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.
















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Yarrow Valley…Valentine’s

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I hadn't visited Yarrow Valley Country Park for some time.I had heard that the kingfisher had been showing well recently at it's usual spot so I went for a look.As I arrived David and Jackie Moreton were just leaving having spent a couple of fruitless hours waiting for the kingfisher to show.I went to the channel between the top and bottom lakes and joined half a dozen or so other photographers waiting patiently.

Eventually around three o'clock the kingfisher suddenly appeared and all the cameras were in action.The kingfisher stayed for around an hour,perching,preening and catching fish.Although the light is never just right at this spot I would have thought that everyone went away happy with their efforts.As well as the kingfisher a handsome male goosander appeared nearby and provided some nice opportunities for the camera.The usual nuthatches,robins etc were also coming frequently to seed left for them.All in all then Valentine's Day at Yarrow Valley had been excellent with good company and a brighter day for a change.Some of my better efforts from the day are shown below.Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon.Enjoy the weekend.










Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Around The Lanes

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The weather recently has been for the most part very dull and depressing.Consequently I haven't been out much with the camera.One or two afternoons were slightly brighter and better and I took the car for a ride around the lanes in the Pilling and Cockerham areas.Spring was in the air and ir was nice to see the snowdrops in bloom.Brown hares were becoming active and there were still decent numbers of wildfowl and waders in the area.

A selection of images are shown below of the wildlife.All of the images were taken from the comfort of the car which is always very useful as a mobile hide.The kestrel on the lookout for prey takes pride of place.Lapwings and curlews on the flooded fields were numerous throughout the area.It was nice to get a couple of close ups of Whooper and Bewick's swans showing the difference in size and bill pattern.Wild geese were also found in various locations,mainly pinkfeet but I did manage a couple of shots off white fronted and barnacle geese at Pilling.The geese are also shown in flight as they moved around the area.The final image shows a nice sunset over Pilling church.Keep tuned for more from my travels and hopefully the weather will brighten up and warm up in the days to come.















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Black…White…and Red

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The weather this last week has again been dull and depressing most of the time.However on the Wednesday blue skies appeared but it was icy cold.I decided on a much needed afternoon out and about with the camera.I had seen images of a black redstart on the internet at St Walburgas Church in Preston and this was to be my first port of call.The redstart was still there but had just departed as I arrived.Susan and Peter and David and Jackie were already there,all well known local photographers.They had seen the bird and I was reassured it would be back.Sure enough it did return after 30mins and flitted around the church buildings very quickly.I did manage a few hastily grabbed shots and awaited it's return.I stayed for an hour or so and was eventually rewarded with nice views of this lively little bird as it did it's rounds of the church buildings.Other birders turned up and we all enjoyed the black redstart in the afternoon sun.

I then thought I would visit Lytham Moss where a barn owl had been showing well.On my arrival around 3.30pm it was indeed quartering the rough ground adjoining the Radar Station.It never came close enough for good shots but I did manage some shots as the sun began to set.I then thought I would have a look at Granny's Bay at Lytham to photograph the setting sun.My timing was spot on as the sun went down and the sky turned red over the Irish Sea.All in all a rewarding afternoon.Hope you enjoy my shots of the Black Redstart..White Owl..and Red Sunset.Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon as hopefully the weather improves as Spring approaches.













 













Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Filling A Gap

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Since the New Year arrived we have been stuck with some very depressing weather.It has been very dull with some light rain and it never seemed to come light.I have also been feeling a bit under the weather and consequently I have not been out and about  with the camera.So to keep the blog going and to fill the gap in postings I have decided to post a few of my favourite shots from 2016.

As always possibly my favourite bird,the great crested grebe features with fishing,portrait and display images.Owl shots show a short eared owl at Lytham Moss and a barn owl from the Pilling area.Waders feature a nice flight shot of four bar tailed godwits and a splendid sanderling from Rossall in full summer plumage.Whooper swans from Martin Mere are shown in portrait and preening mode.Little egrets from Leighton Moss are shown in fishing mode.Finally I was lucky to obtain some very nice images of the two fledged juvenile ospreys V6 andV7 at Esthwaite Water.The osprey images were taken from a rowing boat hired for the afternoon.

Hope you enjoy this gap filler and I hope to return to normal service very soon.Thanks for looking in
















Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Waxwing Fest…Barrow.Lancs.

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The New Year began as 2016 had finished with yet more waxwings.Around one hundred birds had arrived at the berry laden trees lining the main street of Barrow village near Whalley.I made a couple of trips to obtain yet more waxwing images for the portfolio.The first visit was a bit dull and cloudy but the waxwings performed well.There were only a handful of photographers there and it was nice to see Simon who I had not seen for over twelve months.

My second visit was on the Bank Holiday Monday 2nd January.After a frosty start it was to become a sparkling winter's day with prolonged sunshine.When I arrived I was amazed by the number of photographers already there.The long lenses were in evidence all along Trafalgar Gardens overlooking the berry laden trees.Many top notch photographers were there to take advantage of the wonderful weather.There were still plenty of waxwings  but I didn't think quite as many as previously.

What a wonderful time we all had chatting and exchanging information on this super day.I am fairly certain that everyone went away very happy with memory cards full of images.As I write my blog the waxwings have moved on and good numbers are now in the centre of Blackburn.I am however very satisfied with the images I obtained.As well as the waxwings, visits from starlings,mistle thrush and redwing added to the variety.I think I am now over this severe case of waxwingitis and can rest easy having obtained lots of images of these very special visitors fron Scandanavia.Hope you enjoy my selection from the thousands of images I took and I will return soon with more from Lancs.























Source Brian Rafferty Wildlife Photographer

Christmas Waxwings

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There are now numbers of waxwings in Lancashire.They have filtered down from further north and have been seen in a few locations in the county.Some visited Preston but proved very elusive and very mobile as they searched for food.Lancaster also had a number of waxwings scattered around and again they were flighty and proving difficult to track down.This last week I noticed from information on the internet that around fifty birds were visiting a rowan tree in the car park of the White Horse pub close to the centre of Lancaster.They were being seen daily so it seemed a good spot to visit for another fix of waxwings.

I arrived at the location on Thursday early afternoon.There were a couple of birders/photographers already there and I was told that the birds were coming back to feed at regular intervals but had not been seen for half an hour or so.I decided to stay therefore and got geared up for some hoped for action.Sure enough the waxwings did return,at first in small groups but eventually around sixty birds were present at the top of the tall silver birch tree which overlooked the area.

Eventually in typical waxwing behaviour they all descended to feed in their smash and grab fashion before returning back to the top of the birch tree.By now sunshine was lighting up the top of the lookout tree but the berry laden rowan by the entrance to the pub remained in shadow.The next hour or so was spent watching and photographing these delightful birds in company with a few other birders including employees of the RSPB who have sight of the waxwings from their office.At times the birds were too close and it was difficult picking out a target for the camera.

However I was well pleased with my efforts the best of which can be seen below.It was for me a wonderful Christmas present and well worth the effort and time spent in the pursuit of these fabulous visitors from Scandanavia.I hope you all enjoy the next week or so of festive activities and I wish all my fellow bloggers and photographers a very Happy Christmas.I may make one more posting before the end of the year showing some of my favourite images from another busy year.