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.





















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Gone but not Forgotten

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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 visited regularly whilst the assembled photographers were awaiting the bittern to show.It provided some nice opportunities for the camera as it used the waterside vegetation as look out and fishing posts.Hope you enjoy my images from Mere Sands Wood and next time I will be concentrating on Bowland .I hadn't visited Bowland for some time and now that the red grouse and upland waders were back on territory I was anxious to capture the action.Thanks for looking in.














Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Hide and Seek

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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 seven shows particularly well how difficult it can be to pick out the bittern as it skulks through the reedbeds.Hope you enjoy my efforts below and it now seems unlikely that it will appear again as the breeding season is fast approaching.I have enjoyed some of the other wildlife at Mere Sands Wood and this will be the subject of my next posting.Thanks for looking in and it looks like another wet weekend awaits us.














Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Dancing Grebes

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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 from Mere Sands but hopefully after a mild winter they are on the up again and maybe breeding on the reserve.There were also nice views of a female goosander in front of the hide.As I left the reserve a robin posed for me to round off a super day at Mere Sands Wood.I am looking forward to returning next week for hopefully more action and maybe the bittern will still be around.Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon with more of Lancashire's wonderful wildlife.














Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Bittern…Mere Sands Wood

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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 find the bittern had shown ten minutes earlier.I therefore settled down with the other photographers present to await it's return.I had last seen bitterns at Mere Sands in March 2012 when three birds were present and performed for the cameras.Suddenly around 2.30pm it appeared out in the open and I had to be quick to seize this opportunity of a bittern at close range and in full view.After this brief viewing it vanished into a nearby reedbed and played hide and seek for the rest of the afternoon.I did however manage more shots as it skulked and slowly made its way through the dense vegetation.This was more typical of bittern behaviour and at times it was extremely difficult to follow owing to it's wonderful cryptic plumage.Throughout the afternoon it was very wet but I made my way back to the car park content with my encounter with this very special bird.Hope you enjoy my efforts shown below and I will be back soon as better weather is hopefully on the way.















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Waxwing Week

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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 photographic opportunities with these wonderful waxwings.Eric left later and I stayed on a while until suddenly around 2.30pm the birds suddenly departed.I also departed for home having enjoyed yet more excellent views of these very special visitors from Scandanavia.Hope you enjoy my efforts shown below and I will be back soon with more of Lancashire's wonderful wildlife.