It's April, it's Cold and it's too early. There is just one thought that stops me hitting the snooze button on the alarm. Dipper Fledglings. The key to getting out of bed early is pretty much the same as tackling a swim in the Atlantic; you have to jump in (or out) head first!
I drop out of bed, grab the nearest set of clothes (luckily they’re my own!) and step out. Without a millilitre of caffeine it feels a gargantuan effort. The river is shaded from the early morning sun and it’s cold but the sound of the river is soothing and the spears of light illuminating distant rocks promise warmth. Hopeful, I lie flat on the chilled, serrated and uncomprimising stoney floor.
“What am I doing here?!” A thought so hard felt that I’m not sure if I heard it in my head or from my lips. The light isn’t right, the stones beneath me are starting to bruise my skin and I’m convinced there’s a wildlife bonanza occurring just past that bend in the river. Yet, there are Dippers over here. Over there, just beyond the reach of my lens. It's a question that has been asked since we grew legs... "Wait? Or try and move closer?"
I try and shake out the aches in my bones and settle down. "Ten minutes and if nothing happens, I'll try and move closer". The three or four Dippers start rock hopping in my direction, I try not to breathe. To my wonder two fledglings land nearby and are promptly fed by a caring parent.
It could of been three minutes or three hours that passed as I photographed these slate grey hovering balls of fluff and they're attentive parents...
But who is this creature with monstrous wings on its waterproof back? It has knobbly knees and a long stretchy neck and has terrible teeth in its terrible beak; its feet are webbed, its eyes are black. "Oh help, oh no its a Greylag Goose!"
If you're not familiar with the borrowed and adapted lines above, you've probably not read the Gruffalo (yet). For the last year or so everywhere we take our 2¾ year old involves either a great big bear (hunt) or the Gruffalo!
I'm standing in Ilkley Town centre on a Saturday afternoon. I have the train station to one side of me and the bus station on the other and I'm carrying a rather large and conspicuous lens around my neck. This is not the kind of situation I envisaged when I began my love affair with wildlife photography.
It seems at the age of thirty five I have finally relinquished any notion of being cool and have plummeted to the lowly ranks of looking like a train and/or bus spotter. But there’s something these passers by, with their quizzical, puzzled and slightly pitying expressions don’t know. They don't realise that the berry laden trees which divide the bus and train station are a prime location for spotting the David Bowie of the Bird World… The Waxwing!
At this time of the year Ilkley Moor is absolutely teeming with life. Walking it during Spring can be a giddying experience, as there are tons of natural spectacles to be observed in every direction! Continue reading Toad City on the Moor
Bangor Part I & II shared some of the marvelous experiences we had visiting our good friends in Bangor, County Down. I often find however, my memory of any visit is actually additionally affected by the journey to and from the location visited.
Maybe it's the way our (or just my!) brain processes memories but whenever I reflect on a trip or a visit somewhere, those memories always seem to be inextricably connected with reminiscences of the journey there and back too.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
Continue reading Bangor Part III: There & Back
Christmas 2013, and it was the longest time I'd spent in London since moving to West Yorkshire. We were down for a couple of weeks for a healthy mix of work and pleasure. It was great to have some quality time with family and friends rather than the usual quick pint here or brief coffee there! Continue reading Suburban Park Safari
A large predatory shadow glides over us. A wave of excitement washes over me as we look up to see a sky full of red kites and I struggle to keep a 'cool' demeanor or just break into a childish run, as we head up to the bird hides.
Our weekend in the Brecon Beacons (so far), hadn't quite delivered everything I hoped for. An area of famed outstanding beauty, with legendary walks and mind blowing scenery; all of is pretty irrelevant when blanketed in cloud and visibility is reduced to less than ten metres!
As we approached the Red Kite Feeding Centre it seemed our perseverance over the weekend had been rewarded. It appeared we had found the only patch of blue sky in Wales! In fact, as we had arrived early we had time to test this theory out and believe it or not much more than a mile away from the Kite Centre we found ourselves shrouded in the white fluffy stuff again!
Feeding begins at 2pm daily. We found ourselves a spot in the hide and waited an agonising ten minutes for the spectacle to begin! I don't use the word 'spectacle' lightly, what occurred was mesmerising and mind-blowingly awesome! Hundreds of huge raptors gracefully and effortlessly swooping down just metres in front of us. This was a genuinely unique and thrilling experience, and I left with a feeling not too dissimilar to when I swam with wild dolphins in New Zealand! But you don't have to travel to the otherside of the world for this experience, this is in the UK and very accessible; which is just as well because we have unfinished business the Brecon Beacons!