Bowland…A Few More

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
Just a few more images from some of my recent visits to the Bowland area of Lancashire.The numbers of breeding waders has slowly increased and it was very nice to see and hear the calls and flight displays of the curlews.Apparently curlews are nationally in decline but it is still possible to see reasonable numbers on the upland meadows and rough pastures of Bowland.Lapwings also seem to be doing ok and are already sat on eggs.It will be encouraging to see the chicks very soon now as they get use to this harsh upland habitat.It was nice also to see a few brown hares enjoying some warm afternoon sunshine.The usual red grouse were still posing for the camera close to the road,the female shown below is a perfect example of cryptic colouration as she blends in beautifully to the moorland grassesFinally shown below was yet another redshank posin...
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Shooting Grouse

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
I am of course referring to shooting red grouse with the camera.At this time of the year I like to return to the Bowland area of Lancashire to see what birds have returned to the moors to breed. I have made a few visits recently and after a slow start things are at last improving.The better weather of late has helped and reasonable numbers of upland waders and red grouse can be seen on territory.I like to drive slowly along some of Bowland's quiet lanes and backroads.There is not much traffic and most of the birds can be photographed from the comfort of the car.My main quarry was the red grouse and at this time of the year they can be seen on territory perching up on heather or the rough moorland grasses.The females are usually close by but are much harder to see as they keep low and rely on their superb camouflage for concealment.As well a...
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Gone but not Forgotten

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
I am referring to the long staying bittern at Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve.As suspected it was not seen for a number of days and the conclusion was that it would have returned to continental Europe for the breeding season.I understand from a knowledgeable birdwatcher that this bittern returns to Mere Sands Wood every Winter. If so I look forward to it's return.As I usually do when at Mere Sands I visited the Cyril Gibbon's Hide to see if the great crested grebes were displaying and on my last visit they did indeed perform for the camera.The grey heron that flew in at the Rufford Hide soon caught a frog. The frogs were busy spawning and would provide easy pickings for the heron.I have shown a sequence of one of the frogs being despatched and swallowed by the heron.It was nice to see kingfishers again showing well at Mere Sands.One bird vis...

Hide and Seek

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
The bittern which has spent many weeks at Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve has recently been the star attraction.Most days the Rufford Hide has been packed with photographers hoping for a sighting of the very elusive bittern.At times it has been very obliging and provided great photographic opportunities for those present.At other times it has been almost impossible to have a decent view of the bird and some people have spent many hours sat waiting without a sight of the bird.Earlier this week I spent a few hours waiting in a busy hide but it wasn't seen at all during the day.It may now have taken advantage of clear days and nights to return from whence it came somewhere on the Continent.The images shown below I obtained on an earlier visit when the bittern did come out to play.I have tried to show how well camouflaged the bird is and image s...
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Dancing Grebes

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
I have made a few visits recently to Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve to see the much photographed Bittern.It is certainly the star attraction at the moment but other delights await you if you visit.I always make a point of calling at the Cyril Gibbons Hide to see if there is any action from the great crested grebes which are currently performing their courtship displays.On my first visit I had only been in the hide ten minutes when the pair of grebes did their famous weed dance.They kept their distance but I managed some reasonable shots  as shown below.Also present was a handsome male goldeneye.On my second visit whilst waiting for the bittern to show at the Rufford Hide the assembled photographers were treated to a visit by the kingfisher which showed well in the afternoon sunshine.Kingfishers seem to have been absent for some time fr...
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Bittern…Mere Sands Wood

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
There had been a bittern reported at Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve for the last few weeks.I therefore decided  on a visit to hopefully see this uncommon and rarely seen bird.I hadn't been to Mere Sands for some time and it was nice to return to this lovely little reserve. The weather was still unsettled with frequent showers and the sun has been very reluctant to shine and it has remained on the cool side. I began by visiting the Cyril Gibbon's Hide to see if the great crested grebes had begun their courting rituals.Within ten minutes of arriving they performed the weed dance and I couldn't believe my luck.The grebes will be the subject of a future post.Later I moved to the Rufford Hide where the bittern had been showing.A fellow photographer informed me that it hadn't shown during the morning.I duly arrived at the Rufford Hide to fin...

Waxwing Week

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
Unexpectedly I have been watching waxwings again this week.I enjoyed some excellent sessions with waxwings around Christmas and New Year.There was a flock of around one hundred birds present at Barrow village near Whalley and many photographers and birdwatchers came to see them.So it was a great surprise this week to see they were back at Barrow village.There was a flock of around forty birds coming to feed at a cotoneaster tree in a nearby garden.I made two visits to see them,the first was curtailed by heavy rain but I did manage one or two shots before I had to head for home.Of course I was keen to return and the following day I was there again.The waxwings were still there and were coming down at regular intervals to feed on the cotoneaster berries.I was not alone and Eric kept me company and we enjoyed some excellent views and photograp...
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Yarrow Valley…Valentine’s

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
I hadn't visited Yarrow Valley Country Park for some time.I had heard that the kingfisher had been showing well recently at it's usual spot so I went for a look.As I arrived David and Jackie Moreton were just leaving having spent a couple of fruitless hours waiting for the kingfisher to show.I went to the channel between the top and bottom lakes and joined half a dozen or so other photographers waiting patiently.Eventually around three o'clock the kingfisher suddenly appeared and all the cameras were in action.The kingfisher stayed for around an hour,perching,preening and catching fish.Although the light is never just right at this spot I would have thought that everyone went away happy with their efforts.As well as the kingfisher a handsome male goosander appeared nearby and provided some nice opportunities for the camera.The usual nuthatc...

Around The Lanes

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
The weather recently has been for the most part very dull and depressing.Consequently I haven't been out much with the camera.One or two afternoons were slightly brighter and better and I took the car for a ride around the lanes in the Pilling and Cockerham areas.Spring was in the air and ir was nice to see the snowdrops in bloom.Brown hares were becoming active and there were still decent numbers of wildfowl and waders in the area.A selection of images are shown below of the wildlife.All of the images were taken from the comfort of the car which is always very useful as a mobile hide.The kestrel on the lookout for prey takes pride of place.Lapwings and curlews on the flooded fields were numerous throughout the area.It was nice to get a couple of close ups of Whooper and Bewick's swans showing the difference in size and bill pattern.Wild ge...
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Black…White…and Red

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
The weather this last week has again been dull and depressing most of the time.However on the Wednesday blue skies appeared but it was icy cold.I decided on a much needed afternoon out and about with the camera.I had seen images of a black redstart on the internet at St Walburgas Church in Preston and this was to be my first port of call.The redstart was still there but had just departed as I arrived.Susan and Peter and David and Jackie were already there,all well known local photographers.They had seen the bird and I was reassured it would be back.Sure enough it did return after 30mins and flitted around the church buildings very quickly.I did manage a few hastily grabbed shots and awaited it's return.I stayed for an hour or so and was eventually rewarded with nice views of this lively little bird as it did it's rounds of the church buildi...