Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Little Egret Returns....

Date: 13th August 2017
Location: Newton Park Lake - Circular
Weather: Cloudy, Sunny Intervals and Warm
Other Species: Full List Here

Observation: Only a few Butterflies on Sunny Bank early afternoon, so onto Bath Mill and on approach to the bridge, the Kingfisher flew down stream but we couldn't trace it again.

Onto the Dog Walk, a single Jay, Roe Deer (Stag) and also 2 Buzzard were seen/heard through the woodland.

This stunning Green-Veined White perched nicely for some shots:

The walk was pretty quiet up to Seven Acre until the Village, where things picked up again.

Just before the Farm Shop, 2 Painted Lady's were spotted.

A few Barn Swallow were flying around the Village, 18 were counted on the way through.

At the Church, a Juvenile Green Woodpecker was feeding in the field with a few more Rook, Crow and Jackdaws than we've had recently, glad to see the numbers rising.

We met fellow birder and patch walker Tony and continued the walk.

Through the Workshop Covert, single numbers of Chiffchaff and a Song Thrush seen.

At the Lakes - Bottom Lake was busy with fisherman but numbers remained the same with Billy still present and 10 Mallard sat on the banks. A single Grey Heron, flew in and started foraging in the grass.

Top Lake, the family of Mute Swans present with all 6 Cygnets doing well and feeding independently.

Another Kingfisher flew up stream and landed at the Top End. There was no sign of the Little Egret until.... we walked around the corner and there it was, feeding away frantically.

We watched it for a few minutes before moving on.

We went to check on the Little Owl and Spotted Flycatcher, but no sign of either today, 2 Nuthatch and another Buzzard were heard calling.

2 further Buzzards, and 20+ House Martin flying around Top Lake.

On the return route, nothing more of note, apart from calling Stock Dove, small numbers of Goldcrest and another Chiffchaff (Juvenile).

Back in the Village, we left Tony and finished the walk.

At the Farm Shop, there were plenty of Barn Swallow and House Martins flying around and some resting on the wires, no doubt in preparation for their long journey home!

Barn Swallow (Adult)

House Martin (Juvenile)

House Sparrows numbers seem to be slowly rising in the Village after their hedgerows being aggressively cut down in recent months.

One of the Piglets at the Farm Shop

Our garden has been full of birds over the past few weeks, so here's some recent pictures:

Bullfinch (Adult)

Bullfinch (Juvenile)

Goldfinch (Adult feeding Juveniles)

Blue Tit (Adult)

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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Newton St Loe - My Patch

Date: 08/08/2017
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Grey, Overcast but Warm
Species Highlights: 
Spotted Flycatcher, Bullfinch, Kingfisher, Grey Heron.
Silver Washed Fritillary

With no Butterflies to chase another patch walk this morning and as the norm out though Bath Mill.
Seem to be a few Butterflies about to my surprise with 3 Common Blue and a single Brown Argus on Sunny Bank.

All seem to be a bit worn.

With a juvenile Grey Wagtail on brook, 
Plus adult who flew on down brook as soon as I saw her.

On up to dog track track and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Bullfinch feeding by kissing gate, through gate and onto dog track I could hear a Chiffchaff calling. Through the small woodland and a Buzzard above calling like a squirrel, strange. In clearing just out of wood a Silver Washed Fritillary! 
First one ever in 10 years of walking round these parts.

Takes my Patch butterfly tick list to 23, although this year only on 18 as I have been elsewhere on my great butterfly challenge this year!   ICYMI
1. Small Copper
2. Painted Lady
3. Clouded Yellow
4.Essex Skipper
5. Small skipper
6. Large White
Hope to get some of these before year end on patch.

Along byway not a lot going on, village More House Martins in skies only 1 Barn Swallow seen. On return trip this would change. Village Green and 2 Greenfinch 1 adult 1 juvenile. Very quiet in to Send a Cow woodland and onto bottom lake, Billy still present.

Top Lake all Swans preening on far bank, nothing unusual except 5 Grey Herons all looking for a good fishing spot with a adult keeping them mobile.

  A juvenile making their burbling call from tree top. I tried to record sound but noise from college drowned it out!

While watching noticed a Kingfisher sat watching the Herons, you'll need binoculars for this one!

2 Buzzards flew past calling to each other, was gonna go up to check on Spotted Flycatchers but noticed above me 2 were catching flies in trees alongside lake, so sat and watched a bit longer.

After trying to get better pictures with much success headed towards top of lake 2 more were feeding with a group of 3 Chiffchaff. 

Juvenile Wren checking reeds out.

