Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A True Fairy Tale.....The Bitch, The Witch and The Swan

Once upon a time a photographer was minding his own business overlooking a pond at a local nature reserve, when all of a sudden a huge bull mastiff bitch with huge dirty, slavery chops came beside him and wiped her dirty mush all over his pants and jumper.
Arrgg  cried the photographer, you dirty bitch. At that moment he heard howls of laughter coming from a "lady" obviously the the bull mastiff bitches owner.
You should keep her on a lead cried the photographer.
**** OFF said the owner of the bull mastiff bitch as she gave him a strange two fingered sign in passing.
Oh dear, thought the photographer, shes no lady, she must be a Wicked Witch and she has cast a spell on me with that strange two fingered sign, what ever will the future hold.
Well, the photographer tried to clean himself up as best as he could as the Witch and the Bitch went on their way.
Now, it came to pass a short time later, that a great commotion ensued on the other side of the pond, with ducks and geese and swans scattering about all over the place. At first the photographer couldn't see what was going on as the mist of water with all the splashing obscured his view. Then, when it quietened down a little what should be stood there in the water, you've guessed it, it was none other than the bull mastiff bitch. 
All the little ducklings and goslings and cygnets were paddling as fast as their little feet could muster in order to escape to a safer part of the pond. Then the the witch appeared, well she laughed and laughed until she could laugh no more, this is so much fun she thought. Go get em she yelled, and the bull mastiff bitch obeyed, jumping and pouncing at anything that swam on the water.
Mummy and daddy swan lead their brood out to deeper water, and after making sure all his cygnets were safe, daddy swan set off to confront the bull mastiff bitch, as she was still bouncing about in the water  terrifying all before her. 
The swan twisted and turned in front of the bitch, this dance mesmerized the her and almost trance like she followed daddy swan . Daddy swan lead the bitch away from his brood at the same time going into ever into deeper water.
The bull mastiff  bitch was now out of her depth and clearly struggling to stay afloat. The witch noticed this and called for her to come back, and no matter what commands she screamed to her charge it was ignored,  her laughter had turned to hysteria, help me, help me, she cried, to anyone who would listen, but none did. 
Daddy swan was now in completed control, after all this is a his territory, not a lumbering bull mastiff
Time for the hunter to become the hunted.
Sensing a weakness daddy swan turned and reared up out of the water his huge wing spread high, transforming himself from the graceful creature he is into a towering white giant, he lunged overshadowing and completely enveloping the bull mastiff bitch.......and under she went.
Wow did you see that a passer by said to the photographer, yes said the photographer, wasn't it wonderful just wonderful.

A happy witch

Come on chuck

This way

ah feeling tired chuck 




And all the little ducklings and goslings and cygnets and the photographer......................................................................... LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Silent Majority

No riots, no histrionics, no banner headlines that other disgruntled groups of our society display when they feel aggrieved. Only a quiet inward deep-seated rage that ordinary people up and down the land held that expressed itself in the form of letters to MPs, emails, phone calls and petition filling to complain about the outrageous decision by DEFRA to sanction the destruction of buzzard nests.
Amazingly, within a week all that quiet diplomacy resulted in the decision being overturned.
Everyone who reacted with the smallest voice can be justifiably proud, for those small noises accumulated to a massive crescendo that punctured the eardrums of our Mandarins.

The Common Buzzard ...Wild and Free

A word of caution, the Countryside Alliance is none too pleased with the outcome, so expect a counter attack by fair means or FOWL.


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

One Good Tern........as they say

Over the past few days the heatwave has kept me close to home, not wishing to travel too far in the heat of the day. I have confined my photography to late afternoons but even then the light has been too strong and the contrast too much for my liking, even so I had to try and do something.

