21 June 13 Grassington
02nd July 2013 - 0 comments
After our visit to Lake Vyrnwy we made our way up to Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales to meet up with my old photo buddy and good friend Barry and his wife Jenny who were spending the week there.

We stayed at Ashfield House which is tucked away just off the main street and very nice it was to. There is a lovely garden round the back with a feeding station for the birds so a couple of photo opportunities there but nothing exciting visited the feeders; there were however some very nice flowers.


Garden Shed

Just to make it a little different the above photo of the garden shed did receive some treatment in Photoshop and HDR Efex Pro.

The annual Grassington Festival was in full flow so there was plenty to photograph on the streets and around the square.

Pandora Pink


When the women went off to do whatever it is they do best, Barry and I had a wander around the village to take a few photos.

Hill Top Fold

Buttercup Meadow

Jenny wanted a few photos of their new puppy Henry playing in a wildflower meadow.



I did get some successful shots, even if I do say so myself!!


18 June 13 Visit to Lake Vyrnwy
02nd July 2013 - 0 comments
We had a few days away at Lake Vyrnwy and stayed at the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel. I’ve never visited the area before and I was hoping to see and photograph some different birds to those that I see at my hide and at Woolston Eyes. Birds that are known to breed in the area include Peregrine Falcon, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Siskin and Wood Warbler.

The hotel was built in the 1880’s for the dignitaries and VIP’s that visited the area while the dam was being constructed for the new reservoir. The hotel although getting on a bit now was nicely decorated and clean, the food was good and the staff were very pleasant.

The view from the hotel over the lake is stunning particularly at dusk.

Sunset over Lake Vyrnwy

I think the lake runs more or less east to west and is just over 4 miles long and has a road that circumnavigates it, 11 miles or so.

The dam is constructed a the east end of the lake and approximately 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) from the dam is the reservoir's straining tower. Standing 30 metres (98 ft) from the shore its purpose is to filter or strain out material in the water with a fine metal mesh, before the water flows along an aqueduct for 68 miles to Liverpool.

Straining Tower

There were plenty of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins flying around the Hotel and I did spend some time pointing the 500mm lens through the hotel window trying to get some photos but with no luck whatsoever.

There were quite a few Flycatchers in the trees and shrubs in the hotel gardens along with Chiffchaffs but again no photographs to show for the watching.

I visited the RSPB hide near to the dam which has some feeders and while I was there Chaffinch, Siskin, Blue and Great Tit, a family of Nuthatches and a Marsh Tit were frequent visitors to the feeders.

Marsh Tit

The feeders are situated only a few inches from the glass window at the front of the hide which is fantastic for getting close up views of the birds but not so brilliant for photography; however a short zoom lens is sufficient for a frame filling photograph.


There are a couple of other hides on the north side of the reservoir which were quite comfortable and empty when I visited, perhaps that was due to the fact that there appeared to be absolutely nothing on the water including Mallards. There are also quite a few view point scattered around the lake.

Although I didn’t see a Peregrine, I did see a few Buzzards and a female Hen Harrier flying over.

The lake is quite remote and is probably a 30 – 45 mins drive to towns of any size but we did manage to get to the coast, Aberdovey and Tywyn (Towyn) both places are quite pleasant and the sun shone!

Jackdaw at Aberdovey

Tal y Llyn

An interesting flower display

Thanks for reading

15 Jun 13 Horsing Around
26th June 2013 - 0 comments
A friend from work asked me if I’d like to take some photos of his daughters horses and as it was a subject I’d not attempted before I was keen to have a go.

The weather forecast for the day was a little dubious but as it turned out everything was fine, generally overcast but with some sun breaking through.

As I say I’d never photographed horses or anyone riding them but I had looked at some equine photographers web sites so I did have some ideas about what was required.


Sarah however was a natural and knew how she wanted to pose with the horses.
Unfortunately you can’t instruct a horse on how you would like them to stand, so as with all animals it’s a bit hit and miss as to the shots you may get. Just like humans they blink and move their heads just as you press the shutter button.

Sarah & Faith

The hardest part of the shoot was trying to get a shot of the two horses running together which we did quite a few times. I did get some passable shots but I wasn’t 100% happy with any of them really. They didn’t run at the same speed and sometimes they veered off at different angles so not something you have a lot of control over in an open field.

