Afon Tarell - Jewel of the Brecon Beacons
23rd July 2013
The first couple of miles of the Afon Tarell are through open moorland running over the red sandstone of the Brecon Beacons, however, as it descends into the Tarell valley the rock strata changes to limestone. It is from here that this beautiful and charismatic river becomes more secretive and inaccessible, racing through dense deciduous woodlands of Beech, Ash, Oak and Willow.
As it makes its way through this woodland the Afon Tarell bubbles over stretches of rocky, shallow riverbed where Dippers and Grey Wagtails can frequently be encountered. It also cascades over numerous small waterfalls and through deep clear pools where Brown Trout exist in numbers and the enigmatic Lamprey can be found. At certain places and in the right light there are shady areas that are reminiscent of a fairy glen, within which the lucky observer can sometimes see the electric blue flash of a Kingfisher as it darts from overhanging Willows into the river's crystal waters in search of small fish such as the European Bullhead.
Along its course the Afon Tarell is met by a tributary called Nant Cwm Llwch. This crystal clear mountain stream emerges from the glacial lake Llyn Cwm Llwch situated below Pen y fan, the highest point on the Brecon Beacons and is filtered by black peat before it enters the Afon Tarell.
The Afon Tarell, is designated as a special area of conservation for its three species of Lamprey, Twaite Shad, Atlantic Salmon and Otter
During this very hot, dry spell the water levels have been low and river life has been easier to observe. I have taken a few casual shots with my ipad.
Please see Landscapes, around the local area.
Cuckoo Spring 2013
20th June 2013
The Cuckoo comes in April
He sings his song in May
In the month of June he whistles his tune
And in July he flies away

Not absolutely accurate but a good general assessment of this most charismatic bird.

In April some do indeed arrive but mainly down south but in May even here in the Beacons they are in full voice as the males sing for a mate and this goes on throughout June.
Male Cuckoos utter the familiar 'Cuckoo' song but the females only make a soft and beautiful bubbling call as she calls for a mate. They also make a wide variety of noises like rasping, chuckling and snorting sounds as they interact with each other, sounds you wont hear unless you are close to them. However, this female bubbling call usually galvanizes the males into action, they must realize breeding time is short and indeed it is.
The female can be told from the male by a rusty wash around her neck and upper breast, more pronounced on some than others, but if you hear that 'Bubbling' you know it's her.

Once she lays her many eggs in say a number of Meadow Pipit or Reed Warbler nests the job is done and in July they tend to go quiet and are hard to locate. In my experience they are still around until the end of August and even into October on the south coast. Inland, or here for instance they are generally long gone by September and only the juveniles are left to find their own way to Africa.
They really are a smash and grab merchant!

There is a traditional site quite close to me and there Meadow Pipits are the main hosts for their eggs. This spring there have been three Cuckoos there and I have been watching the male closely and I know his favourite perches. I wait until the Meadow Pipits push him off a bush or tree branch and then I wait by one of his 'perches'.
As long as I am quiet, patient and tucked away he will come reasonably close and I can photograph him. I've seen people chasing them around but they are wasting their time, a Cuckoo will make a fool of you every time, they are just too crafty and streetwise to be caught out.

They are a strange looking bird, they can look big and awkward but when they are in flight they look so streamlined, it's quite remarkable. They must be quite dextrous and also lightweight because they land on the flimsiest of branches with ease. They can also appear anything from a dark brown to a leaden grey depending on the light.

I am always sad to see them go but I equally look forward to their return the following spring, long may it continue!

Nature's man made dilema.
10th June 2013
Listen to Iolo William's passionate and poignant speech on the state of Welsh nature.
When are we going to wake up!
I can equate to everything he says about bird numbers and the legal but wanton habitat destruction by businesses, local councils and more worryingly sanctioned by our elected governments.
Everybody who cares about wildlife should hear this.
