All posts by mike

Brown hare side look at sunset. July Suffolk. Lepus europaeus

Harvest hares dawn and dusk

Gannet keeping in touch. Troup Head Morus bassanus

Gannet Troup Head wind games

Osprey wings and trout and reflection. June Rothiemurchus. Pandion haliaetus

Ospreys fishing midsummer evening

Brown hare on cut hay in dawn sun. June Suffolk. Lepus europaeus

Suffolk hares June solstice

Brown hare Leveret walking. Midsummer evening Suffolk. Lepus europaeus

Mid Summer Leverets Suffolk evening

Leverets at Halls farm taken Mid summer evening

Brown hare pair flying punch at sunset. May Suffolk. Lepus europaeus

Spring hare action at Halls Farm Norton

Brown hare side doge at dawn. April Suffolk. Lepus europaeus

Brown hares in a Suffolk spring

Barn owl looking sun at dawn. February Suffolk. Tyto alba

Barn owls living in a Suffolk winter

Barn owls often have hunt during day time in the winter to make sure they get enough food. These barn owls were photographed at Halls farm Norton in the small rough meadows behind the farm buildings. I have seen three owls hunting on these meadows at many times just after dawn and late afternoon on dry winter days.

Brown hare running past on melting snow. January Suffolk. Lepus europaeus

Brown hares in the winter Suffolk landscape

 

Brown hares are more active early morning, evening and over night. Winter’s short day length makes watching and photographing them more challenging. There has been recent concern about disease killing significant numbers of hares and I found several dead hares during the autumn of 2018.

However, I have been counting hares for the Mammal society during very early morning walks with my dog since November. On the farm near my house I regularly see 30 to 40 hares, this has increased to over 50 during the recent clear cold weather in January. Perhaps on farms managed sympathetically the effect of disease may not be significant.

During the cold spell late January 2019 I have been photographing hares from a mobile hide a short walk from my house. Some of the results are in the gallery below.

 

oter head, tail and ripples. November Skye. Lutra lutra

House on the point, otter hotspot

otter flat on flat water. November Skye, Lutra lutra

otter flat on flat water. November Skye, Lutra lutra

 

I walked along the beach back to the House on the point at lunchtime. The sweeping bay to the south was mirror smooth on a windless November day, the low sun highlighted any disturbance on the surface, a ripple nearly 1km away. Binoculars turned the ripple into an otter diving and bringing small fish to eat on the surface. Lunch forgotten I sat on the table in front of the house and looked more carefully.

 

House on the point

House on the point

Among the ducks and gulls near where the stream runs into the bay two more otters probably a mother and near full grown cub. Further round the bay on the stony gorse fringed beach another mother with two smaller cubs was teaching them to hunt by dropping a small flatfish into the shallow water. I scanned further east over the Sound of Sleat where the turning tide was beginning to churn the surface water, another lone otter was fishing in the deeper water of the channel.

 

looking south from House on the point

looking south from House on the point

Including the two otters I had been watching earlier that morning to the north near the Kylerhea ferry slip I had seen nine otters within a short walk of the House on the Point where I was staying. The fierce tidal flow forced through Kyle Rhea brings in fresh food making the sheltered waters a magnet for otters, white tailed eagles, seals, fishing ducks, gulls and porpoise.

 

Kyle Rhea north from The house on the point

Kyle Rhea north from The house on the point

In the winter months the Kylerhea ferry is closed and the rugged rocky points small sandy bays are left to the wildlife. This people free part of the year is when I come to Kylerhea, probably the most reliable place I know for feeding my obsession for watching otters.