Egrets and Waders

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
Following on from my last posting I am now showing some of the other birds present at Marshside when the spoonbill turned up. I spent the afternoon at Nel's hide and enjoyed some super afternoon light and plenty of birds present in front of the hide.Little egrets were fishing close to the hide with up to three present  and these lovely elegant birds looked very nice in the afternoon sun.The ever present black tailed godwits fed close to the hide and showed off the detail and colour in their summer plumage.Two uncommon visitors to arrive and ones I hadn't photographed before were two male ruff in their breeding finery and a lone whimbrel which dropped in for a wash and brush up.Hope you enjoy this selection from Marshside and I am sure I will return soon for more encounters with it's wonderful bird life.Thanks for looking in and stay tu...
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Spoonbills…Leighton and Marshside

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
The recent strong easterly winds and warm weather had brought plenty of summer migrants into the country.A rare pallid harrier had been discovered in Bowland and was setting up territory and displaying over the fells. Sadly it couldn't have picked a worse location as Bowland is a no go area for harriers and any chance of breeding is snuffed out by the shooting fraternity who despise anything other than grouse.The harrier is still around and is attracting birdwatchers and photographers from all parts of the country.Despite mobility problems I did manage the six mile walk with Mike to see this very rare visitor to our shores.I did get some record shots and may post at a later date.The easterlies had also brought a number of spoonbills into the country and eight birds had turned up at Leighton Moss RSPB.I had seen spoonbills previously at Leig...

Ospreys Return

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
The recent settled weather had helped the returning ospreys on their journeys from West Africa to their breeding sites in the Lake District.Ospreys are now well established in certain parts of the Lake District and nesting sites are at a premium as more and more ospreys arrive each year.Well known sites such as Bassenthwaite,Roudsea and Foulshaw Mosses have been occupied now for a few years and the breeding success has been very good.This year I visited a new site in a secluded part of the Southern Lake District which currently is occupied by a pair of ospreys and hopefully they will remain and rear a family.I have shown some images of the site,all taken from some distance away so as not to disturb the birds.It is a particular photogenic site with the nest atop a scots pine tree on the edge of a lovely wooded area.The first image is from a ...
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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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