Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A time for celebrating the turn of the year plus friends and family...

The holiday season is upon us and its very mild compared to the last couple of xmas periods. Its a good time of year to celebrate the winter solstice (shortest day) and there fore the turn of the year. Also enjoying friends and family is another good reason to enjoy it. I managed to get out in the field a few times in among all the xmas hustle and bustle.

We have reached 5000 signatures with the Raptor protection petition which is great but still a long way to go to reach 100,000 so a lot of work to do. Please sign if you haven't already and spread the word.

 I wrote an article for Raptor Politics regarding the birds of Prey on Mull and comparing the whole set up and mentality to the mainlands problems. I enjoyed writing it and I would like to thank Terry Pickford of RP for giving me the opportunity.  

Pot of Gold in Keswick, no wonder all the locals can afford them fancy
North Face Jackets!
River Gelt in flood

High Hynam, great for swimming in the summer, or at any time
of year if you re hardy enough...

The tight cluster is seven sisters other wise known as Pleiades

I have again been focusing on night sky astrophotography and learning about the fascination of it all. I enjoyed a fantastic meteor shower on the 2nd week of the month with 20 landing vertically in an hour....stunning. I was also continuing to attempt to capture the night sky in all its glory which I really enjoy doing. You can get some unique shots and it is also more difficult to get right compared to the day time landscapes I have been doing recently. I'm enjoying close views of Jupiter at the moment as well and with the scope locked on it you can make out 4 moons orbiting the huge planet. Its most famous moon is Io which is covered in Ice as it has a surface temperature of -260 degrees but as the gravitational force of Jupiter is so strong it creates movement and friction of the planet which produces heat and there fore could there be liquid water under the surface of Io and also possible life??...I find it all fascinating.

A clear weekend gave some great night sky action...

5 minute star trail...

Snowy gdale with a cracking sunset

Geltsdale LEO

John's superb Long-Eared Owl article in Birdwatching Monthly

Castle Carrock on a frosty clear night...

Xmas fodder with brothers and cousins...

Family snap on Gdale, John is missing!

Xmas day and a walk around the fell with the family produced two Roe Deer, Kestrel, Buz and a small flock of Goldcrests. A Superb meal was had, Thank you very much Mum! the only problem was a 3 hour power cut just as we were going to tuck into our third course.It ended up being very fitting as it brought the candles out and encouraged us to get the fire blazing which created a historic atmosphere from the times before electricity. Power cuts are always welcome....unless of course x-factor or made in chelsea is on tv!
The power came back on at 8ish and it was time for my slideshow presentation about Mull and a 35 question quiz afterwards. It was more about the wildlife and landscapes on the island than my general experience and I think everyone enjoyed it. Jamie my brother had requested it as a present which was great because it meant I didn't have to buy him anything and also a good way to show off my photography.

Fulmar, 10 seen at Balcary in D and G

A boxing day trip to Balcary on the Scottish Solway. Andy Mcgreevy and Rachel Robson came along. We arrived at 10ish and started the superb coastal walk admiring the powerful waves charging into shore. up to 8 Fulmers seen as we made our way along and it was fantastic to see them again tackling the coastal winds. I got a record shot of one bird. We made our way round the fantastic round route which provides a great variation in habitats. It was quiet on the wildlife front today with no Ravens or Peregrine but did get a single Whooper Swan on the fresh water loch just inland. Discovered afterwards that there is a bird hide further up the coast so I will defiantly be all over that when we next visit.
On the way back I was a bit pished off finding out that Leeds had lost to Craig Shaws Derby County! I got cheered up when we decided to visit a Brown tourism sign and discovered an impressive Castle remains. We followed another brown sign before home time. Our future trips are going to consist of driving around Scotland following Brown signs....what a great country.

On the evening it was Tommy Milos turn to do a slideshow of his adventures across the pond. It was superb with great photos and videos. It was 4 hours long so the half time refreshment brake was well needed. He got me a Flamingos football top with Ronaldinhio on the back as well which was great.

Rascarrel bay looking west

Rascarrel bay, strong westerly producing powerful waves

At Balcary on boxing day trying to capture a Fulmar in flight..

I went to Bowness on Solway with my Dad on the 28th as it was strong westerly's. Our first port of call was Sandsfield where we parked up and in a superb 5 minutes scanning we got Merlin, 12 Kittiwakes, RB Merganser and Ross's Goose in among Barnies. Went to the Bus Shelter at Bowness afterwards and did not stay long as we got Guilimot and more Kittiwakes. Finished at Campfield Marsh hide and entered to be welcomed by two fellow Leeds fans which is a rare occurnace. We got a good number of Pintail and Shoveller. 80 plus Whooper Swans and plenty of Barnies in flight overhead. A possible Harrier in the distance but not going to count it. I was just delighted to hear that someone had reported 3 separate Harriers on the reserve the previous day. On the way back we had to take a diversion as the high spring tide had flooded the coastal road blocking it off.

Happy New year to everyone and good health and happiness, thanks for reading :-)