Thursday, 31 December 2015

A Final Flourish

The very disturbed weather over Northern England and Scotland has continued this week.More heavy rain and gale force winds courtesy of storm Frank have brought more floods and disruption particularly to the Scottish Borders and Northern Ireland.Lancashire escaped the worst of the weather and this gave time to the residents of Croston,Whalley and Ribchester to clean up before the arrival of more bad weather.

There was a lull in the weather on Tuesday and again I took advantage and returned to Lytham Moss where previously I had enjoyed success with the barn owl.On this visit I found the short eared owls were actively hunting and I managed to find a position where I could hopefully photograph them in action.Also on view were a pair of stonechats which posed nicely for me on some nearby brambles. As I was photographing the stonechats I was very surprised to see the arrival of my good friend Bob with Elaine and Dougan the dog.

The short eared owls then appeared close by and I managed some reasonable shots as they quartered the mossland.Later when I put the images on the computer at home, I was thrilled to see that I had captured one of the owls chasing a snipe it had flushed from the marshy ground.As far as I know the snipe evaded capture.I presume this is a prey item the owls will take occasionaly if the opportunity arises. The hoped for barn owl appeared late on as the light was fading but we saw it distantly being mobbed by magpies before vanishing from view. It had however been a super session at Lytham Moss with some lovely images of the stonechats and of the two short eared owls present.This will definitely be my last posting for 2015 as I write this on New Years Eve.I wish my followers and fellow photographers a very happy and healthy 2016.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas Barn Owl

It has been another terrible week of weather with relentless rain and wind. Currently on Boxing Day Lancashire is suffering flooding and the villages of Whalley and Ribchester have been evacuated.It has been the wettest winter on record and the endless weather systems have battered Lancashire and Cumbria.

 Just before Christmas Eve the weather relented briefly and we enjoyed a day of blue skies,little wind and it stayed dry.I took advantage and returned to Lytham Moss hoping for a sighting of the short eared owls  or barn owls that were known to be around.

I met up with Cal a photographer from Blackburn who I had met on a previous visit.Around 2.30pm we spotted a barn owl on the far side of the Moss and we hot footed it round to where the owl was hunting.For the next hour or so we were treated to some wonderful views of this special bird and we enjoyed ourselves filling the memory cards with images.

I have shown below some of my better efforts from the session and you can be sure that I will return if ever this terrible weather goes away.I had been on the trail of a barn owl for many weeks and at last my persistence had paid off.It was a lovely way to begin Christmas and an early present for me.Thanks for looking in and enjoy the rest of the festivities.Normal service will hopefully be resumed early next year.Best wishes for 2016.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

More Of The Same

I am referring to the terrible weather we are still experiencing.It has been another very wet and windy week with the daily arrival of weather systems from the Atlantic.The land is saturated and there is constant run off into the fields and onto the roads and country lanes, which in many places are flooded and much care is needed when out and about.It has not been good either for photography with dark ,dismal and damp conditions for much of the time.

I was however determined to get out and a visit to Martin Mere was fruitful with more images of the whooper swans and the kingfisher, which I saw for the first time from the kingfisher hide.A smart male pochard was also on view from the very smart new Discovery Hide.A brief visit to a local barn owl location also gave me a couple of record shots of a hunting barn owl in the rapidly failing light.The images are shown below and hopefully tomorrow I can get out as the forecast sounds reasonable for a change.If I don't post again before Christmas I wish all my photographer friends and followers a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2016.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Owl and The Ponies

Despite all the recent terrible weather I was determined to get out and see if I could see some short eared owls.So last Friday Mike and I returned to Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve.On the Thursday five shorties plus three barnies had been out hunting despite the miserable dull and depressing weather.It was a better day on Friday but there was a very strong and cold wind blowing across the reserve.Other watchers and photographers were there when we arrived and conditions seemed to be ok.We found shelter along the edge of the woodland overlooking a large part of the reserve.The only birds to show were kestrels and a buzzard.We decided on a move and went to the far side of the reserve near the car park where we understood barn owls would show later.

A number of photographers were present and it was nice to catch up with Steve Dolan who I hadn't seen for a number of years. As we were chatting a short eared owl got up near to where the Exmoor ponies were grazing.The bird hovered nicely close to the ponies which may have possibly disturbed some voles.It dropped into the vegetation and didn't reappear for some time.When it did it soon departed and gave a few more opportunities for the waiting cameras.It had saved the day and made the journey worthwhile.The light was going as we left but we didn't wait for barn owls to appear as it was very cool and we were ready to return home after the long wait for a short eared owl to show.The owls will probably remain for a few more weeks so I must return to see again these wonderful raptors in action.Thanks for looking in and I hope to get out and about again this week.