Monday, 19 November 2012

The year of the Waxwings

It looks like it's going to be another fantastic year for waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus), the majority of which are being observed in Northern and Eastern Britain but I've been fortunate to have them on my local 'patch'. I therefore treasured the opportunity to photograph them.

Observant waxwing

Flock of Waxwings

Waxwing on 'look out'

The Waxwing gets its name from 'bombycilla' meaning silk tail, and 'garrulus' meaning chattering, babbling and noisy. The meaning of garrulus came from (BOU, 1915) who states: "applied by Linnaeus to the Waxing because of its fancied likeness to a Jay".

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Help Save out Seas: Petition Fish

To those of you who are aware of the petition created by the Wildlife Trust's, and have signed their petition thank you, to those of you that aren't aware I will explain.

The Wildlife Trust's are trying to put pressure on the UK Governments to create Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) and they're calling on us to try and help with this and to make it happen. The sea life around the UK is amazing, people think that you have to go abroad to see colourful reefs, turtles, and whales but this simply isn't the case, they can be found here, around the British Isles.

2013 is when the first MPA's should be established under the Marine Act of 2009 but this cannot happen without the help of you and I. The Wildlife Trust are asking the Government to place the MPA's correctly and to therefore help where nature conservation is required, to support the declining species and to mange our seas with adequate regulations and controls. 

To make sure the Government are taking note the Wildlife Trust has set up this petition: Petition Fish. 

If you think our seas should be protected sign the petition and make sure the Government listen! 

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Hoverfly (Helophilus pendulus)

Hoverfly Helophilus pendulus
Spent an evening at the local 'insect patch', if you've not already gathered, this reserve is fantastic for insects. The photograph above is of the Helophilus pendulus hoverfly. This hoverfly is one of the 4 commonest hoverflies which are all related. They can be distinguised by having a yellow and black striped thorax and their pale hind tibia.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Palm oil flowchart

Those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis know my views on palm oil, those of you that don't, well.... palm oil has big impacts on the environment and is unfortunately in most products that we use on a daily basis and I do all I can do to reduce my intake of it. The flowchart below caught my eye and sums up where palm oil comes from and where it ends up!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Spring displays

To my readers: I'm spent a bit of time drawing this while watching Wimbledon the other day, I hope it is of use to you. I took the design from RSPB's Birds magazine and thought it was quite useful.

The drawings are of breeding displays of the 5 breeding species of larks and pipits that can be seen in the UK.

Pipits have a parachuting display where the bird rises to the air and then descends rapidly back to the ground whereas larks have a more elaborate and looping display and tend to fly higher than pipits.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A piece of summer

It finally felt like summer was here last week but it didn't last long, a day or so and that was all. The clouds and the rain have been at the forefront, is climate change to blame here?

While the sun was out a few pairs of Common Blue Damselflies Enallagma cyathigerum appeared so I took the opportunity to photograph them:

Common Blue Damselflies

North Norfolk holiday 12-18th June 2012

A thoroughly enjoyable week in North Norfolk in the middle of June, knocked up a fair few species of birds, but there were a shortage of insects most likely due to the dreadful weather conditions that the whole country had to embrace for months on end.

Species seen:
  • Adder Vipera berus 
  • Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara  
Male Common Lizard
  • Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas 
  • Speckled Wood  Pararge aegeria 
  • Swallowtail Papilio machaon ssp britannicus 
  • Wall Brown Lasiommata megera


Birds (heard only):
  • Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
  • Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Birds (seen)
(There are 88 altogether but I'm just going to name a few):
  • Barn Owl Tyto alba 
  • Cettis warbler Cettia cetti
  • Common Buzzard Buteo buteo 
  • Common Crossbill Loxia recurvirostra 
  • Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea  
  • Dunlin Calidris alpina
  • Dunnock Prunella modularis 
  • Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus
  • Gadwall Anas strepera 
  • Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta
  • Little Tern Sterna albifrons 
  • Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus 
  • Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 
  • Nightjar Carprimulgus europaeus 
  • Song Thrush Turdus philomelos 
  • Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 
  • Woodlark Lullula arborea
  • Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella 
Male Reed Bunting

Juvenile Bearded Tits
  • Brown Hare: Lepus capensis
  • Chinese Water Deer Hydropotes inermis
  • Common Seal: Phoca vitulina
  • Fallow Deer Dama dama 
  • Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 
  • Water Vole Arvicola terrestris  

