Spring soldiers on

Well! It is hard to believe that it is almost mid-May, what with the recent chilly temperatures, almost constant strong winds and frequent rain storms. The conditions are more typical of mid-winter, but the wildlife continues to soldier on, and you do not have to look far before seeing the signs that Spring is in fact in full swing: the Mountain’s East Side is now a carpet of pink Thrift, which contrasts with the west side of the Mountain, which is a vivid yellow from the Gorse; Oystercatcher pairs all around the coast are now incubating eggs in their small scrapes, whilst hundreds of seabirds on the cliffs are well into breeding, with some Shag pairs already rearing their ugly chicks. The vegetation around the island is shooting up after the recent rain showers, despite the wind and temperatures, although the same can not be said for the island’s lepidoptera: the low temperatures have severely affected catch numbers in the moth traps, with the highest catches being no more than 10 individuals of five species. Green-veined Whites are beginning to increase in numbers, and the first Painted Lady of the year put in an appearance today. I have taken plenty of images over the last week or so, although the weather has restricted certain things…here is a selection of some of my favourites:

 This image is the first of a new project that I am beginning along the line of macro photography: using a fisheye lens to bring in a bit more of the environment, whilst still retaining interest in the main subject. This Honey Bee was feeding on the coastal Thrift on the East Side, and I used a Canon 7D mkII and Canon fisheye 15mm lens to get very close to the insect, but try and capture a bit of the background and foreground. There are plenty of niggling things wrong with the image, such as the awkward composition, although I am pleased with it as a start

Whilst carrying out a morning ringing session at the northern end of the island, this male Sparrowhawk flew into one of the mist nets. It was a rather pleasant surprise, and after extracting it, I took to the observatory for the ringing procedure. This image was taken with a Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens just prior to release

The last week has been excellent for Cuckoos, with tree present on one day a few days ago. Two male birds feeding along a fence line at Nant presented a good photographic opportunity, so I set up my small hide and managed to grab the lower image before a huge rain storm set in for the rest of the day. The first two images were taken the next day, when a female bird present in the Withies proved to be quite an approachable bird

Shellducks in the rain- taken on a rather grim day, with lashing rain, very strong south-westerly winds and a high tide. The combination of conditions did, however, make for some interesting angles and images, with the bird coming very close to the hide on Solfach

Some pairs of Stonechats have already fledged their first broods of young, and are now busy trying to find enough food to stuff down the bright gapes of the chicks
A flight shot of a Razorbill from yesterday. There are many hundreds in the rocky boulder fields and cliff areas around the East Side now, many of which are likely to be on eggs

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9 thoughts on “Spring soldiers on

  1. Only if I let them Paul!! 😉 Just kidding- yep, there can be three or four trips of day visitors to the island on calm days during the spring and summer, weather permitting. Although you can actually stay here for a week or more too, either at one of the renovated farm houses or at the bird observatory. I'll give you the links and phone numbers if you are interested 🙂

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  2. Good stuff Paul. It certainly is a good place to spend a weekend! The only thing is the boat service is entirely weather-dependent, and the next week looks really bad with a lot of strong winds. When we have a calm period of weather, Colin the boatman comes across every day more or less. Take a look at the Bird Observatorie's website here for lodging: http://www.bbfo.org.uk, and the boatman's phone number is: 07971769895

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