Whos keeping an eye on me....

Sunday, 27 February 2011

This weekend in the garden

With a trip abroad looming, again I have not found the time to get out and about, however even the extra chores couldnt stop me snapping away for a few images......

The Blue Tit in flight was a nice bonus as the momentarily clear sky gives a lovely backdrop for the translucent wings, of course you are all used to my Lesser Redpoll images by now.... Yes they are still here in great numbers as is the Mealy Redpoll that will soon be departing our shores and heading back north.... For the record it has been here for 78 consecutive days.

The Siskin numbers are now increasing..... a garden record count of 12 today.

Lesser Redpoll

Female Siskin (showing off her fine plumage)

Blue Tit

Meally Redpoll


Acrobatic male Siskin

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Moorland Grouse... Bfbs contribution to WBW XIV

The red grouse is a truly wild game bird found only in the British Isles and Ireland. The main distribution is in the north of England and Scotland. Its typical habitat is upland heather moors. I am lucky enough to live close to some fabulous Peak District moorland here in East Cheshire, very close to the borders of Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

The winters are incredibly harsh on the moorland and the weather can deteriorate for months often having the main passes betweeen the towns of Macclesfield (in Cheshire) cut off from Buxton (in Derbyshire),

One of my favourite areas is Axe Edge Moor, this moorland lies between the two towns and is very close to the iconic Cat & Fiddle public house, renowned for being at the highest alltitude in England it is this particular part of the moorland that I favour and is a stronghold for the Red Grouse species.

Looking towards the Cat & Fiddle from Axe Edge Moor in the spring time

and the Summer time

Despite the very harsh winter weather of course the summer months can be a very beautiful and be inspiring in such a magical place.

The moorlands are also home to some other lovely species such as

Golden Plover

 Short Eared Owl

 unfortunatly because of the Red Grouse it is also home to a rather ugly preditor....the human shooter, I dont like the word hunter in this topic as they hardly have to hunt these birds, simply flush them out and take pot shots at close range... grrrrr...... Less said about that the better! :(

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

In search of Hawfinch..... or Bfbs contribution to World Bird Wednesday XIIl

Hawfinch...... a finch with a stonking great beak. Scarce visitor around these parts and always a nice one to get onto your year list.  Easy peasy.... go to the Hawfinch stronghold, wait around for an hour observe the large finch beauties and duly add them to your list..... er not quite!

Only the day before a rather good count of 15 were reported in the stronghold of Cromford, Derbyshire. No problem as its only an hour and a halfs drive for me.... I have the day off, I can still be home for lunch. 9am until 11.30am not a jot.... half a dozen other birders are searching the area too... the light fades in and out as heavy dark clouds roll in, bingo... high up in the tallest tree 2 large finch like bids arrive.... 3 more, even better.

Damn the trees in front partially obscure the sight, four of the birds are obscured by branches, the other is partially obscured and also in sillouette, turn you bugger, lets see your beak!  Ok its the right size bird, its bulky.... its in sillouette still, I move for a better view...damn theyre gone....... that was the last sighting, now the rain starts to tumble... the light has now completely faded.... its tea time!

Its never meant to be easy is it..............

I did manage to get this rather nice image of one of the Little grebes that was on the local canal.

This male is showing off its breeding plumage and has paired off with a mate, and it was vocally defending its teritory from another male. About 100yrds further down the canal another pair guarded their territory.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Fantasy Football

Thought I would take my camera along to a local football match one evening last year. I gave up my usual seat to stand on the other side of the ground and try to get some action shots under the floodlights.

Macclesfield Town Vs Northampton Town (Moss Rose Ground, Macclesfield Cheshire)

Flying winger...Colin Daniel
1/20s - f5.6 - ISO 1000

in full flow

Lee Bell ..... eyeing up the opposition

Paul Morgan..... blue leader 

Ben Wright..... lone striker

Jon Brain... loud and clear

Friday, 11 February 2011

One of my favourite walks:

Set in the Peak District and close to the Derbyshire villages of Longnor and Earl Sterndale sit two charasmatic peaks rising quite unexpectantly out of the surounding green rolling meadows. 

Chrome Hill rises to c. 425 m (c. 1394 ft) while the more prominant Parkhouse is slightly lower at c. 360 m (c. 1,180 ft) both are the remains of an Atol or tropical reef knoll.

Chrome Hill

Parkhouse Hill

Neither ridge will really test the hardened rambler but the stunning twin peaks and surrounding landscape make for some very special local scenery

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Its a Gull day..... or Bfbs contribution to World Bird Wednesday XII

I really have been unable to get out with the camera over the last week, partly due to sending it in for a sensor clean and partly due to my shift pattern.... anyway I thought a selection of gulls would be a fine contribution to WBW XII.
Lesser Black Backed, Greater Black Backed and Hering gulls are on display below. Some of the images are from in and above my garden, some are from the coast, and as you can see one has ice cream around its chops (can you spot it??) .....

I hope no one is offended by the Greater Black Backed Gull drowning the young Coot.... they really are a beast of a bird and an efficient preditor.

Click on the image for a closer view, Happy Birding & Photography everyone

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Keeping Track

Thought I would share this info, some intresting stuff about my local Dippers:

I posted the above image on a birdforum covering my local county of Cheshire. I took the Dipper images in a small village Nr Macclesfield called Wildboarclough on the edge of East Cheshire in March of 2010. The county recorder saw the images and gave the following reply, it makes intresting reading:

"Re the Dipper picture, as you can see this is a colour ringed individual. South Manchester Ringing Group in conjuction with Professor Stuart Sharpe at Sheffield UniV are mid way through a BTO RAS ( retrapping adults for Survival) project on Dippers. The blue colour ring above the BTO metal denotes the river (in this case Clough Brook) and the colour ring combination on the left leg, which territory/pair it was first trapped at. This is a male who was paired with a female by the picnic site near Yarnshaw Hill in 2009. The colour ringing means we dont have to try and recatch the adults as they can be identified from excellent pictures like the one posted.
At Wildboarclough, the Dippers ( and there are up to six pairs down to the A54 bridge from Bottom of the Oven) tend not to spend all winter on territory, most birds decend to lower levels during the winter months. It seems to be the experienced females who get back to key territories (mostly nest boxes under the bridges) first, and then lure a passing male as they move back up the brook ! So the girls are very much in charge in the Dippering world of Clough Brook at least! Having said that we did have one male who manged two females and two broods under adjacent bridges 100m apart in 2009, and even manged a second brood with one of them, who was actually his daughter from a previous season. Would make a good soap opera I think !"

How about that for a few facts about my local bird

More images of the same bird.....

and some of its partner

A real Head-turner!!

in the blink of an eye....

shes just looking too damn pretty

As a foot note I have been back to their territory a couple of times in January but have not yet spotted their return, well maybe they will very soon I hope.