Ted & Faith on the Run

Last but not least we did some shots of Sarah riding Faith in the manège it seems that they ride around the edge of the area so the fence is always going to appear in the shot.

Sarah & Faith

Although they haven’t made a decision on which photos they want, overall they seem happy with how things went and the shots that they’ve seen.

Composite of Ted & Faith together
09 June 2013 Life at the Hide
11th June 2013 - 0 comments
I went down to the hide on Sunday and i was amazed how much the vegetation had grown in just two weeks, consequently I had to spend 45mins weeding and pulling up nettles and that was just so that I could fill the feeders!!

After I’d filled the feeders it did take some time for the birds to come in but the first Yellowhammer of the year paid a visit.


A wren visited a couple of times and posed just long enough to get a few decent photos.

Wren on a branch

Wren on a perch

Other visitors included Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Dunnock and Chaffinch.


I also shot some nice photos of a Robin feeding a chick.

Robin chick

Feeding time

Last but not least I had a short visit from a Rabbit, I'm sure there are lots of them around the hide but generally I don't see them.


Close to the hide I also spotted four adult Lapwing with two chicks.

Lapwing chick

Thanks for reading

08 June 2013 At the Eyes
11th June 2013 - 0 comments
I visited “The Eyes” on Saturday hoping to take some photos of the Warblers that were really obliging two weeks ago but unfortunately not this time.

I did see Sedge and Reed Warbler but they mainly confined themselves to the undergrowth or they were some distance from the hide and certainly not close enough not to have to do some serious cropping on the photos. It was the same with the Reed Buntings but I can get better shots of these in the garden when they visit the feeders.

Sedge Warbler

Reed Bunting

There were also two male Ruddy Ducks that you don’t see very much of these days. Considering they were quite distant it’s not a bad photo really and you do get some appreciation of the habitat.

Ruddy Duck

A pair of Swans with five cygnets also looked regal as they passed by.

Mute Swan with Cygnets

Many of the trees and shrubs are in blossom and none more so than the Common Hawthorn, I couldn’t pass it without taking a photograph.

Common Hawthorn

A foaming fountain of flowers

Many of the Willow Catkins are turning to seed that’s looks a bit like white candy floss and helps the seed to disperse on the wind.

Osier Catkins turning to Seed

Even if I didn’t manage to take any good bird photos, it was still a good day with plenty of interest and lots of other things to photograph.

Thanks for reading.

03 June 2013 Why No Photography
03rd June 2013 - 0 comments
Unfortunately no photography this weekend as my youngest daughter who suffers from an illness called Cushings had a 6hr operation on Friday to remove her pituitary gland and subsequently she hasn’t been very well. So hospital visits and worry has put paid to any thoughts about photography.

Cushings is caused by a tumour attached to the pituitary gland; this causes the body to produce excess Cortisol which can cause many physical and psychological problems.

This was her third operation to deal with the problem and hopefully her last but as the pituitary regulates quite a few things including the production of hormones she will have to be on medication to replace them for the rest of her life. There may also be the requirement for radiotherapy another not so nice thing although at least it is painless whilst being delivered.

Somehow I think the road to recovery may be a bit rocky for quite a while yet!

26 May 2013 Woolston Eyes
29th May 2013 - 0 comments
On Sunday morning I went to Woolston Eyes in the hope of improving on my previous Black-necked Grebe photographs but as usual I took all the gear ready to shoot anything that moved, stood still or just wafted in the breeze.

As I crossed the footbridge to the nature reserve I couldn’t see anything on the bund below apart from some ducks in the distance.

As I walked along the track to the first viewing screen and hide I could see a group of visitors looking at the Mink trap on the bund and I had a glance over as I passed them but I couldn’t see anything.

As I reached the end of the track to turn onto the meadows I was hit by the wonderful smell of wild garlic or Ramsons.

Ramsons (Wild Garlic) in flower

I usually take the right hand path that leads to the hides but I thought I’d take the longer route and took the path to the left.

I’d only walked a few yards and I could see a Buzzard circling on the thermals overhead and quite low down so well worth shooting a few frames.


There were plenty of butterflies on the wing mainly whites and Peacocks so I took a few photos of whatever I could get close to. Most of them were in poor condition with ragged wings and it makes you wonder how they actually fly when they are so badly damaged.

Peacock Butterfly

After walking through the small patch of trees I know there is an area where there are a few clumps of Cowslip that I wanted to try and photograph.

