Record Breaking Temperature.

Snowdrop Silhoueet February in the UK has been the warmest on record. On a recent outing to Woodwalton Fen I noticed the outside temperature registered by my car hit 18 degrees celsius – unbelieveable warm for this time of year – I’m not complaining though, it was nice to see the sun and have a bit of warmth.

The warm weather has triggered some birds and other wildlife to start thinking about nest building, this might be a bit premature as the weather can still become very cold this time of year. I watched a pair of Long-tailed Tits flying to and from a Bramble bush with moss in their beaks busily building a nest.

Long Tailed Tit Nest Building 1
A Long-tailed tit thinks it’s time to start nest building

Long Tailed Tit Nest Building 3
Long-tailed Tit with nest building material

On the same day I noticed a couple of Nuthatch’s checking out holes in trees to see if they would make suitable nesting sites.

NUthatch 8
Could this be a suitable nesting site?

Nuthatch 9
A Nuthatch at Woodwalton Fen

I also noticed a hole in a tree that was being used by Honey Bees as a nesting site.

Bees Nest 1
Honey Bees at Woodwalton Fen

The same time last year was in complete contrast when we had the ‘Beast From The East’ There was snow and sub zero temperatures.

Hare Pano
Sub zero temperatures the same time last year

Muntjac In Snow
A Muntjac in the snow a year ago

 

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Woodland Winter Birds.

Little BirdI headed out for a winter walk at Woodwalton Fen but this time instead of heading for the hides I went to a quieter part of the reserve to see if there were any woodland birds around. At first all appeared quiet but then a group of Long Tailed tits started feeding in the trees close by.

Pair Of Tits
Blue Tit and Long-tailed tit

Often other birds follow the small groups of Long-tailed tits so I kept a look out for other small birds that might be around. I saw a Treecreeper close by and managed to get a photo (below).

Tree Creeper
Treecreepers sometimes follow groups of Long-tailed tits

I caught a glimpse of a Goldcrest – these small busy birds don’t seem to stay still and can be hard to photograph.

Goldcrest
Goldcrest

I also noticed a Nuthatch on a nearby tree – a species I haven’t seen at Woodwalton before.

Nuthatch 2
Nuthatch – also known as the upsidedown bird

There were a couple of Marsh Tits flying around. They didn’t seem bothered by my presence or hadn’t noticed me, either way they were feeding from branches right in front of me.

Marsh Tit2
Marsh Tit on a nearby branch

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Review Of The Year.

Clock sillouette Review Of  2018

Thanks
First of all thanks to those of you who have taken the time to read my blog posts and a special thanks to those who have left comments and ‘likes’ throughout 2018 – much appreciated.

Photography
I can’t believe it’s 2019 already, time seems to pass quicker the busier you are. From the photography and wildlife point of view 2018 has been a good year. I had one of my photo’s highly commended in this year’s British Wildlife Photographic awards(see separate blog post on November 12th) and two other photo’s were selected to appear in 2019 calendars. I’ve got closer to wildlife than ever before and witnessed an amazing wildlife spectacle – more about that below.

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Speckled Bush Cricket – highly commended in this year’s British Wildlife Photographic awards.

I have two photographs appearing in two calendars – The Fens Magazine 2019 calendar and the Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust calendar. It’s always nice to see your photos in print.

both calendars
The Fens Magazine calendar and the Wildlife Trust calendar

both calendar photo's
Photos appearing in the calendars


Wildlife
It’s been a very good year for wildlife watching. I started the year witnessing grass snakes emerging from hibernation and swimming along the water-filled ditches at Woodwalton Fen.

grasssnake 7
Grass snake at Woodwalton Fen

I also saw and photographed Water Voles at Woodwalton Fen for the first time.

water vole 6
I saw Water Voles at Woodwalton Fen for the first time in 2018

crane pano
A pair of Cranes visited Woodwalton Fen for a few weeks in the spring


Up Close And Personal
I got close to three wild mammals this year – probably the closest I’ve ever been – a Fox, Chinese Water Deer and a Muntjac Deer.

