In this monthsBirdwatching Magazine my images from a great day I’d previously mentioned on my blog called ‘Birdwatching For Beginner’s Walk’ have now been printed in the March issue of the magazine,I have printed the pages below aptly named‘Reservoir Birds’ I accompanied Matt Merritt/Features Editor as we visited Carsington Water in Derbyshire for this event which has been running now for 4 years on the first sunday morning of the month and run by volunteer ranger David Bennett,whose knowledge of the wildlife at this place is breathtaking.Each month enthusiastic groups of birdwatchers meet and are shown around this beautful setting hoping to learn more about birdwatching/birds while walking around Carsington Water, one of the largest reservoirs in the UK.
We had perfect viewing conditions as the sun shined,with a thick blanket of snow on the ground adding to a real winter feel to the day.A good number of people turned up and I captured them using almost the same composition as I do when photographing wildlife,and I must say is a lot easier!.A good day was had by all,great to help beginners to see the beauty of birds and other wildlife around this mighty impressive site,so for the full story pick up a copy of the March issue.These walks run on the first Sunday of every month,they also do more advanced walks so for further information,or to book on the free Carsington Water Walk,call 01629 540696
National Nest Box week organised by The British Trust for Ornithologytakes place this year from the 14th to 21stFebruary. Since its launch in 1998 over five million nest boxes have been made and hung in gardens and woodland areas across the UK.In an attempt to help birds ranging from the Blue Tit right up to Barn Owls to find somewhere else to nest and raise their young in the absence of more natural nest sites in our ever diminishing countryside.Early spring is the best time to site your nestbox,giving the birds a chance to see and get use to the box,if they don’t use your nestbox to nest in then don’t be saddened as there is a very high chance they will use the box as a roost site during the winter months.
There will be events staged all around the UK by the BTO during that week and it’s a great way to get youngsters involved with nature.Click here for the BTO home page to see whats happening in your local area.Whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club and could organise a work party, National Nest Box Week gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your garden.
Where you put your box is every bit as important as what it looks like. The highest priority when siting a nest box must be to provide a safe and comfortable environment in which birds can nest successfully.Ensure your nest box is sheltered from prevailing wind, rain and strong sunlight,The front of the nest box should be angled vertically or slightly downwards to prevent rain from entering the nest box.And the most important point is to ensure that it is not easily accessible to predators (cats and squirrels) which can more difficult than you’d think.Ideally keeping the opportunities for these predators to get close to the boxes to a minimal.
For a free information pack please click here and fill in your details.If you’d like to purchase a nestbox then click here.Many thanks.
On the promise of a high tide of 10m+ yesterday I visited ‘Parkgate’ on the Dee Estuary,Wirral,a 100 kilometre stretch of salt marshland.Little did I know how different this day would be to the many other hide tides I’ve attended over the years that didn’t really measure up to their name.The day started beautifully,with the sun shining bright and that crisp feel to the air.I had decided to hide within the reedbeds,choosing the highest point as not to be flooded out with the promised high tide.This beautiful female Stonechat came right up to me in her pursuit to see what I was hiding away in her territory,she stayed for a very brief second where I managed to capture a few portraits of her in the morning light as she perched on top of the reeds.
The beautiful sunshine was soon replaced with dark,angry looking clouds as you could see this weather front heading in shore alongside the predicted high tide around lunchtime.Very slowly at first the tide started coming in,over the years I’ve attended these promised high tides I ‘ve always been disappointed at how little they come in,while I’ve waited to photograph the many raptors that live and hunt over these marshes.With the wind picking up and the distant activity of the flocks of waders,ducks taking to the air as the encroaching tide covered their usual roosting spots,this felt different and indicated this day may measure up to its title.
As the water breaks over the edges of the marsh,flooding the small gullies it brings the wildlife closer to you,the birds start to take flight to avoid the oncoming tide,and waiting predators,small mammals retreat to higher ground escaping the high tide briefly as they’ll be forced to move again later on.With all this wildlife moving it attracts predators in vast numbers, ie Gulls,Crows,Rooks,Kestrels,Peregrine Falcons ,Short-eared Owls,and many more all waiting for mother nature to do their work for them in locating prey,giving away their positions as they flee the water,then swoop down for the easy pickings,as they are to preoccupied in survival, a cruel trick of nature for the small mammals you never normally see.A Short-eared Owl waits for movement as the tide is seen covering the land below.
