Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

More Egrets

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A recent post showed little egrets at Leighton Moss.I am now posting more images of little egrets and two cattle egrets which were on show at RSPB Marshside.The little egrets were showing well in front of Nel's Hide and made for some nice images.Some nice take off and landing images were obtained as the egrets came in from time to time to fish close to the hide.

A nice surprise was to discover that two cattle egrets were also present but at some distance from the hide.These two cattle egrets have been around at Marshside for some time.They may even be breeding nearby and are part of a recent influx into the country.This is yet another sign of a warming climate and it would be nice to see them here on a permanent basis.The last two images show the distant cattle egrets with their nice orangey crowns and bills.Hope you enjoy the images above and thanks for looking in.This week I visited RSPB Bempton Cliffs on the Yorkshire Coast and enjoyed a fabulous day watching and photographing the thousands of sea birds present at this " Seabird City ".
Tune in again for a full report and pictures from Bempton Cliffs.












Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Swans and Terns

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I recently visited the tern colony at the former Preston Dock site.This colony gets larger every year and now has well over one hundred pairs of terns,mostly common,but also a few arctic terns.It is a wonderful location to observe and photograph tern behaviour and is especially good when the tern chicks arrive. As yet the birds are still incubating but very soon now their will be much activity as the young terns demand a constant supply of fish.

On this visit the mute swan family were still occupying their large nest on one of the pontoons.This is a regular nesting site for the swans and provides wonderful views of the adults and young.One of the terns also had a nest very close to the swans and was constantly harassing the female on the nest.She shrugged off the constant attacks and eventually the male swan came and took four of the cygnets out onto the marina and presumably they will not now return to the nest.The female meanwhile still seems to be incubating a further three eggs but I would think by now it is unlikely that they will hatch.Hope you enjoy my images from the action down at the docks.Hopefully next week will bring some better weather as currently it is pouring down and has been a very unsettled week.Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon with more of Lancashire's wonderful wildlife.













Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Dragons and Grebes

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This week has at times been very hot and it has been ideal conditions for observing dragonflies.I visited a local nature reserve where a healthy population of broad bodied chaser dragonflies were on the wing.A couple of males were seen but they were very mobile and I didn't get any suitable images. The females however were very obliging and posed nicely for me particularly on a patch of bramble.I will return at a later date to photograph the males.

I then moved on to another local nature reserve where on a previous visit I had discovered the location of a pair of nesting great crested grebes.The nest and female grebe were very well hidden in bankside vegetation and the male was patrolling and looking for fish in the vicinity.The male came quite close and was posing in amongst the amphibious bistort which was covering the lake surface and provided for some nice images.Whilst I was there he didn't catch any fish but will I am sure be kept busy in the coming weeks when he has chicks to feed.

I will of course be returning to catch up on the progress and will hopefully be able to post images of the delightful baby grebes.Thanks for looking in and enjoy the weekend.












Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Osprey Update

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
A while ago I posted about the new osprey site in the Southern Lake District.I have visited again recently to see what progress if any had been made.It is good news that this latest pair of ospreys seems to have mated successfully and the female bird is sat tight on the nest.This would indicate that eggs have been laid and it is now a matter of time to see if they hatch into osprey chicks.

I observed the nest from some distance away so as not to disturb the birds and I will return in a few weeks to see what progress there has been.Whilst observing the nest location the male osprey returned from time to time.I didn't see him bring in any fish for him or his mate I can only hope that  he will be a good fisher when he hopefully has many more mouths to feed.I managed a few shots of the male as he perched up in nearby trees and generally flew around the area.It was nice to see a female roe deer that passed by and posed for it's portrait.

Most of the images are record shots and I hope for better results in a few weeks time when there is more action going on.Currently the weather has been very uncomfortable with very high temperatures and very muggy conditions.A little thunder and rain arrived as I wrote this blog and I am hoping it will cool things down.Most of all this week our thoughts are with the victims and families of those tragically killed in the Manchester terrorist attack.Thanks for looking in.





