Failure of the Pine Cone crop
08th June 2013
There has been a large scale failure in this area of this seasons Pine cones and as a result birds like Siskins and Redpolls which depend on the seed to support young during the summer months have had to abandon the pine forests and seek food elsewhere.
Also Crossbills are nowhere to be seen they have had to relocate to other areas.
Siskins and Redpolls come to feeders in peoples gardens in the winter as normal but go back to the conifer plantations in summer to breed.
I have had flocks of both of these lovely birds in my garden all summer and they have consumed a lot of Niger seed, but you have to help out if you can. This Pine cone failure will undoubtedly affect next seasons populations of these birds because there will inevitably be less birds to breed.
Things like this that might seem inconsequential to some and even unknown to others are a disaster to these birds, I hope they can recover quickly and continue to grace us with their presence.

Nature's alarm clock
08th June 2013
There is a large Ash tree in my garden and for the last week there has been a male Blackcap perched in the branches singing from dawn to dusk. I had the tree cut back quite severely last year because the branches were overhanging my house and were getting too dangerous in the winter in high wind. I left enough branches on the tree so it would grow back in a different direction, I didn't want to cut it right down its been there a long time.
This bird sits in the nearest branch to one of the bedroom windows and signs from first light. The Blackcap is a fabulous singer, right up there with the best with his rich and fluty repertoire. It's a real pleasure to hear him so I have been leaving the window open half an inch so he isn't too loud to keep me awake but just enough to have him sing in the background. It's glorious to be woken up gently with his song, especially during this current spell of beautiful weather.
I hope he and this weather continue for the rest of the summer!
Egyptian Mongoose
15th May 2013
One evening while taking our evening constitutional we were hiding behind a stone wall watching some Azure Winged Magpies, these are an extremely shy and very intelligent bird and you hardly ever get them out in the open. Some Bee Eaters were also flying around and it was quite pleasant just standing there. Suddenly out of nowhere an animal came loping across the Olive Grove, it was very low to the ground like a Badger. I could see no black and white so I dismissed Badger. When it saw us it stopped immediately and raised itself up to take a better look. I could now see it was a Mongoose, and a Mongoose with a large dead frog in its jaws. I took some shots before it dived back under a fence and quickly disappeared.
The fact that it hadn't eaten the frog told us that it probably had young and it was taking it back to its Den/Lair for the young Mongooses.
I have seen one before, while I was walking along a track up in the mountains in Andalucia but that was only a glimpse.
What a fascinating creature they are.
Cetti's Warbler, Extremadura
15th May 2013
I travelled down to a place called Vegas Atlas where there is an introduced colony of Common Waxbill and Red Avadavat, these can be very pretty when they come into their breeding plumage. They inhabit roadside ditches and wherever there are stands of reeds. I found them quite easily but they were not yet in breeding plumage, it seems everything is late this year!
Vegas Atlas is basically an area of farmland which is very quiet for a lot of the year allowing birds to breed in peace. I have seen Black Winged Kite here previously and I'll never forget the sight of two hundred Turtle Doves sat together on telegraph wires there.
A really depressing fact was that we only heard one Turtle Dove purring during our two weeks in Spain. The RSPB say that there is over an 80% decline in these lovely birds,
It's a shocking statistic!!
While watching the reeds I could hear a Cetti's Warbler calling and Singing, Cetti's are always difficult to catch out in the open, you can here the call and song but that's usually about all. I could see flashes of its tail in the reeds and I thought that was all I was going to get, however, what happened next really amazed me. The bird dropped down into about 2" of running water below the reed bed and started to have a bath right in front of me, splashing around for a couple of minutes, then drying off on a branch right out in the open. I couldn't believe such a secretive little bird would do that, what a spectacle. It dried itself completely then disappeared back into the reeds. I was amazed, but I took a load of shots of this very rare display.
