The Lodge RSPB. March 2010.

This is a selection of images taken whilst on the 'two barred' stint in the hide at the Lodge.

The Lodge, Sandy. Bedfordshire. March 2010.

Two - Barred Crossbill.
Whilst at home I received a phonecall telling me of a Two barred crossbill at the Lodge. That was it, I grabbed together my camera and bins and headed off. I knew it wouldn't take long to get there but I just hoped my batteries would hold out on the camera as they hadn't been charged lately. On arrival there was no one else in the hide so I set up and began the wait. It wasn't long before people started to arrive including the finder who showed me a great image of the bird and close in too. Now I was excited for its return.

It must of been about an hours wait before I picked up on them calling and then they came into view, moving from one tree top to another until you could hear them in the tree above the hide, and then as they came down to drink all eyes were waiting for the 'two barred'. It was frustrating not to shoot off frame after frame of the common crossbills especially the red males, but I didn't want to miss the two barred if it came down.... and then it graced us with its presence and what a cracker. But as if knowing the camera was on it the bird did not turn around, and then they slowly dispersed off to feed again. Luckily for me they all turned up again around an hour later and this time it showed very well and I was able to gain some shots before they once again dispersed and I had to leave due to work. Absolutely chuffed though I can tell you.

Moths.March 2010.

Yellow Horned Moth.
With the weather now getting milder the moths are starting to show. Over the winter I had seen a few Pale Brindled Beauties but the bad weather had kept a lot of stuff from showing. These two moths shown here are the first Ive photographed this year, and also the Yellow Horned was a new species for me so it was a good start to the year, I will have to get the moth trap out of the loft I think. The Oak Beauty is a quite large and lovely patterned moth, they always look in prime condition and a good sign that spring is virtually upon us. The Yellow Horned is very distinctive on the markings especially with only a few species of moth present at this time of year. It has a yellowish hue to it that can be hard to see in certain light. Also noticed about as well are the Common Quakers, there was one trapped when I attended the bird ringing previously and I had seen a couple whilst on nightshift. Lets hope for a good mothing year this year.

Oak Beauty Moth.

Yellow Horned Moth.

Oak Beauty Moth.

Yellow Horned Moth.

Bird Ringing. Beeston. March 2010.

The weather was bright and sunny at times but the wind had picked up moving the nets and this was probably the reason why we had a quiet day. There was a good turnout of people though with always something new to learn.

Star bird had to go to the single Yellowhammer that was netted. It is a bird not frequently caught at Beeston so it was a welcoming sight, and a lovely bird to see up close in the hand.

The Dunnock may look dull and drab whilst moving around in the undergrowth but I think look very smart when in the hand, especially the deep red eye.

Who can deny what a little burst of sunshine the Goldfinch is. The red on the head seems to shine like its just been painted on, and the name giving golden yellow on the wing is so vivid.
For sure a favourite with everyone.

The Greenfinches too have a lovely array of colouring. The yellows, like on the Goldfinches, can be very bright on some individuals and the greens can be very rich and vibrant indeed. In the hand its quite a chunky, powerful looking bird but always appears shy as if it knows the camera is on it.

"Go on look this way, show us how good you really"

And to finish off, this Robin once weighed seemed most content to just sit it out all snuggled up inside the pot.

Scotland. March 2010.

Sarah and I booked ourselves up on a coaching holiday to Scotland, staying in a hotel on the shores of Loch Lomond. We hadn't done a holiday of this kind before but were taken back by how much we enjoyed ourselves. The trips out got you to see more of the area and there was no hassle about transport.... other than the coach meeting another vehicle on a single lane road.... 'oh here we go', as Bill the driver would say on numerous occasions.

In the above image the Inversnaid Hotel, our place of stay, can be seen on the shoreline, with stunning vistas all around.

This is the view (above) from outside the hotel, and even though not a birding holiday we were graced with Goosanders, Kingfisher and the much appreciated new bird for Sarah, the Dipper. We were to see many more Dippers on the trips but none so special as outside your own hotel.

On route to the hotel on the first night we were in awe of the spectacular sunset and vibrant colours it gave off. But unfortunately it was not to be repeated and so I had to make do with more muted colours and cloud, but who's complaining...not me.

The Arklet Falls (above) were literally next to the hotel, the backdrop of cascading water is most relaxing.

There were plenty of Highland cattle around and these lovely beasts were definitely not be missed for a portrait or two.

During the stay we used the ferry to take us back and forth from the hotel to the coach, waiting across the loch. A place on the upper deck was in order on all rides, the blackness of the water when hit by the sun gives it an almost oil slick look to it, and the reflections were too mesmerizing not to capture on the camera.

Everywhere we travelled we were stunned by the beauty of the place, and with quite a lot of snow still around gave the places a more magical feel. Whilst on the coach journeys all eyes were looking out of the window, you could not take your eyes off those mountains...except for Sarah as she found it most easy to sleep for most of the trips out...

On the day we visited Glencoe the weather did not want to lift, it gave the place a cold eerie feeling, not seeing the highest peaks left you wondering just how enormous they really were. A stunning mountain range none the less. The Whispering Falls below looked icy cold with many streams and indeed whole lochs still completely frozen over, the sight of a totally frozen loch was amazing, to think of a huge expanse of water like that just solid ice was hard to believe yet still wondrous.

Above is a view of Loch Lomond as seen from the tiny village of Luss. The church below is at one end of the street tucked away and surrounded by clumps of snowdrops, the place was like something from a movie set, it almost didn't feel real, the cottages lining the street were like postcard images. But a lovely little, tucked away gem it is none the less.

On the last day trip we ventured to the Falkirk Wheel. What a marvelous piece of work that is, and with a ride booked up to go on the lift and along the canal made the day even more enjoyable. The boat captain had everyone in fits of laughter, her sense of humour was most relaxing to anyone who was afraid of heights. "Only 35metres in height" she declared to anyone nervous, "but 115 feet to all the rest of you"...

And so the holiday came to an end all too soon. The company of fellow guests, the hotel staff, food and trips were all excellent and a trip to the butchers on the way home for haggis and white pudding finished it off a treat. Would I go again.. most definitely.

Oban. Scotland. March 2010.

On one day of our Scotland trip we headed across to Oban, unfortunately being this early in the year and on a Sunday, a lot of places were shut, including the distillery...'DAMN'....

But not to be put off Sarah and I headed for the nearest chippy' for white pudding and chips.Yum. It wasn't long before the local Herring gulls took note and duly assembled in wait. And so as we became full it was time for my lovely assistant to strategically throw some chips while I snapped away.

It certainly brightened up the day, and also viewed in the harbour were a couple of Black Guillemots and a Shag, both new additions for Sarah.