away and I will be able to get out again and capture more images from the Lancashire countryside.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Closer To Home

Following last week's excursions to Barbondale in Cumbria, this week found me nearer to home at a local Nature Reserve. I had visited the reserve last month and enjoyed nice views of Great Crested Grebes courting and mating. This week I had a couple of visits and spent a few hours in a hide overlooking one of the lakes favoured by the grebes.
The weather this week has been kind and although a little cooler it remained mostly dry with just a few showers. I soon caught up with the Great Crested Grebes and found that they were still in the process of nest building and performing their ritual courting displays. I got lucky on my second visit and for the first time witnessed the famous weed dance. This is when the grebes dive down and come up with beaks full of weed and dance across the water face to face. A spectacular performance and one I was lucky enough to capture for posterity on the camera. It was quality time spent with these beautiful and very elegant birds and it will remain in the memory for a long time.
As usual I have shown above a few of the many images taken this week. As well as the weed dance the grebes are shown head shaking, eating a small perch taken in front of the hide , and just posing for the camera at close range allowing me to try and capture some portraits of what is surely one of our most beautiful water birds. I look forward to more visits in the coming weeks when maybe I will witness the young grebes taking a ride on the back of the parent bird. I hope my readers enjoy my account of these memorable encounters and that my images do justice to these fabulous birds.

Friday, 6 May 2011


This week has seen me make a couple of visits to the delightful Barbondale which is near the village of Barbon close to Kirkby Londale in Cumbria. Barbon Beck finds it's way down a steep sided valley to join the River Lune above Kirkby Lonsdale. It is normally a fast flowing mountain beck but this week the continuing high temperatures meant it was at a very low level. Just before Barbon village it enters a wooded section the upper section of which is very attractive to some special birds. This is ancient wet woodland and it is well known amongst birdwatchers as one of the best places to observe pied flycatcher and redstart. An elevated footpath follows the beck downstream and provides wonderful views into the woodland clinging to the sides of this steep sided valley.
I spent a couple of very enjoyable sessions observing and photographing the resident flycatchers and redstarts. Some nestboxes have been provided to supplement the many natural tree nesting holes and the birds have readily taken to their use. It is a good time to observe and try to photograph them as soon the trees will be in full leaf and observation will be difficult. It was still far from easy to get reasonable shots of these very active birds and my efforts are shown above. After spending time with the birds I enjoyed a wonderful ride over to Dent and back via some spectacular high level routes over the Pennines and back home via Sedbergh. This is a very beautiful part of Northern England and somewhere I will no doubt be returning to before the month is out.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Just A Few More

Thought I would just post a few more images from last week's climb up Fairsnape Fell to see the trip of dotterel enjoying the current summer weather on the Lancashire Fells. It was a memorable experience as it always is when watching dotterel. This group of birds were very confiding and allowed a careful close approach and myself and the other photographers present had a field day with these beautiful birds.
I have posted a few more of both female and male birds and also a few more general shots showing the photographers and just how close we were to the birds. Also some landscape images showing Parlick Pike and Fairsnape Fell from across the Vale of Chipping taken early morning from Longridge Fell. Hope my readers enjoy my record of this wonderful day high up on the Bleasdale Fells.