Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Moving On!

My journey, it seems, has come to an untimely end, on Google Blogger at least.
I am very pleased to announce my Nature North East website is now officially live at http://www.naturenortheast.co.uk/.
From now on this will be the new home for my blogs, photography and in the future, a video series.
Though I will still be posting content to the Nature North East Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, the website will offer much more high quality versions of my photography, blogs and videos.
Any positive or negative feedback is more than welcome so that I can iron out any kinks or glitches in the machine should they arise.
Below is a small preview.

- David

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Swollen Seas

Bubbling and powerful, the North Sea savagely struck the shoreline of the North East coast around St Mary's yesterday. The morning was grey, dull and miserable; but on the eastern horizon the light of the sun burst through the heavy clouds and lit up a small portion of the distant sky. A stunningly gothic morning on the tidal shore.
- David

Shorelark, Blyth Harbour

An approachable Shorelark lurking around Blyth South Harbour?
Count me in!
The Shorelark / Eremophila Alpestris; is a scant visitor to our North East coast during the colder months of the year and at the mouth of the river Blyth I saw my first!
I had read online of news of an individual bird at the harbour and unfortunately I first got the news when I was preoccupied at the gym and the sun was already fading, so I decided that the following afternoon I would go and have a look after work. 
That day I was treated to some fantastic views of this lone Lark.

- David

Sunday, 20 September 2015

'You Forgot The Common Sense'

I was sent a link this morning to a Daily Mail article, oh the joys, the subject of which was this years poor breeding season of our most declining raptor, the Hen Harrier. 
I read through this short article a couple of times and in all honesty, it was an absolute non news article,  I'm guessing it must be a slow news day. 
Once again Ian Bothams 'You Forgot The Birds' group reared its ugly head.  As usual its line of fire was pointed directly towards the RSPB, nothing new there then.
Ian Gregory, the campaign director for Bothams pitifully desperate group, is quoted saying;
'the RSPB should admit it had not adequately protected the hen harrier nests it controlled.'
He also went on to describe the RSPB as 'a charity which specialises in failure'. 
Strong words about failure there, which is a tad hypocritical considering the groups website has the image of a Carolina Wren on it. Any British birder will know your going to be pretty hard pressed to find one of those in this country.
I guess they forgot their British birds, whoops!
The aforementioned Carolina Wren

Well I digress, lets get back to the Daily Mail article. So what Mr Gregory is eluding to are the nest sites that were being monitored and protected by RSPB staff and volunteers in England. His choice of words just go to show how uninformed he and potentially his peers actually are, they clearly have no idea how nature or conservation actually works. 

I was there with boots on the ground during the 2015 nesting season and I personally watched a total of three nests in England over a three month period. Sometimes in glorious sun and other times in torrential rain. 
In brief here is a rundown of what took place, now obviously I can't go into specific details due to confidentiality and I can only speak of the sites I watched personally. I can't attest for any other breeding areas;

  • The first two nests failed due to natural reasons caused by that of inattentive young male Harriers, this inattentiveness which was potentially caused by a lack of experience resulted in the females eventually abandoning the clutches after overly extended periods of male absence.
  • The third nest had all but one egg hatch with only one chick surviving to fully fledge with the other chicks succumbing to either potential illness or starvation. The birds were sent away for  post mortem and I haven't been informed of the results.
  • There was also a fourth nest I was scheduled to watch and upon arrival at the site I was informed that it had failed, that very morning it had succumb to probable Stoat predation.

So there we have it, the nests weren't persecuted and they weren't adequately controlled by RSPB staff and volunteers. They were monitored 24 hours but unfortunately mother nature can be cruel and sometimes things don't pan out the way they would in an ideal world.
Misinformed non articles like this from the Daily Mail are nothing but a diversion from the real issue of driven grouse shooting. Not once did I see a Harrier bring a Red Grouse chick to the nests, its a strange concept that Red Grouse only exist at present to be shot out of the sky by a cold few. Its insulting that this uninformed group can point a finger of blame so nonchalantly and grab media coverage in doing so, when they have no idea what on earth they're talking about.

We forgot the birds?  
You forgot the common sense!

- David 

The Skydancer

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Bamburgh By Dawn

Friday morning I was awake, fed, watered and on the A1 heading North by 5am, my destination Bamburgh.
I had a burning desire to get up there and shoot the beach landscape at first light, and yes I know its a huge cliche for Northern photographers to shoot at this location but lets be honest, its a beautiful locale of a bit of snap happy action. 
I hit on lucky with the light on Friday morning and as the sun rose the between the Farnes and the world sprang to life it lit this glorious area of Northern Northumberland up in swathes of stunning light, just beautiful.
Well worth the 3:30am wake up call and the hour drive.
- David 
Stag Rocks is your stereotypical craggy shoreline, its fantastic and to me marks the southern entrance into Budle Bay. Below is the aforementioned white stag, I'd love to know who keeps him looking fresh.
A young stonechat, one of many hanging around the white building at Stag Rocks
.......Later in the day I found this little yellow eyed chap! (No pun intended)

Monday, 14 September 2015

...Here Be Dragons!

A slight reprieve in the gloomy weather this morning afforded me the option of getting out and about amongst the reeds and I had chance to look around a small private pond I have been allowed access to.
Impressively sized and stunningly coloured the Migrant Hawker is an impressive member of the Odonata, this was one of many defending territory over the reed beds today.
A small Emerald Damselfly showed albeit briefly before being chased off by one of the Southern Hawkers.
 The gorgeous Black Darter, there was a small number of these jet black beauties basking around the pond margins and at times would be quite confiding.

The most numerous of the pond dragons by far, the Common Darter.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

From The Vault: ....Within The Hawthorn

Yes ladies & gents, another Little Owl photograph.
I couldn't resist a dip back into the Nature North East vaults to retrieve another Athene Noctua photograph, of which I have numerous I assure you.
This particular individual, who lurked within a Hawthorn tree, was actually the first Little Owl I photographed with my SLR. Previously any attempt was made using a telescope and my iPhone, which was adequate but now has been deemed obsolete.
This shot was also taken during the winter, which is one of the best times of year for shooting certain Owls and during the winter months a few hot pockets open up in the North East. This is due mostly to large roosts of Asio Owls we get here in the North East, Asio referring to the genus of two of our Owl species. These being both Short-Eared and Long-Eared Owls; Asio Flammeus and Asio Otus respectively.
These roosts are one of the many reasons I eagerly await the return of Jack Frost and his Winter cronies; don't get me wrong I have spent a lot of time with all of our Owl species this year so far, the highlight being a distant Eagle Owl in Lancashire - that was an amazing experience I had waited two months for, as brief as it was - but these large roosts are a sight indeed.

Nature North East