Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Sunderland Point

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I recently had a couple of visits to Sunderland Point on the Lune Estuary.This is a remote and beautiful part of Lancashire and requires an amount of planning before any visit.It is a finger of land surrounded on one side by the estuary of the River Lune and on the other by part of Morecambe Bay.Access is very much dependant on the tides and on most high tides the only access road is impassable.Consequently it is an unspoilt and very peaceful area to visit.

It is an excellent area to visit with the camera as just as the tide is beginning to uncover the access road waders can be seen feeding very close to the road and can be photographed from the comfort of the car.At the end of the road parking is available on the shingle beach.I made a couple of very enjoyable visits recently and came away with a nice selection of images to remind me of this very special location.

Before visiting Sunderland Point I called in at Middleton Sands high tide wader roost.A tricky walk out onto the salt marsh got me within range of some of the flocks of waders and I managed some shots before making my way to Sunderland Point as the tide was ebbing fast.The road into Sunderland Point was very wet and muddy but I managed to get the hoped for shots of redshanks,curlews and egrets posing by the roadside.As the tide ebbed more of the mud was exposed  numbers of redshanks,egrets and herons came into feed in the pools left by the tide.The local fisherfolk who live and work in this delightful spot were busy loading their catch of whitebait onto their trailer and quad bike.They told me later the catch was destined for Blackpool Zoo.The egrets particularly were very busy and up to a dozen birds were present.

Shown below are a selection of images from my visits to remind me of this wonderful part of the Lancashire coastline.I am looking forward to returning again soon,tides and weather permitting. Thanks for looking in and as I write this account the weather is clearing up after a day of heavy rain and prospects are good for warmer and settled weather for the weekend.




















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Snipe and Others

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I am posting some images from recent trips to Leighton Moss and into Bowland.My main objective was to photograph purple heron and red grouse.My efforts were shown in earlier postings.At Leighton Moss whilst waiting for the heron to show a trip down to the Eric Morecambe hide was good for snipe. Four snipe were very close to the hide and gave great opportunities for close up shots of this beautifully marked bird. I have included an image showing the superb cryptic plumage on the snipe's back.

Trips into Bowland looking for grouse gave me some nice images of a common buzzard close to the roadside which stayed long enough for me to take its photo.Also on the Bowland trip a stonechat and brown hare close to the road were very nice to see and photograph.The final two images were from Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve where I hadn't been for some time.It was generally very quiet but a kingfisher and kestrel showed well in front of the Rufford hide.That's all for now to keep the blog ticking over.Hopefully I will be out and about again in due course and bring you more of Lancashire's wildlife.Thanks for looking in and enjoy the weekend.









Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Grouse Shooting

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Recently I made a couple of trips into Bowland looking for some opportunities to photograph Red Grouse in amongst the purple heather.It didn't quite work out as there was much activity from grouse shooters with guns and dogs.The large estates in Bowland are very busy at this time of the year with shooting parties who pay large amounts of money to kill a few brace of grouse.I would much rather shoot the grouse with my camera and have a permanent record of my day out leaving the grouse free to fly another day.The grouse in Bowland were keeping their heads down and although I managed a few shots I was not satisfied with the results so I decided to visit the Yorkshire grouse moors between Wensleydale and Swaledale.

Wednesday of this week promised some better weather so I made the two hour journey to the moors up above Reeth and Redmire.It proved to be a good decision and I enjoyed a four hour session photographing the good numbers of red grouse that were showing well up on the heathery tops.This part of the moors is well known amongst photographers as being a good location to see the grouse.There is a military rifle range nearby but I got the impression that maybe these moors adjoining major roads connecting the dales are not shot over too frequently.It was cool and windy on the tops but all my photography was done from the comfort of the car.Shown below are some of my better efforts at grouse shooting.I was particularly pleased with the flight shot that heads this post.Hope you enjoy the images I have shown of the grouse and the magnificent scenery in this part of the Yorkshire Dales.Thanks for looking in and tune in again for more from my travels.

















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

A Purple Patch

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A purple heron has been present at Leighton Moss for a couple of weeks or so and as I had never seen one I was keen to add some images to my portfolio.Mike and I arrived at the Grizedale Hide where the heron had been showing well.We did see it but all too briefly and we therefore decided to visit  the Morecambe and Allen hides and return later.It was not good at the marsh hides with a distinct lack of water at the Morecambe hide and only redshanks at the Allen Hide.Four very nice looking snipe were close to the Morecambe Hide and made for some nice images which I will post at a later date.