Common Tern

Common Tern

Black Tern

Having purchased a 400mm lens I thought to try it out on a pair of common terns that have recently arrived at Yarrow Valley Park and a trip to Southport on Saturday three black terns twisted and turned and skimmed the waters relentlessly. The problem with Marshside as anyone who knows the place is that you face straight into the sun until very late in the day and to add to my woes a stiff easterly breeze had the terns hovering away from for ninety nine percent of the time...still I gave the lens a good try out and managed to pull out a couple of shots.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Starting to see Red

The top of my hit list too photograph this season is the redstart along with pied flycatcher. I don't wish to travel to the likes of Gilfach Farm where the photographer is pretty much guaranteed sightings of these beautiful species, if for no other reason than the cost of that liquid gold.....PETROL!!!
But in my case their's another reason, and that is they occur only eight miles from my home on the West Pennines. In past seasons I have been successful locating and photographing the pied flycatcher .....my latest effort at the bottom.... but the redstart has always eluded me, even though it's call could be heard around one certain area.
 This year I have made half a dozen visits and seen fleeting glimpses of the bird, so last week I put in a concerted effort and finally managed to pin it down. When I say pin it down it isn't exactly sitting out in the open, it is flitting about the heavily leafed trees and that gives awkward views for the photographer, that said I have managed a long shot, heavily cropped snap presented here, whether I will improve on that, it remains to be seen. But whether or not I do, it is eminently more satisfying tracking and finding your own material than joining the masses on the merry-go-round.

The Common Redstart

The Pied Flycatcher


Friday, 11 May 2012

Flights of Fancy

A couple of flight shots from last week......first I managed to get reasonably close to a cuckoo, but where on earth is a blue sky when you need one

......second was a female orange tip flirting about a meadow feeding on cuckoo flowers.......

I wonder if two cuckoos make a summer.


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Golden Days

It's always a bit sad returning from holiday, but at least I have stacks of images to sort through to remind me of the long tranquil days in Coquetdale. Unfortunately I haven't had much time to process them in earnest as events in the garden have kept me busy. No, not mowing the lawn (meadow) or tiding the borders, nothing as mundane as that, it's just that my resident goldcrest have been extremely active and for once on show. Normally they feed at the very top of my silver birch, but as they are nest building they are coming out into the open seeking nest material and of course feeding on the abundance of aphids.

                                                   No need for insecticide with these hovers about.

                                                        Collecting cobwebs for the nest.

Two jays nesting close by come to devour my nuts, oops! sorry, the nuts I lay out for them, but they have to play second fiddle to the goldies at the moment as I fear these Golden Days will be over all to quickly.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Fighting Godwits

During the recent fine spell of weather I managed a brief visit to Marshside. I timed my visit for the last couple of hours of golden evening light, even so the light was still strong and contrast on the birds was still extreme.
The treat for the evenings entertainment happened as two black tailed godwits decided on an altercation right in front of the viewing screen.


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Coals to Newcastle

The quietness of the morning was shattered by the rattle of the letter box and the thud and shuffle letters landing behind the front door onto the floor. In days gone by when I ran my own business my heart would sink as another load of bills, reminders, and demands and final demands for payment of this and that arrived at the household. Gingerly I would open them, " We wish to inform you that your account has been placed on STOP subject to payment of (HOW MUCH?) which is now three month overdue, further more our solicitors have been advised............... etc. etc. I would scramble through the letters in the vein hope that someone had actually paid me. Thankfully those days are long gone, so now when the post is delivered, after sifting through the junk every so often a rather nice letter arrives.
Today Thursday March 8th was one of those days.
To start at the beginning I must take you back to June 2011 when out of the blue I received a phone call from a print designer, he sounded a bit hairy fairy and quite frankly I thought he was smoking something, but the gist of his call was that he required a few images of a Dartford warbler and he had seen just what he was looking for on my web site. The job was for the National Trust, and he assured me he would be back in touch. Well you know I waited and waited, and waited some more then I forgot all about it, then in November 2011 I received a phone call from the National Trust in Swindon, "I believe Peter has been in touch with you about some photos of the Dartford warbler, well we are ready to go to press and are really desperate for them, deadlines and all that, could you sort us out pronto, such dynamism I thought.

