Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Beautiful Bowland

Recently I have made a few visits to Bowland to catch up with the wildlife.One of the visits was with good friend Paul Foster.We went on safari to one of the more remote areas of Bowland specifically to look for whinchats and stonechats.Paul had done a recce earlier and was confident we would be able to get some nice images of the moorland chats.It proved quite difficult especially as whinchats seemed to be very thin on the ground.We found half a dozen or so stonechats but they were always distant and I only managed a record shot of one in typical pose on the bracken.Later in the day we were lucky and found a nice whinchat posing within camera range and many images were taken of this bonny bird.As well as the birds we also saw a golden ringed dragonfly and a painted lady butterfly and Paul almost stepped on an adder. All in all an excellent day out in the wilds of Bowland.

Since that visit I have returned a few times to Bowland to photograph the magnificent scenery.Images of this lovely part of Lancashire are shown below.As well as the scenery I also managed to find another stonechat posing in the evening sunshine and got some nice close ups of the many meadow pipits that were busy feeding young in and amongst the bracken covered hillside.The highlight however of my visits was the sighting of a fabulous hobby.The hobby is a bird that is increasing its range northwards in response to a warming climate and is now established in a few areas of Lancashire.I was lucky to lock on to the hobby as it sped past in it's quest for prey on the open fellside and managed some reasonable record images of this rare encounter shown below.I will be keeping a check on this part of Bowland as I suspect the hobby is nesting in the area and I would love to have further encounters with this special little falcon. Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon with more from my wildlife encounters.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Orchids,Avocets and an Ibis

Last week I paid a visit to the RSPB reserve at Marshside.As usual the Sandgrounders hide was busy with noisy black headed gulls and the many youngsters that were now in various stages of development. I decided to move on to Nel's hide where the avocets would be on show.Just after leaving Sandgrounders hide I found numbers of bee orchids along the side of the path.They were at their very best and the camera was kept busy recording these delightful blooms.On arrival at Nel's hide I found I had it to myself and I settled down to enjoy an afternoon of peaceful birdwatching.

The hoped for avocets were scattered around and most of the birds had youngsters close by.As usual with the avocets any intruder was swiftly despatched away from the young birds.The birds were constantly on guard and were quick to intercept and react with any invaders of their territory.A family party of shovelers were a constant target for the avocets although they posed no real threat to the young birds. A pair of mute swans which ventured too close were also sent on their way.It was wonderful to watch the adult avocets protecting their offspring and hopefully they will all survive and fledge in due course.

Another visitor to this part of the reserve was a glossy ibis.This particular bird had been around for a while and was an attraction for birders to add to their year lists.During my stay at Nel's a number of birders came in to see the ibis when it returned to feed out on the marsh.Another good bird that from time to time showed well was the reed warbler that came up onto the reeds briefly before diving down again.It posed long enough for me to obtain some nice images of this summer visitor.The ibis returned mid afternoon and I got some nice record shots as it fed and preened.The visiting birders and myself all went away happy after a super session at Marshside.Hope you enjoy some of my images from the day shown below.Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon with more from what is currently a busy time with the camera.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Away Days...Cumbria

Over the last few weeks taking advantage of the warm and settled weather,I have made a few trips into Cumbria.It was a nice change from my usual Lancashire haunts.I have been to Hay Nature Reseve,Foulney Island,Esthwaite Water and St.Bees Head.Hay Nature Reserve is a secluded reserve in the Rusland Valley and is home to a very rich fauna and flora.The four first images below show some of the diversity to be found at this very special place.The mute swan family were enjoying one of the tarns at Hay.The pied flycatcher was nesting in a nest box close to the boardwalk and close by were a number of the very rare coralroot orchid.This is the tiniest orchid I have seen and I didn't have the right lenses for an image.The male broad bodied chaser dragonfly was also spotted nearby.The red deer herd of hinds and young deer were relaxing in the warm afternoon sun.

Foulney Island is next and is home to many eider duck.A few little terns also nest on the island and I was pleased to grab an image as one flew close by in it's quest for small fish on the receding tide.This tern and sandwich and arctic terns also breed on Foulney .During the breeding season access is restricted and a warden is present to protect the terns.I have shown a little tern and eider duck in flight in the images below.

Ospreys have been doing well in the southern Lakes over the past few years and a nice population is now building up.I visited a well known location at Esthwaite Water where the ospreys are using a platform nest on the shore of the lake.It is not possible to approach the area and it has to be viewed from across the lake.Shown below is a record shot of the platform atop a prominent scots pine tree.On my visit it was nice to see the birds feeding two,possibly three,tiny chicks.I have also shown record shots from a previous visit when the male osprey flew across the lake towards me.

Finally below are images from my visit to St. Bees Head in west Cumbria. This part of the Cumbria coast has some splendid sandstone cliffs which are home to many seabirds.It is quite a walk to reach the cliffs but well worth it for the stunning views of the birds and the many flowers which adorn the cliffs.The RSPB provide viewing areas where one can look down at the thousands of birds on the sandstone ledges.These are mostly guillemots but a few kittiwakes and fulmars are also present.Hope you have enjoyed this week's account from my travels into Cumbria and I will be back soon.Thanks for looking in.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Summer Sanderling

We are currently enjoying some wonderful warm and sunny weather.After the very wet winter months it is most welcome.Nature has responded and everything is looking at it's very best.Recently I made a couple of visits to one of my favourite locations at Rossall Point.I always enjoy a visit to Rossall as it enables me to get some nice close up images of the waders which spend most of the winter months at Rossall.The sanderling is present throughout the winter months and is a lovely bird to photograph and observe as it chases the waves looking for food.

At this time of the year in early June many of the waders have already departed for the breeding grounds in the far north.These Arctic breeding grounds provide twenty four hours of daylight and are rich in insect life.The birds will be very busy when they reach these remote parts of the globe.Whilst still on our shores they are fattening up for the long journey ahead and some of the birds will be sporting their breeding finery.

So it was at Rossall that I was treated to some wonderful close up views of mainly sanderling with a few dunlin.All the birds were showing their summer plumages and looked very different from the birds I had seen during the winter months.One or two of the sanderling in particular were sporting full breeding plumage and provided me with some great opportunities for portraits of these lovely birds.I hope you enjoy my images below of the sanderling and dunlin at Rossall. Thanks for looking in and I will of course be out and about enjoying the wonderful weather to bring you more from my travels.