Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Out and About

Last night we headed back down to the Badgers, had great views of 2 of the residents, with the highlight of seeing some new behaviour, mutual grooming.

Today started early, leaving the house at 05:30am and heading into the Pennines. Arriving at our destination the characteristic sound could be heard straight away, the bubbling of 20  male Black Grouse at their lek, 3 females were also present. I always find the atmosphere amazing on moors in the morning, when all its inhabitants make themselves heard, Curlew, Lapwing, Meadow Pipit, Redshank, Skylark, Red Grouse, and Golden Plover could all be heard in the vicinity of the lek. It was great to see so many Black Grouse, the most I've had at this site.

Black Grouse

Had a Booths breakfast in Penrith, and we headed back out, this time heading South to Leighton Moss. The glorious weather saw us sitting a Warton Crag watching the Peregrines, and Ravens (with chicks) for the majority of the afternoon, but we also made a visit to the reserve.

Female Bullfinch


Male Bullfinch


Black Headed Gull

Black Headed Gull
A couple of Pheasants were coming really close, but unfortunately I only had the 100-400 lens.








The day finished with 3 Long-Eared Owls up on the moors again.

Monday, 26 March 2012

A Quiet Corner

I'm currently stuck inside, grafting on a 3000 word assignment, but here's my 2012 Wildeye Film Competition Entry for now. I've got a full wildlife week planned ahead, watch this space.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Remain unseen and unheard,

and diligently use your eyes and ears, and some of the sweetest secrets of the sod are sure to be revealed to you. A quote from the Kearton Brother's, Wild Life at Home. 

Setting off at 17:00 myself and Roger headed out. On approaching our destination a Roe Deer and her yearling stood on the road, jumping the dry stone wall as we approached, but not travelling far, happily feeding just the other side. This was to be the first of our close encounters.

Roe Deer

Parking up and walking through the forest, along an old wall colonised by heather, mosses and lichens, it was quiet, a Woodpigeon breaking cover here and there, and the sound of Song Thrush singing from the uppermost branches. A short 1/4 mile walk and we were there, sitting down with are backs against a 5ft dry-stone wall, waiting for the light to fade. A Common Buzzard made the first appearance heading to roost, followed by a couple of Grey Herons.Tawny Owls began calling and the distinct bark of a Roe Deer could be heard nearby, very nearby, the sound echoing off the dark wall of conifers, so much so that it sounded like there was a second individual deep within the forest.

As I was scanning the boundary between moor and forest, Roger nudged me, and in an excited whisper he said 'Cain, Roe Deer'. Looking up a head could be seen rising just above the horizon, looking directly towards us, I whispered back 'don't move'. There was little wind, the slightest of breezes was hitting my right cheek, but at the moment we were down wind of the deer. Motionless we sat and watched the deer approaching closer and closer, steadily moving down wind of us, it knew something was there, as it walked it stomped, the sound echoing, it could almost be felt. Still it was getting closer, down to 10-15 metres, standing above us and as we sat in the heather. It let out one bark, so close that I jumped. We watched for another 5 minutes or so before it had walked round, putting us up wind, and it was off, once again below the horizon.

By this time the light had dropped significantly, Red Grouse could be heard in the distance, and an odd Woodcock passed by roading. At 18:45 I heard the faintest of hoo hoo hoo hoo's, then wing clapping, and then a Long-Eared Owl appeared, flying in front of, then above the tree's. At least two birds were present and continued to show on the boundary edge, and above the forest for the entirety of our time there. A second owl also showed, out the corner of my eye I caught movement to my left, just below the top of the wall, following its line, on our side! First thought was Long-Eared Owl, but as it appeared out the darkness it was clear, Barn Owl. Continuing its path, it flew just above our heads, no further away than my arm stretched. It passed, and then returned hovering just above us, slightly higher this time. Engrossed in the Barn Owl, we just caught sight of the Long-Eared Owl approaching, as the Barn Owl moved off the LEO returned to its forest.

Walking back to the car the screeches of the Barn Owl pair could be heard in valley, the Long-Eared Owls wing clapping from the forest boundary, and the Tawny Owl from its interior. A great night.

Monday, 12 March 2012


The first issue of Wild-Eye, a University of Cumbria student magazine, has just went LIVE. You can access it HERE.

(Due to the interactive nature of the magazine it may take a minute or so to load)

An accumulation of photographs, articles and footage from mainly BA(Hons) Wildlife and Media students, but also Animal Conservation students. Paul was the original founder, and he's done a brilliant job putting it together, please give it a look.

Find my article about my time at the Loch of Strathbeg inside.
Pink-Footed Goose on the Dunes

Today I've mainly been working on an editorial assignment, but once I finished the Tree Sparrows at Red house Farm were on my mind, at least 6 are still present but extremely difficult to photograph. On to the SEO' next, getting some great close encounters with one of the owls. Images can be seen below.

Short-Eared Owl

I'll be posting again later tonight, but here's some shots from this afternoon. Fully camouflaged up I headed down to a local site, knee deep in water, this is what I encountered.