Hoopoe, Extremadura
14th May 2013
Around the old Olive Groves and rocky outcrops with sandy bankings surrounding our Finca there was a perfect habitat for Hoopoes. They could be heard calling from dawn to dusk, with their Hoop,Hoop,Hoop always three calls. There was a very good population in the area, getting a photograph, however, was a different matter. They were extremely shy and elusive, they would fly right past us in the garden but wouldn't land and try as I did I couldn't get near them. Some mornings I had noticed a Hoopoe perching on a stone wall surrounding one of the Olive Groves and on two particular stones on top of the wall near to an irrigation ditch, every morning the Sun came up over the Sierra dead on 08.00 and shone on these stones. The Hoopoe could be seen sitting in the rays of the Sun uttering its familiar call. There was an old arch way about forty feet from these two stones and I decided to hide in there quite early and hope that it landed on its favourite spot.
It couldn't see me from along either wall only from these two stones, by then I hoped it would be too late and I could get a shot.
Time went on and up came the Sun right on cue at 08.00 but no Hoopoe, I waited another ten minutes and then in it came right on the spot. I kept dead still and fired the shutter, I expected it to fly away immediately but it stayed there, it could here me but because I was in the arch it couldn't make out what it was. I had some lovely shots before it finally flew away, I repeated this MO for a few mornings with more success.
Blue Rock Thrush, Extremadura
14th May 2013
One evening we were walking through the Cork Oak woodlands above the Finca, Golden Oriels and Nightingales were in full song. Hawfinches also breed in these woods in numbers, we could hear their sharp 'PIX' as they flew among the tree tops, very difficult to see and only visible when they dropped down into the Olive Groves to feed on old olive stones and mast. Serins were singing relentlessly, they really are a very vocal little bird and Azure Winged Magpies were trilling as they flew among the Olive trees. What a lovely place to spend an evening, with only the birds for company. We were making our way back down for a cold one when Susan said 'Stop', 'What is it' I said. She whispered, 'Blue Rock Thrush in the tree in front of us'
Wow, a very awkward and shy bird to photograph, I could hear it singing now, a song I wasn't familiar with previously. We tucked in against the old stone wall of the Olive Grove and waited. What happened next really surprised me because these birds will usually fly away, but this one flew and landed about fifty feet away on the stone wall. I couldn't believe it, I shot him immediately and after a few seconds he flew back up onto the rocks high above the track never to be seen again by us.
What a stroke of luck we could so easily have missed him!

Bee Eaters, Extremadura
14th May 2013
Bee Eaters can be seen throughout Spain in Spring and Summer hawking insects in the air and then perching on wires, trees and fence posts waiting for the next unfortunate insect to fly by. We were driving along the 'Belen Plains' one lovely morning and had just seen a Black Stork and Crested and Calandra Larks were singing everywhere. We had just past an old ruined farmhouse and were driving past some old sandy bankings when about ten European Bee Eaters suddenly appeared, we could immediately see they were using the banking for nesting, several holes now became visible. They would sit on the fence posts and wires and then take off and seize a passing Bee or other insect.
Bee Eaters nest holes are quite small with very little room for access, this is to deter predators, but it means that the Bee Eater has to back its way out, there is no room to turn around. This results in their feathers becoming ruffled around their neck and head, I suppose this is a good way to tell if they have been in a nest!

It was too good an opportunity to miss so I switched the engine off and crawled passed and took a few shots, the birds were very obliging and didn't seem the slightest bit bothered.
We moved on and left them to get on with feeding their young.
Extremadura Spring 2013
14th May 2013
We have just arrived back from a couple of weeks in Extremadura in Spain. It is a lot easier to get to the heart of the Spanish plains now that the road system has been totally upgraded. On previous visits you had to travel through a load of small villages and towns with poor signage and roads.
We prefer to fly to Seville rather than Madrid, they are about equidistant from the plains but Seville is far less conjested than Madrid. All the tour companies fly to Madrid and then have to endure the infamous Madrid ring road.
