Walking past the beaches looking at the leeches yeah!

In preparation for our jungle trekking in Kerala, Pants got his legs out to attract the leeches down at Leighton Moss on Friday. Look at these beauties.... leeches not legs!!!

Fledgling feeding time is abruptly suspended

We were photographing the fledgling blue tits at Leighton Moss when we suddenly heard a weird screech and a squirrel jumped 5 feet in the air. This kestrel had swooped down and caught an unknown bird. I don't think it was one of the blue tits but perhaps someone might be able to identify it from the underside of it's wing. After that, every bird in the vicinity vanished for a few minutes. Sorry if the photos are a little OTT - I've been playing with a tilt-shift generator!

Barn Owls and Marsh Harriers to say nothing of the coot chicks

Great day at Leighton Moss. Marsh Harriers out in force. Also saw a kes swoop into feeder station and take out we think a great tit. Later a Sparrow Hawk causing hijinks around the reed beds. On the way home we were passing a barn/ field/river area we really like for barn owls and were remarking on whether there were any about when a beauty flew over road in front of us. Parked up and watched her (or him) bringing back a large vole or something into barn and out again. REMEMBER ALL PICTURES ARE CLICKABLE FOR A LARGER VERSION. ALSO: WE ARE JUST 3 HITS AWAY FROM 2000 HITS HERE!!! WOW! YET NOBODY COMMENTS-DON'T BE SHY!! (There is no Million Pound Prize for the 2000th customer btw!!)

You can sit all night in a hide or…

... you can sit outside the Inn at Whitewell with a pint and snap the wildlife as it passes by. Okay so you don't get the big and exciting stuff from the patio of Inn at Whitewell but heh all life is beautiful and stunning and let's face it - you could go to Amazon Rain forest to find something as dazzling and pretty as our own goldfinch...

A juvenile Great Tit has a bit of a wobble first time out



Hang on..........


Hi mum! Aaaarrgghhhhh!!!!!!!!

Taken at Leighton Moss.

Video – a nuthatch hiding in and eating from our window feeder

  We've had a pair of nuthatches using our window feeder intermittantly since the harsh early winter when they came out of the nearby woods to discover the bird food we've left out. At the moment, they are feeding their young and the feeder is getting hammered. In fact, I was just dropping a handful of sunflower seeds into the feeder when a nuthatch flew in. I don't know which of us had the greater shock, but the crows underneath got a few extra seeds as a result. In this video, we see a nuthatch suddenly sit very still. What had happened was that a bluetit had arrived briefly on the telephone line (you might just catch it flying about early into the video) The nuthatch obviously had a glimpse but wasn't sure what was there, and sat stock still, not even daring to eat the sunflower seed in its beak. When the "danger" had apparently passed, it went back to feeding. Apologies for the brief burst of laughter - we were watching River Cottage and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's cries of "yes yes yes", followed by the mooing of a cow were too much for my adolescent brain.... And here it is on one of the tree feeders.

Meet the Beetle (AKA “And I thought Ringo was a funny name…”)

My attention was drawn to a large, slowly moving flying insect which hovered about for a while, and then settled on a nearby leaf. "Do we have cicadas in the UK?", I thought, then went to have a closer look. It was obviously a large, unusual beetle, so I took a few photos and then went home and checked Collins Guide to British Wildlife. The beetle turned out to have the marvelously old rustic English name "Cockchafer". The guide says, "Adults seen in May and June, hence alternative name of May-Bug".

Blue Tits feeding their young at Higher Hodder Bridge

Walking across Higher Hodder Bridge, I noticed a lot of activity from Blue Tits, and it soon became obvious that they were going into nests built inside cracks in the bridge itself. I thought at the time that what they had in their beaks was nesting material, which struck me as a bit odd, as they should have finished their nests a few weeks ago. It wasn't until I could look at the photographs back home that it was obvious that the blue tits had caught flies that they were feeding to their young.

What’s even more difficult to find than an otter?

An otter's skull!

As we were walking around the Applecross peninsula looking for otters, we wondered what happened to their remains after they died. We decided that a good proportion would be taken by the sea while others may just lay in holts that then become unused. Certainly it would be highly unlikely that humans ever came across the bones of an otter.

Of course, the very next day we found this otter skull about ten yards beyond a beach, no doubt washed up on a high tide. It had certainly been weathered and had lost the lower jaw, but most of its teeth were still present.

