Monday, December 30, 2013

Parrot Crossbill


A recent trip to Norfolk with a friend for a couple of days produced a flock of 8 Parrot Crossbills. On arriving at the site where the birds had been reported, it was clear we were probably in the right place. The habitat was typical of that of crossbills - we were surrounded by mature conifers. Scanning the tree-tops produced nothing and there was nothing to be heard either.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Desert Wheatear

A Desert Wheatear was reported a couple of days ago, around the Severn Beach area of South Gloucestershire. It's such a rare visitor that there had only ever been one previous record in the county, so I paid a visit to try to see it for myself. It was a cold and drizzly day, and this little bird was well outside of it's range and no doubt feeling the effects. It was

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Two-barred Crossbill

The Two-barred Crossbill is a scarce visitor to Britain, but in recent weeks the Forest of Dean has played host to a flock. Two-barred Crossbill have a strong preference for Larch, and it is in Larch that I've observed them on two occasions, both times in the company of Common Crossbills. Whilst their colours are comparable with

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Great Grey Shrike

This Great Grey Shrike took a couple of attempts to find, and even then the best I could manage was this very distant shot. The Shrike sits atop trees scanning for prey such as small vertebrates, small birds and large invertebrates. Once captured it will impale them on a spike to consume or

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Hummingbird Hawk-Moth

I've not long been home from working at RSPB Leighton Moss for two weeks for the filming of BBC Autumnwatch. I didn't take my camera gear, nor was there any time for photography anyway, but I did keep a small camera in my pocket. Just as well, as this Hummingbird Hawk-Moth appeared right outside the production office. Its long proboscis and its hovering behaviour, accompanied by an audible humming noise, make it look remarkably like a hummingbird while

Monday, October 14, 2013

Glossy Ibis

I photographed this Glossy Ibis in Somerset at the weekend. I was restricted to distant shots, but nevertheless had great views of this bird. Whilst I don't know the origin of this particular Glossy Ibis, there's a good possibility it has arrived from Spain, as a number of the population there seem to winter in the UK. Glossy Ibises are threatened by wetland habitat degradation and loss through drainage, increased salinity,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bar-headed Goose

A trip down to Dorset last weekend resulted in another new addition to the species list - the Bar-headed Goose. There were only two, found amongst a group of Canada Geese at Lodmoor. Bar-headed geese can fly higher than

Monday, September 09, 2013

Black Redstart

The 351st addition to the species list... the Black Redstart. It had been sighted a number of times over the week, all the while remaining on a disused farm, so I thought it might be worth a visit. It didn't take too long to find, along with a number of

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pine marten

The Pine marten was another key species I intended to photograph on my recent trip to Scotland, and they didn't disappoint. This is just one of a large series of shots that had them clambering over rocks, climbing trees, and scrambling on top of each other. Part of the mustelid family of mammals, which includes Badger, Weasel, Otter and Stoat, Pine martens are

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Goshawk

Blog updates have slowed down a little lately - been really busy with work, then away in Scotland for a bit. This shot is from closer to home though. In all the time I've lived in the Forest of Dean,

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Basking Shark

It's been a while since my last update to this blog, not least because I've been away in Scotland and the Hebrides for the last couple of weeks, and prior to that I was busy with long days at work. One species I was particularly keen to see whilst in Scotland was the Basking Shark - the second largest fish after the Whale Shark.
Things didn't sound that promising when we arrived in Scotland. Basking Sharks were late arriving this year and sightings were only just beginning to happen. We headed out towards the island of Coll and quickly the waters calmed and the weather improved. Common and Grey seals were hauled out on the rocks in large numbers, unperturbed by our presence.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Meadow Grasshopper (in pink!)

After a long and very hot day out with the camera yesterday, which was well rewarded with Goshawk photographs (watch this space!), today was a day for taking it easy. The dog still needed walking though, and I couldn't resist taking the camera with macro lens in case anything interesting turned up. I'm glad I did, as I

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Turtle Dove

This Turtle Dove has been hanging about in the Forest of Dean for a while now. It took a few attempts to catch sight of it, but eventually it obliged by

Sunday, June 30, 2013

BBC Springwatch film

Here's the short film I made with the BBC for Springwatch 2013.

Roe Deer

This Roe buck was photographed about three weeks ago in the Forest of Dean. The native Roe's numbers are locally small in comparison to the non-native Fallow and probably the Muntjac too. When this photo was taken

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Atlantic Puffin

Despite the colossal number of Puffins on Skomer, actually capturing a decent shot of one in flight was trickier than I anticipated. These birds can reach over 50mph. It spends the winter at sea but returns to cliff-top breeding colonies in the spring, where it nests in a

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Home again

It's been a busy few days, and I'm back from a great time in Pembrokeshire, finishing with a trip to Skomer earlier today. The weather was amazing, and most of my target species put in an appearance. I've got a pile of photos to sort through, some of which will be new additions to the

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Green-Winged Teal

Another new addition to the Species List for me today - the Green-Winged Teal. They are scarce but regular visitors to the UK from North America. It is distinguished from drake Common Teals (the Eurasian relative of this bird) by a vertical white stripe on side of breast, the lack of both a horizontal white scapular stripe and the

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dipper chicks

I've had little time to update the blog over the last couple of days. Today I had the opportunity to photograph these tiny Dippers in their nest here in the Forest of Dean. I was with a licensed BTO ringer, and wouldn't go near the nest otherwise. There were six chicks in here, all of which were ringed very quickly

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Barred umber moth

A new addition to the list last night was this Barred umber moth. I can't say it took much work to find this one... I let the dog out in the garden and it flew right in. Wildlife photography doesn't get much easier than that. I had to wait about 10 minutes for it to settle down though before taking a quick snap with the phone.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cuckoo

So far this year, I've managed to see five Cuckoos, and of course, heard plenty more. If you haven't seen the BBC documentary, 'Cuckoo - Evolutionary Cheat', I strongly recommend it.