From Seville airport you just meet the road that bypasses most of Seville's heavy traffic and then just join the newly constructed 'Autovia de la Plata' (the motorway to the plains) which takes you right into the 'Steppe' country of Extremadura. The traffic is really light along the whole length of this road and it is a pleasure to drive along at 120km/hr on nearly empty roads. We stayed in a lovely 'Finca' just outside Montanchez, south of Trujillo, the accommodation was accessed up a 1 km track in a totally quiet and secluded situation among old Olive Groves and Vineyards. Wildlife abounded there and while sat on the terrace in the evening, relaxing or eating dinner with a very nice bottle of the local wine, Hoopoes, Bee Eaters and Woodchat Shrikes among many others were regular visitors.
It was an idyllic location and one which is highly recommended.
Please see the individual blogs for some of the wild life and also latest Images, Extremadura.
A full trip report will follow in due course.
Tragic news of ' Our ' Barn Owl
14th April 2013
I received terribly sad news on Saturday evening, it looks fairly certain that our local Barn Owl that has been present in the area for some time has died. Barn Owl feathers and wings have been found near to where he regularly hunted and there was no other Barn Owl active in the area so I fear the worst. I have not seen him on my last three visits and now I know why. I am truly saddened that such a magnificent bird is no longer with us, I spent many evenings watching him hunting and trying to photograph him and I became quite attached to him. For me there are few better sights of an evening than a Barn Owl hunting in last light.
Around the country many Barn Owls became malnourished in the spell of bad weather during March, much of their hunting habitat was frozen or covered in snow, this made it harder for them to hunt and it also killed off many Voles and Mice. This, however, may not have been the cause of his death because they face many other perils during their fragile existence. One evening I witnessed him being attacked by a Buzzard and subsequently falling into a ditch, he recovered from that episode so who knows what the ultimate cause of death was.
In this area we can ill afford to lose Barn Owls, we do not have the luxury of buoyant populations that can recover quickly so it is a bigger blow. It's a sad loss to all nature lovers when a Barn Owl dies. I am thankful for the time I had with him, it was a privilege!
Here he is on his favourite branch.
Ring Ouzels lower down in the bad weather.
09th April 2013
Normally at this time of the year Migrant Ring Ouzels are high up on their breeding grounds such as Craig Cerrig Gleisiad in the Brecon Beacons. These birds like boulder strewn slopes on the high mountains, hence their old name of 'Mountain Blackbird'.
However, this year because of the bitterly cold weather we have been experiencing their normal breeding grounds are either frozen solid or covered in snow and consequently they are reluctant to move up to this higher ground. This 'Spring' they are being seen feeding in fields much lower down, just waiting for the weather to improve. These birds are inordinately shy and are very unapproachable so getting a photograph is very difficult indeed!
I have been looking for them for the last few weeks and I have only had a fleeting glimpse of a 1st winter bird. However, yesterday I was walking on a local moorland near to where I live and in the distance, when there was a lull in the wind, I could hear what I thought was an Ouzel singing, although a very distinctive song it is something you don't hear very often, but the further on I went the more convinced I was it was an Ouzel. There was a small limestone outcrop and a gully below it, a perfect situation for a bird to shelter during this bad weather.
I stayed low and crept closer until I could see over a small rise in the ground, then much to my delight there she was, a beautiful adult female Ring Ouzel. She saw me but she looked away and continued feeding, a very good sign that she wasn't too bothered about me. I kept very quiet and stayed low to the ground and moved a little nearer until she was in range, she stopped feeding and looked at me again and then she moved up onto a grassy mound so she could get a better view, this was perfect for me and I shot here straight away.
It's quite a privilege to get that close to a very nervous bird like an Ouzel when they are up on a mountain, it is a bit easier when they come in off the sea and land in coastal fields, they are more approachable then.
Then she became restless and just flew off onto higher ground and out of sight, a very pleasant experience with a lovely bird.
Migration stalled by bitter NE wind.
