Sunday, 26 September 2010

Formby Point - 26.9.10

We realised we hadn't been to see the Red Squirrels at Formby for quite a while so went their early Sunday morning.  There has been a significant decrease in numbers since the Grey Squirrels passing on the squirrel pox so we thought we'd be lucky to see any.  When we were there is 2005 we saw about half a dozen within the first five minutes, but we went fully 45 minutes before seeing one today.
We passed the time, however, by photographing a pair of Jays - they are rather active and unwilling to sit still for long to be photographed.  We managed to get a few passable shots.
We carried on with the intention of heading out in the direction of the beach to see what we could see when I saw a little bushy red tail!
Red Squirrel
This chap was mostly to be found hiding behind branches and seemed of a rather nervous disposition, however, we managed to capture him briefly. 

There then followed a bracing walk along the beach.  The day was sunny but cold.  A couple of horse riders came out for a gallop together with every man and his dog!

We photographed a few gulls, but apart from them, the odd cormorant, oystercatchers and crows, there wasn't much about.

Black-headed Gull

Black-headed Gull

Black-headed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Friday, 24 September 2010

Ken Dee Marshes - Dumfries & Galloway 24.9.10

Red Kite

Red Kite


Red Kite

Red Kite

Sunset by Carse Cottage

John photographing sunset

Sunset by Carse Cottage

Sunset by Carse Cottage

Moonlight over Trostrie

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Wood of Cree RSPB - 23.9.10

The weather was still on the dull side today but dry in the morning so we headed for the Wood of Cree RSPB.  We had lunch sitting in the car park as it was very heavy rain.  About 1.00pm we took advantage of a dry spell and gathered up our equipment and went on the woodland trail.  There were an awful lot of Dor beetles beetling around – quite a few on their backs which I aided to their feet.  We also found a full size Common Toad this time and managed to get a few pictures.
Dor Beetle
Common Toad
Suddenly the heavens opened and the rain started bucketing.  I had taken the precaution of carrying the large umbrella with us to cover all the camera equipment.  We made a quick dash back to the car!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Threave House & Gardens - 22.9.10

Today a well deserved lie in followed by an easy day.  We visited the National Trust property of Threave House and Gardens.  There was a slight drizzle in the air so we didn’t want to go too far.  The gardens were lovely and someone with some gardening knowledge could have spent a day in there easily.  The house tour took about 1 ½ hours and was very interesting.  This was followed by a cream scone and coffee – about 3000 calories probably!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Caerlaverock WWT - 21.9.10

Common Darter Dragonfly

Common Darter Dragonfly

Common Darter Dragonfly on Gill's Hat

Zooming down a track

Monday, 20 September 2010

Ken Dee Marshes - Dumfries & Galloway 20.9.10

Today as the weather was reasonably fine we decided to try the Ken Dee Marshes RSPB reserve.  Shortly after we had turned off into the single track road which leads to the reserve we saw the outline of a Red Kite: a good sign.  The car park is small and secluded near to a farm.  We set out along the track to the hides.  There were several buzzards soaring intermittently being mobbed by crows.  We walked out to the geese observation platform where we saw another couple of Red Kites gliding – too far away to photograph though.  From here there was a good view of the surrounding area.
Ken Dee Marshes from Goose viewing platform

We continued on to the first hide – a rather new swish looking one with bird feeders placed conveniently to obtain good photographs of the small nut feeding birds.

Nuthatch on feeder

Great Tit

Great Tit


Blue Tit

Coal Tit

Coal Tit


Even though this was a weekday the hide proved popular with around 8 to 10 people on average.

We continued to the second hide which is up quite a steep flight of steps.  In here we were informed that bats were roosting (out of sight): you could hear the constant scratching and squeaking as they moved around.  Nothing much to see from here though: there was another feeder placed conveniently for photographing but nothing terribly exciting landed on it!

By this time it was getting to around 2.30pm and we had left lunch in the car, so a brisk hike back before we expired of starvation!

As we had time to spare we drove on to Mersehead RSPB to check out what was there for a return visit one day, however, we didn’t manage to fit it in again.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Around Dumfries & Galloway 19.9.10

Today we took the opportunity to buy some bits which we had forgotten to take with us, like my walking socks!!  We drove into Kirkcudbright – a pleasant little town.  We knew we were back in the countryside when the only shops open on a Sunday are the newsagents and Tesco!!  As no socks could be found we drove to Newton Stewart – this looked considerably larger and thought we stood a chance of finding some socks. 

After a pleasant drive along the A75 we arrived in the town.  After parking up and find some socks we went for a walk along the main street towards the bridge.  We took the opportunity to photograph the river.

River Cree by Newton Stewart

After a spot of lunch (fish n’ chips of course!) we drove to Galloway Forest Park for a walk on one of the forest trails.  We chose the middle length walk.  Shortly after setting off we found this little fella:

Juvenile Common Toad

Upon some research later we discovered he is a juvenile Common Toad as they are brick coloured.

We continued on the walk which took a couple of hours.  We only passed two dog walkers – such a big expanse of area and so few people, it’s quite different to the Lake District.  We sat down by a peaceful loch and reveled in the silence - nice reflections too!

Galloway Forest Park

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Pennington Flash & Sankey Valley Country Park - 5.9.10

Today I thought a trip to Pennington Flash as we hadn't been there in a few years!  We started off at the scrape where we had been lucky with Snipe before.  We were told that a pair had just passed right in front of the hide and into the undergrowth (probably heard we were coming!!) They did come back and were pestered by the Lapwings.
In the meantime there were about four young Herons practicing their gliding techniques as they tried to chase each other off.  
Grey Herons
Some rather nice Lapwing were lit up in the (very brief) sunshine.
As usual at this time of year there were more insects than birds.
Hoverfly in Hedge Bindweed
As it was rather quiet here we decided to check out somewhere else: Sankey Valley Country Park, as it was on our way back. We went into the visitor centre and were met by a very helpful, very tall chap, who is also into photography.  He is in the process of building a feeding station that is photography friendly: we must return!

We armed ourselves with a map and ventured out.  After an initial tarmacked path we turned to the right up a narrow slightly overgrown pathway where there were lots of Snapdragon-like plants with bees crawling in and out of. 
Wild flower
We continued along the path to the meadow where we saw a few Spotted Woods and a Comma Butterfly.  On the way back I was stood still at one point and I heard a buzzing round my head - I immediately thought it was a daddy long legs so shook my head, then I thought it's too loud to be a daddy long legs, so asked John what it was - he said it was a Dragonfly trying to land on my hat!  Unfortunately it flew off before we could get a nice photo of it sitting on my head posing for the camera!!
Gill (minus dragonfly)
Sankey Valley Park is certainly well worth a return visit.
Green Leafhopper
Fly on daisy
Tachina fera on thistle
Fly on thistle
Lily Beetle