Archive for Aug, 2018


Transatlantic dots

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the Lincolnshire coast to do a little birding. The occurrence of two scarce birds on the UK list at Frampton Marsh RSPB was an opportunity to put that right. A Stilt Sandpiper and a Long billed Dowitcher both from across the Atlantic made landfall on the reserve of late and on Thursday I had the chance to pop around the water and see them. It’s always galling that I can see the reserve across the Wash from the Norfolk coast but it’s a two hour drive to get there.

Instantly on arrival it became obvious that photographing both birds was not really possible without a substantial wait or multiple visits; both waders were extremely distant. The Stilt Sand may as well have been on the Norfolk side of The Wash and it was feeding so vigorously it took on the appearance of a singer sewing machine. The Dowitcher however woke up from its slumber behind a stand of rushes and began a slow walk towards us. 30 minutes later it had halved its distance. It was still a good chuck to reach it but at least was more than a dot on the focusing screen.

Nice reserve Frampton. May go there again.

It wouldn’t surprise me if both birds turned up in Norfolk in the next week or so.



Spirit Kite

On the recent tour to Wales we managed to find two ‘Spirit Kites’. Red Kites with a recessive colour gene. Beautiful blue eyed embodiments of the true spirit of Wales – wild and gorgeous – the country of dragons and kites.


Leap of faith

When you’re staring down at the sea intently looking for dolphins the last thing you expect to see breach from the surface is a Blue-fin Tuna. However, when you’re in the Bay of Biscay as I was a week or so ago you need to be ready to expect anything!


Nothing but a streak

You might be forgiven for thinking a Brown Hairstreak is an unsightly slight soiling of underwear. However you’d be wrong. It’s a butterfly. Correction. It’s an elusive butterfly. Living almost the entirety of its life in tall Ash trees feeding on the sweet sap excreted by aphids they are hard to find; and I mean really hard to find. A good deal of patience is required to see them, let alone photograph them. I managed this shot of one in flight the other week. It’s better to wait until a little later in the season until females come down lower to lay eggs; but I guess I’m just impatient.


Racing Post

Paddock inspections of horses before they race is not an exact science but it helps you choose the animal on which you can loose your money. I don’t really do a bundle on horse racing but I do like the pageantry and colours of the occasion. If the weather’s good it’s an enjoyable summer’s day out. Anyways, late July saw me at Newmarket trying to choose a winner at the parade ground before the 3:30 race. A sign in front of me clearly stated I shouldn’t go any further and should stand well back from the frisky horses. The sign was mounted on a metal pole which was obviously hollow. There was a drilled hole about 8mm wide halfway up the pole which I guess had previously hosted fixings but was no longer in use. As the horses paraded by in all their pent up glory something caught my eye hovering about a foot from my face. It buzzed. I always look at buzzy things. Ever since as a five year old just starting school I was stung by a bee. It’s an automatic self preservation thing. The sound emanated from a bee carrying a rolled-up leaf between its legs. It was a leaf cutter bee. The bee promptly disappeared into the hole in the pole and pulled in the leaf behind it. I fumbled for my phone and was hopelessly slow at opening the camera to get a shot. There are around six species of leaf cutter bee in the UK and I wanted to see which one had taken up residence in this extremely hot metal tube. It returned several times and I never did manage a good enough picture to clarify identity.

We were sat in a hide last week watching a Bittern when another buzzy thing entered my personal space. It was another leaf cutter. I was able to identify this individual as a ‘Patchwork Leaf Cutter Bee’ based on the gingery sticky-out hairs on the underside of the abdomen. A common enough species but a small industrious thing of fascination.




Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby

They have been described as ‘living jewels’. When you see your first they certainly make you draw breath;, they are quite beautiful however they could easily pass unnoticed. Ruby tailed Wasps are small; As parasitic wasps go it’s smaller than what you would think at only 8 to 10mm long and only a couple of millimetres wide. Their speed and agility as they inspect other wasps nests into which they lay their eggs is astounding; a photographers nightmare. They aren’t common either. So scarcity, size and restlessness makes them an ‘interesting‘ photography subject.



On the East Coast Seabirds Tour in June this year we came across this Arctic Tern protecting her young from danger. Cute or what? More photos from this and other tours this year can be seen on our Wildcatch site, in the latest section here

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Aug 2018


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