Few more Grey Heron shots and then carried on back towards village. 

The numbers of hirundines seen to have reversed with many more Barn Swallows in the skies and sat on wires, plenty of Juveniles.

Lots of House Sparrow feeding in horse fields I'd estimate 30+ in one group, a good year. 

With Kestrel, Buzzard on way back, that was my lot, Collared Dove, Coal Tits and 6 Bullfinch on my tree when I got home. Filled feeders again and end.
Species count of 39. 

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Sunday, 6 August 2017

Patch walk with company

Date: 06/08/2017
Location: Newton St Loe (Patch)
Weather: Warmish, Grey and Blue.
Species Highlights: 
Spotted Flycatcher,Buzzard, Kestrel,Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, Nuthatch, Goldfinch.
Lauren did a window watch, very busy on feeders of late with Bullfinch a group of 8 birds last week. 6 today 4 juveniles and 2 adult birds with many Goldfinch fledglings also Blue & Great tits filling the feeders. 

Juvenile female Bullfinch being told off by our resident Coal Tit.

One of the Male Bullfinch.

Coal tit very busy collecting nuts and flying off to cache.

Lots of Goldfinch with young constantly squabbling, adult feeding here.

Apart from Wood Pigeons on feeders also getting a pair of Feral Pigeons and at times up to 4 Collared Dove.

Such a great looking birds.

I worked last night so got up
late morning, just. Then headed off around patch on my own living lauren keeping a eye on feeders, where to 2 Greenfinch visited briefly. 
On entering Bath Mill noticed a familiar car, Robert & Anne so Phoned them, they were at Seven Acre so walked on through to catch them up, not much going on along brook or up on to dog track or even fields leading to Pennyquick all very quiet.
Only Spots were 4 Buzzard over far fields, 1 Kestrel, a single Whitethroat and Yellowhammer who didn't seem to want their photographs taken, so here's a Blue tit who did.

Caught up with Robert and Anne at village, House Martins and Barn Swallows were swarming overhead some still feeding youngsters most sat on wire resting number still into 45's Barn Swallow and 30+ House Martins on entire walk with 4 Swift also seen. 
A quiet walk towards church with a Kestrel heard calling but couldn't locate.
Send a Cow woodland getting very overgrown difficult to see anything but heard a few Chiffchaff calling their warning call. 
On to lakes Billy the "no mates" Mute still bottom lake with 4 Mallard, but nothing else except a few fishermen who caught a 18llb Common carp a great looking fish.
Onto Top lake Goldcrest and Normal stuff with the swan family all still present.

Plenty of stretching going on from the cygnets, 
this shot taken today, notice wing feathers.

This shot taken a week before, wing feather much shorter in this one. 
On looking at our records last year cygnets driven off by mum & Dad around first week in September.

Carried on to top part of lake to check on Spotted Flycatchers, could hear them but flying around so much couldn't get any decent shots but a Greater Spotted Woodpecker kept us company, giving good views for some :)

Not rubbing it in Anne but There! 
On watching also saw a Nuthatch and Treecreeper plus Goldcrest in Yew Tree and eventually....

A dodgy picture of the Flycatchers saw at least three birds but as i said buzzing between Oak and Lime trees difficult to pin down. 

With more House Martins and Barn Swallow plus lots of noisy Jackdaws overhead a single Pied Wagtail was also seen in the College grounds. 
In fields opposite 2 Buzzard calling and chasing each other the pale buzzard which we've seen as far back as 2012 was doing the chasing.

Walking back along back drive a group of at least 40+ Goldfinch kept flying up and landing in nearby trees a great spectacle. 2 more Kestrel seen towards village and another Greater Spotted Woodpecker heard calling. On getting home one of the Jays was perched up on van looking for a few peanuts. Overall a great walk with pleasant company species count ended on 42, not to bad. 

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Friday, 4 August 2017

All 59 UK Butterflies in 142 Days

My 59 UK Butterflies of 2017

This year I turned 50 years young and to mark it i decided to celebrate it by going for the 59 UK Butterfly species. I didn't think it would be so much fun! 
I self found all the Butterflies myself with help only on locations.
Also, as part of the challenge I had to photograph all the species i came across a challenge in itself, most of the photos were the first snap of the species this year, i'll post the best photos in Part 2 my previous year count was 50. 
Also the miles covered and money cost of which I'll add up later.
I think I've learnt a awful lot about butterflies on my travels this year, habitats, food sources, weather conditions plus met some lovely friendly people on route too.

My first butterflies of the year was a common ones but still a couple of beauties, found both of these while looking for Dipper locally.