11th March 2013
I felt we were in for an early start to the spring migration this year with a few Sand Martins, Northern Wheatears and Chiffchaffs already in the county. However, we will have to wait a little longer because this strong and bitterly cold NE wind will be holding the birds back for a while. I have put out extra food for the birds this week, they really need it, it could mean the difference between life and death for some. On a brighter note Goshawks are now displaying and the Hawfinches will just be coming into their breeding plumage so I'm going to the Forest of Dean on the weekend to see if I can see some. New fancy view in Parkend is one of the best Goshawk displaying view points. Also Crossbills and infrequently Hawfinches can be seen flying across the treetops from there. The elusive Lesser Sotted Woodpecker can also be seen in this area at this time of year. I hope this wind blows through by then because it can be bitingly cold up on the viewpoint.
I am really looking forward to spring and I hope the weather is better this year, let's be honest it couldn't be any worse than last year. Around Brecon the land is now starting to dry out and the River Usk is as low as I've seen it in March for many a year! This is very good news indeed for the Wagtails, Dippers and Kingfishers, they need all the luck they can get. The evenings are now drawing out and the clocks will be going on later this month. I am looking forward to hearing my first Chiffchaff singing, for me the start of Spring and then a little later on the descending song of the Willow Warbler will follow.
My garden in full of Snowdrops, Crocus and Primrose and there are newborn lambs in the field outside my house, soon they will get more confident and will stray from their mothers and form little groups and start running around the field like children playing, lovely to see, this is without doubt the best time of year.
Bigger the better for wildlife photography?
07th March 2013
I met a gentleman this week who was thinking about taking up wildlife photography, birds in particular. He was expounding his theory that bigger lenses are always better for wildlife. He told me quite bluntly that I should be getting a Canon 800mm lens because it was the best lens for the job. I told him that it was definitely not necessarily the best lens for the job. I find that the people who spout these theories are usually the ones who have no experience of using the equipment they are talking about and that in their mind bigger is always better.
There are a lot of people who justifiably swear by the Canon 500mm f4.0, it is a superb lens for bird photography, sharp, lightweight (especially the new model) and with a reasonably fast aperture it takes some beating.
By most peoples standards, me included, the 500 is a big lens, however, not this gentleman, his only consideration seemed to be focal length.
He did tell me though, that he thought a Sparrowhawk image I had taken was superb and that the Canon 600mm lens was a great lens but the 800mm was still superior! The old saying about giving someone enough rope to hang themselves is a very true one and he was somewhat taken aback when I told him the image was taken with a Canon 300mm lens.
I also told him that my latest Barn Owl shots could not have been taken with the Canon 800mm because I was already on an aperture of F4.0 and the ISO on my camera was already up to a high level, so using the Canon 800mm with an aperture of F5.6 would have been unsuitable in that situation. Also many of the shots that I take very early in the morning and later in the evening in low light would not be very good with a f5.6 aperture.
A lens with a maximum aperture of f5.6 is fine if you are living somewhere blessed with an abundance of good light, Norfolk for instance, or Lesvos or Cyprus. However, in most of the UK and especially in Wales for me f5.6 is too small for a maximum aperture.
Another thing I told him to consider was the corresponding decrease in Depth of Field as focal length increases. When an image is taken with a big prime lens there is very little DOF and most of the time part of the subject is out of focus. These lenses are very unforgiving in this area and unless the subject is 180 degrees across the focal plane then there is going to be some blurring, this blurring of your subject will magnify with an increase in focal length.
Another thing to consider is that if you add a 1.4 converter to a f5.6 lens you will lose auto focus unless you are using a Canon 1 Series camera body. You may say that with a focal length of 800mm you don't need a converter but a 1.4 converter on a Canon 600mm f4.0 lens will give 840mm of focal length and with the new converters there is not much difference in image quality to the bare lens. Add to this the cropping factor of 1.6 from eg a Canon 7D and you have 600 x 1.4 x 1.6 giving an equivalent focal length of 1344mm with auto focus, image stabilization and very good image quality indeed, this focal length should be more than enough for most wildlife.
