Saturday, 10 February 2018

Camping cancelled due to freezing weather

Well, my week off has come and gone my plans for camping soon disappeared right after I saw the snow on a new walk near a local mountain/hilly area called Teggs nose. You can find out more information here
 I have wanted to visit this area for a while but I avoided going as I wanted to go in the snow due to the beauty of the area when covered in white. As well as going to Teggs nose later that week we walked from Macclesfield to Congleton through sleet and strong winds, it was muddy and I was flued up but the visit to a bakery in Macclesfield filled my belly and gave me a boost.
The higher up the hills the thicker the snow especially on a notice board
 A lovely stony bridge across a stream that flows down to one of the Reservoirs
We ended up crossing fields and getting lost but luckily my phone had a good signal which allowed me to access google maps and make a slight detour back on ourselves and make it to Macclesfield forest. As we got lost for an hour we ran out of time to explore the forest and higher areas more.
I took no DSLR camera with me but we saw some of the local wildlife but I missed a Kestrel sat on some barbed wire surveying the hilly land with a beautiful background and snowflakes falling behind, it would have made a beautiful picture but it was a sight to behold and I'll know for next time.
Down in the valley there were a few Tufted ducks and Little Grebes but as it was a complete whiteout I could not see much and as wrapped up as I was the cold got into my body as I had aches and felt like crap from being out and going from hot to cold to many times that day.  The only negative of the days out was losing a pair of gloves I recently bought and I'm sure it won't be the last pair I'll lose this winter.

Hopefully, in the few weeks, we will get a day by the coast if not it will be a quick walk there.



Thursday, 8 February 2018

Sharing locations of wildlife signs and activity, Good or bad?

Every now and then I get asked by locals and wildlife groups where and when is the best place and time to see wildlife locally. I have in the past seen and experienced the effects of sharing this information so in this post, I'll be sharing a few incidents which happened within the last 10 years.
The first experience that went wrong when sharing information was with a fellow wildlife photographer that I took to photograph a family of Badgers over one summer. I asked the person not to go there without me and not to take anybody there as this may draw unwanted attention to the sett and if the wood was entered incorrectly and left with no disturbance, this was before the Badger cull was ever put into action. One summers evening when the light was perfect I went to have a few hours of peace at the sett. I arrived hoping for peace and Badger cubs chirping but I was met with peanuts littering the area and the trusted photographer had taken another person there without my knowledge.
 My trust in the person was lost and it took me years to relax back into my routine at the sett as I felt that at any moment when the Badgers had trusted me enough to feed and relax sometimes a meter away from me could be disturbed at any moment. I felt like through trusting somebody else with the Badgers location I had put them in danger and would never get the special moments I once had before telling the trusted individual. After a few years, the Badgers and I relaxed as the individual that was trusted moved away and the wooded sett were returned back to me and the Badgers once again.
After this experience, I knew I would have to be selective and think about who and what information I shared with people or wildlife groups as this can have effects on Nature beyond our thinking.
A few years later another person was trusted as I asked for help when gaining evidence against person/persons committing wildlife crimes. This person then went to a relative without being asked who turned out was an acquaintance of the person/persons I was gaining evidence on to give to a wildlife crime officer. I'm guessing the relative of the person I trusted went to the person I was gaining evidence against and told them they were being asked about. So because of the person Id trusted did not think about the consequences of there actions the evidence stream we were using was lost and the trail we were following went cold. More recently I have managed on my walks to capture and begin building evidence from the field on a few individuals committing wildlife crimes ie. linked people, car reg, places visited, times active. It's through the experiences above and a few others I have not mentioned that I have shown me I cannot take the risk of trusting people with too much of my local knowledge as it can be turned around agasit the creatures I have vowed to protect. Now I follow a new set of rules and over the past 2 years, it seems to be producing results which should come to fruition this year.
I trust people in everyday life and use the idiom "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me"  I'm not one to distrust everyone I see or talk to but if it's regarding nature unless I see the protection of a creature/habitat to much for me to protect myself then I manage it myself or make use of a trusted family member to solve a situation. For example, let's say if a sett comes in danger from people involved with the cull and I can't disturb them or distract them from there awful acts then I would get more people involved within the field of the Badger cull preventers to aid me.
So I can choose who I trust but I cannot control who they trust and who they trust because who knows somewhere along the chain they may just have a relative or friend who  is an air rifle wielder and like staking shots at nature for there own gratification and for me I'd rather not take the risk.
I hope this makes things a little clearer to those people who ask me to share my sightings and locations. When I'm not working I spend most of my time outdoors with nature so its a big part of my life so I don't take my decisions lightly when it comes to protecting Nature and our beautiful countryside.



Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Drone no more!!!! plus a few photographs

As I am sure you might have noticed that I have not uploaded any footage from my Drone as yet. The reason behind that is after a few test flights it seemed to be not the best quality item and was too hard to control but it was cheap and the battery life was awful even with spare batteries they were hard to take out. I had a few ideas of what to do with the item as I have a wild imagination as you can see from something I made a few years ago.
 The positives from testing the drone showed the camera quality to be quite good as well as the app that see a live view from the camera. I found the distance of the wifi transmission was excellent making the camera something I could utilize if I could increase the battery life and recording time.
So I thought it was now or never and it was time to begin modifying my drone. I got my desk cleared and my lamp on. I undid all the screws separating the main body and revealing the wires. I left the battery in with the camera powered on and the video feed displayed so I could see if separating the camera from the rest of the circuit affected the feed and if it did then I could repair quickly. Then I began to cut all the wires one by one as I thought removing the lights the motors from the circuit would increase the power available for the wifi camera and it did. 

After removing all the unneeded wires, lights and motors without damaging the camera I took my soldering iron and melted the motor arms off the plastic casing. Hopefully, I can get a few pounds for the parts I removed including propellers, RC remote and other bits as the single parts are not available for this model after doing a bit of research.
So know I have a perfect little wifi camera which records 720 videos without audio with a good app to connect to. Now I need to fill in the holes with some plastic resin and test the distance my iPad can be from the camera to maintain recording but I will only need a large distance for when I am filming on the water and in the woods it will be less than 30m.
I am going to be using on lots of projects over the next year. Below is a few ideas I have been thinking of using the wifi camera on.
-Kayaking  -Nest monitoring -fox cubs -Badger sett hole observation -RC WIFI duck cam
My main aim is to use the camera to observe vulnerable wildlife locations where I have seen evidence of wildlife crime as this new cam can be easily camouflaged with green netting I have.
I may even use on my Otter photography project as I really want a clear landscape photograph of an Otter on my local river not a blurry shot of one disappearing down the river. I'll be testing the camera on mice and feeding birds to show the quality of the video in various weathers and light qualities.

A few days Winter camping to come and I've got some new gear on its way to keep us extra warm.

Keep reading my posts if you can as its most appreciated


Sunday, 28 January 2018

Well that was a quick month!!

Well it's flown since the beginning of January but with it being a another warmer start to the year it feels good to see the change of spring coming early. With the growing of fresh vegetation in between the old brown bunches of last summer growth from sticky willy to daffodils and even daises popping up is giving me hope for Spring getting going.
The other day I took a walk to checkout a local Heronry to see if the birds had returned to begin I was not surprised to see that they had not returned but one thing I spotted and smelled was the wild garlic sprouting from all the mud that seems to be an occurring theme with my walks lately.
Sunset on the river weaver one Friday afternoon
 I went back a week later and there was a pair defending there nest with one on lookout and the other making alterations ready for the busiest months of there lives.
5 Nests in one tree awaiting there owners return
On the walk I also spotted this Badger sett which goes under a road and by the looks of it they decided to go under instead of crossing making a Badger subway.
I have a week off soon hopefully I'll be camping on the coast in the winter/spring weather and as long as we pack properly and remember where all the coastal bakery's are we shall be fine.
A photograph from last years February trip
 I'll do a blog about what I take and what we see while on our camping trip
I have seen plenty of wildlife while out and about but the best months are yet to come and I plan to be out alot even in the early hours before work but that will be mainly for Otters so stayed tuned.

Thanks for reading

My Drone is no more but was it on purpose or by accident!!! see my next blog post

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Last day of 2017

Just a quick blog post to end the year and although I don't do all the happy the new year wishing. I thought it would be nice to finish off 2017 with remembering 3 encounters from the past year and also 3 things I want to do more of in 2018. My favorite three 2017 memories while out about may seem like small things to others but to me and maybe some of you will understand the beauty and complicity of Natural Encounters.
1-My first is Otters on my local river and as its the first year I've had so
many personal sightings of them only a few miles from my home in the early hours of summer.
2-My second is Waxwings in the early months of Spring we had them locally feeding on sticky spring buds on the edge of an industrial estate.
 3-My third and last is being outdoors in the rain, sun, wind, and ice I love all weathers and locations as each area has its own beauty. As I get older I love it even more and sometimes I head off deep into the local countryside to one of my peaceful beauty spots with my tent to commune with Nature.
My three things I want to do more of in 2018 are below:


