Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Stoat and The Hare

Once again I attempted to go out and photograph Mountain Hares. I think the mild weather has resulted in them staying on the highest peaks. However on my drive out to the moors I'm managed to photograph something even better a lovely Stoat Mustela erminea. Like the Mountain Hare, Stoats can turn white in winter surposebly triggered by day length, this one had a little white on the muzzle. Mustelids are among my favourite group of mammals, with the smaller weasel the only other representative in my area, the other species having being wiped out by persecution years ago. After this I walked up to a rocky area of moorland edge, there were plenty of Red Grouse around and eventually I saw a Mountain Hare Lepidis timidus, unfortunately I flushed it and only got a blurred shot of it running off, however it too wasn't white but had the bluish colour of summer which is probably a better strategy in the generally snow free Peak District winters.

Mountain Hare © Carl Corbidge
Above and Below Stoat © Carl Corbidge

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Winter Round Up so far Birds and Hares

Beggars can't be choosers and for a herpetologist in Northern England in winter that means looking at different wildlife. I've been trying to photograph Mountain Hares (without success) in fact i've only seen 2 road casualties, but i did take some distant shots of the bigger Brown Hare Lepus europaeus this week. I have also been doing a bit of birding. Having seen Black Wheatear in Spain, Black Eared Wheatear in Corfu and Northern Wheatear in the UK I decided I would make it 4 for the year and went to see the Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti at Bempton,  East Yorks and what a cracking little bird it was. Just as nice were 2 pairs of Stonechat Saxicola torquata up on my local moors whilst looking for Hares. My local park has also been good for Goosanders which i'm sure will be decimating the fish population but they have made good photographic subjects more frustrating was a Great Northern Diver Gavia immer. On boxing day I went to see a Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus roost with fellow herpetologist Matt Wilson and we were treated to about 20 of these majestic raptors along with a superb male Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus, plus a female and a Barn Owl Tyto alba.

Brown Hare © Carl Corbidge
Desert Wheatear © Carl Corbidge
Kestrel © Carl Corbidge
Tree Sparrow © Carl Corbidge
Buzzard © Carl Corbidge
Red Grouse © Carl Corbidge
Great Northern Diver © Carl Corbidge
Drake Goosander © Carl Corbidge
Female Goosander © Carl Corbidge
Marsh Harrier © Carl Corbidge
Marsh Harrier © Carl Corbidge
First Snow of the Winter in Mountain Hare Habitat
Stonechat © Carl Corbidge

Just seen a couple of these little beauties in a park a mile from where I live, Waxwings Bombycilla garrulus