Friday, 16 December 2011

Sri Lanka - December

I have just returned from a working trip to the beautiful country of Sri Lanka, I shall be a UK based Tour Operative for a newly fledged travel company that is being launched shortly. Had an amazing time, so many wonderful experiences, I climbed a mountain side in flip flops, rode through a forest on a motorbike with flowers in my hair, had songs sang to me and was fed so well, had 2 constant companions, two local boys(senior tour leaders within the company) who were my bodyguards, chauffeurs, guides as well as being my best friends and great all round guys, just wonderful. I was treated with respect, care and full attention at all times. The wildlife/birds never failed to amaze, I just loved every minute and was sad to leave. I shall be visiting Sri Lanka regurlarly, we shall have an office in Colombo in due course and will be working from there at times as well as here in the UK. The trip was a complete success and a personal challenge as I travelled alone, my first solo long haul, quite an acheivement and one which Im very proud of :)
I also am compiling a birding article for use by one of the top hotels there, it shall be used as an  informative brochure for use by guests. I stayed at the hotel for 3 nights during my stay, what a gorgeous place :), I would recommend this place for any one who wants a bit of luxury, perfect for a honeymoon or similar, the link is as follows :-

Cant wait to go back :), My new company will shortly be launching their website, I have written articles for it as well as providing photographs. Its all very exciting and Im proud to be part of it all

Before returning there I am presently organising a trip to Nepal, probably in Feb. I will be teaming up with the top ornithologist/bird guide there, lots of birding and also projects that involve teaching conservation in local schools etc, a very appealing project and one which Im so pleased to be doing. I have longed to visit Nepal for many years :)

Photos from Sri Lanka will shortly be on my Flickr site as well as my Zenfolio one.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

A visit to Waters Edge CP 2-12-11

Lesser Redpoll
I set off in glorious sunshine but after half an hour , the weather closed in, dark clouds gathered and the temperature dropped :( I stayed an hour or so and caught up with a few Lesser Redpoll and 100+ Goldfinch. A presumed over-wintering Chiffchaff was a nice find at the entrance to the small wood and 4 Bullfinch were noted also. A few Wrens and a couple of Robins were seen too.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Recent Outings

Thought it time I updated this blog, its been a while! I have had a few visits to Far Ings/Waters Edge CP but weather hasnt been that favourable. The best weather we had was on a day trip to Cleethorpes!
An update on my planned visit to India for the Canon Wild Clicks competition, this has now been put on hold as I have been recently offered a job working for a new travel company based in the beautiful country of Sri Lanka, I am flying out there next week to meet the team and spend a few days enjoying all the country has to offer and of course taking photographs :) Really looking forward to it all. Should be able to add a few more photos to my every growing portfolio :)

Marsh Harrier


Snow Bunting
Here are a few recent photographs of mine, theres more on my Flickr site and my Zenfolio one.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Far Ings 10-11-11

Had a few hour in the murky weather there, although the sun did show its face for a little while and the walk around was a pleasure. Just the usual birds around but I did have a great encounter with a Sparrowhawk - the bird came past me, made eye contact, then went above my head and lingered for just a little while so of course I photographed it :) Here are a couple of shots, there are more on my Flickr site (link opp)

Saturday, 29 October 2011

WWT Photography Competition - votes please!!

I have recently entered a photograph in the WWT competition. The photograph was taken on my recent visit to Hungary and has been approved and entered into the "World Wetland" catergory of the competition. If you hover over the "more" link under the photograph title (Early Risers) there is a little piece of information explaining what the photo depicts which was a prerequisite when I sent it in. The photograph has been compressed on the site but can assure you that the original, larger photo is much better!! If anyone likes the shot and is kind enough to vote on my photo then that would be greatly appreciated :)
I shall be entering more photographs in later heats too!

The link is as follows -

Normanby Hall CP 28-10-11

Enjoyed an autumnal jolly around the park in glorious sunny weather :) We had visited specifically to watch and photograph any Red Deer rutting but only found 2 Stags who showed no rutting behaviour and were relaxed, eating and laying down mostly! Still nice to see though. Lots of photos on my photography website ( and on my Flickr site (

Treecreepers, Jays, GS Woodpeckers, Jackdaws and Pied Wagtails were noted on our visit. The colours of Autumn were a joy to behold and many pictures on this on my Zenfolio site.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Humber Skua sp

Very bad record shots of a Skua (Arctic?) seen on the Humber this evening, one of 3 Skua sp. seen at the same time. 2 of these flying more or less together and one larger one seen over near the North Bank and no photos as far too distant. Any comments/thoughts most welcome, I have little experience of Skuas having not done a great deal of sea watching etc. They were all viewed from the viewpoint behind the VC at Waters Edge CP

