Tuesday, 17 October 2017

A Different Day

The atmosphere up on the cliffs this morning was completely different from yesterday with more sound, more light and more birdsong. The Sun seemed slightly redder than usual: there was a haze along the horizon, but whether this was Portuguese smoke or Saharan sand I don't know. Waves had been whipped up and were rolling along the rocks giving an undulating rumble, making some of the finest background music you will find anywhere. Behind me in the Gorse the chatter of birds was as constant as the waves, with Robin and Wren trying to out-shout each other, then suddenly a Firecrest popped up. This tiny little bird, our smallest and about the weight of a 20p coin, makes the Wren look positively chunky and disappeared just as quickly as it arrived.





 









Monday, 16 October 2017

The Calm Before the Storm.

As Ophelia slides up the coast of Ireland blowing in excess of 80mph, life was quieter and a little less turbulent on the cliffs this morning. Waves were rolling and crashing against the rocks but the sea wasn't too rough, clouds were building but they weren't too dark and a few drops of rain fell but it wasn't too wet.
As the usual Jackdaws and gulls made the most of a freshening breeze a slate-grey Peregrine, only slightly darker than the blue-grey sea, patrolled the cliffs looking for breakfast.
There was nothing to sea here, nothing at all!

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Triple


 We have more than our fair share of wetlands around here, from the shores of Poole Harbour to along the river valley and also at Weymouth. This gives us a great chance to see many different species of water bird including the the Great White and Little Egrets and the faithful old Grey Heron. It was more than a little special to see these three in the same place though.







Saturday, 7 October 2017

Snakes, Dragons and the Stonechat.

I called in to the Purbeck Artisan Yard in Wareham today to replace a few prints that have sold and took the chance to wander down the river for a while. The weather was perfect and there was plenty to see with Stonechats supplying a soundtrack just louder than the rustle of reeds in the wind. Butterflies were out in numbers as well as a few Dragonflies, Swans passed on the tide and a couple of Mallards had a serious discussion about one thing or another. Every now and again I'd stop to watch a ripple on the water, the movement of a Reed or listen to a sound that didn't seem to fit. I was careful where I stood, partly because of the mud but also to keep the noise down, but it was a bit of a shock when a beautiful Grass Snake came to life just in front of me.





Friday, 29 September 2017

The Kingshrimper

On the shores of Poole harbour you may well see a Kingfisher or two, that is if you are lucky and paying attention. These birds are quick and you may well only see a flash of neon blue as it skims above the water.
If you are really lucky the Kingfisher may choose a perch not too far away and start fishing for shrimps. Watching them do this is a real treat and catching it on camera is pretty special.





Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A Good Hare Day

This evening's wander was always going to be good, rain that had hounded the day had cleared and left a beautiful evening.
Amongst the Sika and Roe, one massively outnumbered by the other, was a Fox and two Hares. On any other walk I would have played hide and seek with Mrs Fox but the chance of a close encounter Hare was too much to resist.
As the Sun went down a second Hare appeared, boxed slightly with the first and then settled to eat the tender new shoots of grass that have been so helped by the rain.






Thursday, 24 August 2017

Summer

I have been neglecting this little blog for the last few months , this may be due to the summer being a busy time in our little town or it could be that July and August are months that I find difficult to work with. Nature is always around of course but I feel far more comfortable in the Autumn, Winter and Spring.
There is always the morning wander though, the walk with the dogs that is the most important of the day, and this morning I found myself on the cliffs again. For me there is no better place to sit and watch the world go by.


As if the view needed improving, to our right sat a Peregrine completely disinterested by our presence and with a selfcontrol that is reserved for our apex predators.


Thursday, 3 August 2017

Time for the Kestrel

We are lucky here on the Isle of Purbeck to have a regular breeding pair of Kestrels and this year triplets have fledged and are learning their flying skills above the cliffs. Photographing one of these birds is always great, managing to get two in one frame is pretty lucky, but four in the same shot and nice and close to each other was incredible.



 

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A Kingfisher's Breakfast



The morning had barely begun and the Sun was yet to clear the horizon but there we were sat in a hide a few metres from a pond that contained goodness knows how many Trout. A tall tree to the left had a leafless branch that was, apparently, where an Osprey likes to sit to contemplate his next breakfast. I have told the story of our Osprey shoot but there was another story that morning, the stars of which were no fewer than three Kingfishers. They are quick, beautifully painted and wonderful to watch and photograph. We were at this place to watch two birds, both fisherman, both using the same pond, both incredibly successful and both completely indifferent to each other.
The light was still not what I wanted but the Kingfisher is a beautiful bird whatever the light and it is always great to watch. The shots I took that morning would have been improved tenfold if the sun had been shining but that was not to be and I have what I have. I also have some superb memories of a very successful predator doing what it does best.





Thursday, 6 July 2017

Rutland Footprints: Early Morning Ospreys.



At 3.30 in the morning the alarm went off and we drove the dozen or so miles to a Trout farm on the other side of Rutland Water, this was hopefully going to give us a chance to see close up just what an Osprey does best. The Sun had still not risen when we took our seats in the hide that looked over the pond that was to be a well-stocked breakfast buffet.
Then all we could do was wait. It was clear that the sun was not going to break through the clouds and this was going to make photography difficult but there was still a great deal of tension as we scanned the trees. We knew where the favoured perch was in a tree to the left and I kept focusing there, then following the imaginary line that I thought the Osprey would take to the water. It was dark and dull, light was going to be a problem and without light speed is compromised. The Osprey can reach speeds of up to 80mph when diving and so shutter speed is critical, I had no idea how many chances I would have to catch the action but I knew that I would need all the help I could get.
And so we waited, scanned the trees and the water surface, checked the camera settings and the light, looked at the sky to see if the sun was going to break and then did it all again two minutes later.
Suddenly there was a shape, it hadn’t been there a moment ago but finally we had company. It was dark, too dark, but we had an Osprey and suddenly there wasn’t enough time! 


Check the shutter yet again to see if you can squeeze just a little speed, speed is the key!
Speed and light!
The Osprey scanned the water surface too, I could see him moving his head from side to side, sizing up his breakfast, getting ready. He looked tense too, even in the low light you see the brightness of his eyes as he got ready
He dived! He was so close to the water that his wing tip must have got wet but he didn’t attempt to catch a fish, for both of us, perhaps it was a trial run.
A second dive followed soon after he resumed his position in the tree not giving me time to rethink, the settings are fine, aren’t they?
This time there was an explosion of water as the Osprey disappeared for a moment, completely submerging itself, before flapping those almighty wings and rising with a fish firmly in its talons.



The action was over in a matter of seconds and all was quiet again. The results would have been better if the sun had been shining but there was no doubt about the thrill of watching this superb bird catch fish. We had a second chance from the same bird about an hour later but although the light improved a little it was far from perfect. There was still the same tension though and still the same thrill at seeing the bird up close. It is always a privilege seeing wild creatures up close, especially predators, and that is something that will stay with me for quite a while.

A Different Day

The atmosphere up on the cliffs this morning was completely different from yesterday with more sound, more light and more birdsong. The ...