Chinese Water Deer
  • Black Tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
  • Blue-Tailed Damselflies Ischnura elegans 
  • Common Blue Damselflies Enallagma cyathigerum 
  • Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata
  • Glow-worm Lampyris noctiluca 
  • Norfolk Hawker Aeshna isosceles 

Four-spotted Chaser


Plants (currently trying to learn these):
  • Deadly Nightshade Atropa belladonna 
  • Giant Hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum 
  • Orange Hawkweed (Fox and cubs) Hieracium aurantiaca
  • Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare

Monday, 18 June 2012

Red-footed falcon at Willington Gravel Pits

I want to begin by saying I'm not a twitcher, I don't collect sightings of rare birds, destroy habitats and distress the bird. To me the main focus is the welfare of the bird. A couple of years ago I was on the east coast and a rare bird turned up and as I was already there I decided to take a look. I saw the bird but was astonished at the levels people were going to in order to photograph the bird, people were flushing the bird out in order to see it, as soon as they saw it they dashed off, I assume to find another rarity. I was appalled, these people don't seem to have a lot of respect for the wildlife around them, if any at all!

To the title of this post and the red-footed falcon Falco vespertinus. At the beginning of June a red-footed Falcon was seen at Willington Gravel Pits in Derbyshire, it's not too far from where I live so off I went. The usual scenario arose, I arrived and it wasn't there, about 15 minutes later the bird arrived. It was a bird I'd never seen before and was truly magnificent and a real beauty.

The red-footed falcon is most commonly seen in eastern Europe, but from time to time they do appear in Great Britain.

Unfortunately this photo isn't great but was the only decent one I managed to take on the camera I had at the time.

Red-footed falcon

Bempton Cliffs (28th May)

I'm trying to get up to date with my photographs, I've been quite busy recently with one thing or another, but finally University is over for 4 months so I have time to take photographs and wildlife watch, alongside doing my dissertation.So I'm back tracking on some of my photos and placing them on here.

So, on the 28th May, I went to Bempton Cliffs to see the seabirds there, there were the usual puffins Fratercula arctica, guillemots Uria aalge, fulmars Fulmarus glacialis and kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla.

Unfortunately due to light conditions and the weather conditions I didn't take a lot of photographs, but the one below stood out to me: a lonesome guillemot in what looks a desolate landscape.


Whisby Nature Reserve (May 21st)

A first for me today: a beautiful nightingale! A friend managed to record the song on his dictaphone and it's a bird song I could listen to forever.
Besides the nightingale there were plenty of common terns Sterna hirundo and black headed gulls with chicks.

Common Tern

Friday, 11 May 2012

Short-eared Owl

Another evening out on Beeley Moor on Tuesday, this time things got better. Fleeting glimpses, then the pair disappeared, eventually the decision was made to go home, and there was one of the owls sitting on a post about 10 meters away.

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

Monday, 7 May 2012

New look

I figured it was about time to upgrade how my blog was looking, so I changed its appearance. I decided I wanted to put more of an emphasis on my photographs and the old look didn't really show that too well. I hope you all like it.

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl
I've seen Short-eared owls Asio flammeus on Beeley Moor before but have never had the opportunity to photograph one.

I was running out of hope especially because the battery in my SLR was flat and I hoped the bird would not land anywhere which would have made a good photograph. I was leaving the moors when I saw the bird siting on a fence post for about 15 minutes and I realised I probably wasn't going to get a better opportunity to photograph such a magnificent bird. Clambering into the boot of the car (I couldn't get out the car because this would have scared the bird) and using my Canon powershot, I managed to get this photograph through the sun roof.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Rain has been disastrous to birds

The rain that most of the country had over the past 2 weeks has had a disastrous effects on birds. Ground nesting birds nests and breeding grounds have been destroyed. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has written an article which can been seen here:

In Nottingham the peregrine falcon family lost 3 of their 4 chicks to the prolonged and heavy rain last week, which caused much upset to a lot of people. The remaining chick is doing well though on the other hand. A family of peregrines in London seemed to cope a little better than the family in Nottingham, but their nest is sheltered.

Ogston Reservoir (my local bird club) had many nesting pairs of lapwings which due to the rising water levels in the reservoir have unfortunately been lost. On the other hand there have been rumors that Severn Trent have let water from Carsington Waters into Ogston, they know birds breed by the edge of the reservoir so why do it?

Sunday, 15 April 2012

A beautiful lacewing

Lacewing (Chrysoperla canea)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Orangutans killed in forest fires

I use Twitter, but not for saying what I'm doing every minute of everyday, I use it to find out what's happening in the environment around the world. I only link up to environmental bodies and post about environmental issues.

