Thursday, 29 December 2011

Favourites of the year...

I thought I'd round up this year with some of my favourite photos.

Back in April myself, Ciara Laverty , Rachael Laisney and Steven Williams embarked on a trip to Ardnamurchan, Britain's most Westerly point. Our two week expedition can be re-visited here. Here's a couple of my favourites.

This Pied Wagtail kept me company one afternoon whilst I waited in the hide, for the tide to retreat.

Pied Wagtail

Orange Moon

In May I went on a family holiday to Loch Maree, we stayed in a cottage near Poolewe, on the River Ewe, the Lochs seaward outlet. This was the first time we've stayed here, with only one previous visit to Gairloch when I was a lot younger. It didn't disappoint.

This was our view from the cottage.

River Ewe

River Ewe

Renowned for its Black Throated Divers, I was keen to see them, but never expected one to swim past the cottage.

Black Throated Diver

The nearby Ash, Birch, and Oak woodland held Wood Warbler, Redpoll and this Spotted Flycatcher, who visit the garden almost everyday.

Spotted Flycatcher

June saw me following the local Sparrowhawks. Although I follow this family every year, this was the first time I photographically followed them raising their young.

Sparrowhawk at its nest

Unfortunately this was the last image I took before heading off to the Isle of Mull. I'm hoping to follow the chicks to fledging this coming year.

Sparrowhawk with chicks

But before I did head off, I bumped into this Dipper, the first confirmation of breeding in the Dene for a good few years now.

Young Dipper

And this character in the large meadow at Holywell Pond, in full bloom thanks to the sheep.

Rabbit in the Meadow

On to Mull, with this pair of images, taken on my first day !

Cairns of Coll

Tawny Owl

Two weeks were spent on the Isle, volunteering with Sea Life Surveys and Ewan. A brilliant two weeks on an amazing Isle.


Oh and I made a mate at the chip van.

Herring Gull

The couple of weeks following found me at the RSPB's Loch of Strathbeg as a residential volunteer.

Warm Reflection

August I was back on patch. The subsidence and rainfall allowed for a perfect wader scrape to form, so I spent my time lying down.

Green Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper


Come October I found myself back at the Loch of Strathbeg, volunteering again but this time to produce a promotional film for the RSPB's Goosewatch events. More to come about this in the near future.

Pink-Footed Goose on the Dunes

The Living Mast

Pink-Footed Goose

The year rounded off with me when I visited the Desert Wheatear at Newbiggin.

Desert Wheatear

Wish you all a Happy New Year :)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Hanging around...

Headed home from Cumbria for Christmas on Tuesday evening, it seems that I have more deadlines through the holidays than I did when I was at Uni. Nothing to stop me getting out though.

Yesterday morning I headed up to Newbiggin in search of the Desert Wheatear which has thankfully stayed in the vicinity of Beacon Point for a while now,  I'd been hoping I would get the chance to see this beauty before it moved off.

Parking up at Church Point I headed North along the beach, calm flat sea and boiling sunshine made me question why I had wrapped up. Dunlin, Sanderling, Redshank, Turnstone, Curlew and Ringed Plover fed along the exposed sand and rock pools. I passed two birders heading the opposite direction, one informed me the bird was still present, and the other gave a polite grunt. On arrival a the point the bird was not to be seen, plenty Pied Wagtail and Rock Pipit, but no Wheatear.

Covering the whole point from both below and above the bank I still hadn't had a glimpse. It wasn't until I headed back South when I seen the bird feeding near to the tractor collecting coal dust. Finding a place to scramble down, I headed up to where I had last seen the bird. Scanning the bank I couldn't pick it up, but I knew it was there, so I sat in the sand. Almost immediately the bird appeared and began running towards me.

Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear

I also took some clips of this dapper little bloke, I've edited them into this longer clip, best viewed in HD.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


Just a few images from a weekend in Wales with the UOC Wildlife Photographer's Society, a bit wet and dull so played with black and whites. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


I've recently been adding a few images to a 500px portfolio, you can have a look HERE, or click on the 500px link on the right :)

Monday, 28 November 2011

Wild Goose Chase

A belated post from yesterday. 

Taking part in the Lindisfarne count in the morning, struggling to stand, I joined MH and JD at Budle Bay with highlights of a single Greenshank, 2 Little Egret and an immature Peregrine. 

On returning back home I headed out in search of geese, firstly down the Beehive road to check the Hartley fields where the Pink-Footed Geese have been feeding in regularly, no sign. Passing Deleval Hall I picked up a Common Buzzard hanging over the wood. Hoping that the geese were in the West field I headed down to the members hide. My hopes were rewarded with what seemed to be a large number of geese, a high chance of a White-Front or Bean I thought. 

Instead of a Bean or White-Front catching my attention, 2 white geese did, Ross's Geese. In close company of 5 Barnacle Geese they were part of a larger 150+ Pink-Footed and 30+ Greylag. Unfortunately the geese lifted soon after and although the majority circled and landed again, the Ross's nor the Barnacle could be seen. A check of the surrounding fields prove fruitless, although an adult White-Fronted Goose was on the public shore, it seemed to have a bit of a limp.

Back to the hide to catch a few Starlings heading into the reeds to roost with BD, then a drive back to the Westside.

Today I've been up at Caerlaverock. An impressive number of Pintail on the sea being the highlight.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

a taste of the exotic

A pair of Ring-Necked Parakeets at Churchill park have took it upon themselves to carry out demolition work on this Willow.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

East to West

The day began on patch with the highlights of Tree Sparrow, 2 Woodcock, a few Pink-Footed Geese in the West field and a small party of Goldcrest.

The Tree Sparrows were proving to be difficult to photograph off of the feeders, with a branch or two always being in the way. Here's the best I managed, hopefully they'll hang around so I can try again.

A late afternoon visit to Seghill Pond held Mallard, Mute Swan and Moorhen. A nice little site worth visiting. 

Tonight I'm back over in Penrith, the town was shrouded in fog on arrival, but I headed up to the Pennines with  Ciara. As we approached Hartside Pass we broke out of the fog, and it revealed clear skies. Only the distant roar of the M6 could be heard. 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Back to patch

I awoke this morning to the sound of Pink-Footed Geese, the first skein was of about 100 birds, followed by a further two skeins with about 70 birds in each. This had been the most Pinkies I'd heard moving through so far this year.

There was a few jobs which needed to be done in the morning, so I didn't get down to Holywell till mid-afternoon. Heading down the track a lot of movement could be seen in the top feeding station, I lifted my bins to find a male Tree Sparrow on the feeder, this was a first for me in the area of the pond. They winter in the fields surrounding the dene, but rarely come into the feeding station. Checking the board in the hide, up to four have been seen.

The sun shining on the North wood was making the most of the Autumnal colours, covering the reeds in a golden glow.

70 Pink-Footed Geese flew overhead and landed in the east fields, hopefully this is the start of more to come. The pond seems to be devoid of wildfowl with only the Mute Swan family, 10 Teal, 8 Mallard, 2 Little Grebe, 7 Moorhen and 1 male Tufted Duck. 2 Grey Heron stalked the shallow waters to the west, and a large number of Gulls bathed on the pond. the female Sparrowhawk put in an appearance flushing 100+ Lapwing from the Public Hide, as sending the Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Coal Tit, and Great Tit into cover.

As I left a Common Buzzard flew into a Hawthorn to the West and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker fed on the nut feeder.

Good to be back on patch.