Finally if you need less focal length then you can always remove the converter, with the 800mm lens that's it, that's what you are stuck with!
An interesting choice for some, but for me an f4.0 is always better than an f5.6!

However, an 800mm f4.0 now that's different, but the wheelbarrow you would need to move it around would be rather inconvenient!
Beautiful Spring like evening with the Barn Owl.
06th March 2013
What a beautiful evening it was yesterday, I was down on Llangors Lake shoreline looking across the adjoining rough pasture. It was mild and windless, Curlews were calling in the distance and the Wigeon's whistling call was echoing across the water. It was so peaceful, the water was as calm as a mill pond. I was sure the Barn Owl would fly, it was perfect hunting conditions, clear visibility and no wind which is essential for them because the wind interferes with their hearing.
Sure enough, right on cue he appeared and flew around hunting for about five minutes, he disappeared quite soon after and didn't return, this is normal behaviour for him, he must go to a secret perch and sit out and digest prey that he's caught or just enjoy the evening like the rest of us. I don't attempt to look for him, he needs his peace and quiet and must be left alone to enjoy it. I want him to feel safe and comfortable where he is and to ideally stay and breed.
Just that five minutes is a pleasure to spend in his company, watching him fly around hunting for his supper.
Please see Latest Images, Brecon Barn Owl.
Barn Owl, tracking the ' Silent Assassin '
21st February 2013
For the last few weeks there has been a male Barn Owl hunting the local farmland, this is not at all common because most farmland in this area is used for grazing sheep. This means that most of the grass is cropped short and therefore there is no place for Voles and Mice to hide, so they don't live there, this in turn does not provide food for these most iconic birds.
I first noticed this particular bird hunting a rough pasture one evening a couple of weeks ago just as the light was dimming. Barn Owls are crepuscular in their habits so this is not good for the photographer, they always appear just as the light is fading and usually this means there is not enough light to maintain a high enough shutter speed to capture a sharp flight image. Some evenings he was hunting in reasonable light, for whatever reason they come out earlier some nights, although in the main they are 'light triggered'.
Something just tells them that a particular light is when they should start hunting.
I was hidden behind a small tree one evening and I could see him hunting in his usual place, gradually he came closer and finally I was able to get a flight shot. My experience in shooting Barn Owls in Norfolk has taught me that up to a point they are not that bothered about people as long as there is no noise and movement and they will happily glide past the lucky observer if these criteria are adhered to.
This birds are very predictable in their habits but that does not mean it is easy to photograph them, they hunt ditches and fence lines and are very good at disappearing despite their light colour. This was exemplified another night when i was watching him hunting, he flew behind a hedge and didn't reappear, I couldn't see him anywhere and as I looked around I couldn't believe it, he was heading straight at me, by the time I had focussed my lens he was upon me, now I know what a Vole feels like! I managed to fire off a couple of shots but his wings were cut off, nevertheless I still loved the shot of him so close.
As the days wore on I just couldn't get really close to him, he was so wary and alert and I felt he was just playing with me. I could see what a beautiful bird he was, his plumage was so 'Orangey' and his eyes so black, I just had to try and get near to him.
I watched him over a period of a week or so and I could see he was landing on a particular branch quite regularly, but because of all the flooding of late this area was very difficult to get to and I also had to cross a stream to get there. However, its no good giving up before you have tried and last night off I went with my portable hide.
I crossed the stream with great difficulty, soaking my trousers in the process and ploughed on through glutinous mud almost losing my wellingtons a couple of times.
I managed to find a small area of reasonably firm ground and got into my hide and set my gear up, almost immediately I heard a horrible sucking noise and I began to sink into the mud. I was just about to get out when my hide and tripod stopped sinking and settled down, both in about six inches of mud.
His favourite branch was about ten yards away and I thought, 'I'm here now so I'll stick it out', excuse the pun! It was four O'clock and I knew he didn't usually fly until about five. I waited in silence until quarter past five, adjusting my camera settings to the now rapidly failing light. I decided to wait until five thirty and then I would pack in because the light would be too bad then anyway, I was not hopeful!