Fox Portrait
A close encounter with a Fox

water deer portrait
I don’t think I’ll get closer to a wild Chinese Water Deer than this!

muntjac portrait 2Eye to eye with a Muntjac deer


Amazing Wildlife Spectacle
I had lots of amazing ‘wildlife moments’ this year but one that sticks out in my mind was a visit to Gigrin Farm in Mid-Wales. For those of you that have not heard of Gigrin farm it’s a farm close to the town of Rhayader in mid-Wales. They feed Red Kites on a daily basis. The Kites have learnt that food will be available at a certain time each day and they will mass in their hundreds waiting for the food to arrive. Seeing so many big birds of prey together was an amazing spectacle. The farm have built hides close to the feeding location so you get great views as the Kites swoop down to take the meat that has been put out for them. There’s definitely a pecking order – older birds first, they  swoop down, take the food and eat it all on the wing. The younger birds then get their turm, but their flying skills aren’t as good so they generally land to take the food. The farm is well worth a visit.

More information can be found on the Gigrin Farm web site:-
Gigrin Farm web site

eating on the wing
A Red Kite eating on the wing

kite in flight close
Low flying Red Kite

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At Last I’ve Found A Badger Sett!

Badger silhoueete I’ve been looking for an active Badger sett close to home for a few months. I’d been told about two other places where I could find Badger setts. Unfortunately when I checked them out I found they were inactive – no Badgers in them anymore. Luckily I stumbled across what looked like a Badger sett when I was out walking in local woodland. I set up a trail camera and confirmed it was a Badger sett and there were Badgers living in it!

Below are a few of the video clips captured by my trail camera.

Badgers. Cambridgeshire.

I’m going to keep my eye on this sett over the coming months – hopefully I’ll see some cubs in the Spring.

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BWPA – Highly Commended.

Camera Silhoueete I was lucky enough to have one of my photographs highly commended in this year’s BWPA (British Wildlife Photography awards). I went to the award ceremony and book launch at the Mall Galleries in London where my photo was on display.

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My ‘highly commended’ photograph

The photograph is a silhouette of a bush cricket taken at the Woodwalton Fen nature reserve in Cambridgeshire.

The photograph will appear in this year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards book.

Front Cover
Front cover of this year’s British Wildlife book

Photo In Book
My photograph on page 87

I was also lucky enough to meet Miranda Krestovnikoff who was hosting the event. She very kindly signed my copy of the book. Miranda’s Web Site

Miranda
Thanks to Miranda for signing my copy of the book

 

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After The Rain.

Rain SilhouetteAfter a few days of rain it was good to get out in the fresh air again. The wind had dropped and the sun was out so I though it might be a good day for some macro photography. There was an abundance of raindrops on leaves and spider webs which always make good photographic subjects.

Costa Rica

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Raindrops on a spiders web can make an interesting photograph

As usual this time of year there were plenty of spiders around.

Costa Rica
Garden spider

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Long -jawed Orb Weaver spider

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Outfoxed The Fox.

Fox  I’ve always had a problem getting any decent photo’s of a Fox. The wiley Fox with it’s great eyesight and sense of hearing always seems to be one step ahead of me. That is until recently when I  visited a quiet part of the Woodwalton Fen nature reserve. I came across a young Red Fox out hunting.

Fox 1
A Red Fox concentrating on the hunt

I was lucky, it was quite a windy day so any noise I made was masked out by the rustling grass and leaves, also the wind was blowing towards me (or more importantly away from the Fox) so it would be harder for the Fox to pick up my scent.

I watched the Fox for about an hour, during that time I witnessed four sucessful hunts.

Fox EatingA sucessful hunt

Eventually the Fox saw me. I expected it to run off but it didn’t. As long as I kept my distance the the Fox didn’t appear to be bothered by my presence.

Fox 2
I’ve been spotted

This close encounter gave me the opportunity to get some nice photo’s of this elusive mammal.

Fox Portrait
Red Fox portrait

I’m hoping to bump into this Fox on a future visit to Woodwalton Fen.

 

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