Sunday, 27 September 2009

Autumnal Deer

Having had beautiful light all week I've been itching to get out and take some photos. Yesterday I made it into Bushy Park and immediately spotted a group of red deer feeding in the fallen leaves near the entrance. I approached them quietly via wide dogleg so as get the best angle whilst not frightening them into the shade.

I managed about ten shots - of which this is the best - before a young girl cycled directly towards the group to take a photo with a camera-phone. This forced them under the trees and out of the light. I don't want to be a grumpy old man about this kind of thing - she had as much right to be there as me - but it is very frustrating when you've put in the effort to get a decent position without startling the animals and someone else blunders in and scares them off.

After this a thin layer of cloud came in and took the edge off the light, which was a shame. I was hoping to see some action between the stags - but they all seemed to be resting. Perhaps I'm a little early for the rut this year.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

An abundance of butterflies

So maybe we've not had the best of summers, but it does seem to have been a good one for butterflies. On my recent trip to the Lake District I saw rather more butterflies than birds, which was a bit of a problem because I left my best butterfly lens at home! Taking photos of butterflies with a 400mm lens is definately possible, but it does make getting the right angles more interesting.

It was nice to see tortoisehell's again. It seems a long while since I last encountered one.

And the speckled wood was a new one for me - but there were a lot of them along the banks of Lake Conniston.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Weather and Waders

My week on Mull was quite wet, and the weather prevented me from getting a boat out to the Treshnish Isles. It did not prevent a good time though - and in between the showers I managed a number of photographs. I spent the majority of the Thursday on the beach photographing waders. They were a bit flighty to start with, however, I knelt on the (very cold and wet) sand, and eventually they largely ignored me.

Fidden Beach is a beautiful Hebridean white sand beach. It had large numbers of dunlins, sanderlings and ringed plovers as well as a pair of bar-tailed godwits and an otter.

Uisken beach was a bit wilder (and rather smelly due to a dead sheep on the high-tide line). Here I saw more plovers as well as a number of white wagtails.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Encounters with otters

I love Mull.It's official. After nearly fifteen years of Highland visits I discovered Mull only three years ago. It has everything that Scotland has to offer, plus the widest variety of wildlife compressed into one relatively small island. When the weather is good you cannot beat it.

Last time I came with the express intention of seeing otters. This, apart from the briefest glimpse from my B&B window, I spectacularly failed to do. This time I decided not even to try. Consequently of course I have seen at least one otter every day. On Wednesday I spent over an hour watching a mother and two cubs fishing, playing and resting on the far bank of a loch. They were too far away for a photo, but great to watch. As I did so another otter emerged on the seaweed about fifteen yards from me affording me my first decent photo of an otter in the wild. I wasn't expecting it to get much better than that.


On Friday in the company of an otter-mad family from Yorkshire we found two more in nearly the same place. A stealthy slither across the seaweed covered rocks put us about twenty-five yards from these. As we settled down to watch, a car went by on the road behind us and one of the otters looked up to see what was going on. Right down the lens of my camera. Fortunately he did not see us.


After a short fishing expedition, the pair hauled up on the other side of us and afforded us another excellent view.


This, and several other unexpected otter encounters, have made this perhaps one of the most exciting wildlife holidays ever. In my personal 'top trumps'of British wildlife a wild otter beats almost anything else...