Suddenly he glided past my hide and landed right on the branch in front of me. I obviously knew Barn Owls were silent but when you see a bird that big glide past you six feet away in absolute and total silence it is quite awe inspiring.
He turned around and looked straight at me and I fired five shots, immediately he heard the shutter he took off, he didn't like the noise and he melted away into the evening gloom.
Two hours of effort, soaking wet and covered in mud all for half a second with this absolutely magical bird, worth every second!!
Please see Latest Images, Brecon Barn Owl.
Winter in my garden
21st February 2013
I have been putting out all sorts of different food for the birds this winter, a large variety of seed, fatballs and fruit, but one food that a lot of birds really like is porridge oats. I don't buy the expensive brands just a cheap supermarket variety, nevertheless the birds just love it, they are really hoovering it up.
It just goes to show you don't have to spend loads of money on these fancy bird foods just something basic can work very well.
I was sat in my permanent hide a few days ago just waiting for whatever came in to feed and a Lesser Redpoll flew in and landed on one of the perches. While this is quite a common bird I have never had one in my garden in the eighteen years I have lived here, so it was quite a milestone for me.
The G.S.Woodpeckers have started coming back now there is a ready supply of peanuts and a Long Tailed Tit family party are flying around, peanuts being their favourite food also.
I will photograph them once they start coming to the feeders.
I have seen my old friend the Sparrowhawk flying around the last couple of weeks and sure enough he came in and landed on one of his favourite perches, good job I had my 300mm lens already pointing right on it. What a special bird he is, so beautiful and yet such a clinical hunter. Now that the cold weather has set in again more birds will be looking for food and now is the time to attract them to your garden.
Please see Latest Images, Garden Birds.
A Quarter of a million hits!!
24th January 2013
Quite a milestone for me, when I started this site I could never have imagined this number of hits, It's quite amazing really. Finally this horrendous weather is set to end and perhaps I can get around and capture some images. I will try and get a few shots of my old friend the Sparrowhawk, he is starting to pass through again. There is also a Song Thrush coming to the garden and it is winkling snails out of an old stone wall and smashing the shells on some stones to get an extra meal to help in this horrible weather.
Once again many thanks to all the people who visit the site.
Happy Xmas from Beacons Birder
23rd December 2012
Another year is almost over, they are rolling by a bit too quickly for my liking but there you go. It's been a diabolical year weather wise with unprecedented rainfall having a devastating effect on the country's wildlife. There will undoubtedly be less birds around to breed next spring after the horrendous weather during the breeding season of 2012. Nests washed away near rivers and ponds and ground nesting birds just drowned by the relentless rain. Nature, however, has a way of recovering and I sincerely hope she can work her magic once again.
Above all there is a human cost and it is dreadful to see people with their homes flooded out and their livelihoods destroyed and some even paying the ultimate price. It is a stark reminder of the power of nature and it illustrates just how fragile we really are when it comes down to it!
My thoughts and prayers go out to the people affected and I sincerely hope things can be put back in order very quickly.

I have started my winter feeding programme and the birds are flocking back to the garden already and within two days the male Sparrowhawk has appeared. Everything has to eat and it's all part of the chain, although it can be brutal sometimes.
Looking back I want to remain positive and I am amazed at the amount of images I managed to record considering the weather. In Spring the Cuckoo numbers were obviously up in this area so there is hope there. Also the Redstarts seemed to be successful in their breeding attempts. Large numbers of wintering thrushes arrived and departing and passage Ring Ouzels stayed very late this year, birds recorded as late as Dec 6th.
I can't end without mentioning the glorious irruption of Waxwings that started in November, even in this area they came in numbers. I love them, I could watch them all day, they are so full of character.
I would like to thank everyone who visits this site and I hope they enjoy what they see and read, long may we continue.
It's just left for me to wish everyone a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and a prosperous, bird filled 2013.