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Friday, 22 September 2017

UP TO 33,500 BADGERS TO BE SHOT IN THE AUTUMN CULL

The government has announced that more licences have been issued for the shooting of up to 33,500 of the nationally protected badger. Contrary to the imformation of the past 5 years culling which is being cherry-picked to make it look as though the cull is working it is a shambles. Badgers have as many as 10 setts so if you kill at one sett they just move off to another and you end up chasing them around the countryside until your licence runs out. The cost of culling 1 badger runs into several thousand pounds, the cost per head for vaccination is just £84. Vaccination is being undertaken by private donations through Wildlife Trusts and similar organisations and it works when shooting at night could injure or kill innocent animals or even people.
This imformation was obtained from THE GUARDIAN Published 11 September 2017.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Another badger cull this Autumn

Another badger cull is planned for this Autumn. Licences have been issued for the culling of up to 1,000 badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire. I fail to see the use of this cull when it will leave approx. 800,000 badgers to carry on spreading BTB. sorry that could be the other way round. One may hear of lots of reports of cattle being found with BTB but I am yet to come across a report of a badger with it. This disease is also carried by deer and there are far more deer roaming our countryside than badgers. Bovine TB is carried by many animals including household cats. I can remember back in the 1960's TB was rife in humans and by the late 70's it had almost disappeared through vaccination on a grand scale and it has only returned because of immigration, but it it still under control. So if the government still insists on culling perhaps it should be extended to include the many animals that we keep as pets.
This terrible disease is spread through excretions from the body, have you ever looked at a farmyard that is used by cattle then looked at the area surrounding a badger sett, badgers have latrines, cattle do it anywhere all over their dinner table, need I say more. Flies are seen all over cattle (at both ends), the only time you will see a fly on a badger is when the badger is dead.
It is cheaper to vaccinate than to cull. I am glad to say that some counties will not comply with the cull and many land owners will not allow it on their land. Wales vaccinate as do Ireland.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Murder most foul

 I make it a habit to check any badger carcas that I come across on my travels. This one appeared just 10 minutes after I had driven along this peice of road. It was so fresh that even the flies had yet to find it. Method of killing was most certainly shot gun. It was an obvious illegal killing and so close to home I didn't report it in case of any backlash. This happened more than 2 months ago. Badgers use their own pathways and this was nowhere any known pathway in fact local badgers are nowhere near this spot.
Badgers are a protected animal and one has to have a special licence, only issued in certain area's during the official cull.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Big Eighty

With the life I've had I didn't think I would get this far, but today I hit the eighty mark and I feel great. So good that I celebrated with a 2 mile walk, with my camera of course. What a dissapointment, this was the only decent picture that I got (spotted flycatcher), although I did spend about 20 minutes watching the earth move, waiting for a mole to appear, but no such luck he was quite happy under the soil. I had the idea that I could have a personal celebration with some good pictures but not this time. So I spent some time in my garden this evening with the fox and hedgehog, the fox only made a fleeting visit to pick up his biscuits while the hedgehog stayed longer, it takes some time to eat all those mealworms.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

On a high.

Having had various troubles with computer workings, plus (still going on), camera problems  I was getting a bit fed-up. Four years ago I lost the hearing in my left ear because of an infection which was diagnosed too late and was now suffering a similar fate in my right ear, this time it was diagnosed early before too much damage was done but I still needed a hearing aid. Well after waiting eight months for it, today I got it and to celebrate I took my camera out for a walk.
I found this buzzard a couple of days ago just a short distance from my home. He seems to like having his photo taken. These pictures were taken on a camera that Sony's said they were unable to repair as parts were no longer available. I took it to a little shop I know who repaired it for me in 5 minutes with no charge.
They told me that they don't charge for tightening a screw.
This little fellow made my day. With my hearing aid duly fitted I heard it on the fence behind me. I had not seen a whitethroat for about 4 years. A few days off my 80th birthday and it all seems worthwhile.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Peregrines growing up

I havn't paid many visits to the peregrine family for a few weeks because of computer and camera troubles which I may cover on a different post. As you can see their plumage is changing colour and they are beginning to look more mature.
There were four chicks, since fledging two seem to have moved off some distance and are not seen that often while the other two have moved from the nest site and prefer to roost in some tall trees. All are being harder to find. 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Playing peregrines

 I love this time of the year when the young peregrines are learning to fly and enjoy the art in the form of play.
 Turning summersaults is quickly learned and is done frequently.
 Playing tag is another popular pastime.
 Spitfire pilots during WW2 learned this from peregrines. Attack from below and catch the 'enemy' by surprise.
Well, it nearly always works.
Now they are playing foursomes. I didn't get many chances of capturing all four youngsters in one shot.
Quite a common sight is of a peregrine upside down.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Barn owls

