Monday, 29 February 2016

Owls and Geese

Last week we enjoyed some wonderful weather.At last the strong winds and rain had gone away and frosty mornings and blue skies were the order of the day.These were ideal conditions for photographing and observing barn owls.Recently the owls have been hunting regularly in the afternoons and it provided excellent conditions for the camera with good light. I visited one of my regular locations near Pilling where the barn owls were out hunting most days.During the week I made four visits and took many images of the action.

As well as the barn owls I had excellent views of a field full of pinkfooted geese on my way home.They were close to the road and made for some nice images in the late afternoon sun.Other photographers were present and it was good to be in the excellent company of my good friend Paul Foster who thoroughly enjoyed himself with the camera.We all filled the memory cards with images and some of my better efforts are shown below.I will post a follow up account and will include more barn owl images plus images of a large flock of starlings.The starlings made an appearance on one of the afternoons and made for some dramatic shots as they flew around the area.Thanks for looking in and stay tuned for more action from the owls etc.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Pilling Barn Owls

The weather this week has again been up and down.Currently very wet again and here for the weekend !! However during the week I did manage a couple of trips out and was once more on the trail of barn owls.Barn owls have been showing particularly well during daylight hours taking advantage of the drier interludes.The weather was sunny and dry during my visits and was ideal for photography.

I had decided to visit the Pilling area of Lancashire where I had found three sites where barn owls were active.The owls played hide and seek with me for a while. One in particular which had been posing beautifully on a roadside fence post flew off as I carefully approached in the car.Eventually I found an area where a couple of barn owls were quartering an area of rough grassland.I left the car and positioned myself on the edge of the field and awaited the arrival of the owls.

Another photographer was already in position and we enjoyed some excellent opportunities for the cameras as the owls returned to hunt in the very pleasant late afternoon sunshine.On the way back I called in at another location and again was lucky to see the barn owl on a post and managed more shots as it took off and headed home. I too headed home after an excellent session with the barn owls.I will return next week when once again midweek the forecast looks promising.Some of my efforts are shown below and I will return soon with probably more barn owl images.They are a super bird to observe and photographing them at times does become addictive.Thanks for looking in and enjoy the weekend.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

High Tide Wader Roost

The weather this last week has at last settled down. There has still been some rain but the heavy and prolonged rain and gales have at last gone away. The better weather coincided with some very high tides along the Lancashire coastline so I decided on a long overdue visit to a wader roost. One of my favourite areas to watch these large gatherings of waders is along the sandy coast near Southport.The high tide was due around lunchtime and I was in position about an hour before high water.

There was plenty of activity as the birds were coming and going along the coastline heading for their favourite roosting areas.Large distant flocks of knot could be seen in the sky with a background of wind turbines out in Liverpool Bay.Nearer to hand were many thousands of knot and oystercatchers which had settled down as high water approached.I was able to approach the birds without any disturbance,this coastline often attracts dog walkers who always seem to disturb the  large wader flocks.Perhaps they don't realise how important it is for the birds to rest and conserve energy to prepare for feeding activity once their feeding grounds are uncovered again.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself with the camera and took many images the best of which can be seen below.As the tide rapidly retreated a large carpet of resting knot were still on the sands.By carefully approaching I was able to get some nice images of the densely packed flock of birds.Eventually they gradually moved further out onto the sands and I decided to leave having enjoyed a wonderful session with the waders.The super almost springlike weather was a bonus with blue skies for most of the time.Thanks for looking in and hopefully the better weather is here to stay and Spring is on the way.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Hawks and Curlews

It has been yet another dull and dismal week weatherwise.The arrival of Atlantic weather systems has continued with yet more wind and rain.I did manage a run out to the Cockerham and Pilling area looking for the Bewick's swans that had been reported.On that trip the wind was exceptionally strong and what birds there were well scattered or hunkered down trying to avoid the worst of the weather.The one bright note was the presence of a large flock of curlews out from Cockerham Sands caravan park.

It was one of the biggest gatherings of curlews that I have seen.I did a very rough estimate of around 1200 birds.Other observers had estimated around 1400 or possibly two thousand birds. Whatever the number it was an impressive sight.I tried to capture the scene with the camera and my efforts are shown below.I missed the shot where all the birds were in the air together but hopefully my images convey some idea as to the very large numbers of birds.I have just read in "The Birds of Lancashire" that 7,500 were present at Cockersands on 26 August 2002!!

As for the sparrowhawk,this fine male has made a couple of appearances in my garden recently.I managed to grab the camera before it departed and was well pleased with my efforts.Hopefully next week will bring some better weather and some much needed sunshine.The trees and flowers are certainly responding to the mild weather with the blackthorn in blossom and daffodils in bloom.Thanks for looking in and hopefully the better weather is not too far away.