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Lake Velence - Hungary

I have just returned from a wonderful trip to Hungary. I  was participating on an Eco Press Trip and  a guest of the Hungarian Tourist Board - working on behalf, and representing, David Lindo (The Urban Birder). The hospitality of the Hungarian people was out of this world, I was so well looked after and the cuisine was some of the best I have experienced on my travels :) The tourist board showcased their delights of the Velence area, all the food was locally sourced and produced and I enjoyed it all so much. I had Grey Cattle beef, Wild Boar, Catfish from the lake etc and lots and lots of Palinka (Hungarian Brandy)!!!! On one of the days a Eco Conference was held with in excess of 100 participants. My group consisted of 8 representatives from both the media and travel sector and we all got on like a house on fire :) We were shown the ecological and bio-diversity of the area with a very hectic schedule, we only had 20 mins or so between trips out and meal times and it was thoroughly exhausting but wonderful too! The  hotel we stayed in was fantastic, and we all had a balcony overlooking Lake Velence - just stunning!
The bird life was minimal as most birds have migrated and the ones that remained were nearly always distant but I did get some photos which I have yet to complete working on. I will post some at a later date. The habitats are just brilliant and Im sure in the Spring/Summer the birdlife will be awesome. I had some lifers, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Penduline Tit, Lesser Spotted Eagle to name a few.

The most difficult part of the trip for me was the travel to London and back by myself with over 30kg of luggage and gear! I had to negotiate 2 trains and 3 buses both ways (staying in a hotel before flying out and on my return) - and as I had no downtime at all in Hungary by the time I got home I was exhausted! But it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears as it was such a memorable trip! I wouldnt hesitate in doing it again :)
Like I mentioned earlier I will post some photographs in due course.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Far Ings Study Group - Bird Race

Enjoyed a bird race today at Far Ings. The forecasters got it totally wrong yet again! It rained quite a lot, sometimes very heavy but we had a few breaks. We had a couple of coffee breaks and at lunchtime enjoyed some hot soup and crusty bread! When we left the group had managed a total of 82 species, Rich and I personally managed a list of 68 species which wasnt bad considering the dire weather.

No more patch birding for me for the next week as Im off to London tomorrow then fly out to Hungary on Tuesday. I shall have internet access from my hotel so will try to update daily!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

South Ferriby 24-9-11

We decided on a nice walk today as the weather favourable, I also needed a break from packing and cleaning in readiness for my trip to Hungary next week! After taking a short bus ride we set off from South Ferriby and walked the Viking Way back to Barton on Humber. We sat in the sunshine for a few mins with a coffee out of the flask and watched our first Pink Footed Geese of the autumn which had gathered on the sandbanks of the Humber at low tide. Magical to see and hear these lovely little geese :) A few Wigeon flew up and down the river and c150 Avocet were also present.
Continuing our walk we didnt really see much else, the hedgerows and fields were very quiet. A couple of Comma butterflies and Migrant Hawker dragonflies were on the wing. Arriving eventually at Chowder Ness we rested a while with a coffee and a couple of biscuits, but again very quiet there. A Snipe was watched weaving about in the rocky areas, a few Shelduck fed on the muddy areas and a few Golden Plover were seen too. A solitary Oystercatcher put in a appearance too. We left Chowder Ness and walked down the Humber bank picking up a Bar Tailed Godwit hanging out with 3 Redshank near to the old cement works. Reaching the Far Ings NNR visitor centre we had a cold drink then headed back through Barton Reed Bed and made our way home. A nice walk with picturesque scenery :)
Chowder Ness

Distant shot of Pinks
Tomorrow we have to be up bright and early, we have a dawn to dusk bird race tomorrow at Far Ings, beginning at 7am. Will need to set the alarm!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Winteringham Haven 1-9-11

We decided that a change is as good as a rest so hopped on a bus to Winteringham then walked a 3 mile circuit down past the Yacht Club and along the Humber bank. On the whole, it was pretty quiet but we did have nice views of Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Yellow and Pied Wagtail, Linnets and such. Not many great photo opportunites as most were seen at distance but I got a few record shots for this blog! Some of the fields had a few roaming Pheasants and Red Legged Partridge.
About 4 seperate flocks of Barnacle Geese flew up the Humber, and one field nearby held c150 Golden Plover which were flushed by a Marsh Harrier and disappeared from view. We also noted a good number of Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the wing.
On returning to the village, we enjoyed a pint at the local watering hole, the Bay Horse before catching the bus back to Barton. A nice change of scenery, a good long walk (with a few coffee breaks - via the flask!) and some nice warm, if mainly cloudy, weather.
Barnacle Geese


Wood Pigeon

Yellow Wagtail

Once back home we sat out in the garden with a cuppa and had 2 Sparrowhawks over plus a lone Swift and a sprinkling of House Martins.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Waters Edge CP 31-8-11

A quick visit there today for a spot of fresh air and a check on the Little Grebes. On my way there I bumped into a couple I know who told me that there was only 1 chick there today. With a sinking feeling I made my way straight to their pool and was relieved to see all 3 chicks with their parents :) Phew! What a relief. It seems as though the biggest chick stays with one parent and its two smaller siblings stays with the other, and I have noted the parent with the 2 small ones spends a lot of time tucked in the edges of the reedbed.
Otherwise it was extremely quiet in the park with a few Swallows and House Martins about plus a vocal Great Spotted Woodpecker. A couple of Magpie were about too and a Grey Heron flew over.