Ground predators get involved in this bounty to,this Fox had gone out before the tide had reached it’s peak to feast on one of the easiest meals he’ll have during the year.Unfortunately he became cut off from the mainland,preoccupied in feeding.I managed to capture a few images of this moment,also with a short film showing him wet, shivering and freezing with one of the main gullies of water being fed by the tidal currents in front of him.Forcing him to stay put rather than chance swimming for the shore and being swept away in the very strong currents
He did however escape later on as the tide went out and the sun came out the image below shows him fleeing,hopefully having learnt his lesson.
As the available land diminishes beneath the sea water, the mass of tiny,furry creatures with their disheveled coats cling onto the last high ground in an attempt of steer desperation as the tide reaches its height,the last remains of vegetation are covered with the lucky ones who’ve made it to the walls of the reserve,the less unfortunate ones have either drown or been pick off by the predators.Below are a few images I took as the rodents-Field Vole,Common Shrew, made their way to the shoreline where I was standing,the brick wall of the reserve can be seen in some.I did help to fish out a few with a make shift pole made out of reed as some looked up at me I was concerned I’d give them a heart attack, but it was better than seeing them drown.
These where the unlucky ones below,mother nature I know but on such a large scale as this day it shocked me to the core.
I went to Parkgate yesterday with a clear mission to photograph Short-eared Owls and other raptors feeding on this plentiful bounty which hide tide gives them a few times a year,what I came away with was a real story of survival and suffering on one hand ,on the other the power of nature and the food chain stained by the days events for me.The hide tides attracts alot people,yesterday being no exception of which most where unaware of this suffering around/below them as they ticked of the number of birds they’d seen,with the ever present thrust of seeing new species at the forefront of the minds.I needless to say went home really saddened by what I had seen during the day and I have tried to convey that here with the images I took on the day, almost like a reporter capturing someone in their final hours.It was the first time in 3 years I had seen a tide so high, helped along by the wind reach the shoreline in this manner,with the winners and losers played out before my very eyes,to watch animals forced into this ‘Do or Die’ sacrifice was hard for me to stomach as a wildlife photographer where the welfare of nature becomes before anything.
The Isle of Mull lies on the west coast of Scotland and it has a breathtaking coastline of 300 miles, the climate is a mixture of rain and sunshine. From the moment you step onto this beautiful island the wildlife is everywhere and the scenery is stunning. The island is a wonderful place to see Golden Eagles, White-tailed Eagles, Otters, porpoises and a whole host of Hebridean Wildlife. Come and join myself and award-winning Dutch photographer Jeroen Stel as we take you around this beautiful island on our 6 day/5 night trip called ‘The Magic Of Mull’.
Our base will be the picturesque village of Tobermory, with its brightly painted buildings. Overlooking the harbour of Tobermory and facing out to Calve Island and the sound of Mull is our Hotel, you’ll be treated to picturesque views over the harbour and as well as comfortable accommodation, you’ll enjoy fine cuisine in the restaurant, prepared from the best locally sourced ingredients to make your stay even more memorable, all of the rooms have a sea/harbour view. It will be a wonderful chance to show you the best places that I have found on my last trip there and to pass my knowledge of these onto you so you can really enjoy ‘The Magic of Mull’.
Mull has a breathtaking landscape and will offer you some brilliant chances for landscape photography too, with the mountain of Ben More with its imposing peak at just over 3000 feet being the highest point on the island where it forms the southern part of the island and holds several pairs of Golden Eagles, which I witnessed on my last visit here. There is some much to do on Mull, but our main targets are Otter’s, White-Tailed Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles, with some much wildlife around you opportunities will present themselves at anytime.
We have a day trip planned to on the Wednesday to the Treshnish Isles, a designated site of special scientific interest. One of the best places in the UK to see Puffin’s, and teeming with other birds too e.g., Razorbill’s, Guillemots and Seals and possible sightings of passing Basking Sharks that enter the sound of Mull to feed on the plankton, offering you some great photographic opportunities, you will have two and a half hours on Staffa, and almost the same on Lunga.
The pattern of events for each day will be very similar, which will ensure that we get the best out of our time on Mull. An Early start to get into place at one of the Otter sites and hopefully catch them as they wake and start to fish, head back to the hotel for our breakfast at around 8am,then collect our packed lunches and head out for the day, catch the evening light later on at one of our Otter or Eagle sites, then back to the hotel for our evening meal and a chance to review the days images.It plans to be a brillant trip,getting the very best from Mull and in turn a stunning experience for each one of you.