I’d put the 5D on the 500mm lens as I was hoping to improve the quality of the photos of the birds on the water and I had the 100mm macro lens on the 7D. With hindsight I should have changed the lenses around and then back again later but I think I was being a bit lazy.

Anyway I set everything up and started to photograph the Cowslips with the 7D, I also used a reflector to bounce the light back into the shadows in the hope of improving the pics.

I also used the reflector as a white background in some of the photos, which are best I’m not sure.



On the meadows there was also another plant that looked interesting and at the time of photographing I didn’t have a clue as to its identity. However since then with the help of Elizabeth Maddock and John Blundell it’s been identified as Ribwort Plantain.

Ribwort Plantain

I then moved on to the Rotary Hide in the hope of photographing some Black-necked Grebe. There were five on this pool but nothing ventured over to the hide side of the pool apart from a couple of Gadwall. After an hour or so I gave up and moved on.

I went to the John Morgan Hide next and was quite surprised to find it empty, There were plenty of birds on the water, mainly the usual suspects, including Mallard, Shelduck, Gadwall, Pochard, Canada Goose, Mute Swan with chicks, Black Headed Gulls, Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhens and Coots.



Black headed gulls

After a while an Arctic Tern appeared on the scrape and gave quite a nice flying display and posed long enough on the scrape to get some reasonable shots.

Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern

After that I visited the Tower Hide as some nice photographs of warblers and buntings have been taken from there.

I was in luck a and got a few reasonable shots

Reed Warbler

Time flies when you are having fun and home time came round very quickly, it’s a pity time doesn’t seem to pass as quickly when I’m in work!

Thanks for reading.

25 May 2013 At The Hide This Week
29th May 2013 - 0 comments
As I drove down to the hide I wasn’t expecting to see any birds other than the usual suspects which is just as well as I didn’t, so I wasn’t disappointed.

However it was a lovely day, the sun was bright, there was next to no wind and the birds were singing and in the words of Larry Grayson, “Oh what a gay day”.

There were quite a few birds at the feeders and plenty flying over along with dainty butterflies flitting from flower to flower.

Small White Butterfly

Butterflies included Large and Small White, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell, birds flying over included Gulls, Kestrel, Buzzard, Wood Pigeon, Lapwing, Crow and Buzzard and probably plenty of others that I didn’t see while my eye was to the viewfinder.

There were a constant supply of finches visiting the feeders, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Chaffinch.



House Sparrows both male and female dropped in and also Dunnock although it kept to the undergrowth and didn’t show itself very well.

Female House Sparrow

Male and female Pheasants also strolled in to have an easy feed.

There are always plenty of Blackbirds around but generally don’t tend to visit the feeders or at least not while I’m there; however there is always the exception and one did drop in.

Female Blackbird

Blue Tits were also back and to, to the feeders along with Great Tits and the obligatory Robin.

While I was sat in the hide I could hear a bird calling but couldn’t see it then I eventually did, it was a young Great Tit. It could fly a little but it was still being fed by its parents.

So I got a few photos of this cute young bird with its fluffy feathers.

Great Tit Chick on my camera bag

Feeding Time

Feeding Time

Hope you enjoyed my writings and the pics..


20 May 2013 Garden Birds
20th May 2013 - 0 comments
When I haven't been able to get out or I have an hour or so to spare, I take some photos of the bird action in the garden or of whatever flowers I have available. If I were pretentious I'd call it my "garden project."

The birds certainly enjoy bathing in the tray of water I've put out for them.

I didn't think a bird could turn it's head as much as this Chaffinch has

Chaffinch drinking water

I've not shown the abpve photos because I think it's good photograph but it does show a nasty fungal infection that this Chaffinch has on its feet and legs.

Dunnock cooling off

Starling having a dip

Thanks for reading.


19 May 13 At the hide this week.
19th May 2013 - 0 comments
The House Sparrows turned up again and true to form they had a bit of a squabble about which one was going to have the prime position on the feeders.

Squabbling House Sparrows

They're sorted

Greenfinch and Chaffinch were again the most frequent visitors to the feeders


A single Robin was back and to most of the morning and I got a few nice pics.


A collared Dove dropped in for a few minutes.

Collared Dove

After having fleeting glimpses for weeks of what I believed was a Goldcrest, he did reveal himself today albeit fleetingly. I did get a photo but unfortunately it isn't as good as it could be; hopefully better luck next time.


