Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Pinks Galore

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Following on from my last posting I am now showing some of the many images I took last week highlighting the large numbers of pink footed geese present at the the very large gathering of pinkfeet and whooper swans at Pilling.I have never seen as many geese occupying a field.The images cannot show all of the geese but there were certainly many many thousands.It was an incredible sight and the sound of them all when they took to the air was memorable.

I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to capture the spectacle and I made the most of the wonderful opportunity by taking a camera full of images.Hope you like the selection below but it was one of those occasions where you have to be there to fully appreciate what was happening.I will of course return to the location over the coming months hoping for more wonderful encounters with the geese and swans.Thanks for looking in and enjoy what looks like being a very wintry weekend with snow forecast for tomorrow.













Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Super Whoopers

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
At the end of last month I visited the Pilling and Cockerham area of Lancashire.This area is visited in the winter months by large flocks of pink footed geese and whooper swans.There are rich pickings to be had in the fields with left over remains of potato and other vegetable crops.This winter in particular has been very wet and many farmers have been unable to harvest their crops.On my wanderings around the lanes and back roads I came across a very large number of geese and swans gathering in a roadside field prior to roosting out on Pilling Sands.The birds were coming in large groups particularly the geese and were settling in the field giving me some wonderful opportunities with the camera.

It was a bright cold and sunny afternoon and was ideal for photography and I was able to stay in the comfort of the car using it as a mobile hide.I was amazed at the numbers of birds and can only say that there were many thousands of pink footed geese and many hundreds of whooper swans.For this post I have concentrated on the whooper swans.The pink footed geese will be the subject of my next post.I took about two and a half thousand images  over two days and have spent a week or so sifting and sorting.I hope you enjoy my selection of these magnificent visitors from Iceland.It was a most memorable experience and one I will be unlikely to repeat for some time.Thanks for looking in and stay tuned for the next instalment.














Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Murmaration…Martin Mere

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I usually visit Martin Mere around this time of the year to see the North West Birdwatching Festival.It's a time to look at all the wonderful books for sale and to visit the local exhibitors and to bump into old friends and catch up on the birdy news. This year the Birdfair coincided with a large murmaration of starlings which were coming into roost at Martin Mere's large reedbed.So after a good look round the books etc I made for the Harrier Hide around 4pm which was when the starlings began to arrive.

The event had been well publicised and many birdwatchers were already in position at the edge of the reedbeds in front of the Harrier Hide.It took a while to build up but eventually approx fifty thousand starlings were putting on a flying display for the assembled audience.I have shown below my efforts at capturing the spectacle.Twenty minutes or so later and it was all over as the birds dived into the reedbeds.Equally impressive were the large skeins of geese coming in to roost at Martin Mere following their day feeding in the fields of West Lancs.It had been a memorable experience and I may return again to witness one of Nature's special moments. Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon with more of Lancashire's wildlife.













Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Whoopers and a Buzzard

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
This last week in between various medical appointments I was able to get out for a much needed change of scenery.I visited the Pilling and Cockerham areas to see what was about.It was an excellent decision as good numbers of whooper swans had arrived at various sites.I began at Eagland Hill where a few dozen swans were feeding on the wet and muddy fields.The next location where I found more swans was down Gulf Lane at Moss Edge Farm.Here the whoopers were with some pinkfooted geese and numerous assorted gulls feeding again in the very wet fields.The third location held around three hundred swans together with plenty of starlings and all were enjoying the rich pickings in the fields.This large group were in fields not far from the Cockerham Sands caravan park.I enjoyed photographing the swans from the comfort of the car and was pleased with the results.

However better was to come as on the way back near to Lane Ends at Pilling I saw a buzzard sat on a roadside fence post.More often than not when this happens the buzzard soon flies away but on this occasion it stayed put and I couldn't believe my luck at this golden opportunity.Needless  to say I filled my boots and took many images of this close encounter and again was very pleased with the results.Shown below are some of my better efforts from this splendid afternoon around the lanes of Pilling and Cockerham.Thanks for looking in and enjoy what looks like being a bright and sunny weekend.














Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

A Walk In The Park

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
Recently I made a couple of trips to Royal Studley Deer Park  near Ripon in North Yorks.I had received good reports of deer showing well and was keen to visit this new location.I was having difficulties with walking due to a form of rheumatism affecting my leg muscles but I was determined to get out and enjoy the Autumn sunshine.Kath came with me and on the second visit she visited the adjoining World Heritage Site of Fountains Abbey.

The parkland was fairly flat and I took my time and was able to approach some of the deer which were also enjoying the warm sunshine.Particularly on the second visit I was pleased with the images I obtained and at one point I used a hollowed out tree as a hide and enjoyed excellent views of the fallow deer which were busy with the fine bucks herding the hinds and youngsters around the park.It was a very enjoyable visit and the journey to Studley took us through some stunning Yorkshire Dales scenery.I have shown below a selection of the many images I took showing the red,sika and fallow deer which can be seen at Studley Royal.It is highly recommended for an excellent day out in splendid surroundings.Thanks for looking in and I hope to be back soon with more from my travels.
















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Cattle Egrets…Marshside

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Mike and I recently visited RSPB Marshside as the bird activity had recently increased bringing in some interesting birds.The star attraction was two long billed dowitchers which showed from time to time although always distantly.Five cattle egrets had also been showing well and it is suspected that they may have bred in the area as they have been around for most of the summer months.Cattle egrets have bred this year at Burton Mere Wetlands on the Wirral.This is yet another sign of our warming climate as southern European birds are colonising Britain.

We enjoyed a lovely afternoon at Nel's Hide which was busy with birders hoping for a sighting of the dowitchers.Mike thought they could have been roosting in with the godwits on the far side of the reserve making it very difficult to pick out in amongst the hundreds of godwits and other waders.I enjoyed the wonderful settled sunny weather and was quite happy photographing the other birds present.I have shown below shots of the cattle egrets in close attendance with the grazing cattle.I also managed a decent flight shot of a male pintail and some of the many pink footed geese in the area.The shoveler posed nicely for the camera and looked splendid in the glorious afternoon light.The final images are a couple of shots of the scene from Nel's hide and a glorious sunset as we left for home.Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon with more from my travels.











Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Dallam Deer

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This last week I made a couple of visits to Dallam Park near Milnthorpe.Dallam Park is home to a herd of fallow deer which have occupied this deer park probably for a few hundred years.The fallow deer can often be observed from a large layby adjoining the A6 just south of Milnthorpe.They can be seen in the vicinity of the ancient deer house in which they can shelter in bad weather.On my two visits however the deer were on the western side of the park and were busily engaged in the rut.

On my first visit despite mobility problems I managed to walk into the parkland to obtain better views of the herd of deer.They were under the control of a dominant stag who was constantly on the move rounding up the hinds and youngsters and making sure the other young stags didn't move in on his harem.It was exciting to watch the action and to listen to the belching of the boss stag.On a second visit the deer were in approximately the same area of the park and this time I obtained some images from the comfort of the car.

I was well pleased with my efforts with the camera and I hope you enjoy looking at the results.I am looking forward to catching up with the red deer rut soon.A visit to Leighton Moss drew a blank with neither sight or sound of some of the magnificent stags that live in the reedbeds.Maybe I will have more luck on a future visit.Meantime thanks for looking in hopefully the weather will settle down when Storm Brian moves on.











Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Sunderland Point

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
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

Posted on - In Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer
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.