Monday 27 May 2024

European Bison & European Elk (Moose) in Poland, May 2024.

European Bison at sunrise

Our trip to Poland with friends from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Photographic Group was a great success and I'm pleased with many photos.

I thought I'd share a few at a time as and when I get around to processing the many images.

A 4am.start was essential to find the European Bison or Wisent when it was out of the forest and grazing in the meadows at sunrise. The Bialowieza Forest straddles the Polish border with Belarus and this is where the bison are found. They are the largest animal that ever lived on the European continent but were hunted out by the end of first World War. They were re-introduced to the forest in 1929 and  now number over 1400 individuals.

We were lucky to find 3 bison grazing in the early morning light in a forest meadow near a village and had the opportunity to photograph them with long lenses from a safe distance.

Many thanks to Tomasz Jezierczuk from Wild Poland for his organisation and wildlife skills, much appreciated.

Our time spent in the Biebrza marshes also brought us into contact with another of Europe's large mammals the European Elk or Eurasian Moose, the largest of the deer family and second only in size to the bison.

Called Elk in Europe, it is in fact the same species as the North American Moose which I've had the pleasure of photographing many times in the US.

The wet marshes with Birch and Willow are the ideal elk habitat and we got lucky and watched them on 2 early morning drives out from our hotel.

The first time we saw a bull with small antlers in velvet and the second 2 youngsters, possibly siblings.

All photographs were taken either through the open door or window of the van or from the road with us hiding behind the van. Long lenses were used on both occasions.

Here are a few images....

Hopefully I'll get some more images posted again soon, with lots of birds to come!


Monday 20 May 2024

Isles of Scilly in Spring.... an 8 day tour of the islands in April 2024

Purple Heron

I'm a bit late getting this blog written as it's been a busy time with lots of photographs to edit.

This was my second time leading on the Scillies for Naturetrek and it was a fantastic week with super weather and friendly guests. We managed to visit all the inhabited off-islands, tied in with wildlife watching trips to the Western rocks, Bishops Rock lighthouse, Annet & Mincarlo.

The auks were actively breeding with views of courting, mating and nesting Puffins, Razorbills & Guillemots.

We walked along beaches, lanes, fields and rocky tors but all at a reasonable pace seeking out wildlife, views and cafe's on the way!

Our base was at the Schooners Hotel in Hugh Town on St.Mary's and we all agreed that it was an excellent stay with super food, comfortable rooms & friendly staff.

We concentrated on the general birds of the islands and also noted butterflies, caterpillars & flora during our walks.

I'm going to post a lot of photos instead of writing as I'm better at photography!

All visits to the islands are advertised on the Naturetrek website and here is a link....

Despite the time of year there wasn't a massive number of rarities turning up but a few Purple Herons, a Woodchat Shrike and a Black Kite were notable.

At least 2 Golden Orioles were present but they gave us the run around so no photos!

I make no excuse for posting several photos of the Purple Heron as I did try hard to get all of our group in a good viewing position for it!

Purple Heron

Purple Heron

Purple Heron

Purple Heron 

Woodchat Shrike at Porth Hellick

Woodchat Shrike at Porth Hellick 

Black Kite over Carreg Dhu


Naturetrek clients afloat!

Hurtigruten cruise liner in the bay

Hurtigruten cruise liner in the bay

Speaks for itself!

Peninnis Head

One of the many Scilly Wrens.

One of the many Scilly Wrens. 

Meadow Pipit at the Garrison

Song Thrush also at the Garrison

Oak Eggar moth caterpillar on St.Martin's

Rosette of Aeonium on wall on St.Martin's



Our group on St.Martin's 


Sandwich Terns

Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic Puffin




Grey Seals (all taken from a distance with 500mm lens)

Purple Sandpipers at the base of Bishops Rock lighthouse

Oystercatcher & Greenshank


Bishops Rock lighthouse 

Risso's Dolphin from the Scillonian

Atlantic Puffins on Annet

Grey Seal (all taken from a distance with 500mm lens)

Grey Seals (all taken from a distance with 500mm lens)

Grey Seals (all taken from a distance with 500mm lens)

Razorbills & Guillemots on Mincarlo

Sunset from the harbour wall on St.Mary's.