The mighty Emperor

In dragonflies, males are generally classed as fliers or perchers. Fliers spend most of their time on the wing – and have longer wings – whereas perchers spend most of the time sitting on a perch, from which they make short flights, defending territories and seeking females. The emperor dragonfly, Anax imperator Leach (Aeshnidae) is…

Dancing demosielles

There are four species of these beautiful Calopteryx damselflies belonging to the family Calopterygidae, in Europe, and two occur in Britain: the Beautiful and the Banded demoiselle (below). There are also a number of subspecies of each type. In this blog I am featuring a Spanish subspecies of Calopteryx virgo, called meridionalis, and Calopteryx splendens from Bedfordshire in…

Turnstone plumage

We are lucky to have a small population of Ruddy Turnstones, Arenaria interpres, in Scarborough. They spend most of the year here, except for the summer when they fly up to the Arctic to breed. Before they leave in May, they have usually moulted into their gorgeous breeding plumage (below). Their plumage gradually changes over…

Juvenile herring gulls following gannets

When I came across this melee of seabirds, just off the East Pier in Scarborough, I was a bit confused at first about what was going on! There were large numbers of juvenile Herring gulls taking off and landing in the water. What were they doing? After a while, I realised that there were a…

Gannets on granite: Ailsa Craig

Ailsa Craig rises up out of the Firth of Clyde, rounded and rugged, a gigantic lump of rock hard granite. I had the pleasure of sailing past this small island, 1 .2 km in diameter and home to over 35,000 pairs of northern gannets (Morus bassanus) last month, on a short, three-day cruise out of Liverpool. Ailsa…

That’s nothing! I grew up on a lamp post!

Older readers may remember the hilarious sketch by Monty Python where they play four Yorkshiremen trying to outdo each other in terms of how poor and deprived they were whilst growing up! If not, here are a couple of versions of the sketches: For some reason, I was reminded of this sketch whilst photographing this…

Why do ducks have blue wing flashes?

Originally posted on Ray Cannon's travel blog:
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 6 June 2021 Beds, UK. Photo by Raymond JC Cannon Many types of dabbling ducks have iridescent wing patches called specula (singular: speculum). These flashes are usually blue or green, although the colour can vary somewhat according to the angle and the lighting conditions.…