I am very please to anoynce that my image “Badger Cub” has come second in the Portrait section of the prestigious Scottish Nature Photography Awards Competition
I have always admired the goosanders on the rivers here in the Borders. They have not always been the easiest duck to get close to untill I found a small flock on the Teviot in Hawick itself. They just sit on the water when you apprached them. Normally they are quite skittish and fly away as soon as they see you.
At this time of year the males are displaying, looking for a mate. The male snaps his head back rapidly trying to attract a female.
I think they are a very attractive duck, they are fishe-aters and come under the sawbill catagory. They have teath along the length of the beak which are angles back so the came hold on to their prey.
Its a busy time of year for the dippers on the rivers and streams, its bonding and nest building time. I went to a favoutie place of mine near Melrose, there has been a nest here on this site for many years and generation after generation have nested here nest.
I spent most of the day hidden at the side of the river and watched them working away as they collect grasses and mosses to build the nest. The birds work very hard all day long and didn’t seam to take a break at all.
Here are a few pictures taken during the day, I hope you like them.
I have just returned from Northern Sweden where I held another successful golden eagles workshop. I had a full complement of three guests in the hide at Kalvtrask Vasterbottens Lan.
We had mixed weather with heavy snow and brightness with bright frosty weather on our last day. The mixture of weather gives good opportunities for varied photography with the birds in falling snow and bright sunshine.
The small birds around the hide performed well, but the eagles kept us all waiting until day three when the male gave us a superb show. The male area eagle came down to feed just seven metres from the camera giving us great views and picture opportunities, grey headed woodpecker, bulfinch, willow tit.
I am running the trip again in February 2017, if this interests you talk a look at this link http://www.wildlife-photography.uk.com/blog/?page_id=7068
I took a trip to central Poland after Christmas to an area north of Kutno called Dębowo in central Poland. Home for five nights was a well-appointed hunting lodge, which is situated just ten minutes from the eagle hides.
It was a very productive trip with white-tailed eagle coming and going to the area all the daylight hours giving great opportunities to some real action pictures. I had four days in the hides taking pictures and observing this great birds behaviour. The first thing I noticed was the variation in colouring of the birds the adults where regulation colours with that wonderful neck mantle. The sub adults varied greatly from very dark to very light with white streaking.
The incoming eagle has the advantage purely because of momentum and will push the sitting eagle out of the way and claim his prize.
I think this was the highlight of the trip into the Kruger National Park, very elusive and difficult to see when in view as they blend superbly into the bushveld. This individual surprisingly walked across the road in front of us and spent a little time at the edge of the bushveld, not long, just a few minutes before it disappeared into the bush but giving us the opportunity to get some images.
Only 2% of visitors to the park are lucky enough to see a leopard so we were very pleased to see this one. They are mainly nocturnal so to see one during the day is a bit special. This was my first time to the Kruger, I look forward to going back soon.
I held a workshop last week on the Isle of Mull to photograph these brilliant little mammals. The workshop was for five days. I hold these workshops three time a year and we usually do very well with finding and photographing the otter.
I have included a few images in a a gallery below I hope you like looking at them. I get great pleasure in looking for and photographing the otters, there are no hides involved and we are actively stalking the animals during the workshop. The otters are amazing as they go about their daily business. They just carry on in the worst of weather fishing and then just curl up on a rock and sleep.
If these pictures interest you and you would like to take your own, check out the details on my workshop page on this link http://www.wildlife-photography.uk.com/blog/?page_id=6625
Burchell’s Coucal Centropus superciliosus or White Crowned Coucal
The Burchell’s Coucal is also commonly referred to as “The Rainbird” and has a well developed reputation in southern African for being able to predict impending rain. This association with rain probably arises because coucals often call during periods of high humidity; before, during and after rain. And the call is magnificent! A liquid, bubbling cascade of notes that the South African poet Douglas Livingstone referred to as “the rainbird’s liquid note”.
The Burchell’s coucal is endemic to the southern African region, and is a member of the cuckoo family being limited to the east and south of the region – the regions with higher rainfall – and generally preferring areas with dense vegetation, such as thickets and reed beds. Although often heard, they are less often seen as they mostly remain hidden in the thick vegetation. They are generally found in pairs.
Burchell’s coucals are relatively large birds, with a length of approximately eight inches. Males and females are alike in plumage colouration, and the females are slightly larger than the males. They have black heads and tails; back and wings are rufous-brown and underparts are white. Eyes are red; bills, legs and feet are black.
They are voracious when feeding, hunting small mammals such as mice and rats, reptiles such as lizards and chameleons, small birds such as doves and sparrows, a variety of insects and amphibians such frogs and toads. Unusually for a bird, when hunting they may look for mice in a cat-lke manner and some times they will eat fruit.
Brown Snake Eagle
Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus
The brown snake eagle feeds mainly on snakes, being able to kill venomous snakes such as cobras. They have natural protection against bites, with thick-skinned legs. Besides snakes, the brown snake eagle feeds on lizards and small mammals.
The brown snake eagle prefers the nests made by other birds. They usually take deserted and partially destroyed nests, which they prefer to repair. If they need to build a new one, they choose a tree or a high rock, far from the habitat of predators and from human settlements.
Their plumage is entirely brown, but some of them could have some white feathers. The juvenile eagles stay around the nest for 60–100 days. The juvenile brown snake eagle is completely independent a few weeks after fledging.
Black – winged Stilt
I have seen black – winged stils Himantopus himantopus here in the UK a few times and when they do appear they usually create a lot of interest becasue of their rarity value.
I photographed them during my visit to the Kruger National Park in South frica. The population in Africa is large and they can be seen in many areas where there is water, they are also known locally as Pied Stilts.
I found a good place to photograph them in the Kruger National Park at Lake Panic Hide near Skukuza. They are a very elegent bird and they stride around the shallow water looking for food. They nest in wetland and feed on insects which they pick from the surface of the water or forage for in shallow mud. Black-winged Stilt: eats various aquatic invertebrates plus small fish, fish eggs, and tadpoles. They are an active forager, picking food from sand or water and they can feed in deeper water than other waders. They have very good night vision which allows them to feed on moonless nights.
I hope you enjoy my images, thanks for looking.