Category Archives: Recent Work

Photographs featured on the Cheshire Wildlife website

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Lesser Spotted WoodpeckerI had heard about the woodpeckers’ nest, so I was standing in front of the tree, photographing it, and wondering which of the many holes belonged to them, and whether the young had fledged yet, when David came up. As we stood talking about the birds, the male arrived with a bill full of caterpillars and enetered one of the holes, answering both of my questions.

I returned in the afternoon when the light was from a better direction, and watched both parents coming and going every five to six minutes with food. They seemed to be doing very well.



It was a gift from Christmas, and the box containing the bulb lived on the kitchen windowsill for a long time until I spotted the stalk trying to escape through the gap beside the lid. I took it out of the box, gave it water, and put it in the conservatory. When the flowers begain to emerge from the top of the stalk, I photographed it.

Amaryllis flower bud

Two days later, I photographed it again.

Amaryllis flower budThree days later, it was in full bloom, sensuous and full of life. The sepals were the only exception to the vibrant show, turning brown as they gave up their life-given moisture. They had completed their job of protecting the flower buds until they were ready to meet the world.

Amaryllis flowersTen days later, the flowers had completed their task and hung down in richly textured gowns, the sexual organs still visible, but dry and inoperable. Day by day, the ovaries swelled with new life, seeming almost to glow in their pregnancy.

Amaryllis stalk showing ovaries

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

Badger Love

Badger settWinter sunshine illuminating a badger sett. My camera trap revealed that on the night of the 8th-9th, the mound outside the hole was the scene of red-hot badger sex, lasting for much of the night.

Probably this was an example of post-partum mating, meaning mating after the female had given birth to cubs, so I am looking forward now to seeing them above ground in a few weeks time.

These are the holes mentioned in “The Death of a Tree” post, so the badgers living here are the successors of the orphaned cubs of forty years ago. Good to know that the clan are doing well.