Saturday, 29 January 2011

Starling Roost....Leighton Moss

This week I paid a couple of visits to the R.S.P.B. reserve at Leighton Moss. The weather has been settled although still on the cold side. It has been bright with some good sunny spells providing good conditions for photography. My first visit on Wednesday with Mike was very quiet birdwise and it was strange to see the salt marsh pools adjoining the Allen and Morecambe pools almost devoid of birds.
We then visited the Public Hide and causeway area and again it was fairly quiet apart from numbers of coot and other associated waterfowl. We adjourned to the cafe for a warming cup of hot chocolate and then made our way along the road which overlooks Island Mere and awaited the arrival of the evening starling roost.Around 4.30pm they began to arrive in ever increasing numbers and for the next half hour or so gave us some thrilling views as they performed their aerobatics before settling down in the reedbeds.
For my second visit I was alone and had decided to try and photograph the birds from an elevated position up above the causeway.The farmer at Grisedale farm allowed me to go into his fields and hopefully I would get a different angle on the birds as they came into roost. However the starlings had different ideas and chose to roost at the opposite end of Leighton Moss near to Crag Foot. There didn't seem to be as many birds as previously but they did fly around in formation for twenty minutes or so.I was able to obtain some distant but interesting shots as the starlings performed against a backdrop of an orange sky as the sun sank rapidly in the west.
I have shown above some of the images I was able to obtain and hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I did in taking them. I am not sure how much longer these displays will last but if any of my readers have not witnessed a starling roost I urge you to make the effort as you will definitely not be disappointed by this amazing show put on by Nature for our delight.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

In And Out Of The Fog

Martin picked me up Friday a.m for a trip to see a high tide wader roost at Southport. The weather on leaving Preston was promising with blue skies and sunshine. As we arrived at Marshside a wall of fog greeted us and all of a sudden things didn't look good. We made the decision to carry on and make the walk out to the wader roost about a mile from the car park. Over the next few days there was a series of ten metre tides which usually concentrates the waders along this stretch of coastline and provides great opportunities for observing and photographing the thousands of waders that are very often present.
As we arrived at the roost area we could see some birds through the mirk and gloom and could only hope that the sun would burn off the fog. At times the sun was just visible but always seemed to lose the battle and the fog prevailed. Even so we did have some views of vast flocks of birds as they were disturbed by a dog walker and we did manage to grab a few images in the poor light. As the tide dropped back we decided to retreat back to the car. Driving back past Marshside we could see good numbers of waterfowl out on the marsh and decided to have a look.
It was a good decision as there were lots of ducks in front of Nel's Hide and we had the comfort of the hide to enjoy the spectacle. The light was still not good but from time to time it briefly improved to give us opportunities to photograph the pintail, wigeon ,teal and gadwall which were on show. It was very enjoyable for a time and both Martin and myself were kept busy trying for action shots of the many birds present. As we came out of the hide the fog was thickening up again but as we joined the main road home we were back into blue skies and sunshine again. Such is the unpredictability of our weather. We had however enjoyed the day out and had managed to return home with something to show for our efforts. The results of our day out in the fog are shown above, a couple from the wader roost showing some of the vast numbers of birds present and a few from in front of Nel's Hide at Marshside.

Whoopers and Bramblings

Still a cold and very frosty week with some persistent fog towards the end of the week. Winter hasn't yet lost it's grip and I don't think there will be much improvement for a while. I did manage to get out though with the camera and caught up with some birds I hadn't seen for sometime. I hadn't visited Martin Mere for many a moon and I spent a couple of enjoyable afternoons there and enjoyed lovely sunny weather.
The whooper swans are always a delight to watch and I tried a few different hides to try for some nice flight shots as well as shots of the swans at feeding time from the Swan Link hide. I was quite well pleased with the results and some of my efforts are shown above. Bramblings have apparently been around for some time at Martin Mere and I joined other photographers in the Janet Kear Hide where a few bramblings visited the feeders from time to time. It was not easy to get the birds posing on nearby branches but I did eventually manage one or two reasonable images of these Scandanavian visitors. It would be nice to see the male birds in their wonderful full breeding colours but they still looked splendid in their bright orange outfits. Again my efforts are shown above.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Off To A Good Start

Christmas and New Year were now behind us and I was looking forward to a return to normality. I seemed to have been in hibernation for weeks but a good forecast for Tuesday this week got me going again. Two birds I had not made the effort to see around Christmas were the Red Necked Grebe at Fairhaven Lake and the Iceland Gull at Preston Docks. Tuesday afternoon was looking good as forecast, so after an early lunch I left for Lytham St Annes.
It was indeed a lovely day and the temperature was reaching the dizzy heights of 7 Degrees and it almost felt Springlike as I arrived at Fairhaven Lake. The Red Necked Grebe was soon seen as it swam about at the eastern end of the lake close to the car park. There were three other long lenses trained on the grebe,two photographers from The Wirral and local bird photographer Michael Foley. For the next hour or so we were treated to some very nice views of this rare visitor to Lancashire.The Grebe at one point was fascinated by a swan's feather which it played with for five minutes or more and gave opportunities for some interesting shots. The very strong sunlight did make photography difficult at times when looking into the sun but it was a splendid session and we were all well pleased with the results.
On the way home I called at Preston Docks to look for the Iceland Gull which has spent many weeks at this location. There were no other birders there but I did manage eventually to find the bird out on one of the pontoons.It did later fly to my side of the dock and gave me some nice flight shots in the lovely afternoon sun. Well satisfied with my afternoon's work I returned home to view the results on the computer. A good start to the New Year and hopefully many more good birds will be seen and photographed in the months to follow. A few images of the Red Necked Grebe and a male Shoveler at Fairhaven are shown in and amongst some lovely reflections on the water surface . The Iceland Gull at the Docks also shows off his plumage on what was a very nice and welcome sunny day .

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Still Looking Back.

Just a few more of my favourite images from a busy year in 2010 with the camera. I will be back soon with some new images when the weather cheers up a bit and I am able to get out and about again. See you soon.

Looking Back...Personal Favourites

Thought I would start the New Year by looking back at a few of my favourite images from a busy year in 2010 with the camera. Not an easy task from the thousands I took through the year. It was a very interesting year with very wintry weather to begin and end the year. My two most memorable experiences were a visit to a black grouse lek in the Northern Pennines and to end the year a close encounter with a fox in the snow at Christmas.
I am looking forward to more memorable encounters with the British Wildlife in 2011. I would like to wish all my friends and followers of this blog a Happy and Healthy New Year.The images are a mix of mammals and birds and may possibly require another posting. I have included Red, Roe and Fallow Deer..Red Squirrel and Red Fox for the mammals. The birds show Goldfinch, Barn Owl, Waxwing, Golden Plover, Black Grouse, Long Eared Owl, Dunlin, Sanderling and a Curlew chick. Thanks everyone for looking in and I will be back soon with new images for the New Year.