Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Bank Holiday Dotterel

The very warm and sunny weather we have recently enjoyed continued into the Easter weekend. It was that time of the year when dotterel pass through Lancashire on their way to breeding grounds in Scotland very often pausing to rest and feed on some of the higher hill tops. Pendle Hill has always been a favourite stopping off spot for dotterel but other hills are also used and so it turned out over the Easter weekend. Dotterel had been reported from Pendle but a trip of five birds had also appeared on Fairsnape Fell, not far away from Pendle and part of the Bleasdale Fells near to Chipping.
So it was that I left early for the hike up to Fairsnape Fell via Parlick Pike above the village of Chipping. It was indeed a magnificent morning with still some mist in the valleys but the sun was up and it was looking like another warm and sunny day. It was a hard pull up onto Fairsnape Fell but I eventually made it and immediately met up with three other birders/photographers on the summit. The dotterel were still there but on my arrival decided to fly off. Two birds were quickly relocated and we managed some nice close up shots before they flew off again. They had flown off down the southern slope of the fell and Ian returned to tell me his wife and Gary had refound the birds.
I made my way down again and after recovering from a spell of feeling unwell I was back in business photographing the dotterel which were very approachable and provided endless opportunities for the cameras. Gary,Ian and his wife left me to it but I was soon joined by three other photographers and once again we had excellent close up views of these fabulous birds. There was a trip of five birds ,two brightly coloured females and three duller looking but still very handsome males.
After taking many hundreds of images of the very confiding dotterel I decided it was time to make the long hike back to the car and enjoy the wonderful scenery on the way. It had indeed been a wonderful experience to spend time with these beautiful birds which in a few days time will probably be on their Scottish breeding grounds on the tops of the Cairngorm mountains. I have shown above a few images from the day but may have to post more later so I can share them with my readers. It was one of those red letter days long to be remembered when I am no longer able to make it to the high tops beloved of dotterel.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Waders and Wheatears

Last week I visited the Lancashire Coast at Southport to witness the wader roost as it coincided with a very high tide of over ten metres. The weather was more summerlike with temperatures into the seventies but on the coast it was pleasant with cooling sea breezes and it turned out to be a wonderful session with many thousands of waders present on this stretch of the Lancashire coastline.
The vast majority of the birds were dunlin and knot and the flocks of knot were very impressive as they were pushed along the coast by the advancing high tide. Often on these big tides the birds rest and sleep but on this occasion they were feeding non stop no doubt taking advantage of the excellent weather and preparing for the long flights to the breeding grounds in the High Arctic. It was a fabulous spectacle and at the peak of the tide some of the dunlin came very close allowing some nice portraits as they continued to feed unconcerned by my presence.
All to soon the birds dispersed to other areas as more of their feeding grounds were exposed by the rapidly falling tide and soon they were well out of range of the camera but I had enjoyed a wonderful spectacle and I wished the waders well on their long journeys to their far away breeding grounds. On the way back along the coast I now had time to photograph the numerous wheatears I had seen posing nicely and just begging to have their photographs taken. The wheatears were newly arrived on the Lancashire Coast from their African wintering quarters and were feeding up prior to their departure for breeding areas in the hills of Northern England.
What a wonderful experience it had been and I hope the few images I have selected above convey some of the spectacle I enjoyed on what was also a wonderful day weatherwise .It is weather that looks like continuing for some time yet and will encourage me to get out and about with the camera in the coming weeks and hopefully post some more images from my wanderings Meantime hope my readers continue to enjoy my postings and I look forward to your comments.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Comings and Goings

The weather has improved dramatically this week.It is more like summer as I write this with clear blue skies and very warm. I have therefore managed a couple of trips this week and returned with some images from a busy coast and countryside. My first trip was to the Lancashire Coast at Rossall Point to observe the waders over a high tide. The usual sanderlings were present and will soon be departing for breeding grounds in Northern Europe. One or two dunlin were with them and I have shown above the sanderlings warming up for their long flight and a dunlin coming into it's lovely breeding plumage. The highlight of my visit to Rossall was super close up views of a wheatear newly arrived from it's wintering quarters in Africa. On the way home I had a look in the Cockerham area and I was delighted to watch brown hares cavorting in the fields and some of them were leaping for joy as they enjoyed the fine weather.
My second trip of the week was to the Bowland area hoping for sightings of hen harriers but I was unlucky.I was pleased however to see a pair of stonechats on territory. Stonechats have not done well recently in Bowland and have also suffered with the severe Winter we experienced so it was nice to see this pair at home on the fells. I briefly had sightings of a group of the Greenland race of wheatears but the images I took were poor and when I returned later in the day they had moved on. The fells generally were quiet and only a handful of curlews and lapwings were on territory and I only had very brief sightings of red grouse.It is possibly just a touch to early yet for the high fells but I will return soon to this magnificent part of Lancashire. A small selection of images from the week are shown above with sanderling ,brown hares,stonechats and the splendid close up wheatear to round of a splendid week at this lovely time of the year.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Love Is In The Air

On the day the earth moved.. (there was a minor earthquake in the Blackpool area).. I visited a local Nature Reserve where the Great Crested Grebes have been showing well as they go about their courtship. It was a cool and windy day but this didn't deter the grebes as they went about their preparations for the forthcoming nesting season. I spent about four hours or so in a hide overlooking the nesting area and from time to time was rewarded with some intimate portraits of these very elegant and beautiful birds.
As usual I took many images and have selected a few above showing the action on and around the nest site. Also present were goldeneye and little grebe which may be the subject of a future posting. It was a privilege to witness these intimate moments and I will soon return to watch the progress of this beautiful pair of Great Crested Grebes.