Tree Creeper at Hulme, Scottish Borders

I was out looking for lapwings this afternoon, there have been  small numbers sighted across the borders and today was the first opportunity for a few days I have had to get out to see if I could find some, but I couldn’t. Instead I came across this feisty little tree creeper, it was working a tree next to where I was scanning a ploughed field. I spent a bit of time taking some pictures of it, here are just a few of them.

I think some times you just get lucky.

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Scottish Nature Photography Awards 2011 Shortlisting

I have had word that I have had two images shortlisted for this years Scottish Nature Photography Awards 2011. This is the competition I won last year so I am very pleased to have been shortlisted again this year.

The two images are of the Boxing Brown Hares and Red Grouse Portrait. The winner will of the competition will be announced at the end of March.

Boxing Brown Hares
Red Grouse Portrait

Borders Buzzard, Hassngton Scottish Borders

If like me you drive around the country lanes from time to time, you will almost certainly come across the common buzzard sitting next to the roadside on a fence post or on top of a hedgerow or gate, and as soon as you stop to get a look at it of take a photograph it always very frustratingly fly’s away. Well today, I got lucky. I always have my camera ready with the 500mm lens on it sitting on the passenger seat in my car when ever I got out. I was driving out the small hamlet of Hassington in the Borders and spotted a buzzard sitting on a very low fencepost it was about ten yards away, I stopped the car and picked up the camera and the buzzard took off, but the wind was so strong that it was making no headway into it for a few seconds, long enough for me to get these pictures.

Check out my Isle of Mull Workshop in June staying at the luxurious Isle of Mull Spa  Hotel,  on this link.

Garden Birds

The weather has taken a turn to the warmer and with a little sunshine it seams to have given a lift to the birds in my garden So I grabbed the camera and took some pictures of the birds for an hour or so, it was very busy and hectic with birds coming and going at great speed, chasing and charging around. Is this the start of the spring coming in?

Its at this time that my garden bird workshops start, the resident birds in and around my garden are great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, tree creeper, all the common tit species as well as the long-tailed tit. We also have a sparrowhawk that visits the garden from time to time and with luck we can get pictures of it.

The workshop lasts for three hours and we discuss techniques of taking pictures at close quarters going through exposure and exposure compensation in various lighting conditions

For more details of the workshop take a look at this link

Here are a few images of the birds that come to my garden

Long-tailed Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Blue Tit
Coal Tit
Coal Tit
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Tree Sparrow
Tree Creeper

Brown Hares chasing and boxing in the Scottish Borders

The warmer weather seems to have brought the brown hare out. I have been struggling to find them recently, but today I found a field with seven hares sitting about doing very little. I watched and waited to see if they would start to interact. It was the usual scenario, one female and half a dozen males. I was hoping for fireworks but it went off  at a bit of a whimper. I suspect that the female wasn’t quite in season, they tend to come into oestrus about every six to eight days. Judging by the low level of  activity she was between cycles. It took me four hours to work this out but I will keep looking and hopefully be there when it all happens.

The hares were at a bit of a distance but here are a few of the pictures I took today.

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Two male chasing as the female watches from the side
The chase lasted just a few seconds
the two males sparred for a few seconds
It was more like handbags at three paces
It all ended very quickly, and very meekly

Brown Hares getting active

The brown hare is coming into its breeding time, the animals pair up and other males come onto the scene and that’s when we see the running around and the boxing activity of the female repelling an unwelcome male. This time last year I had photographed this activity twice by this date. But to date I have seen very few hares in open fields getting active. I am expecting to see this activity soon over the next few weeks, whether I can get some images of this phenomenon, we will have to wait and see.

I found an individual brown hare feeding in a field quite close to home and manged to get quite close enough to it to get some images of it.

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Roe Deer in the Winter Sunshine

After I left the grey partridge, I moved on to another area looking for the brown hares. I still couldn’t find too many. I was sitting having a cup of coffee and a custard cream waiting for the hares to put in an appearance when this small group of roe deer came across the field out of a small thicket. They were a little distant and I hoped that they would have come a little closer, but alas, they didn’t.

The group consisted of two bucks and a doe. The bucks antlers were in velvet and looked quite large in the brilliant sunshine. They made their way across the field and through a hedgerow, the doe settled in the grass verge next to the hedge and the bucks started to spar, locking antlers as they practiced fighting in the edge of the ploughed field.

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Grey Partridge in the Scottish Borders

The partridge or grey partridge as people call it have been a success story in the Scottish Borders over the past five years. They were quite scarce around our countryside until the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust organized a conservation effort with a number of farmers, landowners, farm managers, farm contractors and gamekeepers, their aim, to increase the populations of wild grey partridge on the Scottish Borders. I work the Borders region on a regular basis photographing its wildlife and I can see the evidence for myself. I see covey’s of gray partridge regularly these days, very different s few years ago when it was quite an event seeing these iconic little birds.

The Trust has been working in partnership with Borders Regional Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and Scottish Agricultural College, has been providing free seed to establish key partridge friendly habitats across the open arable landscape in the Borders.  There’s even a trophy for the best conservationist called “The Scottish Borders Grey Partridge Trophy”

Well done to all concerned!!

I was out this morning at first light looking for brown hares when I came across a small covey of grey partridge near the Stichill area which is near Kelso, and managed to get reasonably close and get these images in the strong early morning sunlight. Proof that their conservation measures really are working.

Isle of Mull Wildlife Photography Workshop in June, see the details here:

Red Grouse on Dallowgill Moor, North Yorkshire.

I have been working in Yorkshire Water  `Yorkshire water on a fixed-point photography project monitoring Ancient Semis Natural Woodlands (ASNW) sites on their holdings. I was in the woodland at Dallowgill and finished my work about 3:00pm that gave me a couple of hours to get some images of the red grouse on the magnificent Dallowgill Heather Moor. Gamekeepers in the area were conducting a “Muir Burn”, This is were the older heather plants are burnt which in turn stimulates new growth of heather shoots in the spring, in time for the newly hatched red grouse chicks to feed on . The muir burn is quite dramatic as the dead heather blazes away creating lots of high flames and white smoke. It is all controlled by the game keeps who ensure the fire stays under control

Here are some of the pictures

The Muir Burn
The Muir Burn
Red Grouse
Red Grouse
Red Grouse
Red Grouse

Scottish Seabird Centre Annual Photographic Competition Award

It’s been the Scottish Seabird Centre 2012 annual photographic competition presentation night at the Seabird Centre North Berwick tonight. I am pleased to announce that I came third in the World Wildlife Section with a picture “Arctic Terns Passing a Sandeel”.

The Judges were Graham Riddle landscape photographer and internationally renowned wildlife photographer Laurie Campbell. I am very pleased to receive this award from such a prestigious wildlife photographer. It was whilst I was on one of Laurie Campbell’s workshops some years ago that I was inspired by him to do better in my wildlife photography.

This is the award winning picture.

Arctic Terns Passing Sandeel