Archive for the 'wildlife photography' Category


Tree top visitor

The cold Northerly and grey skies over East Anglia of late have made for limited Butterflies on the wing. However, there’s always something to see. Indeed the cold windy weather had perhaps driven a usual tree top dweller down to eye level on one butterfly tour last week.

I’ve always wanted to see the unusual looking Snakefly. However, they rarely come down from the tree canopy. Thanks to Tim, friend and guest on a tour last week, I eventually crossed it off my bucket list when he found a couple one of which was this female. It was friend James that ‘keyed it-out’ for us to identify it to Oak Snakefly, one of the four British species.

That neck – just amazing.



A trip into Suffolk … just. A quest to photograph Fen Raft Spider. First you have to find them. Easier said than done. It’s one of those tasks where you have to ‘get your eye-in’. What that means is staring at muddy pools until you see one. We found about half a dozen in the few hours we were on site. None were close enough to get the detailed photo I wanted but all sat with their front legs touching the waters surface … waiting to pick up the vibrations of a passing meal.



My customers, particularly those that visit Scotland with me, often ask about Mountain Hares and Hen Harriers. Both species are in conflict with human occupation. Over the many years I’ve been visiting the Highlands I’ve seen the numbers of both decline dramatically. Both species occupy the same moorland habitat as Red Grouse. In the past a great deal of effort has been put into eliminating any threat to Red Grouse shoots; money is the driving factor. Profits from Grouse shoots can be substantial.

Hen Harriers will take the grouse. Mountain Hares help spread a tick which will carry a virus that can have detrimental effects on grouse numbers.

It’s always been illegal to shoot Harriers and it’s now illegal in Scotland to shoot Mountain Hares without a licence. However it still happens.

Even the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) admit “Despite evidence that illegal killing does occur, and at a large enough scale to significantly impact numbers of some birds of prey….”

They however caveat the situation by further stating “… the extent to which they are illegally killed and the number remaining (to determine the accuracy of the claim that all predators are killed) is not known.”

I don’t think I’ve ever explored an organisations website that is so full of crap. Take a look for yourself There’s even a separate site headed ‘What the science says – the UK’s conservation fact checking resource’ run by the GWCT that purports to be based on science fact. However, it defends at all costs, what we’ll call ‘game farming’.

Even the recent article on Capercaillie majors on the cause of the decline in this rather special bird as the increase in Pine Marten numbers and yet even within the article they state ‘Recently modelled data suggest that in the absence of deer fencing, capercaillie numbers would be 16% higher and the risk of extinction within the next 50 years would fall from 95% to just 3%’.

It’s worth pointing out these two species have developed alongside one another for millennia.

Very poorly written articles that don’t conclude correctly based on the ‘evidence’ they present.


Oh Deer!

Red Deer at Minsmere often pop out of the reedbed quite unexpectedly. A small party of four trotted by us the other day as we waited for bittern to fly-up. I guess I might sound a bit elitist if I say I was quite disappointed to hear the crowd in the rather full hide call them ‘Roe’ or ‘Fallow’; even ‘Muntjac’ was called more than once.

We all have to learn. We all make mistakes. God I’ve made a few howlers in my time, but if someone from the other side of the world who has only lived here in the UK three years can put a name to the beasts surely it’s not too much to ask someone who has lived here all their life to know a little about the wildlife they might encounter? Do you think this is why we have such a decimated ecosystem in the UK … because the general public just don’t know or care enough to know what they have around them?


Minsmere Odonata

Tania had never been to Minsmere and I was keen to show her what is probably the RSPB’s showcase reserve. So we had a trip down into Suffolk last weekend. Some good birds as well as insects. Probably the cream of the insect crop was a few Hairy Dragonflies. This individual picked up by Tania perched in a bramble was a newly emerged Hairy Dragonfly. Notice the incompletely unfurled wings. However, the note the yellow costa and antenodal cross-veins that help to identify this species even at some distance.


Hair of the cow?

I’ve spent a few mornings recently down at Water Lane Car Park here in West Runton. Patiently awaiting arrival of Spring migrants. With the recent Northerlies they weren’t coming in ‘thick and fast’. To pass the time the other day I was watching a few Jackdaws collecting nesting material. If you see any bald bovines about … you know why!


A spot of Gardening

Whenever you hear Garden Warblers it’s inevitably from deep within vegetation. Not always but most often. Hidden away, to be heard and not seen; the exact opposite to expectations of a Victorian child. It was with some surprise then when I looked out from the car park and saw one sat atop a bramble bush. I had a good look, and it seemed to be singing without opening its bill. There was in fact another singing close by! The more I listened, the more I heard. When I counted up there were four birds singing from the tops of brambles and trees within an area of 50 square metres. All out in the open like they had attended some sort of Stonechat schooling course. What was going on?

The only thing I can think of is the territories were so close to one another they were having to force the situation and show themselves off in an attempt to dominate the competition. What the male of the species does to attract a mate … ¯\_(ツ)_/¯



A scarce bird these days. Spotted Flycatcher last week.


Cetacean Course

Details of a cetacean course in June at Cley NWT are here – everyone is welcome, booking essential.


“Pigs in Space”

I have seen Wild Boar in Europe and also Asia but have never encountered them here in the UK.

Tania and I planned and booked a weekend away to the Forest of Dean to see and photograph boar long before the King decided on the date of his investiture. This worked in our favour. The area was relatively quiet. The rain only accentuated the lack of people.

Although the signs of Wild Boar digging are literally everywhere in the forest, getting a glimpse of them doesn’t reflect this. Getting a decent photograph is hard.

They don’t find favour with many of the locals. These are persecuted animals and are therefore quite shy. They can definitely be almost ethereal. Wild Boar were hunted to extinction in the UK during the 13th century. Their meat was and still is prized and were therefore farmed. Escapes led to several areas within England, Wales and Scotland having reintroduced populations. The densest is said to be in the Forest of Dean. What is not widely realised is they do a damn good job of regenerating the forest. Rooting for tubers and roots they form ideal seedbeds which help in tree and plant regeneration. They form wallows beloved of dragonflies and other insects. Boars provide vital disturbance to the ground which is crucial in maximising species richness and diversity. Although if they were turning over my lawn, that fact might pale into insignificance. So I guess negative attitude to them is perhaps understandable. They have no natural predator here (roll on a wolf reintroduction programme?) numbers can and have in the past risen unchecked; so a culling regime is required.

Culling has made boar wary. Naturally. Who wouldn’t skuttle into the undergrowth at the first glimpse of a raised gun. We had to work hard to find the newest routing and get ahead of foraging herds. The piglets were much less wary than the adults, but were still a challenge.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Jun 2023


%d bloggers like this: