Below is a selection of my favorites of months from the last few years.

 

December 2010. 

A trip on Sunday 12th December to the Woburn and Leighton Buzzard WAXWING locations resulted in me getting a series of images of these splendid birds. While there the weather was mostly sunny, but on the way home at around 12.30 pm cloud cover became extensive. Below are a few pictures from this shoot.

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November 2010.

Light is always low during November (and December) so it is only possible to take action pictures on sunny days. A squirrel jump set up from feeder to a nearby post provided me with a few nice action shots of this animal on a nice sunny day.

A Grey Squirrel in mid jump. More pictures in my Mammals - Squirrel, section.

 

October 2010.

October is usually the best month for Fungus, and this proved to be so in 2010.

The various Mycenae species of Fungi are always worth photographing, and are usually common in woodlands during autumn.

 

 

In Beech woods Porceline fungus Oudemansiella mucida is common on decaying branches and trunks during autumn. 

 

The fungus everyone knows is Fly Agaric, common in most Birch woods. 

 

This Grey Wagtail posed nicely for me for a few minutes as it searched for food around a pond.

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September 2010.

When Ladybirds start gathering in numbers, you know autumn and winter is not far away.

 

Shaggy Parasole fungi in a local wood in late September.

 

When I made a brief visit to my local NR this afternoon (11th Sept) and found several species of Dragonflies and Damselflies still around, including the below mating Emerald Damselflies.

 

August 2010.

Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies in Bedfordshire.

Here in Bedfordshire we have had a magnificent showing of Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies in several of our woods. Although in the 1940's this butterfly was resident in most of our suitable woodlands, it died out from all of them by the late 1950's or early 1960's. This butterfly has made a come-back during the last decade being seen in small numbers in a number of local woods and gardens. This year they have been seen in a number of Bedfordshire woods. During late July I had over 30 sightings one day as I walked through King's Wood NNR, Heath and Reach, and in Chicksands wood several were to be seen every time I visited this woodland during July and August. On my visit there on 27th August, I saw two males and a female feeding on the flowers. They were very tatty, and I doubted if they will make it to September, but one did. It was very tatty indeed and could hardly fly.

Above a King's Wood Silver-washed Fritillary in early August.

Above a very tatty male Silver-washed Fritillary photographed in Chicksands wood on August 27th. The two others were even more tatty, and this one survived to 1st September, when it was even more tatty, and hardly able to fly, but it did (just) survive into September.

 

Above a male underside aberration of the Chalk Hill Blue ab. ceaca, that I found in one of the Bedfordshire colonies in early August 2010. Underside spot reduction is not uncommon in some colonies, but those as above with all the spots missing except for the discoidal spot is very uncommon.

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Below is an extremely rare albino form of the Broad-leaved Helleborine orchid Epipactis helleborine var. albifolia, that has recently been discovered in Bedfordshire. These plants proved to be a very weak with three of the four flower spikes breaking down as or before they came properly into flower. However one flower spikes did manage to flowers. 

Above the plans on 7th July.

 

Above Bedfordshire's rare albino form of the Broad-leaved Helleborine Orchid in early August.

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On Friday 17th August I went out with the Bedfordshire Hoverfly recorder John O'Sullivan to search a local nature reserve for Hoverflies. Although a decent list was made, nothing unexpected was found. On returning to my home and after having a cup of tea, we went into my garden and John bagged the below Hoverfly which proved to be Cheilosia caerulescens, a rare species first recorded in Britain in 2006, and this is the first record of it in Bedfordshire. It just shows that you never know what will turn up in your garden.

 

Above the rare Hoverfly  Cheilosia caerulescens that was found in my garden.

 

July 2010.

The highlight of July for me was having a close encounter with a Purple Emperor in Chicksands Wood. This was the first time that I have seen this butterfly in Bedfordshire, although I have seen a number in other counties over the years. I had heard that they were on the wing, so I decided to see if I could find my first Bedfordshire PE on July 8th, a very hot day. I was rewarded by a male that flew around me several times, and eventually settled on me, feeding on my sweat. The next day it was still around and provided me and a friend with more pictures.

