Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I've been very busy in and out of work so I haven't had time to edit all my photos from my last trip to the Azores. But here are a few shots of a lovely Whimbrel that was on a rocky shore near Ponta Delagada. The light wasn't brilliant but the bird showed well and was seen to eat a few small crabs. During my stay on the island of Sao Miguel the weather was generally overcast and occasionally drizzly, while the weather here in Britain was sunny and warm. Surprisingly, a friend of mine was birding in Norway at the same time and the temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius north of the Arctic Circle!

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Iceland - Whales

Marsh Tits at Leighton Moss

Friday, June 7, 2013

Spring Wheatears

Wheatears are one of the first Spring migrants to appear back in the country, usually sometime in March, but they continue to arrive well into May. These beautiful chats are always a welcome sight whenever they appear, but the first sighting is often of a white rump disappearing over a grassy tussock or sand dune as the birds fly away. Their name is reportedly a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon "white-arse", a totally appropriate epithet. While searching for Dotterel on Anglesey last month I managed to photograph a few of these beauties along with another common migrant, a Swallow perched on a wire by a small farm.

Male Wheatears are very smart-looking birds.

Female Wheatears have a more subtle plumage.

This Swallow was observed preening
outside a farm building.

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Norfolk in October

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sperm Whale

"If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me." So wrote Herman Melville in the opening chapter of Moby Dick.
I too feel the need to spend time by the coast or on the sea in search of seabirds and especially cetaceans. The naturalist and writer Mark Carwardine speaks of his need for a regular whale or dolphin "fix", and these animals, unlike any other, act like a drug on the minds of many people; once addicted there is no cure. The pleasure in seeing a distant blow as a whale surfaces, or the joy felt seeing dolphins at close quarters surfing the wake of boats or riding the bow-wave is unlike any other wildlife experience.
So for my fix this year I returned to the beautiful Azorean island of Sao Miguel, to search for whales and dolphins. I undertook five trips with the experienced Futurismo team, who virtually guarantee cetacean sightings. On my trip here last summer I was unfortunate not to see any species of whale, so I was more than pleased when one of my trips on the catamaran Cetus, produced sightings of a regular Sperm Whale know as "Mr Liable" for his reliability in showing up in the waters near the capital Ponta Delagada.

A 45 degree bushy blow is a good indication that you have spotted
a Sperm Whale.

Sperm Whales dive deeply in search of prey such as squid
and as such show their tail flukes when diving.

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Azores Spotted Dolphins

Azores Common Dolphins