Website overhaul for Wildscenes

Ive been running the Wildscenes website since the early 90s and it has gone through various iterations to become what it has today. I am no coder by any means and so updating and changing the web site style has always been a challenge. Over the recent weeks, Wildscenes became corrupt and was not displaying correctly so I have taken the opportunity to rewrite the site and apply a new design. I am currently in the throws of completing this transition and it has meant I’ve had to pretty much do a ground up rebuild. So, you may find a few broken links and sparsely populated galleries but I am working hard to fix it in between my commercial photography shoots. I’m still taking a few wildlife images and here’s one I’m pleased with taken just a few days ago on the Humber estuary.

drake teal in flight
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More tales from the reedbed: Bitterns

After several visits amd many hours in the hide, I finally had a chance to photograph bitterns on the Humber estuary. The views were only fleeting apart from a single fly past so it paid to be on full alert the whole time in the hide. Once a very rare bird in the UK, bittern numbers are growing and sightings are more frequent, especially in the winter months.

bittern in reedbed
A bittern emerges from the reedbeds
bittern in flight
A bittern flies past the hide
bitter in flight, Yorkshire
Bittern fly by
gadwall in flight
A gadwall in flight
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Reedbed jewels: Bearded tits

Despite the attrocious impending weather conditions due later in the day, I decided to pay a vist to Old Moor RSPB reserve and have a walk around. The visit paid dividends as I ended up with a small party of bearded tits feeding in the phragmites not too far from the path. The midday sun was very bright and I was shooting directly into it but I thought it made for some atmospheric images of these wonderful jewel-like birds.

male bearded tit Old Moor RSPB
A male bearded tit amongst phragmites heads
female vearded tit Old Moor RSPB
A female bearded tit feeding on phragmites seeds
a female bearded tit on reed
Bearded tit (female) on a phragmites reed head
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Eyed Hawk Moth hatching

A couple of months ago, I picked up an eye hawk moth from an apple tree and brought it home to photograph. As it was late when I found it, I kept it overnight to photograph first thing the next morning and, when I came to get it out of the container, I found it had laid eggs. Quickly photographing it, I took the gravid femaile back to where I found it and released her where she immediately began egg laying on the apple tree. The eggs in the collection box were stucl to the sides and impossible to dislodge without damaging them so I simply covered the box with PVC wrap and left it. The eggs soon hatched into tiny caterpillars and I began to feed them with willow and apple leaves which is their preferred food plant. In only a few weeks they had become massive caterpillars which, like the fool I am, I never photographed! Once the caterpillars had reached full maturity, they began to seem agitated and I realised they were looking to burrow into the ground to pupate so I quickly prepared some fine soil and placed it in the tank. Within minutes they had burrowed underground and that was the last we saw of them until a week or so later when the large pupa had surfaced and were now on top of the soil. According to the internet, they should have overwintered and hatched next spring. Imagine my suprise then, when by chance I noticed that all four of the pupa had hatched into superb adult eyed hawk moths! It was mid- afternoon and they seemed drowsy so I took one into the garden to photograph it and it performed superbly, almost even displaying the ‘eyes’. They were pretty active by the evening so I decided to release them back on the apple tree where the original female had been found. So, four beautiful adult eyed hawk moths went back into the wild last night!

eyed hawk moth (Smerinthus ocellata)
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Vapourer moth caterpillar

Sometimes, you just marvel at nature’s creation and the caterpillar of the vapourer moth never fails to impress me! A mass of hair and ‘shaving brushes’ and difficulty in determining which is the head and which is the tail, this is a very impressive beast. I have photographed these caterpillars a few times now, but I have never photographed the adult insect. Only the male vapourer moth flies, the females are a small, fat, wingless creature that the males seek out using pheromones.

vapourer moth caterpillar
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