            1. Brimstone (Publow)  first one was13/03/2017                   

2. Small Tortoiseshell (Pensford) 

Newton st. Loe is my normal birding patch I normally walk it at least twice a week.   

3. Peacock (Newton Park Lake) 

4.Comma (Newton St Loe) 

5.Small White (Ham Wall Car Park) 

6.Red Admiral (Seven Acre) 

With March's end 6 butterflies were ticked off, where possible i tried as close to home as possible and while doing other things but this was sure to change.

7.Holly Blue (seven Acre) 02/04/2017 

8.Orange Tip (Sunny bank)   

9.Speckled Wood (Newton St Loe, Churchyard) 

10.Green Veined White (Clays Bottom)

After these closer to home butterflies it was now time to put in the miles and start going to specific sites. My first dedicated site is Cotley Hill nr. Warminster, easy parking and a great hillside with plenty of butterflies and one of my favorite site to visit.

11.Green Hairstreak (Cotley Hill) 

12.Grizzled skipper (Cotley Hill) 

Next off Fry's hill close to Axbridge and Cheddar a very steep hill  and normally not a sole to be seen, but with great views towards the Somerset levels worth a visit any time of year.

12.Dingy skipper (Fry's Hill) 23/04/2017  

With April gone May came around and Butterfly season took off with a further 14 species to come this month.
First off back to Cotley Hill.

14.Brown Argus (Cotley Hill) 

15.Small Heath (Cotley Hill) 

15.Wall Brown (Cotley Hill) 

Next of a lovely Butterfly the Duke of Burgundy, normally go to Cerne Abbas for this one but this year made the journey up to Rodborough Common and was not disappointed finding a number of these little crackers!

17.Duke of Burgundy (Rodborough Common) 

Back to Wiltshire and Cotley Comes up Trumps again with another 3 Species.

18.Small Blue (Cotley hill) 

19. Small Copper (Cotley Hill) 

19. Marsh Fritillary (Cotley Hill) 

Next it says common but certainly is not, i've seen fewer of these every year i've been butterflying, although seen a few on my patch this year.

21.Common Blue (Axbridge Hill) 

Next off a trip for this one up to Haugh Woods nr. Herford a really good site for Wood White which flies unlike any other, with a flight just about keeping it in the air!

22. Wood White (Haugh Woods) 

While visiting a survey was going on looking for Pearl Bordered Fritillaries which were scarce in this woodland, while chatting i spotted one flying past, Bonus!

23. Pearl Bordered Fritillary (Haugh Wood) 

(Carried on from here to another site Ewyas Harold Common, 
good for PBF saw 15+ )

Back home and Cotley Hill beckons again and again scores!

25.Adonis Blue (Cotley Hill) 

25.Painted Lady (Cotley Hill) 

25.Large Skipper (Cotley Hill) 

Next a well planned trip to Ireland with help from BC Ireland for directions. The 2 day trip taking in some of the Irish sites including Giant's Causeway,Dark Hedges, Belfast and Dublin a brilliant trip but weather not keeping its side of the bargain! 
Rain, drizzle and Wind for all but 5 hours of the 2 days, but that's all i needed on first day arrived at Craigavon lakes  and raining this was not butterfly weather however the second day 2 hours of sunshine and Cryptic Wood Whites everywhere!

28.Cryptic Wood White (Craigavon, Northern Ireland)  

The next trip i really enjoyed, Isle of Wight for the Glanville Fritillary, Ferry across was £7 rode my pushbike the 5 miles to Compton Bay, a scorching hot day a stunning scenery. Found the butterfly easily along the coast path.

                 29. Glanville Fritillary (Compton Bay, IOW)  

Next up the furthest away from me, the Chequered Skipper, a few people had been up already this year and were getting decent shots, weather had not been good up there. I worked Saturday night checked weather and it looked ok so Sunday Morning at around 11am after 6 hours sleep i drove the 500 miles 9hr to Glasdrum! 
Madness you could say as weather on journey up was torrential Rain puddles everywhere, i arrived at 8:30 Pm to blue skies.
 I checked out site and to my surprise found at least 4 roosting 8:30pm ! With Small Pearls on thistle heads, in morning the same 4 were in the same spots plus a few more, and plenty of midges! No open wing shots but thats next year. 
Drove back monday in time for tea :)

30.Chequered Skipper(Glasdrum, Scotland)   

This one went with Alan Chard on a awful day, very windy, drizzle and no sign of any butterflies after searching for some time, we were just about to leave and from under my feet a Heath Fritillary few up and perched near by! That's when i knew the Butterfly gods were smiling on me!