Mike and I returned to the Grizedale Hide where after a two hour wait the purple heron duly returned.I made the most of this opportunity and took many images of this very scarce visitor to Lancashire.Some of my better efforts are shown below.The local moorland in Bowland has also been turning purple recently and a couple of trips looking for grouse posing in the heather proved difficult.It was of course the beginning of the grouse shooting season and the birds were keeping their heads down and were difficult to find.I did eventually come across a couple of birds after many miles of moorland roads and made the best of the opportunity for some images.

The garden buddleia had also turned a nice purple colour and was attracting many red admirals.It was nice to see a number of butterflies again as they seem to have been absent this summer.I have also shown some images of the Bowland moorland which was looking lovely in it's purple covering.I intend to visit some more heather moorland over the next few weeks still looking for the perfect red grouse image posing amongst the purple heather.Thanks for looking in and enjoy the weekend.










Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Lots of Knots

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At the beginning of August I like to visit a favourite wader roost near to Southport.Around this time the waders are beginning to return from their Arctic breeding grounds.A couple of weeks ago there was a favourable tide and I was looking forward to a return to the coast hopefully to catch up with the returning waders.I arrived about an hour before high water and I could see in the distance the unmistakeable flocks of waders as they flew around  as the tide advanced up the beach.

It was quite a long walk to reach this quiet part of the coastline and as access was difficult it meant that there was not a lot of disturbance from the usual dog walkers etc.It turned out to be an excellent session with many thousands of waders present most of these being knot.A lot of the knot were still in summer plumage and looked splendid in their summer finery.I was able with a careful and quiet approach to get quite close to the large concentrations of knot and obtain some excellent images.A man approached from the opposite direction with an Alsatian dog but they were both well behaved and there was little disturbance.A good number of grey plovers and bar tailed godwits and one or two groups of sanderling were also present.The birds gradually moved away as the tide began to ebb and I left them to enjoy the peace and the food waiting on this rich stretch of the Lancashire coastline.Thanks for looking in and I will return soon with more from my travels.








































Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Osprey Farewell

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It has been many weeks since I reported on the Lake District ospreys.The good news was that the pair of ospreys had been successful in rearing two chicks and I returned this week knowing that they had fledged.I wanted to see them before they left on their long migration to West Africa.I did have some nice views of the two juveniles as they fed and flew around from the nest site.The parents were still around and were bringing back fish for their youngsters.I wish them a safe journey to Africa.

I have shown below some of my better efforts at photographing the two juveniles on the nest and taking off and landing with fish which will have been left by one of the adult birds.The fish that one of them is carrying is a flounder and will have been caught from the estuary of the nearby River Leven.I have also included some other wildlife seen in the area.It was nice to see a selection of butterflies which so far this year seem to have been in short supply. I also came across a basking adder and a young robin which both posed nicely for me. Hope you enjoy the images and I look forward to the ospreys returning next Spring.More and more ospreys are setting up home in this part of the Lake District and I am aware that more platform nests have been constructed to encourage the birds to stay.The future looks good for these magnificent birds to establish a healthy population and to go on and extend their range into other parts of Northern England.Thanks for looking in.














Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Diving Gannets

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As promised in my last post I am now showing more images of the gannets taken on the wonderful pelagic trip out from Liverpool.Myself and the other photographers were kept very busy trying to capture the action as the gannets dived close to the boat.The skipper Gary Flint threw out mackerel for the gannets which we had previously caught from the boat.Gary also gave a running commentary as to the whereabouts of the gannets as they circled the boat. It was spectacular action as the birds hit the water at around 60mph to grab the mackerel.

Some of the images shown below capture the moment the gannets hit the water. The gannets wings are folded back just before they hit the water and they look like white missiles as they enter the water with a big splash. It was exciting trying to capture the fast moving action as sometimes a dozen or more gannets were competing and you couldn't be sure which one would hit the water. You can also see the gannets underwater as they pursued the fish.

Hope you enjoy looking at the images below.I certainly enjoyed the experience and it was one of my most rewarding days with the camera so far.Great company and wonderful weather added to this memorable day out from Liverpool aboard "Discovery".I am looking forward to doing it all again when we meet up again next year.



