Having computer problems over the past week has delayed me somewhat with my blog post but it did not stop my ventures with my camera, as I am up and running now here are some of the pictures I took.
The barn owl is first on the list, it will give me time to sort out the peregrine shots.
The barn owl shows up quite often now and is getting used to my presence. The young peregrines don't like it hunting on their patch and will often drive it off. I am yet to get a picture of this event, I've always got the wrong lens on or I am looking the wrong way.
The barn owl is slow on the wing and is a bird easy to photograph with many different postures when hunting.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Active peregrines

With a bit of luck going my way I was able to get closer to the peregrine nest site than I ever had before and still didn't get out of the car. This youngster was wasn't sure of his next move.......
.....eventually he decided to clamber up the chalk face albeit with some diffculty.
Mum was calling them, probably for their tea.....
.... this one also heard her but he was having fun playing hide-and-seek.
 Dad wasn't the least bit interested.....
.....and decided to fly off and do his own thing.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Family of four

My day was made when I saw these two young peregrines. I knew for weeks that there was a nest up there somewhere and it was confirmed the other day with the sighting of one youngster. Then I spotted these two.

 Then to my amazement I saw two more sitting on top of the cliff. I waited a long time hoping they would move closer to one another but no such luck this is the best shot I could get.
These two seemed to get on well together.
Meanwhile dad sat in a nearby tree watching his new family. All this without getting out of the driving seat of my car.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Barn owls again


 Nothing much happened this evening with the peregrines so my attention turned to the barn owl. This shot it flew straight at me, something that I've had happen several times before. As they hunt by sound I think they investigate the sound of the camera.

 Once it was satisfied it couldn't eat me it carried on hunting.
Owls soon become accustomed to human presence and will fly quite close. I had one land on my camera lens once, unfortuneately there was no-one around to get the picture.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

At last.

 I have been watching these peregrines for many weeks now and this evening I was rewarded by the first sighting of a new family. I had believed there was a nest up there somewhere but watching carefully the movements and behaviour of the birds I just couldn't be certain of its existence.
This evening my thoughts were confirmed with the first sighting of a youngster by this pair and did a bit of practice on its wing movements and making a lot of noise screaming.
 Then I spotted what all the fuss was about, hidden in a tree some distance away was mum having her evening meal.
The youngster didn't have to wait for long and mum brought it a share. Mum then flew off with food in her talons I am sure to feed another.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Gruesome, but life

Paid my usual visit to the peregrines last evening to find mum was feasting on a kill. 
After eating her fill she flew off to feed the youngsters. Still cannot locate the nest. my view being obscured by the trees. The young ones can be heard welcoming mum.
Meanwhile behind my back the barn owl is doing the same more quietly and sedately.

Friday, 9 June 2017

More barn owl pics.

With the peregrines still keeping the whereabouts of their nest a secret the barn owls have come to the fore.
The pair are both hunting often seen at the same time. When they make a kill they disappear into the trees at the same spot so I have now changed my mind on the location of their nest.
The location is so clear that I am able to photograph them in very low light.
I have now sorted my new Sony Alpha 77/2 with a bit of help from the instruction book from the 77. The book that comes with the 2 being absolutely useless.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

New camera test


 .
I collected a new camera body the other day but because of the wet weather I was unable to try it until now. I took a trip out to check on the peregrines. I parked the car and set the camera up on the roof when Jacque who had come with me for a drop of fresh air gave me a nudge and behind me was a barn owl quartering the field..
Not an unusual occurance but what an opportunity to try the camera.
 The owl gave us about 10 minutes of pure delight in which I forgot about the peregrines and rattled off over 100 shots of this beauty.
 It came quite close at times so I was able to test the camera over its full range of goodies.
I think I spent my money wisely.

Mike Attwood - Photographer

About Me

My photo
Evacuated during the second world war to a village in Yorkshire where I lived in the home of a good photographer for more than five years who taught me the basics and a great deal about nature. Well past retirement age I have been a wildlife photographer for more than 30 years. Red Kites have been my speciality for much of this period. I did spend several years snapping wheelchair athletes and organizing the British Road Race Championship. In the year 2000 I was awarded a distinction by the Royal Photographic Society for my portfolio on wheelchair athletes. Most of my pics are digital, using Sony cameras and Sigma lenses. I used to spend many weeks each year with friends in Wales which is close to the Elan Valleys where I got many of my raptor pics. I now get these pictures more closely to home, specially red kites and peregrines. I support my pension by selling my pics, cards, coasters, fridge magnets and key rings etc. at craft fairs, something I wish I had done much earlier in life. I give illustrated talks to clubs and societies on wildlife and other branches of photography that I have been involved in.