One Tweeter this morning has posted a news article which some of you may find distressing, I know I did! The first sentence hits home: "Wildlife experts warn that in as little as just a few weeks, the rare Sumatran Orangutans could become extinct." 

There's only one species to blame here and that's us! 

I have 'blogged many times about palm oil, but it's something I believe we should all know about. You may think there's nothing we can do about it, but there is....if we all change our lifestyles, the products we buy from the supermarkets, there may be a chance that we can help this threatened species. 

To recap on the effects of palm oil; thousands of hectares of land are destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations, thus leaving orangutans and other species, trapped and dead. 

Palm oil factories are being accused of intentionally setting the forests on fire. The orangutans are then being forced into moving to less suitable forests, but the palm oil factory workers are apparently chasing the orangutans back into the fires when they're trying to move to safer grounds away from the fire. The bad news doesn't stop here unfortunately, factory workers are also being accused of paying poachers to kill the orangutans because they are destroying the young palm trees.

If this is the case what on earth has this world come to? Whether the palm oil factory workers are definitely doing this, they are still causing the orangutans habitat to diminish. What are your opinions on this? 

(*This blog article was written in reference to the following news article:*) 

There are ways we can help to protect this magnificent species, and that is to look at the products we buy on the shelves. There are numerous websites that provide lists of products that do not contain palm oil so why not try these:

Palm oil alternatives 02 (You can download a palm oil free shopping list from here too!)

Saturday, 31 March 2012

WWF's Earth Hour

So, it's that time of year again, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is asking as many people all over the globe to turn off their lights for one hour. The point of this is "about people coming together to put the focus on this brilliant world we all share – and how we need to protect it. Not just for an hour a year, but every day." You can click on the link below to watch a video on this fantastic event. I've signed up, are you going to?

Earth Hour UK video

Ogston (March 25th)

A visit on a sunny afternoon to my local patch for a few hours a few days ago.

Willow Tit

Reed Bunting



Common snipe

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Black-necked grebe at Kingsmill Reservoir

Black-necked Grebe
On Sunday, I did my usual morning check on birdguides to see what bird species were in my local area: there was a black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) at Kingsmill Reservoir in Derbyshire.

I wasn't holding out much hope of seeing the bird. I'd almost finished walking the reservoir, when a fellow birdwatcher saw the grebe in the distance, and with a telescope the views were fantastic.

Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) were heard.

Other birds seen: coot (Fulica atra), moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), gadwall (Anas strepera), pochard (Aythya ferina), mute swan (Cygnus olor), house sparrows (Passer domesticus), little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus), blackbird (Turdus merula) black-headed gulls (Larus ridibundus), lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), and canada geese (Branta canadensis).

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Cromford Canal (March 11th)

On Sunday I went back to Cromford for the second day running in the hope of viewing the hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) that appear there every year. The hawfinch is a shy bird and is often seen feeding off the surrounding trees around the church yard and up to Willesley Castle, so I knew where to look. With little success I joined a few other birdwatchers and walked along the river to see what was about. I saw a fleeting glimpse of a kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), a grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), a wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) and several dippers (Cinclus cinclus). I managed to get a photograph of the wren, and then the dipper. The dipper didn't seem at all concerned or threatened by my presence, it was a privilege to share the river for a short time with such a wonderful bird.

The birdwatchers I'd spent the past half hour or so with were in Derbyshire for the day and they wished to see the bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla) at Bumper Castle but were not too sure how to get there. They followed my dad and I there and we got a few fleeting glimpses of them. Alongside the bramblings, we all got fantastic views of treecreepers (Certhia familiaris) and nuthatches (Sitta europaea).


Monday, 12 March 2012

My own back garden

Common frog (Rana temporaria)

The first frogs appeared in the pond in my garden a few days ago and yesterday the first spawn appeared (Sunday), and today there's more. 

You can submit your frogspawn records to:

Common frogs (Rana temporaria)

The photograph above is of 3 frogs mating, the female in the middle: it has been known for females to drown during mating.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

North Norfolk: Pensthorpe - June 2011

Juvenile Crane


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

North Norfolk: Kelling Heath - June 2011

Green Tiger Beetle


Silver Studded Blue

North Norfolk: Hicking Broad - June 2011

Black Tailed Skimmer

Sand Lizard

Poplar Hawkmoth

Norfolk Hawker

Elephant Hawkmoth

Eyed Hawkmoth

Poplar Hawkmoth