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Liverpool Bay…Pelagic Trip

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Earlier this month I was very fortunate to be booked on a pelagic photographic trip organised by Richard Steel out into the Liverpool Bay area of the Irish Sea.Last year the trip had been cancelled twice owing to adverse weather conditions.This time the signs were good as settled conditions were forecast and the evening before the message came through to say we were good for go.It was to be an early start leaving Liverpool at 6am and arriving back at 4pm.Paul Foster and I duly arrived at Coburg Dock in Liverpool in good time for the 6am departure.The other photographers arrived in good time and the skipper Gary Flint set sail out into the Mersey in his boat " Discovery "

We motored out at a good speed some thirty miles or so out off the North Wales coast to the vicinity of the Burbo Bank wind farm.It was a bumpy uncomfortable ride out and I was glad when two hours later we dropped anchor and prepared to fish for mackerel.We all joined in the fun of catching mackerel and soon had enough to entice any gannets in the area to come close to the boat.For the remainder of our stay we managed to entice a reasonable number of gannets to the boat so as to photograph them making their spectacular dives.The skipper,Gary threw out the mackerel and as the gannets came close we were all kept busy with the cameras to try and capture the fast moving action.

I have posted images below showing some of the action on board and with the gannets.I will be posting more images eventually showing the spectacular action as the gannets dived in close to the boat.It was a wonderful experience with like minded enthusiasts and a wonderful skipper who provided refreshments and a great commentary as he enticed the gannets close to the boat.The weather was also excellent with blue skies and warm sunshine.We arrived back in the Mersey around 4pm and I have shown images of Gary surrounded by the technology on board Discovery and the magnificent Liver Building as we arrived back safely from our brilliant pelagic expedition out into the Irish Sea.Thanks for looking in and be sure to tune in again for some more action shots from this wonderful day out.



















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Spotting Flycatchers

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It had been a while since I had seen any flycatchers.I hadn't visited the Bowland area of Lancs much this Spring and so had missed the opportunity to photograph the Pied Flycatcher which once the trees are in full leaf can be hard to see up in the canopy.A couple of weeks ago on a drive through the Bowland area I saw a spotted flycatcher in a location where they had bred in previous years.I returned a day or so later on a nice warm afternoon and sure enough the spotted flycatchers were very busy feeding young in a nearby nest.

They had nested in a garden area close by a country church which is situated in a most beautiful part of Bowland.For the next couple of hours I had a most enjoyable session with the camera and managed to get some nice images of the spotted flycatchers as they caught insects in the graveyard and surroundings of the church.It had been a delightful afternoon in beautiful surroundings and it was nice to catch up again with the spotted flycatchers.Hope you enjoy the images below of these delightful little birds as they went about their business of flycatching and it will be nice to think that they will return again next summer.Thanks for looking in and next time I hope to post an account of a trip this week out into Liverpool Bay in the company of other photographers as we met up for an annual get together and pelagic voyage out into the Irish Sea.














Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Bempton Revisited

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I enjoyed my visit to Bempton Cliffs at the end of June so much I decided on another visit at the beginning of July.The nesting season was coming to a close and I was determined to make another visit before the birds had left their homes on these impressive cliffs.This time I made the journey early morning taking A roads through Skipton,Harrogate,Knaresborough and York to eventually reach Bridlington and Bempton.It took about an hour longer than the motorway and I was caught up in rush hour traffic particularly in Harrogate.I duly arrived in Bempton around 10.30am and spent the next six and a half hours enjoying the sights and sounds of these cliffs and keeping very busy with the camera to record my visit.

On this trip I concentrated on the gannets particularly those at Staple Newk where excellent views can be had from the viewing platform.Many of the gannets had well grown young and the colony was busy with the comings and goings of the gannets.I managed some nice close ups of the gannets sky pointing and establishing their commitment to their lifelong partners.I also managed a close up of the gannet's smart web feet.

Out at sea was a boat load of photographers surrounded by a feeding frenzy of gannets.Something I fancy for next year.The post is headed by a puffin which gave me some nice close up shots as it posed on a nearby ledge.I finish this post with images of the kittiwake with chick and guillemot and razorbill.Finally a couple of images showing one of the many viewing platforms and a general view of these magnificent chalk cliffs overlooking the North Sea.A trip to Bempton is highly recommended.Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon with more from my travels.