There were quite a few butterflies on the wing, including small and large White and Peacock.Plenty of birds flying over including Buzzard and a wader possibly a Redshank from the noise it was making.

Thanks for reading

12 May 13 Dog Beds
15th May 2013 - 0 comments
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t conducive to photography on Saturday morning and Sunday was a family day with, stepson his partner, two grandchildren and two dogs visiting.

I did however get some photography in but not of the grandchildren or the dogs, it was dog beds,

It obviously didn’t have the challenge of getting a small fast moving bird pin sharp in the frame but they did want the colours reasonably true and that can be difficult.

I used the train from the Hilight background to display them on and after I’d done a few test shots I ran through them quite quickly.

The two colours that proved the most difficult to get right were the dark blue and brown but after some adjustment in Photoshop they seemed quite happy with them.

Dog bed in Camo material

They have sold some of the beds to their local police force for the police dogs to use and have has positive feedback.

If anyone who owns a dog is interested the website is:


08 May 13 - At the Eyes
08th May 2013 - 0 comments
I didn’t get to “The Eyes” over the weekend and as the weather forecast is for the weather to deteriorate over the next few days I took a few hours off work yesterday and visited “The Eyes”.

The light seemed good and there was a light breeze and after parking up I crossed the footbridge to the nature reserve with great hopes. As I crossed the bridge I caught sight of a small wader, possibly a Sandpiper as it flew up the bund toward the footbridge then it suddenly turned back and landed on the bank. When I was leaving it was on the other side of the footbridge and again landed on the bank before I could get a good look at it.

With the light being quite bright and not much wind I was hoping to get some nice photographs of the Black-necked Grebes. Over the last few weeks the grebes had been favouring the north pool so I went to the Rotary Hide first.

I scanned the water and could only see one grebe and it was out in the middle of the pool and after nearly an hour of waiting for it to come closer to the edge I gave up. I did try taking a few photos but they are in the trash folder now. While I was there I counted three BNG’s and I heard plenty of Sedge Warblers but none came out into the open.

As I walked to the John Morgan Hide I was hoping that the Dunlin or Redshank that had been reported may be still around, at least then I wouldn’t have wasted my free time.


As luck would have it a single Dunlin was walking between the Gulls on the waters edge. After a while another pair of Dunlin appeared from nowhere and then a little later a pair of Redshank and a Lapwing.

At least they were at the edge of the water for most of the time so photographable.


Just for information I was using a 500mm f4.0 Canon prime lens with a 1.4x teleconvertor fitted to a Canon 7D camera: that is the equivalent of a 1142mm lens on a full frame camera.

The camera settings, were ISO 200, using aperture priority set at f5.6, the shutter speed varied between 1/250 to 1/800 sec.

The photographs that appear here have also been cropped at either 50% (1:2) or 100% (1:1) to show the birds at a reasonable size in the frame.

The Redshanks appeared to be male and female as one of them was making some serious advances, but the other one wasn’t having any of it and it made a hasty get away. Such is life!


There where plenty of other birds around including Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Coots, Moorhen, various gulls, Mallard with chicks and Mute Swan with five chicks.

Thanks for reading.

05 May 13 At My Hide
08th May 2013 - 1 comment
I’d managed to fill the feeders during the week and there were quite a few birds around when I arrived. So after I’d topped the feeders up I sat in the hide and waited.

I hadn’t seen any House Sparrows for a few weeks but two turned up making a welcome return and true to form they had a bit of a squabble about which one was going to have the prime position on the feeder.

House Sparrows

Historically Blue & Great Tit have been the main visitors with Greenfinch being infrequent but things appear to have changed around with Greenfinch and Chaffinch being the most frequent visitors currently.



The colourful Goldfinch was also a frequent visitor with up to six there at one stage and even though they look attractive they do have a bit of an aggressive streak and like to squabble amongst themselves.


The most unexpected visitor was a Great Spotted Woodpecker and I got a few nice shots.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Apart from the birds there were quite a few butterflies on the wing, including the Brimstone butterfly. It wasn't in good condition and it looked like it had had an hard time.

Brimstone Butterfly

Thanks for reading

28 April 2013 At My Hide
29th April 2013 - 0 comments
As the weather forecast for Sunday was rain, I wasn’t really expecting to get out with the camera but when I got up it was quite bright.

