Friday, 18 January 2019

January 2019 Otter causing great excitement at Slimbridge WWT

I was making my way to the car from the hides at Slimbridge WWT and at the exit there were a few people with binoculars looking intently up the small stream that you pass over to get to the car park.  Someone had said that he had seen an otter.  He said he heard it "Calling" squeaking first and then caught a glimpse of it.  We waited there for a short while and soon enough there was a wake in the water and it was swimming straight towards us, as we stood on the bridge.  It was really exciting as this was only the second ever wild otter I have ever seen.  It always seems to take an age when you have to un-pack your camera in these circumstances!

The crowd soon got larger as the news got around and it seemed to be most of the staff from the WWT.  The wardens were concerned that it was heading towards the collection pens where it would obviously cause a great deal of havoc.
It swam right under the bridge and was only a metre or so away at times.
That was one of the wild life encounters that I will never forget and I am sure it will be a big talking point around the reserve the next few days.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

January 2019 Sometimes you get lucky - Beautiful Male Bullfinch

Most of bird and wildlife photography takes quite hard work and a lot of patience.  There are often trips where you come home with no results at all.  It is the challenges that keep most of us like minded people going to try and capture that moment.  This beautiful Bullfinch was quite the opposite.  I could see him from my backdoor and wondered if I would have time to get the camera out before he flew off.
  I thought I would give it a go.  He just stayed there feeding on the shoots where the blackbirds had eaten off the berries. I was so pleased to creep out into the garden and get some results.

enjoying his meal

I was really pleased when he started to hang upside down and gave me so more interesting poses to capture.

Acrobatics for a meal
They are really beautiful birds, and in my opinion one of the most colourful birds resident in the UK.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

New Year January 2019 Third time lucky - Crossbills in the Forest of Dean

This was my first birding "expedition" of the new year.  I set off with a nice sunny morning forecast.  I have been informed and read that they have to drink regularly and also that they are faithful to their drinking puddles.  I had been down looking for them but on rainier days and they did not show at all.
As the sun rose for the first hour there were a few birds around but no sign of the Crossbills.
This Pied Wagtail made a great distraction while I was waiting.

Confiding Pied Wagtail

 After what seemed an age and I was beginning to loose heart, this female made a short appearance.

Female Common Crossbill

Then about twenty minutes before I had to leave, a group of males came down for a drink

Always thirsty
A handsome male
They are really great birds to see and a real forest specialist.  Its great when a plan comes together and you get a result!  I have been told by a birding friend that their bills cross over in different directions on different birds.  I must look this up!  Happy New Year to all my birding and wildlife watching friends.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

December 2018 Wildlife year ends with a Short Eared Owl festival.

Always a great way to end the year watching the beautiful Short Eared Owls quartering the grassland.  Once they are on the wing the whole atmosphere changes to excitement.  They have gone down will they get up on the wing again?  How many are there? Will they come closer and when the light is good?  Will I manage to lock on and get the image?  It is so adrenalin filled and I just love them.

Hunting intensely

In the grassland environment

Eyes left

That was a great end to a special wildlife year.  I for one will not complain if 2019 starts off in the same way!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

December 2018 Came across a Hen Harrier with a Radio Transmitter on it

I was really excited to get sight of this Harrier even though it always stayed at quite a distance.  I was surprised when I looked closely at the images to see that it had a radio transmitter ariel on its back.  The local birder community were very helpful and interested to help find the origins of this bird that has paid us a visit to the North Cotswold Hills.  I am looking forward to getting to know more about this particular beauty.

What beauty

Come on turn right and get closer!

These are one of the most graceful raptors as they quarter the grasslands flying so slowly and buoyantly.  They are truly special birds and I just love every sighting I get.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

December 2018 A couple of hours with secretive (Allegedly) Water Rails

It was really great to spent a few hours sat in a hide watching Water Rails scurry about.  They come out gingerly and walk along little set routes along the reed edges.  They seem to get quite confiding, but any sign of danger they disappear quickly into the reeds with a dart for cover.  Moorhens seem to be their nemesis and always race at them to chase them away.  They even seem to deliberately block their paths sometimes.

Stepping towards me

Water Rail
 From the Willow Hide at Slimbridge WWT they seem to have actually become quite tame and if you have an hour to spare you are almost guaranteed to see them.
This left me with a thought, no matter how rare and secretive a bird or animal is, I bet there is always somewhere where they have become habituated and used to human presence.  This gives great opportunities to obtain images that would otherwise be out of reach!

Friday, 23 November 2018

November 2018 A sunny forecast so time for a Landrover Safari

The weather has been a bit murky lately, so when I woke up with bright sunshine through the curtains I knew it was time for an early morning trip in my Landrover to see what was about.  I had a great morning.  Some of the common birds were about but they seemed to be posing nicely.

Great Tit

Blue Tit
They were beautiful to catch up with even though they are quite familiar.

This Great Spotted woodpecker caught my eye as it landed down on this trunk.  I knew it was there but it seemed to spend an age out of sight around the far side of the trunk.  I even wondered for a minute whether it had flow off as I got down to look through my viewfinder.  Eventually it popped its head up allowing to me to quickly capture this image.

 Heading up the hill one of my favourite birds was sat on a thorn bush.  I was so pleased when it took no notice of the Landrover and allowed me to stop and get the window down.  I put my bean bag on the glass to steady the camera and began getting some images.  It seem oblivious to my presence.

Juicy work lunch
It dropped down on a worm and flew back up to devour it.  I had to reflect on how resourcefull they have to be as the winter comes on. Being flexible with their feeding must really help them survive in hard times.

I really enjoyed the proximity to the Kestrel and it made my morning, but on the way down to home a few Roe deer were out to complete my little foray.

A buck enjoying remaining greenery 

Roe Deer Doe
That was my sort of morning.  Now back for breakfast!