Well that was that, until the post arrived this morning where together the junk mail I received a copy of a small fold up pamphlet of the outdoor guide to Dunwich Heath. I must say that it is very well produced and my photos of the Dartford warbler are contained within it. Strange to think though that the N.T. don't have stock photos of its most popular resident bird with forty breeding pairs on site.

The photos were taken when a lone male ventured to one of it's more northerly points in England.....so for these to be used for Dunwich Heath is rather like taking coal to Newcastle, but there again I'm not complaining.

The two images used in the pamphlet.

Friday, 17 February 2012

In and Out



A goldcrest puts in an all to brief appearance

And a wren flits about all over the place

And where would I be without my blackbirds

BY THE SEA........

A small collection of sanderling shots taken close to Fleetwood on the high-tide.


 Many years ago I reckon I put in 80 hours trying to photograph a distant blob, namely a glossy ibis then resident at Marshside.....then I find one feeding with a few mallard by the side of the road........like I've said before that's wildlife photography for you.

Nice to bump into Brian Rafferty, Martin Jump and Geoff Gradwell on my trips.


Thursday, 2 February 2012

IN THE NETS...and boy do we need to be!

Nothing much happening at the moment, apart from Shorties all over the place....over the past weeks I have visited three site in Lancashire and one in Wales, all top secret of course, trouble is apart from one of these sites, where I have not encountered so much as a dog walker (bless em) the other three have been packed to the rafters with photographers and bird watchers.......Wikileaks!!!! No bother, it's like being in a traffic jam and complaining about all the traffic in front of you, while all those behind you are doing the same......your part of it.

Taken at one of the more popular sites, but as it was hammering down and black as night for most of the day I was alone with the owls

Only seen Mrs Kingfisher one since the first freeze, so she survived. Frozen over again at the moment, I fear she may be off to find a mate when the thaw sets in......  so a lot of work for one shot....well that's wildlife photography for you.

The Clock....twenty five to three

Purple Sandpiper found on a recent visit to Wales

I have a couple of sites where Barn Owls are active at the moment so I may have more luck with them.

In the nets, head down, concentrate.


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Scuppered in the Nineties

Walking on the river Yarrow around Croston looking out for Owls, a flash of electric blue zipped past me and turned off into a reed-bed, even a non birder would have recognized a beautiful Kingfisher. That was before Christmas. After many visits I have managed to build a makeshift hide and drop in a perch, now it was time to reap the rewards. The other day missus Kingfisher duly obliged  and landed on the perch for all of two seconds, old man Cookson wasn't quick enough and missed the shot, but I took heart from the fact she had discovered the perch and some time in the near future she will make me a happy man.
It wasn't a complete disaster (darling) as she afforded me views with four fly pasts and a landing on a reed a little farther upstream where she discharged a pellet, something I had never witnessed before, and I did manage to get a snap of her on the reed.

Although Thursday the 12th wasn't a disaster when I returned last Friday (the 13th ) it unfortunately was. I arrived  to find the spot completely frozen over and spent some time breaking up the ice, but to no avail it was freezing back over in an instant. On a four hour watch in the area on Saturday I had no sightings of my friend. If she survives this cold snap, I wonder if she will return, I will have to wait and see.
Returning home on Friday I called in at Yarrow C.P. one of my favorite haunts and although the light had gone the burning embers of the setting sun was lighting up the tree tops and this was giving some great  reflections in the water and as luck would have it one of my favorite birds swam into view, a Great Crested Grebe.

 So the 13th wasn't all bad news, and although I have been scuppered in the nineties I still have another innings.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Settling In.....

Settling in after a sticky start, keep patting the crease, keep concentrating, the buggers won't get me out, in the sixty's now, I'm going to get a century, I'm going to get a bloody century.