Sunday, January 27, 2013


Last Sunday was dull and overcast, but as I hadn't been out with my camera for a while, I drove down to Burton marsh to relieve my DSLR withdrawal symptoms; I had to photograph something, anything. I was hoping that there might be a Short-eared Owl quartering the marsh in the late afternoon gloom, or a few thrushes feeding on some berries. There were some Redwings and Fieldfares foraging in a field but they were distant specs in my viewfinder, and there was no sign of any owls. But there was an obliging Kestrel perching on some low bushes and occasionally hovering close to my car. These beautiful birds are not as common as they once were; a casual birder is more likely to see Buzzards perched along motorway verges these days. So I was pleased to see no fewer than six different Kestrels on my short jaunt around south Wirral. Despite the poor light I am pleased with images. I have included a sunny image of a Kestrel taken in March 2011 at Parkgate as a comparison. I also travelled to Leighton Moss again a few weeks ago to watch a starling roost which completely failed to materialise, but I've posted a couple of shots of Robin and Greylag Geese from that visit.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013


My blog profile states that I love cetaceans and like all wildlife lovers there are certain species that get my pulse racing more than others; in the case of whales and dolphins that species has to be Orcas. So when, a few years ago, a holiday company offered day trips to Norway to see this charismatic animal I jumped at the chance. Yes; day trips!
We flew from Manchester at 6 in the morning and a few hours later we were boarding a boat in the famous Tysfjord. Orcas only began visiting this stunning fjord in 1987 when Herring shoals started wintering in the coastal waters. Whale watching trips sprung up overnight, and with an estimated 600 Orcas using the area over the winter months the chances of sighting this species was high. Watching the large flocks of, mostly, Herring Gulls helped us locate first the Herring and then (Wow!) the Orcas! The only downside was the limited amount of daylight hours at the end of November and the lack of any sunlight for photography. But never mind, it was more than worth the effort involved. We saw a least 3 pods each about 20 animals strong of various ages. We witnessed behaviour such as spy-hopping and even a breach but I wasn't quick enough to capture the action with my camera. We also had good sightings of magnificent White-tailed Sea Eagles.
Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, this site is no longer as reliable for Orcas as it was a few years ago. I was very lucky to see them. I have only had one "possible" sighting since in the Bay of Biscay. But my day-trip of a lifetime is, happily, indelibly etched into my memory. 

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Azores Common Dolphins

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Stoatally Amazing (part 2)

Happy New Year to all my readers, and apologies for the lack of recent posts. The last few weeks have been a busy time in work and domestically, not to mention my running injury which has affected my winter training.
Although I've lost a bit if running speed recently, hopefully my hamstring is on the mend. I did manage a 10K race over the festive period and finished in a reasonable time of 39 mins and 11 seconds.
Birding has been a bit restricted too, but I started the New Year with a flourish at Moore Nature Reserve in Cheshire where there was a flock of 9 Waxwings and a "red-head" Smew; and today I saw a stunning male Hen Harrier at Parkgate. Local birding can be very rewarding.
But back to last Summer. I returned to Conway RSPB in June in the hope of seeing the Stoat family. I was not disappointed; these beautiful animals showed well all morning despite the rain and I managed to take a few photographs. There were at least eight young present, and these were fed regularly by their attentive mother. I would love to see them again this year and maybe even the sun will shine.

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Stoatally Amazing