Saturday, 18 February 2012

Hide and Seek

As promised in my last post this one will be about the bittern that Paul and I had gone to see earlier in the week at Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve. The bitterns ,two in number, had been showing well the previous afternoon but during our visit only one bird was on view. I say on view but it was extremely difficult to see the bird as it skulked in the reed bed.

The Rufford Hide was busy with birdwatchers and photographers all hoping for a sighting of the elusive bittern.Everyone struggled to find the bird and if you looked away it was extremely difficult to spot it again.Paul and I stayed for a couple of hours or so and we did manage to get a few shots of the bird. In all the reedbed shots above there is in fact a bittern lurking.It shows what wonderful camouflage the bittern has and when it extends it's neck and points it's bill skywards it is almost invisible.

In some of the images above the bittern is fairly obvious but in others your eyesight will be tested to see the bird. I have also shown a couple of images of goosanders ,a party of which were patrolling the lakes,a male with his colourful plumage and the female with her nice hairdo.Hope you enjoy the images and marvel at the fantastic cryptic plumage of the bittern. Thanks for looking.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Try and Try and Try Again

There follows an interesting account of a recent sighting at Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve. Paul and I visited the reserve this week to see if we could catch up with the two bitterns that had been showing well in front of the Rufford Hide.We did eventually see and photograph the bittern but that will be the subject of my next blog.

Whilst waiting for the bittern to show we were entertained by the antics of a young heron which was fishing close to where the bittern was hiding in the reeds.It suddenly caught a large bream which was to be quite a beakfull for the young bird to handle. For the next half hour or so the heron struggled to swallow the large fish.It made numerous attempts to get the fish down it's throat but it just wouldn't go.It tried every angle but in the end gave up and left the fish for another predator to find.I like to think the bittern may eventually have found the bream and with it's larger bill and throat would probably not had much difficulty in swallowing the fish.

The antics of the heron did of course provide numerous opportunities for some great action shots some of which I have posted above.It was an entertaining half hour or so and later we did managed some shots of one of the bitterns which all the time hardly moved from it's spot in the reedbed. Hope you enjoy my account of this encounter with the heron and bream and as promised my next post will feature the lack of action shots of the bittern, as it spent it's time hiding in the reedbed. Thanks for looking in and hope you enjoy the images above.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Up Close....Sanderling.

Prior to last week's visit to see the barn owls, Martin,Dave and myself had spent time at Rossall Point,Fleetwood watching the high tide wader roost.It was a pleasant day cold but bright and was ideal for some close up work with the roosting sanderling. The sanderling which gather at Rossall Point on a high tide are very confiding and allow a close approach with the camera gear.

We all three had a great time and at times the sanderling came too close for focusing with the big lenses.Dave was trying out a new low level support for his camera which allowed eye level contact with the birds.Both Martin and I were also able to shoot from a low level and get some intimate portraits of these beautiful little waders.

Sanderling are one of my very favourite birds and I am looking forward to returning in a month or so when the birds will be moulting into their colourful breeding plumage prior to their departure to their High Arctic breeding grounds. A few images from hundreds I took are shown above for your enjoyment.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Hunting Barnies

This week I turned my attention from short eared owls to looking for barn owls. The cold weather was still with us but Lancashire had escaped the worst of it and was only having hard overnight frosts. The local short eared owls had recently had a lot of attention from photographers and I left them in peace to go and look for some barn owls. On one visit I had only brief views but this week Martin and I visited the Pilling area and found a pair of barn owls actively hunting.

We were later joined by Dave Cookson and we were treated to a few hunting sorties by this pair of owls. The local farmer had been cutting some of the rough grasses and this may have disturbed the voles which the owls were hunting.The owls performed for us for a short period as the light was beginning to fade on this winter's afternoon. We made the best of the opportunity and I have shown above some of my better efforts to capture the action.

One of the owls caught a vole close by but was facing away from us and the shots above all show the rear end of the barn owl as it departed for it's home in the nearby farm buildings. I hope the images convey some of the excitement when witnessing hunting barn owls. I will of course be returning soon to try and capture more action with hopefully better results.Thanks for looking in.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Cold Snap

This last week has seen a return to winter with some hard frosts and heavy snowfalls in some parts of the country. Lancashire has escaped the worst of the weather with just hard frosts and during the day there has been some very nice winter sunshine. By way of a change I left the owls and decided to have a look at Leighton Moss. As expected there was plenty of ice particularly in the more shallow areas but still plenty of open water for the birds and the otters.

The otters ,three in number ,were showing well from Lillian's Hide but were distant and not really within photographic range. There was also a distant bittern visible from the Public Hide sunning itself at the edge of a sheltered patch of reeds. I toured the hides looking for photographic opportunities and eventually settled in the Griezdale Hide. The teal and other waterfowl were finding it difficult to walk on the ice and find suitable open areas for feeding.

The highlight of the day came when a little egret landed in front of the hide and looked splendid in the afternoon sun.It struggled with the ice and flew off to try it's luck further away . It hit lucky and caught quite a large perch. This was the first time I had seen a little egret with a large fish. It was unable to swallow the fish and put it down to be immediately attacked by a nearby grey heron which promptly took and swallowed the perch. A case of survival of the fittest. After this bit of action I left for home stopping on the way to photograph the setting sun over Morecambe Bay.

Shown above a few images from my afternoon's session at Leighton Moss. These show the action between the egret and the heron and a couple showing a coot and a waterhen sliding across the ice covered water. The first image shows the setting sun over Morecambe Bay with some of the numerous wind turbines now present off this section of the coastline. Hope you enjoy the images and account and hopefully if the weather improves I can get out again with the camera this week. Thanks for looking in.