After breakfast I went to my hide in the hope that I’d get a few more birds visiting the feeders than I did last week.


There were definitely more birds around even if they were the usual suspects but because the feeders and perches are close to the hide, you can get frame filling photographs easily.


Robin, Blue & Great Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Dunnock were frequent visitors a Wren was also around but kept out of sight. I also had the first Collared Dove to visit.


The Tree & House Sparrows appear to have disappeared as I’ve not seen any for a few weeks


There were plenty of Swallows flying around and I could hear a Skylark but I couldn’t see it.

I’m pretty sure I also caught sight of a Goldcrest, whatever it was it was very small and not a Wren but it stayed in the trees and didn’t give a clear view.

There were also a couple small birds flying around that didn’t stay still long enough to get a clear view of them but at a rough guess based on the colour and size I’d say Willow Warbler.

Thanks for reading.

27 April 13 BNGs at "The Eyes"
29th April 2013 - 0 comments
Every working week seems like a month and every weekend seems to disappear in a flash!

With the weather forecast for Saturday being sun, the draw of the Black-necked Grebes at “Woolston Eyes” coupled with the fact that I’d left a flash card there last weekend was too great to miss.

The Black-necked Grebe season seems to be in full swing now with up to twenty birds recorded, possibly more.

After parking up I could hear a Chiffchaff calling and eventually I found it but would it face the camera, no, or when it did there was a twig in the way. It’s very frustrating this nature photography!

Chiffchaff Behind

I went to the John Morgan hide first because my flash card should have been there but it wasn’t and neither could I see any Black-necked Grebes, a bit of disappointment with that then.

There was a bit of activity around the feeders so I managed to get a photo of a male Bullfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Magpie.


Great Spotted Woodpecker

As there weren’t any Black-necked Grebes to be seen and none of the waders that have been on No3 Bed apparent, I decided to go the Rotary Hide.

When I got there, there were another couple of photographers in there but they weren’t birders and a bit unsure of what they were photographing. It’s nice to be able help someone and I remember when I was in the same boat a few years back.

Anyway there was a group of six or seven Black-necked Grebes on this pool. I already had the 1.4x convertor fitted to the 500mm on the Canon 7D, so it was just a case of setting the tripod up and waiting.

It wasn’t too long before some moved in front of the hide and I had a fighting chance of getting a few reasonable shots.

The light was quite variable but there was some lovely light at one stage giving a lovely yellow/green cast on the water.

Black-necked Grebe

Black-necked Grebe

The hide may be 50ft or more from the water so even with the equivalent of an 1100mm lens, the photos still need a very large crop applied to see the birds at a reasonable size in the frame. So with the convertor fitted and lots of cropping applied the quality of the photos isn’t great; but I’ve seen worse.

At one point two Black-necked Grebes started displaying only to be halted in their tracks by a third one muscling in on the act; two’s company and threes' a crowd! It spoiled a decent photo opportunity as well, shoot.

Black-necked Grebe starting to display

Three's a crowd

While I was there Brian Martin camera into the hide and handed me my flash card so the day wasn’t as disappointing after all: I took some half decent photos and my flash card was back in my bag. Thanks Chris, Dave and Brian.

Black-necked Grebe

I like to play with Photoshop, so the above has had some Photoshop treatment, personally I like the treatment and I think it is an improvement on the original but it’s probably not to every ones taste.

Thanks for reading,

Jervaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire
25th April 2013 - 0 comments
Jervaulx, a Cistercian abbey was founded in 1156, the daughter house of the abbey at Byland.

The Cistercian Order was based on austerity and set out to establish themselves in wild and inhospitable areas where they could dedicate their lives to prayer, study, meditation and manual labour. The north of England offered just such an environment.

Viking settlement during the Anglo-Saxon period had led to the destruction of many of the older monasteries and the Cistercians filled this spiritual vacuum with monastic houses like those at Rievaulx, Fountains, Byland and Jervaulx.

At the height of its prosperity Jervaulx Abbey owned half of the Ure valley and was renowned for breeding horses, a tradition that remains in the area to the present day. It was also the original home of Wensleydale cheese.

Although severely ravaged and pillaged during the dissolution of monasteries, Jervaulx's ruins remain amongst the beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Dales.