Short-Eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl
Short-Eared Owl

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The North Bay

Full day of filming again today, starting in the Dene, but finishing at St Mary's North Bay.



Whilst lying flat on the sand a few Rock Pipits began coming closer, as the tide covered most of the rotting seaweed.

Rock Pipit

This individual caught my eye…

Scandinavian Rock Pipit

I felt fairly confident that this was a Scandinavian Rock Pipit (littoralis), with its pink tinged underparts, reduced streaking and grey neck and mantle, with not seeing this race before I had a look at Mike's paper, and then sent a quick email to Alan and Mike, and it was confirmed. 

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Past couple of nights on patch...

A text through the week from BD and a Facebook message from Jack notified me of an Egyptian Goose amongst the regulars at Holywell, at Uni until Thursday I couldn't get down for a look till Friday evening.

Walking down to the pond at about 16:00, a westerly breeze pushed some low cloud over towards the coast, the West Field held a reasonable amount of geese, although no Egyptian, 97 Greylag, 9 Pink-Footed, 1 European White-Fronted, 7 Canada and 1 CanadaXGreylag were present. Moving on to the pond, past the now common sound of Tree Sparrows, 6 Shelduck, 7 Mallard, 3 pair Gadwall, Pochard (2 female, 3 male), Tufted Duck (3 male, 3 female), and 2 Mute Swan were on the water.

Leaving the hide at about 16:20 I had a quick scan of the geese again, straight away I picked out the Egyptian Goose, must of snook in behind me! Good views were had as it ventured closer to the hedge-line, before flying West into the next field with the majority of the Greylags. On towards the Dene I was pleased to find the Kestrels back at their nest site.

Today I've been down St Mary's with Jack, doing some filming for my Uni project. Reasonable numbers of waders were pushed into the North Bay as the tide came in, including 1 Purple Sandpiper. Once we'd finished for the day I headed out to Holywell, the 7 Canada, CanadaXGreylag, and 2 Pink-Footed Geese were present in the West Field, with much the same as yesterday on the pond, but also 6 Wigeon. Last stop was Red House Farm where at least 6 Tree Sparrows are still present, hopefully they may use the boxes I put up. Had great views of Long-Tailed Tits, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, and a Moorhen chasing a Brown Rat whilst I was there.

Monday, 5 March 2012

More GoPro magic...

Last night I went for an evening wander around patch, in the hope of Owls, unfortunately not a sign of any, yet, but I did witness the Geese coming to roost, with an audience of 35 Curlew on the public shore.

Back down the dene again this morning, it was beautiful, full of song, and I'm pleased to see the Dipper pair have been active over the past few days, hopefully a sign of good things to come, if their not disturb. The feeding station was again chocker block with birds, so the GoPro saw some more action.

Best viewed in HD.

There was plenty of confiding Robins singing close to the path, here's a short clip of one individual.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The pond...

I've been editing all day so took a short trip to Holywell at about 17:30. There's was a bit of what seemed to be a fret, but the sun was burning through it, creating a strange but calming light. 80+ Greylag Geese were feeding in the West Field, along with 5 Pink-Footed Geese and a single European White-Fronted Goose.

The top feeding station was quiet, but both Blackbird and Song Thrush sang from the tree tops. I caught up with the Tree Sparrows further down the track, in the Blackthorns, presumably going to roost.

The pond itself was busier than it has been, clearly bearing the signs of spring, 6 Coot showed the forming of territories, Little Grebes were calling with 5 in total on the pond (does the Little Grebe call have its own name?) and a couple of Moorhen battled it out on the far side. Joining them were 10 Mallard, 2 Mute Swan, 1 Canada Goose, 14 Tufted Duck, 8 Pochard, and 5 Teal.

A single Grey Heron, and 35 Curlew stood on the shore at the public hide.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Bored yet?

Sorry if I'm boring anyone but this was my first chance to get down to St Mary's, wanted to try something different and capture a star trail as well as the lasers. Unfortunately it clouded over, but I'll be back on Saturday.
St Mary's Laser Star Trail

CW Tents

A selection of my work is currently on display at CW Tents, a local outdoor retailer. The images of both wildlife and landscape have been capture over the last year, at home and on my travels. They are available to purchase as A4 and A3 mounted prints.

CW Tents is a family owned independent outdoor shop, located just off the A19 in Backworth. Stocking a wide variety of tents, camping equipment, clothing and accessories. All staff are outdoor enthusiasts and youth leaders so have a wealth of knowledge. In Spring and Summer months there is a large outdoor display where the staff are on hand to give advice and pitching demonstrations.

CW Tents stock leading brands including Vango, Outwell, Paramo, Scarpa, Zamberian, Montane, plus many more. There is even an area dedicated to photography and wildlife clothing.

CW Tents, 9a Backworth Business Park, Station Road, Backworth, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE27 0BN, Tel: 0191 268 0110
Website: Email:

Take the Whitley Bay/Earsdon Exit off the A19
At the roundabout take the Whitley Bay/Earsdon Exit
Go Straight over the next 2 roundabouts
At the 3rd roundabout take the 1st Exit. First Right then immediate left.