I came across a couple of Grey Squirrels, including one that came down for a drink, only seen from a distance so not a very good photo obtained!!

Little Grebe Update

I was thrilled to see that the 3 new Little Grebe young at present are alive and kicking and growing stronger by the day :) I spent a few hours observing this little family. From a photography point of view it presented many challenges. The light was terrible mostly, there was a constant stream of people with children and dogs so it was a case of patience! In between distractions I laid down on my tummy amongst the duck droppings and nettles to watch and photograph the grebes at low level. I got really engrossed in the behaviours, the parents were diving every 20 seconds or so and the little ones were calling like crazy each time the adult bobbed back up to the surface with a fish, all fighting to be the one to eat. I also noticed that the adults narrow their bodies a milli-second before diving, making themselves, no doubt, into mini torpedos!! Further interest was provided by the presence of a presumably male Little Grebe intruder on the territory - he was constantly given the elbow should he stray nearer. I witnessed also the interaction of both parents with each other. At one time the mother, along with her chicks, swam over to the father, spoke to him in grebe speak, and went off by herself for a while leaving him with the babies. I reckoned she had said, "Hey I need some "me" time, you are on babysitting duty!!"
I had the family down to about 8 feet in front of me, they came regularly into the shallower areas unless disturbed by other people etc.
One the subject of other people, what struck me most about them, and there were lots on occasions, was that not one of them noticed the Little Grebe family, despite them being close by and so vocal. Their main focus was feeding the Mallards and Mute Swans. It saddens me somewhat that so many people are out of tune with nature, their eyes and ears seem closed to it all, how can they not notice all the little natural miracles surrounding them? Im so pleased Im not one of them! Im sure they all thought I had lost the plot lying in the mud with my camo hoodie on, little did they realise the joy and wonder I had lost myself in!!

Anyway, rant over, here are a few shots I managed, like I said, shame about the light but there are one or two better shots on my photo website

Saturday, 27 August 2011

A Quick Dash to Alkborough Flats 27-8-11

An hours visit there today with Rich and Andy Sharp, with torrential rain and bad light. Still a productive hour though. Within 5 minutes of leaving the car we watched a Hobby chasing a Martin for a good 5 mins - not something you see every day- always great to see nature in the raw! With the rain pounding down we made for the hide and sat scanning the area. Lots of Avocet, Black Tailed and Bar Tailed Godwits and Shelduck. Ringed Plover, Knot, Greenshank etc were noted then Andy spotted an approaching Spoonbill (our target bird for today). I only managed distant record shots, the light was atrocious throughout our visit, but enjoyed watching it feed using Andys  'scope. It was a pleasure to hear the melodies of all the different bird calls surrounding us :)
Black Tailed Godwit

Greylag Geese


Here are a few record shots from the visit there.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Far Ings NNR 25-8-11

A day spent there, just to relax around Ness Area, the Kingfisher showed briefly a couple of times without perching and it returned at last light and perched briefly. Otherwise it was pretty quiet, only the usual birds around. We had both male and female Sparrowhawk fly-bys and a couple of Magpies terrorising the froglets/toadlets.
Andy Sharp informed me of a sighting of Ruff on Pursuit Pit so we went to have a look. There were 2 Ruff there with the Lapwings and I managed a record shot before they all flew off to another area of the pit.
A quiet but enjoyable day out. The weather was ok, some sunshine but also cloudy.
Kingfisher at Sunset

Grey Heron



Sunday, 21 August 2011

Birdfair Weekend 19-20-21 August 2011

Early Friday morning saw us setting off on the train down to Rich's hometown of Nuneaton in preparation for our annual visit to the Rutland Birdfair. We stayed with his parents on Friday/Sat night. Friday night was spent sitting outside a pub for a few beers with Dave Hutton.
Saturday morning dawned with the promise of nice weather, Dave picked us up and we headed up to Rutland.  A great day as always, plenty of banter and it was great to meet up with old and new friends. The weather was kind apart from a few minutes downpour of rain later in the day, otherwise very warm and sunny :)
I recently had a photograph published (a Med Gull) in David Lindo's debut book "The Urban Birder" and I met up with David for a chat and to receive my signed copy of the said book. Pleased as punch as it is my first book publication :)
I also met up with Jith from "Walk with Jith" who specialise in holidays in Sri Lanka. I travelled with him on a birding trip in April 2010 and got nice photos of a Sri Lankan Blue Magpie which Jith is using on his stall banner.

Black Darter (female)

Common Darter

Common Darter

Emerald Damselfly

Common Lizard

Migrant Hawker


Southern Hawker
We headed back to Nuneaton late afternoon then Dave picked us up Sunday morning to come back up to Lincs and to have a return visit to Crowle Moor. Lovely sunny day and yet again the Horseflies were a pain! Still we saw some nice dragons etc. The target species were Black Darters, this proved difficult with the males, they just wouldnt keep still for long! The females were a little more obliging. A great weekend and huge thanks to Dave for running us about :)