Friday, 30 December 2011

Last Post

This will be my final posting of what has been an interesting and eventful year with the camera.This last week or so has seen some very depressing weather conditions.If it hasn't been raining it has been extremely windy and these conditions have been far from favourable for bird photography.I was determined however to get out to blow away the Christmas cobwebs and returned to the mosslands of South West Lancs hoping for more sightings of short eared owls.

On my first visit it wasn't too bad with less wind and dry, however there was much disturbance in the area that the owls favour for hunting.Many folk were out walking off the Christmas excesses but the major disturbance was a group of men hunting with hawks.They had two magnificent goshawks one of them was an unusual white variety. I understand they were hunting pheasants and they also had a dog to put up any birds present.The owls would be well aware of the hawks and kept hidden for most of the time but did show briefly when they had gone.

On my second visit the wind was ferocious and hammered across the site . I managed to find shelter in a belt of trees but it was still very cold and unpleasant.Mike accompanied me on this visit and his observational skills came to the fore as he scanned the area for any raptors present.Despite the horrible conditions we managed to see a variety of raptors but the hoped for owls didn't show.In total we had six different raptors as follows, kestrel,sparrowhawk,buzzard,merlin,hen harrier and red kite.The red kite was very distant but was a first sighting in Lancs for Mike and I.

I have posted images mainly of short eared owls taken on an earlier visit to this site but the hen harrier image was obtained on the second visit as described above.I have also posted one showing the white goshawk and it's owner as they walked across the rough grassland disturbing any wildlife present.The legality of use of hawks on what is a conservation area is currently being investigated. I hope to return to this location in the New Year when hopefully the short eared owls will still be around and provide a good start to another year of wildlife photography.Many thanks to my followers for looking in at my work and I hope you all enjoy a very happy and healthy 2012.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Season's Greetings

Christmas is now fast approaching and the weather at the moment is not very seasonal. After a brief frosty and snowy day or two it is now more like Spring.Temperatures are in double figures and it always seems to be raining. On a better day last Sunday Kath and I had a walk in the Leighton Moss area.It was a sunny day and was warm in the pleasant and very welcome sunshine.

We had our sandwiches and soup on a seat overlooking the RSPB reserve and it was very pleasant basking in the warm sun. We were visited throughout our stay by tits and robins coming for seeds which had been left for them on nearby fence posts.The birds came very close at times and I just happened to have a telephoto lens with me and was able to capture some nice portrait shots of the visitors.

One of the visitors was a marsh tit,a lovely little bird which I had never had an opportunity to photograph and I managed some nice shots. The robin is an ever present bird when it knows there is food about and again this symbol of Christmas gave me some nice images. Coal,Great and Blue tits also visited and again I was rewarded with some nice portraits.

Some of my better shots are shown above..a couple of the marsh tit and robin and one each of a coal tit and blue tit.I hope you enjoy them,the robin is very much a bird in evidence at this time of the year and features on many Christmas cards. I have therefore headed this post with my own little Christmas Robin and wish all my followers a very happy Christmas. Thanks for looking.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

More Favourites

The weather is still very wintry and I can't summon up the enthusiasm to venture out with the camera gear. So I thought I would post a few more favourite images from previous months. The local marine lakes at Fleetwood and Lytham were the places to be in September and October of this year. There had been some very stormy weather,the remnants of an Atlantic hurricane,and this had driven birds to the Lancashire coast to shelter from the very disturbed weather out at sea.

The first of these birds was a full summer plumaged red throated diver which was found on the marine lake at Fleetwood. This lovely bird attracted many admirers and the local bird paparazzi turned out in force to see this bonny bird. Unfortunately the bird was not well and sadly died. It did however give much pleasure to those fortunate enough to see it and one of my images is shown above.

The marine lake at Lytham St Annes was the place to be in September and October when following more stormy weather a grey phalarope followed by a slavonian grebe spent time on the lake feeding before leaving when the weather finally settled down again. Again these birds provided some wonderful opportunities for the many photographers present during their stay.I have shown above two images of each of these fabulous little birds which were very confiding and gave great close up views.

Next up are a couple from Leighton Moss showing a preening teal and one of the many snipe present at the beginning of November. I had wanted images of snipe and the large number of birds present provided many excellent opportunities for portrait shots of these shy birds.The teal was preening and enjoying some welcome late afternoon sun and the snipe was also preening and showing off it's not very often seen tail feathers.

