Tuesday, 11 August 2020

All about butterflies!

 I have spent the last few months like most folk staying local to home and exploring parks and woodlands near me. During this time I have done a bit of photography (but not as much as I would like of course!) and have particularly enjoyed working with butterflies. I have always had a passing interest in butterflies and have photographed them many times of course but until this spring not gone out of my way to find them.

migrant painted lady

peacock in the bluebells

I missed out on the biggest UK species despite two days looking for purple emperor in the woodlands of Warwickshire but did find the most diminutive in small blue on the chalk hills of Hampshire.

small blue at roost

Along the way though I had a lot of fun with many other ore common species and saw some interesting behaviour, whilst honing my technique in photographing these delicate little beauties!

Green veined white taking minerals from a fire site

I have missed a few species though so have ordered a new diary to make sure that 2021 sees me be in the right place at the right time!

chalkhill bee feeding on wild marjoram

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

all things Wildlife

I have been very quiet on this blog recently as I work on a brand new website allthingswildlife which unsurprisingly has been taking up most of my desk time.

Launching soon it will be an ever growing collection of articles, reviews, guides and images all inspired by wildlife and the countryside.

I have though managed a couple of outings with my camera including to Donna Nook in Lincs for the grey seal breeding season.

It's a real wildlife spectacle and well worth a visit between October and December.

I also spent a day at Aberystwyth on the Welsh coast and was rewarded with some great bird life including a very obliging kingfisher,

a surprise dipper

and a pretty decent starling murmuration.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Illustrated Talks

I am currently enjoying lots of interest in my illustrated talks and it looks like I am going to be very busy visiting lots of friendly groups all over the Midlands and beyond. As a boost I have invested in new equipment and so my wild boar, puffins or headless eagles (if you have seen my 'secrets of a wildlife photographer' you'll have enjoyed that one!) will be projected razor sharp and in beautiful colour.

I also have new talks in the pipeline including the wonderful wildlife of Sydney and the Blue Mountains, watch this space for more details.

If you want to find out more please click on the illustrated talks link to the right for all the information. I hope to see you soon.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Getting to know the Forest of Dean part one

My 'Secret Wildlife of the Forest of Dean' talk has been really popular with groups ranging from wildlife groups, photography clubs and social clubs. People are always amazed with the diversity of wildlife there and I often get lots of questions about where to go to get the best wildlife experiences.

This is a very brief guide which includes the sites that I talk about in my talk and some of the species.  I often visit the forest in a day as I live within a couple of hours but to do it justice it is lovely to stay in one of the many B&Bs and Hotels locally. Click forest of dean accomodation to find a list that includes The Speech House and many others that have character and are ideally placed to explore the forest.

A young boar foraging opposite The Speech House hotel

During the talk we visit the feeders at Cyril Hart arboretum which is on the B4226 just East of the Speech House hotel. Here you can see many woodland birds including nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker and marsh tit. There is also a log where people feed the birds in the alternative car park at the other end of the arboretum on the B4234 and sometimes brambling can be seen in the winter.

New Fancy is at the other end of the B road running south from Speech House. the large free car park is on the left before the junction and is well signed. The viewpoint is found to the south of the car park and it accessed by a sweeping path, to the left of the path adders sometimes bask but they can be found in any sunny spots around the area. There are other woodland trails leading from here too and crossbills can be seen in the trees and sometimes coming down to puddles to drink. in the spring there is often a tree pipit on territory by the car park and also garden warbler in the scrub by the viewpoint. Many people go to New Fancy to see Goshawk and certainly the elevated views across the forest maximise chances of seeing them from February when they do their display flights over the canopy. On a warm clear day chances are good but they can be distant.

Hawfinches can be seen in various places around the forest where seed is available, they favour hornbeam so look out for the beech like leaves that are extra serrated around the edge. A reliable place is on the approach to Parkend Church. The church is on the Yorkley Road out of the village. Crossbills also sometimes come to drink from puddles in the church car park.

Cannop Pond is always worth a visit and can be found by parking opposite the pool on the B4234 or by accessing the main car park from the B4226. The main pool harbours the largest collection of the splendid Mandarin duck; plus kingfisher, raven and many other species can be seen here too. There is a bird table on the road to the free main car park at Cannop Ponds and many regular woodland birds can be seen here. Walking south along the Cannop brook can often be rewarded with views of dipper and grey wagtail.

Dipper are also found on the brook running north from the Wenchford car park at Organs Green. This path leads to one of the best areas of beech in the forest and hence a wonderful display of bluebells in the spring. This is a lovely walk and the car park has picnic areas and loos that open during the summer months. Parking is chargeable but I think I'm right in saying that the ticket can be reused in other FC car parks on the same day.

Dipper at Wenchford
Many of the key woodland birds including migrants pied flycatcher, wood warbler and redstart are found at RSPB Nagshead and a walk around the trails in the spring will usually be productive. The benefit of this site is that there are many eyes out looking so don’t be shy and others will always be happy to share location info.

One of the most popular places for tourists and regulars alike is Symonds Yat Rock. The viewpoint here is spectacular with views across seven counties and the river Wye circling around below. This has been the home of nesting peregrine falcons for over 30 years and a great place to see these dashing birds of prey. The views mean that other wildlife can be seen too including marsh tit by the viewpoint, kingfisher along the river and raven which nest nearby. Symonds Yat is always worth a visit for the views alone and the peregrines are usually nearby but best chances to see them is when they are nesting between April and July.

Part two will follow soon with details of other forest specialities including the great grey shrike and of course the elusive wild boar.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

New project

This blog is currently suspended as I work on an exciting new project. If you are looking for a talk though please do check the link to the right where you will find all of the details.

catching up

well behind in keeping this up to date so a few images here from the last few months.

a pair of adders in the Forest of Dean

Back in Scotland and caught up with this lovely otter on Loch Sunart

A local water vole, must make some more time for these!

One of my best ever encounters with wild boar in the Forest of Dean resulted in some cool new shots!

Staying local

Robins have once again nested in the garden allowing me some opportunities to take some simple portraits.

At RSPB Middleton Lakes a long staying great white egret was enough of a temptation for me to take my camera to work.

I rarely get out with my camera at work but its always rewarding when I do. This cormorant make for a simple image in the morning light.

and further down the part this grasshopper warbler was reeling in the willow and I just managed a view through with the camera.