I needed some quick fixes this month - somewhere a YouTube vlogger would go to make sure they got some photos and content. I spent a morning with the red squirrels at Shap Wells Hotel and an afternoon photographing red kites at Bellymack Farm. The light was dull on both trips but it is February so I can't complain. The rest of the photos are from Leighton Moss. The otters are still around and some of the birds are starting to display courtship behaviour.
The otters have been much quieter at Leighton Moss but I have seen at least one every visit. The site has been flooded for most of the month and wading through water, or breaking through ice, has been necessary to get to some of the hides. I've also spent some time locally and the flooded river had pushed a dipper on to a small stream.
I found out earlier in the month that I'm in the final round for the British Wildlife Photography Award and my red squirrel picture will appear in the portfolio book. Winners are notified at the end of February and announced in March. I also won one of the categories in the Bird Watching and Wildlife Club 2023 competition with a photo of a carder bee.
Top 12 Images - 2023
Not a great month despite the snowy conditions early on. We had so much snow it was difficult to travel anywhere so the photos in the grid below were all taken on walks from the house. In the middle of the month I picked up COVID and spent 10 days indoors feeling miserable. I'm still not fully recovered, and the weather during the holidays has been awful, so there are just a few extra photos from short local trips. Hopefully 2024 will begin better than 2023 is ending.
The month got off to a great start with close up views of two otters at Leighton Moss. There are few photos below and a larger gallery lower down. Bitterns, marsh harriers and swans have been other highlights. Everyone on YouTube seems to be out chasing waxwings and short eared owls but I'm happy staying local and seeing what turns up.
Leighton Moss - 08:15 - 4th November 2023
Calendars and Christmas Cards
One of my otter photos will appear for February in the Cumbria Wildlife Trust 2024 calendar. The charity also asked if they could use one of my pictures of a blue tit in the snow for a new range of Christmas cards. Both are available using this link.
Autumn seems to be arriving very late this year but it has been a much better month for wildlife photography. The queue to see the bearded tits at Leighton Moss has been 4 or 5 deep at times but I've managed to see otters on every visit this month. Cattle egrets and a bittern were other highlights and I was nearly charged by a red deer stag on the path to Lower hide. I also had a day trip to Dumfries and Galloway. There wasn't much at Caerlaverock but Mersehead had plenty of barnacle geese and a lovely walk along the deserted beach.
A family of otters at Leighton Moss rescued the month. Work and the wet weather meant I haven't been able to get out as much as I would like but one morning with 5 otters made up for it. They spent over an hour outside one of the hides learning to fish and fighting. A very late osprey also turned up but didn't hang around as long.