Category Archives: Photography

Tim’rous Beasties


Wood mouse, apodemus sylvaticus, long-tailed field mouse

Throughout the wood, small holes in the ground show the ubiquitous presence of wood mice.  I first found them on one of my camera traps by the pathway along the ridge which marks the southern boundary of our wood.

Scooting around amongst the young bracken in Spring, they looked like remotely controlled model cars , with headlights shining in the dark.

A bit later, I set up a camera on the huge mouldering trunk of a fallen tree at the edge of the wood, bordering farmland. This camera was very busy, as woodmice scampered all over its surface at intervals throughout the night.

In fact, any camera close enough to the ground seems to pick up woodmice, their numbers befitting their status at the bottom of the food web.

This clip probably illustrates the point. The camera takes a second after detecting a subject before it starts to record the video, so it was probably triggered by the tawny owl pouncing on its prey, recording only the aftermath.

I think that on this occasion the mouse got away, as the owl seems to have nothing in its bill or talons.

Great Spotted Woodpecker – Domestic Duties

Bill told me about his woodpecker’s nest at the start of May, and I got over there right away. The hole was high up in an old willow tree beside the river, visible from the landrover parked beside the track to The Wilderness.

J6369I spent an interesting few hours watching as the pair took turns inside the nesthole, presumably incubating the eggs. The books say that this is mostly done by the female, but this one did not seem to be carrying her weight – in fact, at the last changeover, the male seemed quite annoyed at how long she had spent enjoying herself instead of relieving him, and literally chased her into the nest hole!

Female has just arrived –


and sidles around the back of the tree and into the nesthole!


And so to today, when the chicks have hatched and are being fed – but only by the male, He arrived with food 22 times in the two hours I watched, so averaging 5.4 minutes between visits. There was no sign of the female, so perhaps she has met with an accident. Or perhaps there is more complicated biology going on – for example, is she sitting on eggs in another nest?

I noticed that, like the dippers, at the instant that the food is handed over, both parent and chick have their eyes shut.



The Silver Jubilee in Moulton, 1977

Moulton Silver Jubilee 1Going through my negative albums, I found some images from 35 years ago. This was outside the Village Hall on Main Road.

Moulton Silver Jubilee 2Some lovely ladies in fancy dress passing the Traveller’s Rest. I wonder what the rationale for the bedpan was!

Moulton Silver Jubilee 3Some more folks in fancy dress, and there’s our Natalie in the foreground!

Moulton Silver Jubilee 4And here we have Fran and Jean, and several other people we know. We’d love to hear from other people who recognise themselves in this Blast from the Past!


Back to Little Eye

Pair of buzzardsLast week, I was in my hide watching a pair of buzzards being very together in a tree. Now and then, the male (I think) would take off and go hunting, but returned to their tree empty-handed. It looked like he needed to catch something to keep his beloved impressed with his prowess, and I was hoping that he would hunt over the rough ground in front of me, and maybe even land on the pole for which I had set up the hide.

He never did. However, in the middle of watching the buzzards, I heard a familiar call – “peep peep” – and looked up to see an oystercatcher fly overhead. I immediately thought of the Hilbre islands in the Dee estuary, where I had photographed innumerable oystercatchers on many visits. The walk across the sands, the huge sky and expanse of shining water, the encroaching sea surrounding my little temporary island, and the arrival of the birds to unknowingly share my small kingdom for the space of a high tide, all unaware of my presence in my dome hide. Every visit different, with a feathered cast that changed with the seasons, with sky, sea and sand changing its appearance with the light.

The presence of the oystercatcher in the middle of Cheshire meant its absence from the Dee estuary with the onset of the breeding season, but it’s haunting call reminded me of how much I love the place. That evening, I looked up my photographic database, and was amazed to find that it was five years since I last spent a tide on one of the Hilbre islands. Far too long. I looked up the tide tables, and found that it was a spring tide the next day – I took it for an omen, and went to Hilbre this morning, spending the high tide on Little Eye.

Cormorants in breeding plumageThere were no waders around – they had all cleared off to the moors to breed, but there were a crowd of cormorants in breeding plumage. The males were magnificent! I don’t think that I have seen them at close quarters like this before.

Pair of cormorants in breeding plumageThe brent geese which spend the winter in the Dee Estuary were still there, but they seemed quite flighty and I expect thery were soon to leave for their breeding grounds in Greenland.

Brent geeseAfter a while, it was obvious that their flightiness had another source, as it was shared with the cormorants. The origin of their fears came into view near the shore.

Kite surfer at West Kirby, WirralThe kite surfer surfed right out to the point and back again. Whether he was within his rights or not, he caused great disturbance to the birds on Little Eye. The geese expended a lot of energy flying around when they should have been preparing for their migration to the Artic circle.

Brent geese landingIt has been a beautiful day, cold but sunny. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – the Hilbre islands are a magical place. The magic comes from the bird life and the wonderful light caught between sand and sky, and perhaps a little bit of it comes from inside my head.

Bird droppings from a high tide roost on the Hilbre islands, Wirral

An Autumn Night

An Autumn Night

Setting out for a walk in the woods at night, shining a torch on the fallen leaves on the pavement.

Actually, camera on tripod, background exposure two stops under-exposed, flash on camera fitted with a gridded snoot, aimed at the drift of fallen leaves. Background lit and colour determined by the streetlamps, but the fallen leaves show their actual colour because they are lit by the flash.