Goosander and young on the Ribble

We saw this Goosander resting with her young on a rock in the Ribble (just beyond where the Ribble and Hodder meet). It was a great place to keep an eye out for any predators, and as we'd seen a mink just 5 minutes previously, a choice that hopefully gave her young a sporting chance of survival.

Haring into Summer

We're well past "Mad March Hare" time, but the hares in the Ribble Valley are still very active. They might be a bit trickier to see because the grass has suddenly become long, green, and lush, but they seem very happy to run around and feed.

Warblers at Leighton Moss

Warblers were out in force at Leighton Moss with numerous sightings of reed warblers and black caps. We also heard a few grasshopper warblers that were well hidden in the reeds. The photos are of a reed warbler (top)and a black cap.

I was particularly pleased to get the photos of the reed warbler in the reeds, as it's very difficult to get the camera to focus where you want it too when there are so many reeds that the camera wants to focus on instead.

Busy days at Leighton Moss

Went up to Leighton Moss on Tuesday and decided to camp nearby so we could get up early on Weds and see what was about at 6am.
Had a fantastic couple of days watching Marsh Harriers (about 3 pairs) dancing, seeing off attacks from buzzards, gathering nesting materials etc. Also Great Crested Grebes doing their beautiful courtship displays, deer, black caps, bearded tits, reed warblers, the mad antics of the black headed gulls and ultra exciting for us at 6.25am on Wednesday morning- an otter!! Our first English otter and our first in fresh waters. It was right on the other side of the lake so the photos are the worst we've ever taken and simply act as a proof to the viewing but we got better look through the bins. A grey lag goose drew my attention to the otter by flying in circles around where it swam. Though there was a Canada goose and a moorhen quietly sitting at the reed edge not freaking out at all. It looked to me as though the otter was having a last play before bed - not too intent on hunting -so perhaps the birds could sense this. Many greylags have young at the moment so perhaps this accounts for the more panicked reaction of the goose.
Anyway we'll stick some pictures up in batches over the coming days. To start with here are some Marsh Harriers snaps.

“Hey, where did you go?”

Wild With Pants is currently off to Wester Ross, Scotland in search of otters. We'll be back in a couple of weeks. (Hopefully with an otter photo or two)

There Hare, Here Deer

This is a continuation of the previous post

As I was standing taking photos of the hares, stood stock still, I noticed some figures in the nearby woods - roe deer! After some milling around in the woods, I was amazed to see them jump a fence and come towards me! The female finally twigged that I was there (as you can see from the first photo), and then ran across the field with the male in leisurely pursuit. (I don't think he'd seen me, so was less of a mood to race).

“Well, it’s March – what do you expect from us?”

I took a walk up onto Longridge Fell, and hares were everywhere - running around and enjoying the sun. At first, I thought they were just doing their usual trick of legging it out of sight at the first sense of human, but these kept running back to where they started. It was obviously that they were just enjoying the March sun.

I ended up filling a memory card with photos. These are of one mad minute where three hares raced around and then took a break.

Waiting for a kingfisher made me batty

Where do we get these ridiculous titles... well let me explain.

Today I needed some Nature Therapy to cure me of some, what is beginning to feel like, terminal stress. I headed off to the river, part of the Kingfisher walk we did last Autumn and plonked myself down on the river bank in the glorious sunshine and made ready to wait for a kingfisher. I saw some lovely grey wagtails, black headed guls, oyster catchers, dippers, pied wagtails, huge leaping salmon, goosanders, mallards- not a kingy in sight or sound.

Then I noticed something flying strangely near the woods and over the river. It was quite a way away so I couldn't id it through lens even - though quickly suspected something batty by the movement and the occasional quick twists and turns.

Lo and behold it was a large bat flying on its own around the woodland edge and over the river and back. Occasionally it flew low as though checking me out as I sat trying to photograph it. It was very clearly a reddish goldie brown in the sunshine and much bigger than the little pipis we get flying out of our roof at dusk in summer.

Anyway I sort of fell in love with it.. got some nice shots but missed a cracker where it swooped down to drink some water. :-(

Anyway my guess is a Noctule (one of the larger UK bats, known to be out earlier in the evening than other species, though this was about 1.30pm today - an in March so clearly out of hibernation and enjoying some warm sunshine!)

Okay now I'm setting myself up for a slap by our(so far) one and only commenter... my Sis Jess who is working on her PhD in Aberdeen (Yoh Bobs!)and is a bit of a clever dick (know-it-all!!!) What say you lady? Noctule? Female? Aged 14 months? In 2nd trimester of her first litter? Seriously -please comment anyone and let us know your differences of opinion on the species.