Sunday, 27 February 2011

Deep in Hare Country

Went looking for hares since so far we've not had fab success in photographing them. Ended up deep in hare country and couldn't move for them. Pictures say more here I think....

....Added a few more. We're bogged down suddenly with hare photos!

Bad Ducks at Leighton Moss

We arrived at Leighton Moss to find a drama unfolding in the car park. A female duck was being targeted by a number of drakes that had failed to find a mating partner. Most mallards will mate for life, but this is what can happen to the ones that are left out.

As you can see, it was a pretty ugly scene, and just goes to show that the mating season isn't just about colourful displays and elaborate courting rituals.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Marsh Harriers and loved up geese

Mild and sunny(ish) yesterday so headed to Leighton Moss where the spring air seems to be getting wildfowl in the mood for love - though they like it rough and ready out there it must be said. Picture attached of one female (at least one hopes its female) who looks well and truly goosed!! The greylags amused by doing frequent victory roles after coupling- literally onto backs with legs waving in the air.
Great excitement when Pants noticed a marsh harrier hunting over the far reed beds. Bigger than the Hen Harrier and with noticeably extended talons making for some dramatic shapes above the reeds. We took some snaps but the hazy woodland back drop and the distance from the bird makes them fairly blurred. We wandered over to Lower Hide next and it was packed. Half term attempts to enthuse the next generation- very noble and it needs to happen but soooo frustrating when we spotted the Marsh Harrier again and couldn't get the close to shots becaus little jimmy and little johnny are sitting in prime place burbling away and playing some game on their mobile phones. They are lucky it wasn't an oter I was trying to photograph or there would have been blood (seemingly I have officially become a cantankerous barren 40 odd year old hag!!)
Ayway despite these frustrations we got a few pictures which at least demonstrate the shape and colour and size of the bird (if not the features) Stunning beastie and we're thrilled to know that chances are on that she will stay at Leighton for summer now.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Quick brown fox

Spent a weekend with the Woods in Wales (Vale of Conwy) Beautiful cottage and a great time- thanks to Tim and Kiran for the treat.
Pants and I arrived early and couldn't access the house so explored the remote and beautiful surroundings high above the River Conwy. It was cold and bleak and very quiet. We stopped at one point to enjoy the view and out the corner of my eye I spotted something running towards us far across the field and made the crazy HARE face. Within seconds it was clearly no such thing but in fact a fox. A big fox and it was running straight towards us. We were somewhat hidden by the hedgerow which gave us an advantage and we took cameras and snapped merrily away as he came closer, rounded a pond and then-for some reason about turned and bounded (I can only describe it as joyfully) right across the field passing afronted but not spooked sheep on the way.
Years ago as a child we used to see foxes sometimes in day light but I haven't seen one for years (Last regularly fox sightings for me were around housing estates and in towns at night) Really lovely to see one in broad daylight in a natural country setting.
Other highlights were the buzzards that circled below eye level (the house being so steeply set over the valley) and who perched for long periods on trees and posts around the property, occasionally, bravely swooping down to scrabble for worms and slugs amongst the mole hills. Oh mighty mighty hunter!!
Nipped up to the coast one day and heard but couldn't photograph Choughs which is a shame. Also comorants and oyster catchers and gulls galore.
Enjoy Mr Fox and also a picture of a gooseander with a little fish in bill- note the serated teeth.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Half Term = Harrier Walk

Yesterday provided us with the best weather we can expect this half term hols so we decied to stride out and do the Hen Harrier Walk again.
Stunning day and within minutes we were coatless and hatless and enjoying some warm rays.
Also great to see lots of early signs of the (pray soon) spring time. Snow drops seem to have emerged in last 10 days or so and are everywhere. Daffodil leaves are up and hopefully next month should see them bloom.
The Whitewell skies were full of the sound of lapwing, curlew and oystercatchers back inland for the spring again. Also saw a couple of goosander, a hare and the ubiquitous kes and buzz. Really nice walk rounded off with a pint of Hen Harrier to make up for the fact that they have well and truly left the vicinity now. (its weeks since we saw one on this stretch)
Off to Conwy tomorrow for a weekend with family so maybe a chance for some new and interesting stuff (RSPB Conwy beckons!)

A lucky escape!

This pheasant had a tale to tell his grandchildren after narrowly missing becoming dinner for this buzzard near Dunsop Bridge!

As ever, double-clicking on the photo lets you see a much larger version.


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Here hare here

Yesterday was pretty dark 'n' dismal but we set out on a safari early before the rain really hit. Wandered over barn owl hill/hen harrier walk but no sign of the HHs and now we regretfully are beginning to suspect they have left for higher ground as is their wont.
Nearer to home we stopped to look for hares. I was snapping a far away curlew in one field and turned to walk towards Pants who had camera at ready over a gate into a field further up. I crept up towards him and he turned to me and did the funniest thing. Now you need to find somewhere private and with a mirror here.... now pretend that you are turning to your pal and emphatically (as though shouting) but with no sound, mouth the word HARE. Take a look at the effect and I think you'll see it is rather daft!! As I crept towards Pants he was making this ridiculous face at me repeatedly - clearly concerned I hadn't understood but increasingly desperate for me to be aware that there was a hare directly in front of him, whilst not disturbing the beastie.
Hares, especially in poor light, are very difficult to shoot- they seem either to lie in and are hard to spot (looking like lumps of grass or mole hills) or they are dashing away from you at huge speeds. This results in the two types of photos above...neither particularly brilliant i must say.
Also a squirrel with a very ratty looking face taken the other day and published here for you to go "Eeew!"

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Stumbling across Roe Deer in a Bowland forest.

We were walking in a small forest near Whitewell when I turned a corner and noticed a brown shape up ahead. I soon realised it was a roe deer with its back to me and so I stood stock still, and started to take photos. It turned and faced me, and looked inquisitive, but apparently couldn't see me and I must have been downwind. For what seemed like ages, it was looking directly at me but didn't move as I kept taking more shots. I took 20 in all. It could hear Jo walking nearby, but couldn't see her as she'd yet to turn the corner.

Suddenly a second roe deer came out of the woods and started to graze. When Jo came into sight, they turned and fled. I was just incredibly lucky that it initially had its back to me and that I was downwind or all I would have had would be a blurry photo of a roe deer's backside.

Barn owl (Location? Barn Owl Hill, of course!)

We'd just packed our cameras away and were driving home when we saw a barn owl hunting. We leapt out of the car after executing a Top Gear-esque brake and stop, and managed to get a few shots before it flew into some woods.


Monday, 14 February 2011

First curlew of the year (at least for us)

We just saw our first curlew of 2011, flying over the car before settling in a field on the side of Longridge Fell. Has anyone else seen any this year?