31. Heath Fritillary Haddon hill, Exmoor)  

32. Meadow Brown (Newton St Loe)      

On a very Windy Day i headed down to Green Down a Good site for Large Blue on searching for some time eventually saw this Marbled White, must have walked along hillside at least 10 times scanning for Large Blues.

33. Marbled White(Green Down, Somerset)    

One last pass i thought, then a Large Blue flew at speed past me i found it buried in grass, the photo below from the 11/06 next visit.

34.Large Blue (Green Down, Somerset)   

              35.Ringlet (Green Down, Somerset)     

Thanks to my understanding family, I think they just wanted me to go away! 
I had a week to go where i wanted and i wanted to go for Black Hairstreak it meant driving to Glapthorn some distance but after a few good directions from the Twitter folk i found them within 15 mins of arriving! A Butterfly which survives on a couple of Blackthorn bushes in the woodland,but good numbers seen, when the sun shone.

   36.Black Hairstreak (Glapthorn, Northamptonshire)  

After the 3 hour journey to Glapthorn I decide to drive across to the Lake District, I know madness it was a mammoth journey taking another 4.5 hours. I drove to Irton Fell, Stanton Bridge campsite and collapsed in the van for a well earned rest. Weather forecast was not good so i was not happy after driving all those miles! 
But in morning I'd like to say the sun shone and blue skies greeted me but they didn't Grey skies cold and drizzle. 
I drove to Beer Head for a bit of birding which was great Razorbill, Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Peregrines while there the sun came out and i departed ASAP to Irton Fell, when i arrived but at base of Irton Fell it was cloudy,drizzle and cold again ! 
Great, but decided to go up to Mountain Ringlet spots and do a recce.
I found 2 Mountain Ringlets hiding in tussocks i whooped loudly, luckily no one was silly enough to be up there, I had Irton Fell all to myself! (no surprise)

   37.Mountain Ringlet (Irton Fell, Cumbria)     

The next morning with a better forecast i headed across to Latterbarrow a small but lovely site next to the busy A590, on arriving a few workers from Cumbria Wildlife Trust said "Northern Brown Argus ,no none out yet !!" 
Decided to check anyway and to my relief saw at least 4, even a bit of mating going on! spoke to CWT, oh great but it's too early for Large Heath at Meathop they said, that was my next stop, typical i thought!

38.Northern Brown Argus (Latterbarrow, Cumbria) 

Just across from Latterbarrow is Meathop it was a very open type of reserve with a boardwalk luckily the sun was breaking through now and my first pass nothing at all was showing then saw at least 6 plus again a bit of mating, a hard butterfly to get decent pictures of as it landed, flew, landed and flew constantly a in flight shot would probably be easier although didn't manage one of those either

39.Large Heath(Meathop Moss, Cumbria)  

Back to work for a few days plus our Wedding anniversary, couldn't miss that wouldn't be allowed to go anywhere! Norfolk was calling, Lauren my Daughter came for this this trip. Weather was perfect very hot and totally blue skies, temperature rose to 35c while driving to Norfolk!
Stopped off for Silver Studded Blues at Buxton Heath never been here before but got told was a good spot spent around a hour looking with no sign, then as if by magic started to see SSB's rise from the heather.

40.Silver Studded Blue(Buxton Heath,Norfolk)  

Stayed in a campsite in Potter Heigham a lovely spot and just a short drive from our next Butterfly some would say the most beautiful, i would say that. Also one of uk largest and in a stunning setting was a brilliant morning, we left campsite at 7:30 Am walked along Weavers Way at the back of Hickling Broad and saw many, when we left at 9:30 the temp was in the 30c! 

41.Swallowtail (Hickling Broad, Norfolk)   

While admiring the beauty of the Swallowtail chatting to a local he said "There be White Admirals in wood there !" We followed him in and after 5 mins he left then 2 fluttered down from canopy, Brilliant!

42. White Admiral(Hickling Broad, Norfolk)      

Next off Twitter was saying Purple Emperors were out at Fermyn Woods, we'd seen them there previous years and it was sort of on the way home so a small detour was required! 
We left the van walked some 50 paces then sat on the floor was a Purple Emperor. Almost the last spot we saw one the previous year.
43.Purple emperor (Fermyn Woods, Northamptonshire)          

While in woods also apart from many Purple Emperors we saw species 44 & 45

44. Silver Washed Fritillary   (Fermyn Woods, Northamptonshire)   

45.White Letter Hairstreak (Fermyn Woods, Northamptonshire)   

Back to work and a few restless days wondering what and where i was going next, dreaming of butterflies on many nights waking in a cold sweat thinking i'd miss one! Started to look for Chalkhill Blues from Draycott a site only 20 miles from me on the mendips went a number of times with no luck, while  checking other sites for whatever i could get number 46 appeared, then 47.

