Saturday, 22 February 2014

Courting Grebes and Fighting Coots

This last week has seen an improvement in the weather with less extremes of wind and rain and a trend towards milder conditions.Nature has responded,and snowdrops and crocuses are in full bloom and the birdlife is also responding to the better weather.I like to observe great crested grebes in early spring as they begin their courting rituals and provide some nice photographic opportunities. So it was this week that I paid a couple of visits to a local nature reserve where great crested grebes are usually present.

A pair of grebes was present and they were preparing a nest site in a corner of the lake.I did manage a few shots of the grebes as they fished and then later as they mated on the platform of vegetation they had begun to construct.There were also a good number of coots present at the far end of the lake and there was much fighting and squabbling going on.The birds were too far away for decent shots but I have included a couple of record shots above.

I will of course return to photograph the grebes at frequent intervals as hopefully they will have a successful breeding season,that is if the weather settles down.Hope you enjoy my efforts above and I will soon return to document the progress of these delightful birds. Thanks for looking in and enjoy the weekend.    

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Grey Herons...Mere Sands Wood

This week has seen more severe weather throughout England and Wales with more heavy rain and hurricane force winds.The North West took a battering yesterday with the exceptionally strong winds causing widespread damage and disruption.Earlier in the week on an almost springlike day I visited a local nature reserve at Mere Sands Wood at Rufford.I was hoping to see the goosanders that had been present for a while but they had moved on.It was nice however to be able to go into the Rufford Hide again following recent vandalism.

I spent the afternoon with pleasant company and from time to time action from the grey herons present .They provided some nice action and reflection shots as they looked for food Also present were great crested grebes,one pair were mating and nest building but were too distant for any worthwhile images One grebe did come close and also gave a nice reflection image shown above.A waterhen was seen carrying a partly eaten fish,I don't think it would have caught it but maybe picked it up from shallow water.I am not aware that waterhens actually eat fish but you learn something new every day.

It was nice to be able to get out on a decent day for a change and enjoy the very pleasant conditions.It seems like more very wet and windy weather may be on the way on what has been a conveyor belt of depressions driven by a very strong jet stream in off the Atlantic.Hope you enjoy the heron,grebe and waterhen images above and thanks for looking in. Hopefully some better weather will be on the way soon.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Morecambe Mix

This week I paid a visit to the Morecambe area as another high tide was due and I was hoping for some wader roosts along the coast.I first paid a visit to the site where ten years ago the 23 Chinese cockle pickers sadly lost their lives.It was a sunny day and an offshore wind kept the high tide at bay.I moved down the coast to just outside Morecambe where some waders were roosting at Teal Bay.I then noticed a large group of oystercatchers further along the promenade roosting on one of the many protective rocky groynes.I spent some time photographing the oystercatchers as they jostled for the best positions as the tide advanced.The light was excellent for photography and the results are shown above.

I then drove along the promenade into Morecambe.I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted a fox out on one of the groynes. It had become stranded as the high tide came in and was sitting it out until the tide went out again.It was enjoying the afternoon sun and gave some nice opportunities for the camera.Curious passers by wondered what I was watching and soon numbers of people came to observe the fox.Unfortunately the fox was led down whilst I was there and I didn't manage any shots of it showing its tail or legs but it was still a rare opportunity to photograph a seaside fox.I spent some time waiting for it to move and again missed my opportunity as it was mobbed by crows and suddenly vanished into the rocks

The finale of this splendid afternoon was when a peregrine falcon suddenly arrived and spooked the roosting waders.It didn't take any prey and moved on to harry the town pigeons. I managed one quick shot as it sped by.It had been a very nice session with the camera and with pleasant weather for a change.Hope you enjoy the oystercatcher and fox images above and thanks for looking in.Hope to post images and an account of recent visits to the wader roost at Hoylake in Cheshire very soon.  

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Pennington Flash

This week I visited Pennington Flash Country Park.I had only visited once before many years ago and remembered the Bunting Hide which was full of birds coming to the many feeders put out for them.I thought this would be a good spot to spend a few hours as the weather forecast was not good and the various hides would provide shelter.
It was not far from the car park to the Bunting Hide and indeed there were many birds on show.In fact it was difficult knowing where to point the lens to get the best images. The light was not good but a higher ISO to give faster shutter speeds should produce the results.I had an hour or so before returning to the car for lunch  and took plenty of shots of the different species on show.The star bird for me at Pennington is the bullfinch and this is probably one of the best places in the North West to photograph this shy and elusive bird.There were also plenty of the commoner birds,blue tits,great tits,long tailed tits,robins etc to photograph.

After lunch I returned for another session in the Bunting Hide and there was a non stop procession of birds coming to the feeders.A couple of great spotted woodpeckers also put in an appearance and despite the very wet conditions I managed a few respectable images of these striking birds.Heavy rain continued for around an hour and after it had stopped I was able to have a quick look at some of the other hides.
Surprisingly one of the staff came to lock the hides just after 3pm and I was thinking of the journey home.
On the way back I met a couple who told me of the whereabouts of a sleepy fox.I found the fox and was able to take some images before it went back to sleep.This was a nice way to end an interesting visit to somewhere different and I am sure a return visit is on the cards in the months ahead.Thanks for looking in and hopefully following my visit to The Wirral this weekend I will have more tales to tell.