Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Smooth-billed Ani

Another new one from Grenada for my life list. A member of the cuckoo family, the Ani about a foot (30cm) long. It builds a communal nest with several other pairs...which seems pretty unusual as a behaviour.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Lesser Antillean Bullfinch

Rather delightful little bird photographed in Grenada - endemic to the Lesser Antilles. Perhaps unsurprisingly this is a male - the female is a rather more drab olive brown.

If you’re keen on bird images – or like showing off pictures your latest tick why not try Wild Bird Wednesday – go on, you know you want to!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Old friends and new in foreign places

So..I’ve just returned from 10 days in the Seychelles – something of a bucket list destination for me. As I didn’t go to any of the “bird” islands the spotting was not as dramatic as its reputation but there was still plenty to add to my list once I got my eye in.

These Striated Herons seem to be quite abundant and pretty confiding…this one perched in a palm tree almost directly above my head and made for a nice tick.

Striated Heron, Mahe

This one, on the other hand, was equally unexpected and came with the the odd thrill that only finding something totally familiar in an unexpected location brings. If I didn’t know where it was this Grey Heron could be on my local beach.

Gery Heron, Baie Lazare Picault, Mahe

Greenshank are familiar from the rather cooler climes of Cumbria as well – although we don’t usually find them in the middle of “major” towns like this one.

Greenshank, Victoria, Mahe

And while I should probably have spotted a Curlew Sandpiper at home by now, it is definitely more fun to introduce yourself to the species in a tropical paradise. This busy little guy was dashing energetically round the local parkland by the marina.

Curlew Sandpiper, Victoria, Mahe

This one is not quite an old friend – but familiar from a dismally damp and windy day at Waratah Bay with my brother in 2012. Who can resist the slightly scruffy charm of a Great Crested Tern – not me that’s for sure. I nearly toasted myself on the beach capturing this image with the sun essentially directly overhead. At least this time it was warm and sunny.

Great Crested Tern, Anse Royale, Mahe

Good job I was using Factor 40+ sun-cream or my european complexion would have ended up like this guy:

Madagascar Fody, Victoria, Mahe

A nice cheerful Madagascar Fody.

If you’re keen on bird images – or like showing off pictures your latest tick why not try Wild Bird Wednesday – go on, you know you want to!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Arctic tern

July saw my first trip to the Farne Islands in breeding season and it certainly won't be my last. I'm not sure that the colour scheme in this photo would work in my living room - but it's certainly dramatic in the proper setting. If you like bird photos I can recommend my brothers blog - especially during Wild Bird Wednesday.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Apropos nothing in particular…

…but one of the joys of beach photography in relatively remote ex-industrial areas is that sometimes you get to see something like this. This is one of four peregrines that were playing in the breeze over the cliff tops – 2 adults and 2 young I think. The young were obviously practising their skills on passing gulls, and on one occasion a passing gannet! I may have to return to the location with a longer lens.




Sometimes it's important to remind myself that photography is supposed to be pleasurable as well as intellectually demanding!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Whooper Swan–Caerlaverock–WBW

Whooper Swan - Caerlaverock by nmonckton
Whooper Swan - Caerlaverock, a photo by nmonckton on Flickr.

The tail end of winter had a bit of a sting in this part of the UK so I thought I'd make a trip to Caerlaverock to see if any geese or swans were willing to have their photo taken. Geese there were none, but this Hooper Swan was one of many making use of the free buffet provided by the reserve staff every day.

I do love the way these birds appear brilliant white - until you photograph them against snow!

More great birds at Wild Bird Wednesday

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Wilson’s Prom and a Crested Tern (WBW)

Crested Tern, Wilson's Prom, Victoria

Memories of a summer holiday on the far side of the world. It was cold, very windy and threatening to rain, so in traditional British holiday-maker fashion we set off with Stewart to go for a walk on the beach. Would have missed this chappie if Stewart had not pointed him out to me, trying to disguise itself as a silver gull.

Shortly after this the weather turned from merely bad to positively atrocious, but somehow it didn’t seem to matter. Even cowering in my cagoule to avoid getting my sandwiches soaked seemed like a worthy adventure. So…when can we do Antarctica?

if you enjoy pictures of birds – there are plenty more at Wild Bird Wednesday – why not join in the fun. You wont even have to get cold and wet.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Common Cormorant (or Shag): WBW

2005-01-29 12-07-23.jpg

The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag.
The reason you will see, no doubt,
It is to keep the lightning out.
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.


All of which is complete nonsense of course – including the confusion of cormorant and shag!

If you enjoyed this photo there are plenty more great bird shots at Wild Bird Wednesday

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Birds of prey – two different ones

Birds of prey induce strange reactions in some people. Take the barn owl – the one below was taken a while back and has featured in this blog before – almost everyone I know thinks they’re wonderful. See a barn owl and it says that everything’s all right with the environment around you. And they eat those horrid ratty things that, furry or not, most people don’t like – so that’s OK then.

Barn Owl

On the other hand – this guy – a rather neat sparrowhawk which has also featured before – eats those lovely little blue tits that eat my peanuts. That’s not alright in some peoples eye’s.

1000/811: 10 May 2012: Male Sparrowhawk

Doesn’t seem to matter that by putting out the peanuts we’re really establishing a sparrowhawk feeding station. Nor that our pet moggy probably kills and eats more of our favourites than the sparrowhawk will ever manage. Nor even that without birds of prey we’d be neck deep in blue tits in no time.

Many people still seem to like their environment nice, neat and clean – full of their favourites and empty of their pet hates. But, of course, it isn’t that way. Sparrowhawks are only successful if their food chain is successful. Just like the owls. It’s a privilege to have these birds in and around our gardens - and seeing either one of them take their prey makes my heart glad. Glad that my bit of the environment at least is healthy and operating pretty much as it should.

If you enjoyed these photos there are plenty more great bird shots at Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Sometime earlier in the summer No 1 daughter asked - somewhat out of the blue - if we could go bird-watching somewhere. It's one of the pleasures of being a Dad that you can respond favourably to such requests, so we spent a happy afternoon at a local lake trying to find some birds. In truth, it was moulting season, so birds were not really in evidence. "Thats it," I thought, convinced that the avian desert would put her off the idea for ever. But happily not. Another request appeared in my texts.

This time we tried Caerlaverock - their website suggesting that there would be Whooper Swans and Barnacle Geese in decent numbers. And we weren't disappointed - except by the swans who were too busy doing swanny things out in the fields.

Went into the first hide - and just about the first bird we spotted other than a few shoveller ducks was a merlin - only my second ever. So sorry swans - not bothered that I didn't see you now.

We managed to track down a snipe - largely by dint of sheer persistence, No1 daughter got her first glimpse (it was a glimpse) of a great spotted woodpecker and was wooed by the rather quaint wheezing of the wigeon all over the reserve.

Male Wigeon, Caerlaverock

And the icing on the cake? The day finished with a fly past from a couple of thousand barnacles - much to the delight of both ourselves and the guy videoing from the hide, who'd been waiting three days for that particular shot. So to celebrate our (and his) success and patience here are some Barnacles - all the way from Spitzbergen especially for us.

Barnacle Geese at Caerlaverock

Barnacle Geese, Caerlaverock

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