Saturday, 31 March 2012

Seeing Red

This last week has seen some wonderful weather countrywide with temperatures way above the normal.It has indeed been more like Summer than Spring and I took full advantage with a number of trips out. I spent most of the time in the Bowland Forest area of Lancashire photographing the early signs of Spring and looking for adders and dippers. I was lucky with my first sighting of a female adder and some nice images of a pair of dippers near Dunsop Bridge.More about these excursions will follow in a later posting. I am posting some more images of red grouse as I have seen many birds over the course of the last week.A couple of walks up Clougha Fell provided some memorable sightings of red grouse on their breeding territory. Clougha is a wonderful little rocky fell which overlooks the western coast of Lancashire and provides views to the Lakeland fells. It is also covered in heather on it's upper slopes which is the natural habitat of the red grouse.The cock grouse were obvious as they stood on guard over their chosen parts of the fell and provided nice opportunities as they posed on top of nearby rocky outcrops. The females were for the most part concealed in the heather and moorland grasses but did occasionally show themselves. I particularly like the images of the hen grouse as the show the wonderful cryptic colouration of the plumage which conceals them so well from any predators. I hope you enjoy the images of the grouse on their breeding territories on the western rocky flank of Clougha and eventually I may post more. I do have however have many other images of the Bowland wildlife to publish and as mentioned above my next posting will probably be about the adders and dippers it was my good fortune to see this last week. Thanks for looking in and enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Grouse and Grebes

This last week has been excellent for getting out and about with the camera.At long last we have had some bright and sunny weather for a change. Signs of Spring are very much with us as temperatures soar into the teens and nature responds with feverish activity.

I have concentrated this week on two species namely Great Crested Grebe and Red Grouse.I have been fortunate to locate a pair of grebes nesting on a local nature reserve and have spent many hours observing the comings and goings around the nest site.I have also made a couple of treks to a local grouse moor to observe the numerous grouse now on territory and providing many wonderful opportunities for the camera.

I have shown above a very small selection of images obtained but many more will be uploaded in due course. The grouse in particular were very approachable and I managed to fill the memory card with some memorable shots and was well pleased with my week's work. The good weather is set to continue and I will no doubt be off again to add yet more images to the portfolio.Thanks for looking in and keep tuned for many more of the same.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Farewell Shorties

It has been a good winter for observing and photographing short eared owls. There seem to have been good numbers throughout the country and Lancashire has seen reasonable numbers. These sightings presumably have been linked to a good supply of voles which constitute the main food item of these wonderful birds.

West and South Lancashire has fared best but few have been seen in the Pilling area of North Lancashire which three winters ago hosted good numbers and photographers flocked to the area to record the event.I have joined in this winter's invasion visiting sites on the mosslands of south and west Lancashire where on the right day the shorties have performed well for the camera.

I made what will probably be my last visit at the end of last month and enjoyed a wonderful display as the owls enjoyed perfect hunting conditions with little or no wind and a warm and very welcome afternoon of Spring sunshine. Mike and I had first visited Marshside RSPB as mentioned in a previous post. From there we travelled further south as we had heard that barn owls had been showing well but were nicely surprised to find the short eared owls instead.I have shown a selection of many images taken that day and these will probably be the last of the shortie shots as they will soon be returning to their breeding haunts on the moorlands of Northern England.

Hope you enjoy my selection and I look forward to more memorable sessions photographing these fabulous birds in seasons to come.Thanks for looking and next time I will be posting an account of time spent recently with great crested grebes when I was fortunate to obtain images of the famous weed dance .

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Marshside Reflections

I am not quite ready to post the owl shots as promised in my last blog. A lot of images to choose from and a little work required before they are ready for blogging. In the meantime a few images from a recent visit to Marshside RSPB when the calm conditions and the presence of hundreds of wildfowl provided some nice photographic opportunities.

Mike and I were on our way further south to look for owls but spent time in Nel's hide watching the comings and goings of the many hundreds of wildfowl. The calm conditions and closeness of some of the birds gave me some nice opportunities for reflection shots. I was reasonably pleased with the results and have posted some of the results above.

Mike and I later went looking for barn owls but instead we found a number of short eared owls hunting an area where they have now been present for many weeks.I don't think they will be around for very much longer so I took full advantage of this opportunity.I am still processing the images but will post some very soon. Thanks again for looking in and have a nice weekend.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Elusive Birds

As mentioned in my previous post I had excellent views of bittern and water rail on my recent visits to Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve. Neither of these birds is easy to see and even more difficult to photograph. I struck lucky however and managed some excellent images of both these birds.

I have already posted some images of the bittern but make no apologies for showing a few more together with a couple of the water rail. It has been an excellent week for photography with better weather and these normally very shy and elusive birds performing well for the camera. Opportunities like this don't come along very often so I hope my readers enjoy looking at a few more bittern images.

My next posting will possibly be another one showing yet more short eared owl shots taken at the end of last month.These birds will not be around much longer and I was pleased to see them hunting in excellent conditions and obtained some nice images for the portfolio. Watch this space and thanks very much for looking.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Out Of Hiding

I returned to Mere Sands Wood this week hoping for better views of the bitterns that have been residing there for a number of weeks. The bitterns have at times been elusive but at other times have showed well to the assembled watchers and photographers.I have made four visits and have not had good views until this week.

On a previous visit my camera had packed in and I had to return early. Fortunately the lens was still ok but there appeared to be some problem with the shutter mechanism and the camera has had to go away for repairs. I am lucky enough to have another camera body and so I returned to Mere Sands Wood hoping for a chance at some decent shots of the bittern.

The Rufford hide was still busy with hopeful photographers but prior to my arrival one of the two bitterns present had departed to a nearby area and was not visible. The other bittern was in it's usual place close to the hide but well concealed in dense cover. It did show briefly and I got some nice portraits in the very nice afternoon sunshine. I spotted the other bittern returning to the area where it has previously shown well. All the big lenses were now trained on the bird as it made it's way slowly down to the water's edge and began to come nearer to the hide.

There was much excitement in the hide as the rapid fire of camera shutters followed the bittern's progress towards us. It gave some lovely views to all present as it picked it's way across the open area and once more vanished into the reeds. It had been a wonderful experience to watch this normally very elusive bird show off the wonderful markings of it's plumage which conceal it so very well in it's reedbed habitat.

Some of the many images I took are shown above and more will be posted later together with shots of a water rail ,another elusive bird which also showed well on a different part of the reserve.I hope my readers enjoy the account and images of the bittern which finally came out of hiding to delight those fortunate to be present on a lovely day in early spring. Thanks for looking.