It was purchased by its present owners in 1971 and is reputedly the second largest privately owned Cistercian abbey in the United Kingdom.
It remains a place of beauty, peace and history and is famed for having over 180 species of wild flowers among its walls.

A detailed guide to the site is available from the Visitor Centre. An honesty box system of entry helps to conserve the site for future generations.

While we were visiting Jervaulx, I met a young photographer who was with his grandparents. He'd made a good choice of camera and was using a Canon camera. I believe his name was Connor so if he does read this and has any other questions feel free to contact me.

A Visit to Fountains Abbey
25th April 2013 - 0 comments
Fountains Abbey

The Abbey taken from where the abbots house once stood

If you have an interest in photographing old buildings or churches you could do worse than a visit to Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. There are also gardens and a lake, a deer park and Dippers on the River Skell.

In my opinion it is well worth visiting and will keep you occupied for a few hours, may challenge your photographic skills and perhaps allow you to try something different.

The Abbey – A Brief History

Shows the western facade, great west door, great west window and the west range

The Abbey was founded in 1132 and operated for over 400 years, until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries.
Construction began in 1132 when a two-storey wooden church was built. A church built with locally quarried sandstone later replaced it. In 1146 the original cruciform, un-aisled stone church was badly damaged by fire and rebuilt in an enlarged form on the same site.
This structure, completed around 1170, was 300-foot (91 m) long and had 11 bays in the side aisles.

The south aisle looking east

A lantern tower was added at the crossing of the church in the late 12th century. The presbytery at the eastern end of the church was much altered in the 13th century. The church's greatly lengthened choir, commenced by Abbot John of York, 1203–11, and carried on by his successor terminates, like that of Durham Cathedral, in an eastern transept.

The 160-foot (49 m) tall tower, which was added not long before the dissolution, by Abbot Huby, 1494–1526, is in an unusual position at the northern end of the north transept and bears Hubys’ motto 'Soli Deo Honor et Gloria'.

Shows the north tower

The cloister, which had arcading of black marble from Nidderdale and white sandstone, is in the centre of the precinct and to the south of the church. The three-aisled chapter-house and parlour open from the eastern walk of the cloister and the refectory, with the kitchen and buttery attached, are at right angles to its southern walk. Parallel with the western walk is an immense vaulted substructure serving as cellars and store-rooms, which supported the dormitory of the lay brothers above.

The magnificent west range used by the lay brothers

These buildings extended across the river and at its southwest corner were the latrines, built above the swiftly flowing River Skell. The monks' dormitory was in its usual position above the chapter-house, to the south of the transept. Peculiarities of this arrangement include the position of the kitchen, between the refectory and calefactory, and of the infirmary above the river to the west, adjoining the guest-houses.

Dipper on the River Skell

After the dissolution of the monasteries the Abbey buildings and over 500 acres (200 ha) of land were sold by the Crown, on 1 October 1540, to Sir Richard Gresham, a London merchant, After a few more owners it was sold to William Aislaby who was responsible for combining it with the Studley Royal Estate.

In 1966 the Abbey was placed in the guardianship of the Department of the Environment and the estate was purchased by the West Riding County Council who transferred ownership to the North Yorkshire County Council in 1974. The National Trust bought the 674-acre (273 ha) Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal estate from North Yorkshire County Council in 1983.

In 1986 the parkland in which the abbey is situated and the abbey was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It was recognised for fulfilling the criteria of:

View taken from the south around the area of the cloister passage

“being a masterpiece of human creative genius, and an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history”.


Three miles south west of Ripon in North Yorkshire, England
21 April 13 Woolston Eyes
22nd April 2013 - 0 comments
As the weather forecast for Sunday was rain I wasn’t really expecting to get out with the camera but lo and behold we had light!

By the time I’d organised myself time had moved on a bit but the weather still looked promising so I decided to visit “The Eyes”.

I always have mixed feelings about visiting “The Eyes”, it’s generally quiet meaning there aren’t hoards of people around so it’s easy to take photos without upsetting anyone. The cons being the hides aren’t that close to the water so unless you’ve got a very long lens you are going to struggle to take “quality” photos of the birds on the water. However I have heard rumours that a hide may be constructed closer to the water for photographers.

As I walked across the footbridge on to No.3 bed there were a couple of Great crested grebes looking resplendent on the water not too far away; always worth a shot or two but the results are never really flattering.

Great crested grebe

There were also quite a few Swallows and Sand Martins flying around and even some sitting on the hand rail of the bridge. Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot at them..

