Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Isle of Coll - IDA dark sky community film

I spent seven weeks on the isle of Coll this winter (2013-14) to capture the sky at night and put a short film together to use to promote astro-tourism on the isle after their new designation of an IDA dark sky community. 
The idea came through inspiration from professional filmmaker Cain Scrimgeours outstanding Northumberland by night film for their national park bid. I discovered about Coll's application through research for SLS trips and was fascinated by the idea to promote dark sky tourism and benefit the whole island during a time when visitor numbers naturally go flat. 

My first spell was throughout November and the weather was really poor overall with constant westerly storms coming in straight off the Atlantic and I felt like I was always working with small windows of clear skies before the next squall moved in. I did manage 6-7 locations that I was satisfied with in the four week spell that could make it into the sequence. A couple of highlights were early dawn views of comet ISON, lunar rainbows and minke whales off Gunna! 

My second spell was for 15 days at the back end of January leading into February and the conditions were a lot better with more opportunities to capture the open skies. I managed to capture over ten locations including a couple of sites further afield away from Arinagour. I managed to get a weak aurora borealis as well one morning before dawn broke which was a bonus. 

I learned a huge amount from time-lapsing out in the field and constantly discovered new ways to get better results. 

I would like to thank Andrew Jake (website) for all the help with editing and putting the film together.

I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and got great experience from it, if anyone enjoys watching the short film then that is a bonus. Cheers

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Two hours of moorland magic...

Red kite massacre reward increases to 10k, losing words for these criminals...

Myself and friend Cain Scrimgeour are doing market research and have set up a ten question survey, we would really appreciate if you could find the time to fill it in, thanks

Watch this video called 'WildChild' filmed by Andrew on a certain percentage of the young generations losing touch with nature...

New blog post from Rachel on eagle encounters from Mull...

April 1st and the visibility had picked up and the cloud began to brake mid afternoon so myself and dad headed out to some local grounds for a short spell. We had certain target species for this time of the year including ring ouzel, swallow and wheatear. A quick visit to Talkin Tarn produced small numbers of goldeneye, tufted duck, goosander and a single gander greylag goose. 

We moved onto the moors and headed to the east side of Gdale. We picked a vantage point which covered a huge field of view of over 180 degrees of moorland and got a brief short-eared owl within the first minute of scanning. The distant shortie soon settled down on the fell side and we had beautiful sound all around us with skylark, curlew and meadow pipit in song along with the sounds of goldfinch, song thrush and pied wagtail behind us in the village gardens. Raptor action followed as we got onto a distant pair of peregrines with the female bird holding small prey in her talons which was exchanged on the wing. Shortly after a female hen harrier was seen in classic illusive fashion quickly disappearing over the skyline, all the best this season lass! Dad got onto two short eared owls finding height performing deep beats and wing clapping and a third bird was seen further to the west as well. Suddenly 4-5 buzzards (including fence-post copulation) were showing along with a kestrel calling nearby as we were experiencing an incredible display of upland activity. No target species but we were not complaining!  

We arrived back home after a couple hours of pure magic and still coming to terms with what we had seen and as I put my binoculars back on the window still I picked up two birds on the fell side skyline and it was another short eared owl interacting with a buzzard! Moorland diversity at its best.

On Friday 4th I headed east for the day to see Cain (blog) and in the late afternoon we headed out to East Chevington first of all where we got a female marsh harrier within minutes of arrival. Birds of note on the lakes were 3 LT duck, 4-5 GC grebes, pochard, good numbers of goldeneye and 6 sand martins in flight over the water. Later on we watched the marsh harrier have a sniff at a small group of starlings and it also got mobbed by a carrion crow and was calling repetitively.  
We moved onto Cresswell ponds and there was a nice wader roost at high tide consisting of redshank, curlew, dunlin, turnstones and oystercatcher. Two pairs of shoveler dabbling on the far side and plenty of tufties. 
Great to do a short spell of birding on the east side, what a briliant stretch it is.

Thanks for looking.