Saturday, 26 December 2009

Bretton Lakes Update

Well its not quite the antarctic but we are in the midst of a fairly prolonged cold snap. Snow rarely even settles in these parts but it has been covering the ground for over a week now. Daytime temperatures are hovering around 0-2 degrees which has meant the ice on Bretton Lakes isn't getting a chance to thaw.

View from Cascade Bridge.

I'm not sure what type of tree this is but the local birdlife are currently feasting on it's red berries.

One of the many Blackbirds taking advantage of some non-frozen food!

Also present but far more furtive was a flock of about a dozen Fieldfares. This was the first time I've encountered this bird!

They all flew off shortly after I got this shot.

As usual there were plenty of Robins around.

I've been spending some time watching the undergrowth in the hope of spotting a Goldcrest for some weeks now but without any luck. Today's visit was the same but I did come across a Wren and a Dunnock.

Monday, 14 December 2009


West Yorkshire in December

Dull, miserable, gloomy, dark, wet and windy! This is West Yorkshire in December. It didn't even bother to get light today. So instead of going out with my camera on the last day of my annual leave - which I booked especially so I could go see the Great Northern Divers that are hanging around on the reservoirs above Huddersfield - I stayed in and tiled the kitchen floor. Yes it was that bad!

For people who live in nicer climates who want to simulate winter in West Yorkshire. Get a large electric fan, stand inside a walk-in refrigerator, throw a bucket of water over yourself, turn on the fan and then close your eyes!

Roll on spring!

Friday, 11 December 2009


September 2008 saw my eldest son get married on the island of Mauritius. I smuggled my camera and a couple of lenses into the wedding luggage and managed to get a few shots of the local birdlife.

Most of these shots are taken from within the grounds of the hotel.

If I had a favourite then it would be the Red-Whiskered Bulbul. They appeared in numbers wherever you were and if out walking they would keep you company for much of the journey.

Madagascan Fody.

Also present in great numbers was the Mynah Bird.


I think the youngster was saying, "Mother, either you regurgitate some food or we're gonna fall out..!"

The Weaver Birds were too busy nest building to be bothered by photographers...

Zebra Doves were always to be found foraging on the floor.

Green Heron. This shot was also taken within the hotel grounds...

...but I had to venture out to The Black River Gorges national park to see this Pink Pigeon. Endemic to the island and once very common, this bird almost became extinct in the 1970's when numbers in the wild fell to less than 30. Since then a captive breeding program has seen the numbers increase to several hundred.

This Fruit Bat was one of a pair that flew high overhead whilst we were visiting the Black River Gorges.

Friday, 4 December 2009


I spent a couple of weeks on holiday in Cyrpus in mid-September 2009. Probably not the best time of year for birdwatching but certainly not the worst. I was a little too late to see any Demoiselle Cranes on the Akrotiri salt lake and too early for the Flamingos on the Larnaca salt lake but apart from that there was plenty to see.

The most prevalant and visible were the Bee Eaters. Especially to the north-west of the Akrotri peninusar where the local farmers had many beehives dotted around the area.

This female spent a couple of minutes trying to repel the male's advances but he persisted and she eventually (just about) gave in.

By far the most productive site was Achna Dam, close to the border with Northern Cyprus. The only drawback was the local fishermen who seemed intent on turning the place into a rubbish tip. The waders having to negotiate the tin cans and plastic bags left behind by these people.

I cleared the mess away after this Spurwing Plover had moved on but more rubbish had been deposited by the next day when I returned.

A solitary Great White Egret could be found at the dam each time I visited.

Keeping it company was this Little Egret

Making up the numbers was a Black Ibis


Cyprus Pied Wheatear

I found this friendly Kestrel in the grounds of the hotel we stayed at for the first week of our holiday.

Sardinian Warbler


Great Reed Warblers were very common

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Birds of Bretton - Part Two

A few more pictures from Bretton Lakes.

This freeloading, sleepy Mute Swan Cygnet was one of 5 born last year to the resident adult pair on the top lake at Bretton. They all survived and were still around until their parents chased them off to be ready for the new breeding season!

Its rare to not have a least one encounter with a Coal Tit during a walk around the reserve.

The Cormorants are always good to watch. A pair have been present for most of the year but I haven't seen them recently.

" 'ere, you should have seen the size of that Trout I caught yesterday "

These female Goosanders were around for most of last winter. I imagine they spend most of the year on nearby rivers before wintering on the lakes. This has always struck me as odd because the lakes are much more prone to freezing over.

Male Goosander

This photo of a Robin taken in front of the hide during a very cold spell of weather last winter. He/she had just been fighting over the food I had put out to attract the birds.

Last but not least is one of the many Grey Herons that are resident at the reserve.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Birds of Bretton - Part One

Bretton Lakes nature reserve is my local patch. Formerly managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust it is now under the direct control of the local council. Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen but things seem to be working ok at the moment.

Bretton Lakes on Multimap

Here are a selection of the many photographs I have taken at this reserve. They are in no particular date order but most are taken in the spring and summer.

There is a more informed look at this reserve on this blog - Bluebirder



Grey Squirrel stealing the peanut butter I put out for the birds!


Great Spotted Woodpecker