As I’d heard that the Black-necked Grebes were favouring the North West Pool I decided to visit there first. I counted six all up at the same time so there were at least six on No.3 bed.

I’d only been there a short time and a Redshank flew in followed by a second one shortly afterwards.


There were also five or six Little Grebes on this pool, a small group of Pochard, the obligatory Black-headed Gulls, Coots, Moorhens, Shelduck and Mallards.

Little Grebe

The Black-necked Grebe were quite a way out on the water but eventually a couple of them ventured closer to the edge so I fitted the 1.4x tele-convertor in the hope that I’d have a decent chance of the birds being larger in the frame. I’m reluctant to do this now as the drop in quality is significant and it makes the autofocus much slower.

Black-necked Grebe

Not a good photograph but better than none at all.
Soon after I could hear a Water Rail calling (likened to a squealing pig) and then I noticed the reeds twitching and out one popped, they are definitely skulking birds and rarely come out of the reeds into the open. Then when they do come out they don’t hang around and generally run at top speed to wherever they are going.

Water Rail

This one was as wary as the others I’ve seen and only gave a partial view initially and then it did come out but run quickly to another clump of reeds. It is difficult to get an absolutely clear shot on these birds there’s always something else in the frame. Eventually it did give an almost clear view without much else in the frame before it disappeared at high speed into the reeds on the other side of the cleared area.

Water Rail

I then walked back to the John Morgan Hide and there were quite a few birds on the water and the same Redshanks on the edge of the water. There were also a couple of Buzzards flying over the pool but they didn’t come that close to upset the other birds.

There were quite a few Coots doing what Coots do best, squabbling and generally chasing each other. I did have a go at taking a few shots but they weren’t that successful.

Coots on the run

Overall I had a really enjoyable time, some frustration but best of all a few reasonable pics but unfortunately not of the Black-necked Grebes.

Thanks for reading my writings.


20 Apil 13 At the Hide
22nd April 2013 - 0 comments
I visited the hide on Saturday filled the feeders with feed and sat and waited. Being truthful I was expecting nothing as it had been three weekends since I last visited and I received it in abundance.

It was about an hour before I seen a bird which was a Wren flitting about in the undergrowth but by the time I’d got the camera trained in the right area, it was on its way.

Great Tit

I had a few visits from Blue and Great Tits and male and female Chaffinch and a single Goldfinch. The only other bird that visited the area was a Long-tailed Tit that stayed in the conifers for a few minutes and then moved on.

Long-tailed Tit

No Robins, Sparrows, Blackbirds or even Pheasants so a really poor show.

There were plenty of Woodpigeons and Corvids flying over and I could hear Buzzards calling but couldn’t see any.

As it is light in the evenings now it should be easier to keep the feeders topped up and hopefully that will encourage the birds back.

Thanks for reading

04 Apr 2013 In the Garden
04th April 2013 - 0 comments
As I didn’t manage to leave the house other than to go to the shops over the Easter holiday I had to make do with taking photographs in the garden or indoors.

Luckily I do have some bird feeders in the garden and although I’m not keen on taking photos of birds on the feeders sometimes you don’t have a choice.

House Sparrow

Having looked at the list of the top twenty five garden birds found in the recent RSPB garden survey I think I can safely say the birds we see in our garden are consistent with the list certainly up to 15th although I’ve never seen a feral pigeon actually in the garden..

Goldfinch feeding on leaf buds

Rank Species

1 House sparrow
2 Blackbird
3 Blue tit
4 Starling
5 Woodpigeon
6 Chaffinch
7 Great tit
8 Goldfinch
9 Robin
10 Collared dove
11 Dunnock
12 Magpie
13 Coal tit
14 Feral pigeon
15 Greenfinch
16 Jackdaw
17 Carrion crow
18 Common gull
19 Long-tailed tit
20 Wren
21 Fieldfare
22 Song thrush
23 Rook
24 Pheasant
25 Great spotted woodpecker

From 16 to 25 we have seen Carrion Crow, Long-tailed tit, Wren,and Song Thrush.

Long-tailed Tit

During the last twelve months we’ve also seen Goldcrest and Redpoll and since Christmas we’ve also seen Brambling, Siskin & Reed Bunting; we regularly have five or six Reed Buntings in the garden.

Female Reed Bunting


Thanks for reading.