So I left Ireland Friday evening and got the ferry across from Belfast to Cairnryan. The crossing time was around 2hours 30minutes as there was some high winds and rain on the way that slowed things down a small bit. I arrived in there around 22:00 hours. It was around 50 miles to Kirkcudbirght but the wind and rain was unreal. The travel time to the accommodation was approximately 70 minutes due to the bad weather – most like 60 minutes in better conditions. I made it down there to Anchorlee B&B for the night and collapsed into bed once I was unpacked and ready for the morning . I have an early start after a long day. It took about 5 hours of driving and 285 miles to get to my destination – but hopefully it would all be worth it.
Up the following morning at 06:30 and got breakfast at 07:00 and met Alan at 07:30 and headed to the Kingfisher hide. It was setup on the side of the river which was affected by the rising tide. I was inside and ready by 08:00 but the light was still bad – 1/40 @ f4 with 5000 ISO – suffice it to say that I took the shots when the Kingfisher came along on the off chance that I did not see it again. Thankfully the bird was back again 90 minutes later but did not stick around for long. I spent another two hours in the hide and had three more visits in that time – so things were looking up. Alan came back and we headed to the Sparrow hawk hide in the afternoon. We were in before 14:00 and setup – Alan stuck with me as the adult male bird had moulted and he did not have any images of her yet. Unfortunately it did not show before 15:30 – when he had to leave. It was close to 16:30 when it finally came in and thankfully it stuck around for 25 minutes – feeding and looking around the place. Great way to finish off the day. I wrapped up after that and headed back to the B&B for the evening and rested up.
Decided to leave it till 09:00 this morning to go to the Kingfisher hide as the light was poor yesterday. While the light was a lot better today, there was a strong southerly wind blowing in and that was pushing the tide further and further inland – as such the hide seat was under water for a good two hours this morning so I was in a pop up hide until 11:00. The kingfisher came in once during that time – he was coming in earlier and flew off as we were out of the hide due to the tide. Then I got back into the hide and waited there till just after 13:00 and got some great shots of the kingfisher. He came in several times over the space of this period – two different birds were taking turns to show up and pose for me. I left there quite happy and headed up to the Sparrow hawk hide for 13:30. Set up in there and waited for the adult. It was around 15:30 when the first visit happened – there was a coal tit out for the first pass and the visit lasted around 5-7 minutes. Within the hour he was back again and feeding on the second perch. The first visit the rain was absolutely lashing out there so it was something different. The second visit had cleared up and I was finished in the hide around 16:00. I headed back to the Kingfisher hide then for an hour and after that onto the B&B. The light was still good at the kingfisher hide as it was not in a wooded area. Had the kingfisher come in twice when I was there for that hour.
Was up early this morning and packing up the car. In the hide for 08:00 but hoping that there would be no activity as the light was bad. Adult male came in around 09:00 but did not stick around for long – there was another sparrowhawk in the area – juvenile or other adult – and they chased each other off. I got a few images and that was all. Stuck it out there till 16:00 and then head back for the ferry and home. No sign of the Spar at that stage for me. Spar came in later on that evening according to Alan but it was too late for me and the light would have been bad. Overall a great trip with some great activity and images – something like 1800 images for me. Now all I have to do is import, backup, rate and post process.Below is a gallery of some of the images that I got from the few days away. I would really recommend booking the hides with Alan as he puts a lot of effort and work into feeding and working with these animals and his effort and diligence shows when you meet and work with him. Fair play mate! Gallery of images below from the trip – only a small sample 🙂