Site commenting

I've removed the need for visitors to have a Google+ account in order to be able to leave comments on the blog. It's now possible to comment using one of a variety of different profiles, or even anonymously.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nightjar

The Springwatch team invited me up to Ynys Hir for a couple of days to have a look around behind the scenes, meet the crew, etc. I had a great time there. I went for a wander around the reserve on the first afternoon, but didn't get very far at all before finding this perched in a tree. I believe it's the first time the RSPB warden had heard of one there, although it's thought it was just taking a rest

Bearded Tit

Yesterday I photographed the 250th species to appear on the Species List - the Bearded Tit. It was at Newport Wetlands. I'd visited once before but it was a very windy day and sightings of anything at all were few and far between. It was much warmer and calmer yesterday. Plenty Reed Warblers, Common Whitethroat, the odd Cetti's Warbler, and this single Bearded Tit. It was a very brief sighting, and

Friday, June 07, 2013

Chinese Water Deer

There are six species of deer living wild in the UK. This is the one I had to travel furthest to see - the Chinese Water Deer. Almost prehistoric in its appearance, bearing tusks in place of antlers, this is the most primitive of our deer. Except it isn't really one of 'our' deer at all. Along with the Muntjac, Fallow and Sika, the Chinese Water Deer is not native to this country, and the fact that we now have

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Grey Heron with Tench

I got a new addition to the species list today. Not the Heron, but courtesy of the Heron. I watched it prowl around the bank of this pond in the Forest of Dean, until it reached in and pulled out this Tench. It took a couple of seconds to swallow then the Heron was

Red Squirrels with blonde tails

The pictures are poor, but they show Red Squirrels that I photographed in Scotland, in woodland next to Loch Ness. I saw a number of Reds that day, but the one thing they all had in common was a striking blonde/white tail. I've seen Reds elsewhere in Scotland, as well as in the south on Brownsea

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Firecrest


I've spent a bit of time trying to photograph these here in the Forest of Dean over the last couple of days. It's a tiny little bird but I did manage some half-decent shots. This isn't necessarily one of the better ones, but it's one of the only ones where it briefly displayed the crest. It's amazing to me that all that folds in to such a small narrow stripe. In addition to the Firecrest, yesterday

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Springwatch

A huge thank you to everyone who was kind enough to send me mails and messages about my film on Springwatch last night. It was great fun to work on and the Springwatch team were fantastic. It took a lot of persuasion to get me on the wrong side of the lens though!
If you missed it, you can see it

Friday, May 31, 2013

Mating Avocets

I managed to capture this pair of mating Avocets a few days ago. It was a pretty brief experience for them both, much to the relief of the female no doubt. The Avocet became extinct in Great Britain in 1840. Its successful recolonisation at Minsmere, Suffolk, in 1947 led to its adoption as the logo of the Royal

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

European Cave Spider

I found this spider on the ceiling of a cave, local to me in the Forest of Dean. Unable to identify it myself, I sought help from an expert who informed me that it was Meta menardi, the European Cave Spider, also known as the Orbweaving cave spider, the Cave

Redstart Nest

On the decline in Europe, this Redstart was busily going in and out of the nest a couple of weeks ago. The second photograph here was taken shortly after spotting the bird. As much as it would have been nice to get a close up shot of it, once the nest became apparent, I took a quick

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Red-necked Phalarope

This photo won't be winning any prizes, but it shows a very distant and very rare visitor to Gloucestershire - the Red-necked Phalarope. This was taken at Coombe Hill meadows, about 750 miles from its usual patch in the northern Shetland islands, which itself is on the outer limits of the range of this small bird.

Golden-ringed dragonfly

Probably my favourite dragonfly species, and almost certainly the most easily identifiable, even if it's not one of the easier ones to find. It's the longest dragonfly species in Britain. This Golden-ringed dragonfly was meandering around a Dorset heathland, before

Wood mouse


Sometimes you don't need to travel far to see the wildlife that's around us. Sometimes you don't even have to leave the house. This video of a tiny Wood mouse was filmed out of the lounge window! This one was helping himself to seed that the birds had dropped from the feeders in the garden. Almost entirely nocturnal, Wood mice

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sea Bass

I spotted this from way up on a cliff-top on a hot day in Dorset whilst looking for birds. It drifted sedately around the shallow waters for a while before being joined by another fish and heading off. As for the birds, it was a successful day, and I'll be posting some of the results in forthcoming

Common Lizard

This was photographed on the 2nd May, and was my first local sighting of a Common Lizard this year. This one has shed its tail - a self-defence mechanism known as autotomy - which can often serve to give it an 'extra life' when faced with

Wild Boar

The Wild Boar is one of my favourite mammals in the UK, and I'm fortunate that I live in the place that currently has the greatest population. This is one of my more recent shots, taken moments after the boar had spent some quality time rolling around in a muddy wallow. I recently spent some time making a short film with the BBC Natural History Unit for inclusion in Springwatch 2013, which

Treecreeper


This little Treecreeper was photographed close to home in the Forest of Dean. They're great little birds to watch, like mice scuttling up the tree trunks, sometimes coming face to face with the Nuthatch coming down the trunk, both getting a different view from which to spot tasty

Water Vole

The Water Vole is a species that I'd been wanting to photograph for a long time. It had become one of my nemeses. On many occasions I'd sat myself down on the banks of a suitable watercourse, having looked for signs such as chopped vegetation, burrows, trails, etc and waited. My efforts were always rewarded with little more than a tell-tale 'plop!' sound further down-stream. Then two days ago, completely