Planning is quite important for what I do, checking reports of bird sightings in nearby areas, contacting friends to find what they have seen and sharing my sightings too. Check all the gear the night before and you find you have far less of those "Oh **** I haven't got my ......" insert words as you wish!
My raptor watchpoint is a very treasured part of my wildlife watching world, some days we see little activity or the birds are only visible and identifiable through telescopes but the company is great and we do have some successful days, my personal record is nine different raptors in a day.
One of the team puts some bird food on a nearby wall for the smaller birds, chaffinches are regular visitors.
Rodley Nature Reserve is a personal favourite, in a very urban location and run by volunteers, funded by grants and donations, it has reedbeds and ponds, gardens and fields, and is a splendid place to spend a few hours.
Within minutes of settling in a hide a kingfisher appeared!
Calling in at Wharfedale for one of my regular riverbank patrols something similar happened, first bird kingfisher :-)
Dippers are none too hard to find on this river
A walk on local canal towpath, another kingfisher this time a female, they seem to like me at the moment...
And a payoff as later we visited the new site mentioned earlier, late in the day and iso at maximum two barn owls appeared. All I could manage was one shot of a stationary owl, flight shots are impossible at 1/10th of a second shutter speed!
All my hen harrier sightings are reported to the hen harrier hotline the RSPB run, please let them know if you see any. The most persecuted bird in the United Kingdom and numbers are critical, very few adult males are being reported and obviously without them breeding pairs will be scarce.
All reports are confidential but are vital to monitor where the birds are appearing and as breeding season approaches, which areas need to be monitored.
These last photographs were the results from probably close to 50 hours observation and patience, and you know what...well spent time. If you equate that in money to time spent in commercial hides for sparrowhawks which are not really that hard to see...in excess of £1,000 ....all it takes is patience, knowledge gained as you learn, and the last bit is the most important bit of kit...fieldcraft.
I have been walking, exploring and latterly photographing wildlife for a long time now, I appreciate it but uppermost I respect it.
Many thanks to all who read the blog, don't forget if you do comment they come to me first for moderation.
Hope you all enjoy the update, looking forward to Spring!