Friday, 25 November 2011

Feeding Frenzy

This week I have made a couple of visits to the Pilling area hoping to see some owls.There are good numbers of short eared owls in the country but none have yet reached the Pilling area.A few years ago there were daily sightings of short eared owls and birdwatchers and photographers flocked to Scronkey near Pilling to see these magnificent owls at close quarters. I was one of the lucky ones and obtained some wonderful images of these special birds.Hopefully some may still arrive to delight us again.

Despite the lack of shorties my visit was made memorable by the sight of huge numbers of starlings feeding in the fields at Eagland Hill Pilling.These would be birds from the roost at Blackpool North Pier spending the day at Pilling before returning to Blackpool in the evening.I wouldn't like to estimate the numbers of birds present but it would certainly be many thousands and they kept me busy with the camera for a couple of hours as they moved around the area.I hope the above images give some idea of the spectacle at Eagland Hill but again it is something that must be seen to be appreciated.

I was lucky later with a brief sighting of a barn owl and a ringtail hen harrier near Scronkey but the light was poor and I was not quick enough with the camera. All in all though it had been an exciting couple of afternoons in the Pilling area made memorable by the activities of the vast flocks of starlings.Also shown above a shot of a couple of roe deer enjoying the afternoon sun. Roe deer are never easy to approach and those above were quite some way from the camera but they added some variety to the week's sightings. Hope you enjoy the images above and my account of another week in the Lancashire countryside. Thanks for looking in.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Seaside Spectacular

Blackpool is a well known seaside resort and is famous for it's entertainment at the Tower and other nearby attractions.What is not well known however is the wonderful and very entertaining display which is currently showing nightly at the North Pier. I am of course referring to the spectacular starling roost which is taking place every evening around 4pm.

It has been my good fortune to visit Blackpool on two occasions this week to observe and photograph this fabulous spectacle. On my first visit the weather was very nice with a lovely sunset to enhance the spectacle.On my second visit it was not sunny and a cold and raw wind made it unpleasant to stand around waiting for the action.The starlings however gave a wonderful display and on each visit they flew around the vicinity of the North Pier for around half an hour. I don't know how many starlings were present but my conservative estimate would be around seventy or eighty thousand ... maybe a lot more.

It was indeed a seaside spectacular and a privilege to watch.Shown above are a few of the many images I captured but it is not easy to convey in pictures alone what a wonderful experience it was to see this vast throng of starlings performing their aerial displays before going to roost amongst the buildings and structures of Blackpool's North Pier. Hope you enjoy the images I have shown and if any of my readers are able to visit Blackpool it is a spectacle not to be missed.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

More From The Moss

Leighton Moss that is..I have made a few visits recently and just thought I would post a few more images from those visits.It has been very good recently with a nice selection of waders present on the shore pools.the starling roost building up nicely and some nice views of otters and deer.

The otters were seen from the Lower Hide but were too far away for decent images.Hopefully one day I will be lucky with a close encounter with these beautiful animals. I was lucky however with a nice close sighting of a roe deer,never easy to get close too and the young buck's image heads the blog.Red deer hinds also popped out of the reeds at the Jackson Hide to have a look at Martin and I as dusk was approaching.

Next week promises some decent weather and I will probably return to Leighton Moss to see what is out and about at this special RSPB reserve.In the meantime enjoy the various images above of marsh harrier,preening teal,greenshank,little egret,pheasant and the deer. Thanks for looking.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Snipe and Starlings

This week I returned to Leighton Moss on a pleasant dry afternoon. There were surprisingly few cars at the Morecambe pools car park and most of the time there were very few visitors.I joined a fellow photographer from Penrith and we enjoyed some super views of the large numbers of common snipe currently on the shore pools.
We were kept busy trying to capture the behaviour of the snipe as they fed and preened within range of the big lenses.

I have shown above some of my better efforts and was particularly pleased with the ones showing the not very often seen orange tail feathers as they preened. There were between forty and fifty snipe on view and at times they came out and fed in the open but at the slightest sign of danger they would quickly return to the cover of one of the small islands at the Eric Morecambe hide.

I spent some time observing and photographing the snipe and as dusk was fast approaching I left to see if I could catch sight of the starlings as they came into roost.Itwas not easy to find the best spot to observe the starlings but I finally went up to the far end of the reserve and watched them from the roadside by Island Mere.The rain was beginning to arrive but I managed one or two shots before it became too dark. On one of the images above a mass of starlings can be seen with the four o'clock train to Barrow just visible below. All in all it had been an excellent afternoon session at Leighton Moss and I look forward to some better images of the impressive starling roost in the weeks to come.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Salmon Run

This week I paid a couple of visits to a Cumbrian river to try and obtain some images of salmon leaping up one of a series of waterfalls and white water in the lower reaches of the river. The salmon fishing season had finished at the end of October and hopefully there would still be good numbers of salmon coming up the river to reach the spawning grounds in the higher mountainous upper reaches.

On both visits there were sufficient salmon leaping the falls to keep the cameras busy.Mike joined me for the first visit and Martin on the second. Neither had seen this spectacle before and conditions were ideal as we set up the cameras. It was not easy to anticipate when a salmon might come out of the water and reactions had to be very fast to capture the action. We did succeed and the results of our efforts are shown above.

We were pleased with the results and we also managed some images of other fish eating residents of the river namely goosander and grey heron both of which posed nicely for the camera. The only event which spoilt the afternoon session for Martin and I was the arrival of a party of canoeists who used the white water of the waterfall to practice their techniques and this was a signal for the salmon to vanish and we also sadly moved on. I may be back to see this wonderful spectacle a little later in the month when hopefully some salmon will still be coming up river heading for their birthplace high in the Cumbrian fells.