Wildlife Moment 2016

It has to be spotting a wild otter near where I live. One of those days when I had to drag myself out after a busy day at work when sprawling on the sofa seemed like the best idea.

So glad I went out! Not the greatest photo but the buzz I got when the foliage parted and out strolled an otter was unbelievable.

Bear in mind when I was a kid this river was so polluted it ran all the colours of the rainbow from the stuff dumped in it and was basically dead! Now it teems with fish , kingfishers, dippers, herons and this beauty.

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The Framing of the Shrew

I’ve had the title of this blog drafted out since I first spotted a shrew under the bird feeders at work. It was definitely something I decided to get a picture of but I’ve struggled. Like the voles I spotted them in the retaining wall but unlike the voles the only shots I’ve got have been blurred or blank. The first thing you might spot is their quite long nose sniffing the air before shooting out to grab any food and then disappear. Quite simply they are the fastest thing I think I’ve seen! The picture below is one of 4 I took in rapid succession at 1/160 sec and is the only frame on which it appears, on the second of the four there is a smudge of grey and the others are blank. Its definitely got me wanting to improve on this picture!

There are three types of shrew in the UK and this is the Common Shrew. they live in woodland are are constantly foraging for food. They have to eat their body weight of food each day and are susceptible to dying of starvation if they don’t. They are a favourite food of owls and kestrels but are not really taken for food by other predators as they have a scent gland which makes them unpalatable to most animals.

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Coot v Dragonfly

I don’t usually take much notice of coots, I notice they’re around and then usually look elsewhere. They are an unobtrusive black waterfowl with the craziest bulbous feet, they’re not flippers like a duck but their lobed toes allow them to swim.

Recently I noticed a coot that had spotted a dragonfly landing on a post close by and began to slowly edge forward.

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I’m sure the dragonfly had seen the coot  and was confident it was in no danger. I’m fairly sure the coot realised it wasn’t going to catch the insect but felt it had to go through the motions.

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By the time the bird had decided to jump the dragonfly was long gone! I guess from time to time they must catch a dragonfly but today wasn’t to be that day.

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Magnificent In Name, Magnificent in Flight

Sometimes you see something and some distant memory flickers and you know instantly what it is. This happened in Barbados when I saw my first Frigate bird, even though I’d only ever seen them in books or on TV.

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One minute the bird is a dot on the horizon and then seemingly within seconds they are overhead skimming the waves looking for a meal. I did a little research as I had no idea what type of frigate bird they were or even if there was more than one species. There are apparently 5 types and these were the aptly named Magnificent Frigate bird. They soar on thermals and small breezes effortlessly covering huge distances without ever seeming to beat their wings.

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They are huge birds with a wingspan up to 90 inches across and a wicked hooked beak which they use to pluck fish from the surface or intimidate other birds into dropping their catch.  Females are black with a white chest and head while males are black with an irridescent sheen to their feathers. They also have a red throat which can be expanded like a balloon when they are trying to attract a mate.

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Amazingly they never land on water and like the swift can spend days and nights in flight catching a sleep whilst flying. Absolutely stunning to see and their effortless flying skills were a joy to witness. True aerial freedom.

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Not Quite Ready to Rumble

A friend recently bought a new camera and was keen to get out and about and asked me a good place to go. I suggested we could go to Studley Royal as the Red Deer rut is about to happen and if it hadn’t started he’d definitely get some great pictures with his new camera.

Unfortunately for us the deer were very placid with very little rut activity. A couple of the younger stags occasionally tried to get friendly with a female but they weren’t having any of it, and frankly their attempts to dress up their antlers were poor to say the least. It seems we were at least a week or two early.

But the weather was great so the photo opportunities were good and we enjoyed watching some photographers with no idea of field craft or how to approach animals slowly herd the deer in our direction.

As there wasn’t any real action I was keeping my eye out for anything out of the ordinary rather than just photographing the deer.

This young fallow deer was having a great time bouncing off some youthful exuberance.

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A young stag decided that if they were good enough for squirrels then acorns were good enough for him.

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These two fallow deer passed each other without seeming to notice the other was there, one in shadow the other in the sunshine.

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As we were heading back to the car  I commented that the big stags were conspicuous by their absence and I was beginning to wonder if something had happened to them when I noticed one all alone resting under a tree. His antlers marked him out as something special and when he wandered away I decided my money would be on him when the rut kicks off properly.

He decided to pause for a drink from a puddle and like a boxer between rounds seemed to swill his mouth. When the bell sounds for the start of the rut I think he’ll be ready.

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Website Tweak

I’ve had a quick change on the website updating photo’s and adding some new bits. I’m currently framing up pictures for an exhibition I’ve been asked to do at my local pub. Great excuse to pop in have a beer and a look at some wildlife photography. As it’s on for October I’ll be changing the pictures each week to keep it fresh and hopefully will encourage people to come back. So if you’re in Yorkshire in October please pop along to The Standard of Freedom in Skircoat Green Halifax and have a look. And for people who like trivia its the only pub in the world called that!! Visit the website HERE

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Weedy Grebe

When I spotted this Little Grebe on a recent visit to the RSPB reserve at Old Moor I didn’t really think I’d get more than a distant shot due to the heavy weedy vegetation in the channel. But as I sat and watched the grebe came closer and closer before submerging below the weed. It popped back in to view and I shot a few pictures thinking it would soon find an easier place to feed.

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The grebe continued to disappear from view but each time it resurfaced it  edged nearer and nearer allowing me to get some decent pictures.

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