Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Nightjar '259'

Male Nightjar '259' shortly after having been fitted with a radio-tracking tag in the Forest of Dean.

Buff-tip Moth

The amazingly well camouflaged Buff-tip Moth in the Forest of Dean. These are on the wing through June and July.

Eurasian Woodcock

I can’t imagine how many time I’ve inadvertently flushed a Woodcock whilst walking the Forest. It’s one of those species that’s very easy to get close to accidentally, but you tend not to realise until it’s too late and the bird flies. This one happened to fly in to the Nightjar nets this week, offering a opportunity to get a close-up look at this crepuscular wader.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

The return of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary is something I look forward to every year. It’s our least common butterfly in the Forest of Dean, and isn’t widespread in the region, but conservation efforts designed to increase the amount of suitable habitat might one day help to change that.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Wood White

We’re fortunate that the Forest of Dean is still home to this species, which is in long term decline. For some reason the local population seems to have emerged rather later this year than other populations in the country, unless I’ve simply been unlucky until now. This one was photographed on the 29th May.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

European Nightjar

Nice to see the return of what is probably my favourite bird. So far this year I've only seen a few, but will be spending a lot more time with them over the coming weeks, as per every year. This photo was taken last year in the Forest of Dean. The crop was unintentional as it was pitch black and largely down to guesswork as to when to fire the camera.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Wood Warbler

Wood Warbler photographed last week locally in the Forest of Dean. Wood warblers are long-distance migrants, breeding across Europe and wintering in sub-Saharan Africa. The species is declining in many countries across its breeding range. The UK wood warbler population has declined by 69% since the mid 1990s and has been lost from 50% of its former UK range.

Pied Flycatcher

A male Pied Flycatcher in the Forest of Dean, photographed while prospecting for a nest site with female. Numerous visits in to a small hollow in a tree trunk seemed to seal the deal, but I haven't returned to see if they decided to use it or not. Pied Flycatchers practice polygyny, so may well have at least one more mate elsewhere in the forest.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Red Fox

A Red Fox, photographed in the Forest of Dean, my local area. Spring is finally here, despite the snow, hail and rain that's falled today. Migrants are returning, butterflies emerging. I'm looking forward to catching up with a couple of butterfly species this year that have so far eluded me, and there are a couple of other species I'm hoping to target this spring/summer, but other than those it will be a case of seeing what opportunities arise.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Grass Snake

The Grass Snake is an active predator of frogs, toads and newts, although fish, small mammals and young birds may also be taken. Prey is grabbed, then swallowed alive. This species is a good swimmer, and is able to stay submerged for over half an hour. The Grass Snake is predated upon by badgers, foxes, domestic cats, hedgehogs and a number of birds.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Common Toad

A pair of mating Common Toads in the Forest of Dean at the beginning of April. Males clasp the females in a special hold known as "Amplexus" during mating. They remain like this for a few days as the female lays her spawn.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Crab Spider

Crab spiders are able to change their body colour to match their background. It can take a few days, but they can appear white, yellow or green. This one was found on a Common Spotted Orchid in Gloucestershire, whilst visiting a site for a record emergence of Marsh Fritillary.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hazel Dormouse

The dormouse lives in dense, deciduous woodland, coppice and thick shrubbery. Hazel coppice is a preferred habitat and the dormouse builds spherical nests of grass and honeysuckle bark situated a few feet from the ground. Here it spends the greater part of the day before emerging after dark to forage high in the canopy.

Monday, March 14, 2016

SIte update

Just a quick note to mention that my photography site, www.benlocke.co.uk has undergone a redesign to improve navigation, amongst other things.

Otters


These two Otters were photographed last weekend on the River Stour. In all three Otters were seen - a mother and her two kits. At times the youngsters waited on land while she made repeated trips to catch food for them with amazing efficiency.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hawfinch


A juvenile Hawfinch, photographed in the Forest of Dean last year. The juveniles aren't as smart looking as the adult birds, but they're always a treat to see. The juveniles start to appear from May onwards.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Starling murmuration

A Starling murmuration on the Somerset levels yesterday, consisting of an estimated 750,000 birds. I really wanted to try to capture as much movement as possible in a single still image. The display was fairly shortlived, and the lack of a better vantage point and lack of a sunset meant I couldn't get the image I had in mind, but still a spectacular show.

Red Fox

A night time shot of a Red Fox in the Forest of Dean. I live in the Forest of Dean, and also keep a blog about the area at forestofdeanblog.com. Further links to my work can be found at www.benlocke.co.uk.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Atlantic Puffin

This puffin was photographed at the start of the breeding season, seen here in front of the dark cliffs of Skomer Island. The characteristic bright orange bill plates and other facial characteristics develop in the spring. At the close of the breeding season, these special coatings and appendages are shed in a partial moult. This makes the beak appear less broad, the tip less bright and the base darker grey. The eye ornaments are shed and the eyes appear round. At the same time, the feathers of the head and neck are replaced and the face becomes darker.

Bearded Tit

The bearded reedling was placed with the parrotbills in the family Paradoxornithidae, after they were removed from the true tits in the family Paridae. However, according to more recent research, it is actually a unique songbird - no other living species seems to be particularly closely related to it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Herald

'The Herald' moth, in the Forest of Dean last night. This colourful moth overwinters as an adult, and as a result, can be one of the last species to be seen in one year, and one of the first in the next. It is also sometimes found hibernating inside barns and outbuildings.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Pearl-bordered Fritillary

This Pearl-bordered Fritillary was photographed back in May this year. They are found in isolated colonies in recently coppiced or felled areas of woodland. Once considered common and widespread, the Pearl-bordered Fritillary is now one of our most-threatened species. The cessation of coppicing which resulted in the loss of suitable habitat is believed to be one of the major causes of this drastic decline. It is the earliest of our fritillaries to emerge.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Hazel Dormouse

A Hazel Dormouse in the Forest of Dean photographed back in September. Dormice feed high up in the trees on a variety of food. They eat flowers and pollen during the spring, fruit in summer and nuts, particularly hazel nuts, in autumn. It is thought that insects are taken too. This variety of food must be available within a small area, a requirement which limits the suitability of some sites for dormice.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

European Cave Spider

The European Cave Spider lives exclusively in dark and damp places, such as caves, mines, sewers, etc. I found this particular one in a cave in the Forest of Dean. It feeds on hibernating moths and butterflies, millipedes and slugs, etc. A few egg sacks were also suspended from the cave ceiling. Although they are photophobic, they will emerge from their caves around dusk to hunt.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Wild Boar

A male Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean. This was photographed a couple of years ago, and we haven't really had a decent fall of snow since, so I'm hoping for more this winter. The snow doesn't really hinder the Wild Boar in their search for food, and they certainly endure colder and more harsh conditions in other countries. In fact, rooting in the snow also has the added benefit of exposing food to birds that would otherwise be unable to reach it. A Robin can be seen in this photo waiting for the boar to move along, but in fact there were 5 or 6 Robins following this boar around the woods.