The images heading this posting are of birds going to roost against a setting sun.One of them shows thousands of pink footed geese crossing The Fylde on their way to the roost out on the sands at Pilling. The final image is of the many thousands of starlings which roost at Blackpool's North Pier and provide a nightly spectacle not to be missed at this time of the year. Hope you enjoy my selection and I hope to get out again before the end of the year. Thanks for looking and I wish all my followers a Very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Personal Favourites

I have been frustrated recently as the very disturbed weather has meant I have been unable to get out with the camera. It gives me an opportunity therefore to post some of my personal favourites from what has been a productive and interesting year photographing the wildlife in Lancashire.

This is the first series and I have selected some of my images from the first half of the year. The early months saw good numbers of waxwings around locally and as usual they provided lovely subjects for the camera and a couple of my better efforts are shown above. Spring saw a trip of dotterel on the local fells and I made the long walk early one morning to capture these enigmatic birds. As usual they allowed a close approach and together with others who had made the trek obtained some intimate portraits and again a couple are shown above.In May I was definitely in the right place at the right time to see for the first time a pair of great crested grebes performing the weed dance. This was something I had waited a long time to see and I made the most of the opportunity taking a burst of dozens of images to capture the moment.An image of this unique event is shown above.

Also in May waders were on the way to their High Arctic breeding grounds and called in on the Lancashire coast to refuel for the long journey ahead. This was very welcome as the sanderling were now beginning to show their rich breeding colours and I was able to get very close to them as a high tide brought them close to the camera.A nicely marked bird is shown above looking for food on the sandy shore.

Early June and I visited a local peregrine nest site on a church in the middle of a local market town.That evening two young peregrines that had earlier fallen from the nest were returned to their parents having recovered from their ordeal. The parents gave great flying displays that evening against a blue sky in lovely evening sunshine.I grabbed the opportunity to get some flight shots of what is the fastest bird in the world.Again one of the better efforts is shown above.

My final entry to this post is of a barn owl which it was my great pleasure to observe and photograph with fellow photographer Martin very early on a warm summer's morning in July. A pair of barn owls were hunting close by and at times came very close and we made the best of this golden opportunity. I will post another selection of my favourites from the second half of 2011 at a later date. Hope you enjoy looking at these images again and thanks for looking in.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Owl Time

My thoughts at this time of the year turn to owls,in particular to barn and short eared owls.A couple of recent trips had proved fruitless but I opened my account last week when returning from a day out with Martin to a wader roost at Morecambe. On the way back Martin showed me a little owl perched in it's roadside tree and I grabbed a few images from the car one of which is shown above. I later learned of the whereabouts of a number of short eared owls which had been showing well in South Lancs.

I was keen to see them whilst they were still around so Trevor and I duly arrived at the location on the mosslands of South West Lancs. Immediately we were watching three short eared owls quartering the large area of rough grassland and they were later joined by a barn owl.We were not alone and we enjoyed the company of a number of other local photographers.

The owls performed well until fading light late afternoon forced us to pack up and head for home.It had been an excellent session and although the owls never came really close whilst we were there,I still managed some shots with which I was well pleased . I paid another visit yesterday but there was no sign of any owls. There had been bad weather since my last visit and it had turned very wintry.Hopefully the owls will be back and I look forward to seeing these magnificent birds once again. Hope you enjoy the account and the images I have posted above and thanks for looking.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Another High Tide Surprise

Back in October Martin and I had a nice surprise when photographing a high tide wader roost at Rossall. On that occasion a snow bunting briefly dropped in and we were delighted with some excellent views and images of this not too common visitor to the Lancashire coastline. This last week we enjoyed a similar experience when we visited a high tide wader roost at Morecambe.There had been more high tides and very strong winds in recent days and we visited this new location not knowing what might turn up .

Many hundreds of oystercatchers were gathered on the salt marsh as the tide advanced and we decided to walk along the shore to hopefully get nearer to the large roost. On the way there we suddenly spotted an unfamiliar bird on the roof of some nearby buildings and we were delighted when it turned out to be a black redstart.I had only seen one or two abroad and it was a new bird for Martin.We managed one or two shots before the redstart vanished and we decided to make an effort to find it on our return from the oystercatcher roost.

We enjoyed the comings and goings of the oystercatchers as the tide reached it's peak and we kept busy with the cameras trying to get some action shots. On returning to the car we picked up the black redstart again as it flitted about among the buildings of a leisure club. It was not easy to get our shots as this busy little bird was constantly on the move and eventually we lost it again.

Back at the car more waders were assembling on nearby rocks and we enjoyed the excellent views of godwits ,lapwings and redshanks .Also present was a female eider duck which had come out of the sea to preen and rest. What a good session it had been and I have posted above some images from the day of the oystercatchers,a nicely posed black tailed godwit and the female eider duck on the rocks. The post is headed with a couple of images of the delightful black redstart which had really been another surprise visitor on the high tide. Hope you enjoy my efforts above and thanks for looking in.