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Leighton Moss…Egrets and a Stag

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This week I visited Leighton Moss where I hadn't been for some time.All was quiet at Lilian's Hide but later there was much more going on at the Grizedale Hide. Lots of black tailed godwits were feeding close to the hide and there were five or six little egrets coming close to the hide.I concentrated on the egrets and took many images as they performed in the very warm afternoon sun.

A group of red deer hinds were seen feeding but distantly.However much to my surprise a rather handsome stag showed himself as he came out of the reedbed to the right of the hide.He was indeed a smart looking animal and was sporting a fine set of antlers which were covered in velvet as they grew prior to the rut later in the year.

The egrets were also very smart as they showed off their breeding plumage to full effect in the strong and  very welcome breeze.A nice return to Leighton Moss and as at Marshside earlier in the month the little egrets were on top form performing for the camera.As I write this post the temperatures have reached the high seventies and it is muggy and uncomfortable.I am hoping for an early morning outing tomorrow to avoid what promises to be another very hot day.So stay tuned for more from my travels and thanks for looking in.











Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Egrets and Waders

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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 tuned for more from my travels.















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

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 Leighton but they were distant or asleep as spoonbills often are.I arrived at the Allen Hide to find the six spoonbills sleeping and I waited with the others present for some action.Eventually after an hour or so the spoonbills slowly came to and for the rest of the afternoon provided some nice images as they fed,preened and flew around .They were all immature birds and had not yet reached breeding age and didn't have the yellow bills and neck bands of full adults.In flight they could be identified by their black wingtips.

A few days later I visited Marshside RSPB where spoonbills had also been reported.A full adult had been seen around the pools on the reserve and I hoped to spot it.A visit to Fairclough's pool drew a blank and no other large white birds could be seen anywhere.I spent the rest of the afternoon at Nel's Hide and was delighted to find that lots of birds were present right ii front of the hide.The conditions for photography were spot on and the strong afternoon backlight brought out all the colours and detail in the birds.My next post will concentrate on the many waders present including avocets,ruffs and whimbrel and the ever present black tailed godwits.

I couldn't believe my luck when out of nowhere the spoonbill turned up right in front of the hide.It was now late afternoon and the light just got better and better.I made the most of this opportunity to grab as many images as possible of the very good looking spoonbill.All too soon it flew away but I suspect it may hang around as spoonbill has I understand bred on the Ribble marshes in the past.Hope you enjoy my spoonbill images shown below and as promised I will post more from Marshside at a later date.















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Ospreys Return

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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 previous season when one of the ospreys flew by to check me out.

Also in this area I saw a large herd of red deer,mostly hinds with one or two young stags.I was able to get some nice images of the deer as they grazed on nearby grassland.I will return to see the ospreys at a future date when hopefully they have been successful in raising a family and the young have fledged. Hope you enjoy my images and if you are in the southern part of the Lake District keep an eye out for ospreys as they are becoming more common as time goes by.Leighton Moss is a favourite fishing location and the estuary of the River Kent at Arnside is another spot where you may be lucky to see ospreys looking for fish.Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon with more from my travels.











Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Bowland…A Few More

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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 grasses

Finally shown below was yet another redshank posing on a roadside fence post and guarding his future nesting site.It was nice to be able to approach slowly and carefully and grab a few images from the comfort of the car.The oystercatcher was also a nice roadside subject posing on the wall.Hope you enjoy this further selection from Bowland and I will be back soon with more of Lancashire's wildlife.











Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Shooting Grouse

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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 as the grouse I have shown images of lapwing,redshank and oystercatcher.The redshank perched up very obligingly on roadside fence posts to have their portraits taken.I have also shown a couple showing Ingleborough and Pen y Ghent both of which still had snow on the summits.

I will show more images in my next post from Bowland with more of the same and brown hares and curlews.The curlews were performing their wonderful display flights high over the moorland.Thanks for looking in and enjoy the weekend's weather which is set to warm up and bring more colour and life to the countryside.