Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Final Flourish

This is my final posting of the year.This week Mike and I made a return visit to the Fylde Coast.Last week we had been successful with an excellent day out but we only had very brief views of the Great Grey Shrike at St. Annes.It was my plan to possibly get some decent images of this very scarce visitor to Lancashire.

We began our day out with a return to Newton Marsh at Freckleton.It was a very frosty and icy morning but with some stunning winter sunshine.The pools were mostly iced over but one corner was free of ice and occupied by dozens of mostly wigeon.They looked stunning in the brilliant light and I took many images of them as they posed for the camera.

We then moved on to St Annes where we knew of a local church which was being used by a peregrine falcon as a perching and roosting spot.We were delighted to discover the peregrine was in residence and I took many images from the adjoining car park.On then to our main target species for the day,the Great Grey Shrike.

The shrike had been present for many weeks and was occupying a large bramble field but it was flighty and could disappear for long periods.It was not long before we located the shrike and eventually it came very close to where we were standing to give some stunning views.I was kept busy with the camera and some of the results are shown above.This was a wonderful end to my photographic year and I now look forward to 2015.We returned home through the Fylde countryside hoping to see a barn owl but our luck was out. A fabulous end to the year with excellent company and good weather. Thanks for looking in and all the very best to all my photographer and birdy friends. See you all next year.   

Final Selection

A few more of my favourites from 2014.The last day of 2014 is here and it has been an enjoyable one with the camera.I have shown above a couple from the pelagic trip from Liverpool of the diving gannets,a couple of early morning brown hares from Bowland.Also from Bowland a barn owl with a vole returning to it's fellside barn and a tawny owl perched on a telegraph pole.A couple from my garden of a jay and a young robin.A large flock of black tailed godwits at Marshside was a memorable encounter as was the annual salmon migration when I was particularly pleased with the image of a leaping salmon.Thanks for looking in and all the best for 2015. I do have one more posting to do of another trip to the Fylde this week when I had super views of a Great Grey Shrike.  Stay tuned !!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

A Grand Day Out...Christmas Eve.

After all the dull and very gloomy mild weather recently, it was nice to see brighter conditions forecast for the Christmas period.Christmas Eve promised some sunny conditions but with very strong winds.Mike and I had decided on a trip to the Lancashire Coast as the very high tides and stormy weather might produce some good birding.Our first port of call was to Fleetwood and Rossall.It was a surprise to see that the Marine Lake had been drained leaving large muddy areas.This attracted numerous waders including four purple sandpipers.The sandpipers were roosting in the shelter of an island with a very large flock of turnstones.This made for some interesting images of the many turnstones,redshanks and purple sandpipers.It was also very convenient as the birds could be safely photographed from the comfort of the car thus avoiding the gale force winds pounding the coast.

Also nearby were three red breasted mergansers on the boating lake and again giving excellent photo opportunities from the comfort of the car.It's not often you get the opportunity to photograph these fish eating ducks at such close range.They provided some memorable images as they surfed the waves on the lake.We then moved on a short distance to see the much photographed shorelark at Rossall picnic site.

From there we took the coastal road through Blackpool and heading for St Annes to have a look for the Great Grey Shrike which has been present for a few weeks.The road along Blackpool seafront was being battered by the high tide and I stopped briefly to take a picture of the angry sea.Eventually we made our way to St Annes and the shrike site.The bird was still around but we only managed a brief view before it departed.

Next we went to Fairhaven Lake at Lytham.Another marine duck,the scaup was present here and showing well as they also rode the waves .I had never photographed scaup and this was an ideal opportunity to grab some images of these scarce marine ducks.We finished off our Fylde safari calling at Newton Marsh at Freckleton where many hundreds of wigeon were on the roadside lakes.However the highlight here was a very obliging roadside brown hare which posed beautifully for the camera.It was a super ending to what had been a grand day out along the Lancashire coastline.

Shown above are images from the day of the turnstones ,redshanks and purple sandpipers at the Marine Lake. The bird of the day for me was the Red Breasted Merganser and I have shown a few images of both male and female enjoying the stormy weather at Fleetwood.I had to publish an image of the shorelark,a rare visitor to the west coast but I felt this bird has been been harrased and photographed by too many bird photographers.A shot of the wild seas off Blackpool is shown as we made our way along the coast.My final selection from a very busy day with the camera is of the scaup at Fairhaven Lake and the lovely brown hare at Newton Marsh.An excellent day with good company and some memorable images from the stormy Lancashire Coast. Thanks for looking in ,may squeeze in another posting before the year ends.    

Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas Selection

Another year has flown by. It has been a good year with some lovely weather through the summer. It has also been a good year for me with the camera and I have made many visits to some of my favourite locations. The highlight had to be the pelagic trip out of Liverpool with a party of like minded photographers. We enjoyed a ten hour trip to capture some great images of gannets and dolphins about thirty miles offshore.I also discovered the delights of wader watching from Hoylake on the Wirral.

On the home front I did well with kingfishers this year.They seem to have done well following population crashes in previous years.Well known locations at Martin Mere and Yarrow Valley provided some nice images. Leighton Moss also came up trumps with three Great White Egrets present for many weeks.I also managed for the first time to photograph the bearded tits coming to the grit trays in the Autumn.The red deer rut was also excellent and some fine stags were on view and posing for the camera.

I enjoyed very much my early morning visits to Bowland in the Summer when I was able to photograph the brown hares and was also lucky to see one or two tawny owls. My first selection of images show Red Deer Stag,Great White and Little Egrets,Bearded Tit and Buzzard from Leighton Moss.Great Crested Grebe from Mere Sands Wood .Waders from Hoylake on The Wirral and kingfishers from Yarrow Valley Country Park.I will post another selection of my favourites from 2014 before the end of the year.Thanks for looking in and enjoy the forthcoming festivities.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Pilling Whoopers

There has been a taste of winter recently with a dusting of snow on the fell tops and icy and frosty mornings.For a while now there has been a flock of well over one hundred whooper swans at Eagland Hill,Pilling. I decided therefore to try and capture some images of these winter visitors.I had a couple of brief afternoon visits when the light was at its best.All the images were taken from the comfort of the car and I was hoping to capture the birds in flight as they went to roost. The swans were feeding on the remains of a potato crop which was lying all over the very wet and muddy field.

From about 2pm some of the swans decided to leave and gave me the opportunity to grab some flight shots. I decided to leave around 3pm and on the way back home I had a very brief view of a barn owl. I had not seen any barn owls for a long time. I understand they have had an excellent breeding season in the Pilling and Cockerham area.I will certainly be back again to hopefully obtain more images of  these very special birds.This could be my last posting before Christmas and if so may I wish all my followers a very happy festive season.Thanks for looking in.