Harvest mice are extremely difficult to see in the wild. They mainly feed on the stalks of long grasses and reeds around dawn & dusk. They are predated by numerous mammals and birds so are very quick to disappear at the slightest sound of an approach. When we came across a workshop with captive harvest mice we took the opportunity to get a close view of these tiny creatures.
Dean Mason offers morning or afternoon sessions with his harvest mice so we decided to book one of each.
The mice are treated very kindly and investigate anything put into their enclosure.
We spent a few days in a wood in Worcestershire trying to see brown hairstreak butterflies. These beautiful little insects mainly live up in ash trees, but the females come down occasionally to lay their eggs.
On the first day the weather was quite gloomy, so no real chance of seeing the brown hairstreak as it only comes down when it’s sunny. Fortunately there were plenty of other insects in the wood, such as brimstones, mating green-veined whites and bees.
We managed to find a caterpillar we’d previously only seen in a book and was high on our wish list - the lobster moth caterpillar. What a strange creature !
The next 2 days had brief sunny spells and we were fortunate to get a few glimpses of the brown hairstreak as she came down to lay her eggs.
We spent the whole of June on the Shetland Isles. For once we were lucky with the weather and had very little rain all month. However, whilst most of the UK was basking in temperatures over 30’C, the Shetlands were more or less a constant 13’C.
Click on the image below for our trip gallery.
In late April / early May we spent 2 weeks in the Inner Hebrides. For the first week on Coll we had high winds and some snow storms. For the second week on Tiree we had nothing but blues skies (although the winds were still blowing !).
There were some lovely beaches, even though it was a bit chilly for a dip.
On Coll we had nightly visits from a Red Legged Partridge - partial to bird seed !
Twite could also be teased closer by seed hand-outs.
On Tiree we spent much of our time on a small beach photographing the confiding waders such as Purple Sandpipers.
Dunlin were developing the black bellies of their summer breeding plumage.
Ringed plovers were resplendent in their ‘bandit masks’.
Sanderling were one of our favourite subjects - constantly in motion feeding along the shoreline.
A couple of arctic tern liked to perch on rocks close to the shore.
We went in search of the elusive corncrake. We were a bit early for the first week on Coll as there were only a couple of birds that had arrived from Africa. More arrived during our second week on Tiree. We heard their calls most days but these very shy birds are difficult to see let alone photograph.
Most of the time the corncrakes were heard but not seen. Occasionally we glimpsed a head or piece of body amongst the foliage. On rare occasions the whole bird popped up for a couple of seconds.
The locals were very friendly.
During our second trip of the year to the Scottish Highlands the weather was kinder than in January and we managed to see our two target species in snowy conditions. Click on the image below to see the gallery :-
We were pleased to receive the news that 5 of our images were shortlisted in the finals of Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2016. This means that they will appear in the book to be published in the summer.
John’s images :-
Black grouse (behaviour) Otter (portrait)
Tracy’s images :-
Mountain hare (behaviour) Osprey (behaviour) Black grouse (portrait)
When gardening we are often followed by a robin, who hops in to pick up little insects we’ve unearthed. Just lately he’s been getting much bolder and more demanding. He’s taken to waiting by our front door and landing on us when we go outside, begging for food. There’s only so much gardening you can do so we’ve taken to supplementing his diet with mealworms from the local pet shop. The only problem is that all the robins in the neighbourhood seem to have found out about the abundant supply of food - we now have 4 robins visiting. Two will come to take food out of our hands and two, presumably females, lurk in the hedges and will come fairly near if food is thrown their way.
I think you need a smaller lens, John
One of the most enjoyable subjects we photographed last year was mountain hares. So we decided to visit these charismatic animals again at the start of this year. We also spent time with a few other Scottish specialities.
Click on the image below to see the gallery :-
Late last year we received our first commission to write an article on photographing winter wildlife. It appeared in the Jan 14th issue of Amateur Photographer. John’s chasing hares shot was chosen for the cover.
Amateur Photographer 14th Jan 2017