The cost of this event includes all meals,packed lunch,all transport around Mull, ferry crossing.The meeting place is the Scottish port town of Oban where you will be met by Jeroen and myself from which point you will have know other worries as the trip has been planned with every detail,subject with you in mind.Led by to very passionate wildlife photographers,all the ingredients for a magical trip on the beautiful island of Mull.If you have any questions or information you’d like answering or to book they please go to my ‘Contact’ page,where you can either call me or email me and I’d be more than pleased to help you.
With a dusting of snow and temperatures of minus-4 with the wind chill, the cold,winter weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit’s on the Birdwatching for Beginners Walk,at Carsington Water, Derbyshire today with a brillant turn out of over 25 people that braved the icy conditions as the winter sunshine shone down on us all.
Carsington Water has been a very popular visitor attraction since the reservoir was opened by the Queen in May 1992,the reservoir is owned and operated by Severn Trent Water and is a centre for outdoor activities.Today I joined the rangers and Matt Merrit Editor from the Birdwatching Magazine as we took a trip around this beautiful reservoir,I was invited by Matt to take photographs for an article that will be in the March issue of the magazine.Introductions out of the way and we headed around the reservoir looking out for what ever birds would brave the conditions and show up,stopping off at various different places and making best use of the wardens knowledge of this area.
As you can see from the photograph above conditions where very clear and cold but we didn’t have a great deal of luck apart from the usually common species,but we did managed to find a Redshank feeding on the shoreline and a lone Lapwing against the snow,the images can be send below
Carsington Water run these walks on the first Sunday of every month and they also put on more advanced walks that specialise in certain species and are aimed at the more experienced birdwatcher.Myself and Matt had a great day and it was lovely to meet such nice people and I hope you all learned something. look out for the article which will be in the March issue of the Birdwatching Magazine and if you would like to join the next walk please contact Carsington Water 01629 540 696 and they will tell you all the details you need or alternatively drop me a line on my ‘Contact’ page and I will answer any queries you may have.
On Sunday 3rd of January 2010, Carsington Water and Birdwatching Magazine are organising a Birdwatching For Beginners Walk at Carsington Water in Derbyshire.It is a free two-hour walk around the area and lake with the intention of getting beginners young and old into Birdwatching.The magazine is doing a feature of this long-running and very successful event which takes place every month and the magazine has asked me if I would like to come along and take some photograph’s for them,and of the event and surrounding birdlife.Also I will be on hand to offer any advice regarding birdwatching,equipment etc.As a youngster I was a member of the ‘YOC‘ -Young Ornithologist’s Club,which is now called RSPB Wildlife Explorers I gained so much by going birdwatching,also it introduced me to wildlife at a young age which was great,I went to different reserves and saw different places all learning about birds and their behaviours. It’s very good events like this are still happening today, and a brilliant way for people to reconnect with nature.
Birdwatching for Beginners Walk, Carsington Water, Derbyshire, starts at 10am,so come prepared for a great start to your 2010 bird count, Volunteer Ranger’s will be on hand and pointing out any winter visitors and other birds that make their home on this beautiful stretch of water.Over the two hours there the idea is to help and talk to the absolute beginners and to see what they get out of it and how their knowledge changes over that couple of hours with the help and advice that is on offer,I will be also showing a few tips I’ve learned and passing them on and taking photo’s of any birds we see over the time we are there.
It’s a great way to shake of the christmas and new year blues and to learn more about wildlife,so if you are interested or your children are then come along on the day or telephone Carsington Water on 01629 540 696 and ask about this brillant event,you also get the chance to meet the Birdwatching Team that will be there along with myself.I hope to see you all there and if you have any other questions or information then drop me a line on my Contact form
Timetable For The Day
9.45 – 10.00 People on course checked in.
10.00 Introduction, housekeeping and walk plans
10.05 10 minutes on a bird topic(s)
10.15 Walk to and round Stones Island
11.15 Arrive back at Visitor Centre, to pick up quick coffees; Loo stop etc
11.20 To Ranger Base to view feeder and Bullfinch (not guaranteed!)
11.30 At Shiningford Creek for viewing followed by reminders of next walk.
11.45 To Wildlife Centre to join Date with nature team
Noon Disperse……………. people can stay as long as they like
Above is the timetable for this walk and it should be a great morning for your interest the satellite navigation code is DE6 1ST or below is the full postal address