 Hopefully, all the things above will encourage me to spend more time outdoors with Nature and the good thing is I can mix 1+3 together and 2+3 together which = another happy year doing what I love.
On Saturday 30th December 2017 I got a few photographs from a local bird reserve and one of the many lakes there, I got to see my first ever male Shovelers about 10m from the watching area which was a great bird to see to end the year.
A few of the 10+ bird feeders full of feeding birds 
 The local birders also rubbed fat on the posts to stick bird seed to the fence posts
I Would like to say a big thank you for all your custom at and to everyone that follows my passion. I'm looking forward to seeing what Nature brings next year. To be honest I can't wait to get out camping on the coast and hopefully within the next few months I shall as I am buying a few pieces of kit every month to make camping more comfortable. One things for sure in 2018 I'll be defending Nature in my own way with more kit and knowledge to save animals and habitats when and where I can.
Thank you


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Christmas catch up

Things have been busy with work and my home life so I've been distracted from doing any projects and blog posts at all since November. Today I have decided to do one big blog with a few new little kit updates and some photographs/notes from my wildlife outings. One thing's for sure after just getting over a cold I'm looking forward to my 4 days off over Christmas then bring on the longer warmer days as I've been thinking back to Spring/Summer and just enjoying being by the coast on camping trips. I have a few projects ready to go and hopefully, in 2018 I can do more camping and walking around Wales and fit my new kit into that challenge.
Firstly I managed to buy something I have wanted for a while and that is an entry-level camera drone to get some unique shots of my local habitat and maybe if I get good at flying then perhaps on the coast. I purchased an Archos drone to use while I'm off over Christmas. For now, I will have to find an area close to home with plenty of space and nothing for me to crash into.
I am also thinking of adding 2 thin pieces of polystyrene to add landing legs to stabilize the drone and I am thinking it will also enable it to land on water. I will get on these tests this week as I have a pond to use with plenty of space around it, more fun to come.
As I'm sure like us you have had snow n the past few weeks. I wanted snow while I was having my birthday week on the coast. No snow all week but on my birthday when it was time to come home it snowed all the way home.
 When were there we tried to get on the West shore webcam after realizing there was a delay we got a quick screenshot.
The snow came in slowly...
 After a few hours the hills above Cowny were covered
 We mist the snow but we soaked up some of the Christmas spirit with some wonderful christmas lights and cosy nights in the cottage relaxing and online shopping with the heating on full it was a relaxing week till I got home and caught a cold.
More to come but as it's Christmas week and I have presents to wrap I shall wrap this blog post up here. Merry Christmas and I'll try to write a more wildlife-related post on my fours days off next week. Below there is a few local snowy scenes:

Stay wild Mike

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Lots of lovely cold Nature walks in the day and at Night

I've done it again and not blogged for a month as the only time I get to sit down to write is on a Sunday night.  I've been designing my brother a website for his own photography and his Swan Project which can be found below:
I've been getting distracted recently watching this webcam setup outside at a cafe at Llandudno on the Westshore beach.
Perfect for watching the sunset at the end of the day
It makes me miss the place even more but it inspires me to keep saving and searching for that perfect home on the coast. I can't wait to see it snow on the webcam and I will be definitely be using this camera to check the weather when I visit.
Ryan checking on one of the Hedgehogs that frequently visits our garden to feed under the trees
 Really enjoying going to different places to watch the stunning sunsets on the clearer nights
Prepping my backpack light/phone charge mount for when I get back late
A full moon and a clear sky perfect for Nighttime wildlife watching
 This weekend I decided I wanted to stay close and explore a new area of my home patch a few miles away. I discovered the area while picking up an undelivered package from the post office. The area we decided on walking was called White gateway which lies close to the river Weaver and starts off from Winsford to Cuddington. The walk runs along an old Railway line for about 10km/6miles but on the whole day, we probably walked over 26km/16 miles getting to the walk and returning home. There's more information on the walk here not much to see but a good long walk to blow away the cloudy day cobwebs.

Next month I have a week off for a personal celebration and were heading off to Wales for a week to stay in either a little cottage by the sea or a big cottage by the sea but that depends on....

Thanks for reading