Tuesday 28 July 2015

A Friend of a Friend

A few years ago I spent a little bit of time with a young Badger who was, to be honest, far more interested in his new surroundings than he was in me. It was on a July evening, just before the Sun set, and I visit the same place regularly just in case I get lucky again. I have seen Badgers here since, usually after dark when a photograph is impossible (I don't like using a flash) but whenever I catch a glimpse of a fuzzy black and grey backside disappearing into a hedge I do wonder what happened to this little chap and whether I have seen him again.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Swanage Carnival - Aerostars

A few from the aerobatic display team 'Aerostars' yesterday.
Swanage Bay is the perfect place for these events, they always fit in very well here.
This is part of the famous Swanage Carnival week.

Thursday 16 July 2015

It's A Small, Small World

I think 'changeable' is the best word to describe our weather at the moment. Low cloud and a healthy sea mist can keep us shrouded from the Sun one minute and, as if by magic clouds part, the temperature rises and it can seem like a whole new day. When the skies are that horrible white colour and everything seems gloomy there is one section of our wildlife that still be relied upon to show off a bit of colour.
So, bring on the Dragons, Damsels, Crickets and Grasshoppers!

Tuesday 7 July 2015

From Fox to Fox

It was obvious that the Sun was not going to be able last for the whole evening. Clouds,some ominously dark, were grouping not too far away and although we still had an hour or so before sunset they would win the race and make the evening prematurely dark.
Another race, arguably far more important, was taking place in a field not too far away from a wood that contained a den, home to two feisty Fox cubs!
These two cubs were intent on finishing the game before taking any interest in me, which I was incredibly pleased about.

Finally, and far too soon in my opinion, the game was over and peace returned to the field. It seemed that all of a sudden I was a little bit more important and needed to be investigated. Both cubs came closer to check me out and stayed reasonably close until the clouds covered the Sun and the tempurature started to drop.
Suddenly a Sika broke thorugh the undergrowth obviously surprising herself as much as me, they ran into the woods disappearing into the gloom.

Some evenings are better than others...

Sunday 5 July 2015

Look for the hole, not the Puffin

The cliffs that stretch between Flamborough Head and Bempton are famous for their huge number of seabirds and, making up a small but important part of these is the enigmatic little Puffin. This is another photogenic seabird, another favourite of mine and, judging by the enquiries of people that we met along the cliffs, a favourite of a lot of others too.
The Puffin is smaller than all of the other residents of this cliff wall and unlike the rest, it rears its chicks away from aerial preditors in a hole or convenient crevice. Looking for them amongst the larger but similarly coloured Razorbills and Guillemots can be like looking for a needle in a pile of other needles. We quickly found that it was easier to look for holes in the cliff rather than the bird itself, there was a good chance that inside it would be a smart, portly little bird with bright orange feet and very curious beak.

Trying to get the iconic 'beak full of Sand Eels' is not easy! A close up would have been nice but even here at Bempton the only way would have been with climbing gear.

 Look for the hole, not the Puffin. There is a good chance that any crevice will contain a Puffin or two...or three...or four...or five...
 It is difficult enough to get a good Puffin shot, but getting a youngster to pose is even worse! The Puffling is bland compaired to mum and dad, with a small dark beak and dull grey legs. It almost looks like a different species.
 As the light starts to go and the cliffs change from white to grey the smart black and white plumage egts more difficult to pick out on a photograph.

Saturday 4 July 2015

The Long Road to Bempton

A six hour drive to meet brother, followed by another couple of hours to get to the camp site, close to Bempton and its cliffs, that would be our home for the next couple of days. The next morning we were up at four o'clock and walked the short distance across the fields to the cliffs that run from Flamborough Head to Bempton on theYorkshire coast.
For anyone interested in wildlife, getting up and about before the sunrise is always a special time and this occasion didn't disappoint. As the Sun broke through a distant band of cloud its warmth was instantly apparent and the light (perfect for photographers) just gets better and better. It is not for nothing that we call this The Golden Hour.
 The first thing that struck us when we approached the near vertical cliffs was the silence! Considering this place is home to some 250,000 seabirds there was little or no sign of them until that is you reach the cliff edge and then the sound explodes. Even at a time when the sun had barely started to warm the chill from the nights air, birds spun and soared at every level making good use of the thermals. On the sea itself, hundreds if not thousands of Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins sat bobbing and bathing seemingly enjoying the chance to get away from the constant battle of bringing up junior on the cliff wall.
For now though, I will concentrate on the bird that I had travelled so far to get closer too, the Gannet!
Ice-white, with jet black wing tips (that can often reach some two meters span) a strong slender neck of pale gold and a painted face that would make Cleopatra envious.

The Gannet is one of our most beautiful birds, combine this with the perfect light of the golden hour and the effect is magical. These birds seem to love the Sun and could often be seen stretching and holding their heads almost in reverence to the growing warmth.

 From the cliff edge, the sound and sight of so many birds is awe inspiring! There is a constant swirl of birds flying along the cliffs as well as too and from the cliffs out to sea. Squables between these birds seem to be constant and life on the cliff edge is far from peaceful.

 Photographs of the Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Puffins will follow on the next posts, there really is no end to the amount of shots that can be taken as the action changes all of the time. Watching inland is hardly boring either, as apart from the many Skylarks, Tree Sparrows and Reed Warblers that added their own soundtrack, we were joined by a couple of Barn Owls and a lone Marsh Harrier! Not a bad few of days by all accounts.

Quiet but never silent.

I missed the Sun this morning, not because I was late but because the early wander was done and dusted by the time the clouds cleared. When...