 

Above a really close encounter with a Purple Emperor! On hot days they may come and feast on sweat. Decaying matter and animal dung is a more usual favorite, with honeydew and if available sap seeping from a wound in tree bark also great attractants.

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Several times during 2010 I set up high speed flash around a pheromone lure to record various species of Clearwing moths in Bedfordshire. A fairly new nature reserve near Biggleswade produced good number of Six-belted Clearwing (below) coming to the lure in early July. Many photographs were taken as the moths came to investigate the lure, and a number were in sharp focus.

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Below, I also set up the high speed flash in my garden near my raspberry canes, and several Raspberry Clearwings came to the lure (below).

Below is a settled Raspberry Clearwing moth.

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The above Ringlet butterfly ab. lanceolata hatched from this years brood, and is one of the most extreme forms of this rare aberration.

                                 

June 2010.

With a strong colony of Bee Orchids just over a mile from my home, seeing several hundred of these splended flowers in bloom is always a highlight of June.

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The big highlight of June was a trip to Shetland with Thomas Hanahoe FRPS. Although a bit disappointing in many places we visited, there were some highlights, and going to my Shetland page will show you more pictures. Below are 3 of my favorites.

Above an Arctic Skua flying by at Sumburgh Head NR.

An Otter eating a crab.

A Wheatear in flight with food.

To see more Shetland pictures go to my SHETLAND page.

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May 2010.

A spring visit to Minsmere RSPB reserve is guaranteed to produce some pictures.

 

Above Avocets, and Black-hearded Gull interaction at Minsmere.

 

 

April 2010.

The highlight of the spring was photographing a Bittern "Booming" at the Minsmere RSPB reserve. This rarely seen event was a bit of a let down, as there was no big display, when after blowing it's self up, it just opening its beak while keeping down low. I expected more, but thinking about it, any display would not be seen in it's reed bed habitat, it just needs to make it's "Boom" to make it's presence known.

Above a Bittern "Booming" sequence.

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Another highlight of April was a weeks trip to the Gargaron peninsula, to photograph the wild flowers and other wildlife of this part of Italy. In many places it was just one huge rock garden full of wild orchids and other wild flower. Despite there being plenty of sunshine, butterflies and other insects were quite scarce. Below are just a few of my favorite pictures from this trip.

Above Naked Man Orchids flowering on a hill side.

 

Above Ophrys biscutella was found in several places.

 

Above Ophrys bertolonii one of the less common orchids.

 

 

Above Orchis panciflora was very common in some places.

 

The Southern Festoon butterfly was only occasionally seen, but this one sat nicely for me.

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March 2010.

A visit to a local park found the Coots as active as ever, with confrontations occurring from time to time.

 

Mallard (below) are always worth photographing.

 

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February 2010.

Birds are again targeted this month, with a favorite woodland, and my garden providing me with a selection of common species.

This and several other Longtailed Tits visited my garden occasionally while I was in my hide, but mostly they flew strait to the feeder, but this one stayed for a few seconds on this apple twig so I was able to take just 2 pictures before it moved on.

 

Above Blue, Marsh and Coal Tits that came to my feeding station in a wood.

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January 2010.

With snow on and off during the month, my hide set up in my greenhouse was quite a pleasant place to photograph the garden birds. While no rarities turned up, it was nice to get pictures of Finches and other birds in the snow.

Goldfinches (above) were frequently coming to the feeding station in my garden.

 

While it was snowing few birds came to feed, but as soon after it stopped they were back for their free meal. Above a cock Greenfinch on my apple tree, where the feeders were hanging.

 

Robin with fine snow falling.

 

A trip to the Lea Valley Park produced a few shots of a Bittern.

 

A visit to farmland in Hertfordshire on January 10th 2010 resulted in getting a few Brown Hare pictures in the snow, including some chasing and boxing. None came really close enough, but it was fun watching  them chasing around and I did get 3 pictures worth keeping. Above is one of them.

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January 2009.

Winter means bird photography as they come frequently to feeding stations. Mine in my garden seldom sees unusual species, so when a Blackcap came I was very pleased.

A Blackcap waiting to come to my feeder in my garden, on January 21st.

