Category Archives: Birds Eloquent Project

Mull – Swallows and the Art of Flying

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For all the spectacular and heady wildlife Mull has to offer, the photographs I’m perhaps most pleased with from my last trip are those of a bird I always enjoy working with, and one that continues to challenge; the swallow.

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Golden Eagles on Mull

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My brother Phil had just come back from Mull and had told of a golden eagle eyrie very close to the single road that runs through Glen More. He’d also been lucky enough to see it take a live lamb off the hillside in front of the eyrie and return it to the then small eaglet sitting tight and out of sight in what had become known as the ‘smiling rock’, due to the shape of the crag under which the eyrie lay.

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Mull 1

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It’s been a good while since I last posted a blog but a recent trip to Mull, and devouring ‘The Eagles Way’ by a favourite nature writer of mine, Jim Crumley, has made me think about getting ‘something out there’(funnily enough another title of one of Crumley’s twenty five or so books!)

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Avocets, Godwits and Gulls at Marshside

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Simply a great place to be during this time of the year. Avocets, godwits, gulls and lots of squabbling – wish I lived closer!

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Mediterranean Gulls at Marshside

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The changing landscape of bird populations within Britain makes for interesting reading and Marshside, close to Southport, has seen some very interesting trends over the twenty or so years its been in the care of the RSPB.

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Decline of the Sparrows

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Just back from the North West after doing a small piece for BBC Countryfile (more on that later) and managed a few day out with the camera and collecting more material for the WALK project in the summer. This first post concentrates on a few hours I spent with the tree sparrows at Martin Mere and the decline of the sparrows of this country.

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Red Kites at Llanddeusant

 

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I’ve been to Gigrin and Bwlch Nant yr Arian to photograph the red kites, but never to Llanddeusant. It’s a lot quieter than the other two, the sun’s behind you and the hides are very good for viewing but more importantly they’re excellent for photography.

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Birds in Flight

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Back at the farm again and working in a little brighter light gave me better parameters in which to work. The flight shots were taken with the Nikon 500mm lens prefocused on about a two foot square frame.

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Home Farm Favourites

 

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Back on the farm, I’ve been working with some of the old favourites.

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Ruff at Martin Mere

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Another recent wader encountered whilst out with the geese was the ruff. Five birds spent a good half hour picking up the swan feed towards dusk and it was interesting to note the very different stages of plumage from wintering adults to juvenile birds. It’s the leg colour that varies more than anything and is pretty well emphasised in these images.

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Islay geese : Black and White

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So here’s the set from the last post but in black and white, with a hint of selenium. Think I know which one I’m going with. The colour set can be seen here.

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Islay Again and the Geese

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Back to Islay and the geese. The aim was to place them in a wider context and I was fortunate that the weather was with me (seems like it’s not been very good since then). The mornings were superb and straight out of the van I was able to work with a perfect backdrop and the geese coming over the waters of Loch Indal. Trying to work them together is not such an easy task, focusing is all against you and the focusing spot had to be continually adjusted.

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Some Winter Waders

 

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Squabbling black-tailed godwits

It’s been the geese that have drawn me to various locations recently but there’s normally a trade off in the form of waders that frequent the same habitat. Here’s a few images of some of the waders I’ve encountered recently whilst following the geese.

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On the Exe

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Following on from the Avocets on the Exe post (It’s all a bit jumping back and forth I know) I followed them, and the  flocks of black-tailed godwits onto the estuary as the tide receded.

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Martin Mere and the Whooper Swans

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Over last weekend I was up at Martin Mere again and continuing my work on the swan and geese project. The whoopers can be quite aggressive to each other and to anything that gets in their way as the images with the mallard show here. It lunged towards the unsuspecting duck, twirled it round for a few ‘spins’ before the mallard escaped its attentions.

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Avocets on the Exe

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Second day in the hide – 500 avocets, black and bar-tailed godwits and dunlin – the hide tide had pushed them all onto the Bowling Green Marsh on the Exe estuary. I was in the hide early enough to watch the avocets arrive, they came in three pulses.

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The Exe Estuary and Mulled Wine!

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Early morning at Topsham harbour on the way to the hide

More to come from Islay later but I managed a few of days down on the Exe estuary last week, again in search of getting some images of geese, dark-bellied brent this time from arctic Russia, in the context of the estuary. It was also an opportunity to witness a spectacle that has to be one of the finest in Britain, the population of avocets that flock in large numbers to this part of the world during the winter.

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The Character of Islay – Beyond Geese 1

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Islay has more, much more, to offer than just geese and the other wildlife that’s on offer, but when you’re only over for such a short time it’s difficult to get a sense of it all.

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Islay Geese 3

Continuing on the theme of context within the experience of seeing the geese on Islay are this set.

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Islay Geese 2

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Following on from the previous post this set once again aims to give a sense of the broader context in which the geese are experienced.

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