 

 

The Blue Tit is one of the most colourful birds to come to a feeding station, be it in a woodland which is where this one came, or in your garden. 

 

February 2009.

Although still winter, the Coots were fighting in a lake in a local park.

Above is a Nuthatch that came to a feeding station that I put up in a woodland. These birds make excellent subjects for the camera.

 

March 2009.

At the end of March I went to Cyprus with Bob Gibbons FRPS to photograph the Orchids of this Island. My favorites was the rare endemic Ophrys kotschy that was growing on sea cliffs close to our hotel.

 

Above Moorhens courting on a log in a river. These were "town" Moorhens and had no fear of people, so I was able to photograph them without frightening them from the footpath that ran beside the river.

 

April 2009.

Although most nest building takes place during March, Grey Herons continue to bring in twigs during April.

 

Taking in-flight pictures of the Herons is great fun and easy with modern cameras.

 

May 2009.

Spring really arrives in May with many insects active. My favorite spring butterfly is the Orange-tip, and it is a delight to see them flying in the local woods and wayside.

 

 

On Knocking Hoe NNR we have a small colony of Burnt Orchids that flower from mid May until early June. I took the above picture on 19th May.

 

Although only created a month earlier, by mid May there were Azure, and Large Red Damselflies egg laying in this new garden pond. A very encouraging start to the life of this pond. Above Azure Damselflies egg laying in the pond.

 

At the end of May we traveled up to Skye, en-route to North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, and managed to photographed the White-tailed Eagle. A Boat trip to see these birds can be booked from Portree harbor.

 

June 2009.

From Skye we traveled onto North Uist, and I managed at long last to get pictures of the Corncrake calling. I had heard these birds many times on previous visits, but these were the first pictures I have managed to get photographs of this bird.

 

Above, the Hebridean Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza ebudensis that is endemic to North Uist, occurring in just two dune slack areas. This was one of my main target species of this trip.

 

During the 3rd week of June I visited Strumpshaw Fen NR in Norfolk, and managed to get some nice Dragonfly pictures. Male Norfolk Hawkers were patrolling along a dyke, and I was able to photograph them in flight (below), as well as them settled on the rushes. A Hairy Dragonfly female was also photographed egg laying on surface vegetation.

Above a male Norfolk Hawker flying along a dyke.

Above a Hairy Dragonfly egg laying on a piece of drift wood in a dyke at Strumpshaw Fen NR.

 

July 2009.

One of the more elusive and declining species of British Orchid is the Narrow-lipped Helleborine. Even in the Beech woods of the Chiltern Hills in Bucks and Oxfordshire it is now very difficult to find. So even if not as colourful as many orchids, I was pleased to find the below plant flowering.

Above a Narrow-lipped Helleborine and below at a different location I found wasps visiting Broad-leaved Helleborine orchids and pollinating them.

Note the pollen on the wasps face. Both the above picture were taken on July 24th 2009.

 

August 2009.

It has been a spectacular year for Painted Lady butterflies, and in early August they were in hundreds where ever there were flowers to feed from. 

The above Painted Lady butterfly was photographed in early August on the Norfolk coastal sand dunes.

 

 

It was pleasing to find a Wasp Spider in a nearby Nature Reserve. This spider has been found in a number of other sites in Bedfordshire.

 

Mating Silver-spotted Skipper butterflies on Aston Rowant NNR Oxon.

 

September 2009. 

After hearing about the Willow Emerald Damselfly being found in East Anglia, I headed east to photographed this new British species in one of it's Suffolk habitats.

 

A Small Copper butterfly nectaring on some late flowering Marjoram in my garden. 25th September 2009.

 

November 2009

A female Sparrowhawk came and posed for a pictures for a minute or so. Lea Valley Park, 26th November 2009.

 

Above a Jay with acorn. Lea Valley Country Park, Essex. November 22nd 2009.

 

December 2009.

A visit to Donn Nook on the Lincolnshire coast provided me with a selection of Seal pictures. My favorites of the day are below, all taken with my Canon 1D Mk111 camera and Canon EF 500mm f4L IS lens.

Young Harbor Seals playing in the sea.

Grey Seal bulls fighting.

Bull and cow Grey Seals at dawn.

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