46.Small Skipper(Priddy, Mendips)  

47. Dark Green Fritillary (Priddy, Mendips)    

That was Sunday on the Monday weather was glorious so headed down to Lulworth for what else but the Lulworth Skipper.
 One of the species i was having dreams of dread about was the Large White, i know common but had not seen any on my travels so when arriving in Lulworth Cove and strolling through the very busy and expensive carpark and seeing one i quickly got camera out ran across to a small garden and starting clicking, i must say it was the Largest Large White i'd ever seen!

48.Large White (Bindon Hill-Lulworth Cove, Dorset)   

And then the target species the Lulworth Skipper after searching for some time, a great day with wonderful views and bright blue skies and seas.

49. Lulworth Skipper (Lulworth Cove, Dorset)      

The High Brown Fritillary is Britains rarest butterfly and another new one to me, my closest site was the Alun Valley Glamorgan. Spent the morning looking with numerous Dark Green Fritillaries whizzing past at great speed and probably a few High Browns. 
You need to make sure from top side that you see the very much smaller black dot third in from edge or from underside the orange circled white dots, which the Dark green does not have. At speed this is very hard so after around 2 hours of looking sat down for a sandwich and behind me one landed giving me my best views of the day and confirming the species ! 
Butterfly God's helped again!

50.High Brown Fritillary(Alun Valley, Wales)    

While at Alun valley i missed ID a Meadow Brown, thought it was a Gatekeeper DOH! My excuse is i lost my glasses while searching for High Brown. Not much of a excuse but i'm sticking to it. It took me 5 Days to find a Gatekeeper to amend my mistake.

51. Gatekeeper (East Woodlands, Somerset)    

My other target at East Woodlands was Purple Hairstreak of which once we found the right tree's there were 10+ the woodland was full of Silver Washed Fritillary and White Admirals so many Silver Washed Frtis i lost count 70+ probably more White Admirals also in the 20's.
Both these species i've seen at many sites this year, they seem to have had a good year.

    52. Purple Hairstreak (East Woodlands, Somerset)    

Another trip to Draycott with no joy still on the Chalkhill Blue was starting to look for another site to find this one, other years i'd seen plenty there. After leaving Draycott headed for a bit of Coastal and Sand Point for Grayling didn't take too long and saw around 10 plus the most Small coppers i'd ever seen!

53. Grayling (Sand Point, Somerset)   

On the 06/07 the day i went to Draycott, must have walked 3 to 4 miles looking for Chalkhill with no luck but some 3 hours after i left Chalkhill Blues were spotted! Finally. 
Had to wait a few days but went back a saw plenty!

54. Chalkhill Blue(Draycott, Somerset)   

That same afternoon was told good site for Essex Skippers i get them on my patch but with only 4 butterflies left i was not taking any chances. When i arrived on the Polden hill site Essex Skipper outnumbered Small skipper 10 to1. A great spot for them leaving no confusion to is it Small or Essex!

55. Essex Skipper(Walton Hill-Poldens, Somerset)    

12 days past for my next although i'd made 2 other trip to one of my favorite reserves Alners Gorse in Dorset a great site for Purple,White Letter and Brown Hairstreak in fact on this trip 21/07 i saw all 3 Hairstreak on same bush! How lucky's  that!

56. Brown Hairstreak (Alners Gorse, Dorset)     

The day was perfect and with a little help from Clive at Staplegrove, Taunton i found the other species that i thought would be tricky, when i arrived it was overcast and no sign of any thing but after 20 mins, Clive, A farmer left me to the field and then the sun shone and at least 10 Clouded Yellow emerged from the fields edges! I've only ever seen singles before so 10 was a real surprise, thanks Clive!

57. Clouded Yellow (Taunton)   

Things looking good now with Silver Spotted Skipper and Scotch Argus Left weather would play a big part in these two species as both like it warm and sunny.
First off Silver Spotted Skipper normally i go to Fontmell Down, have seen them there for the last 4 years but had heard Aston Rowant was the place to go. Went with Alan Chard on a overcast day with the weather forecast saying bright sunshine in afternoon, arrived around 2 pm with no sign of promised sunshine. But after 1 hour of searching i found one then another then another soon the hillside was full, and so many other species too 16 species in total. A great Site and well worth a visit.

58.Silver Spotted Skipper(Aston rowant,Oxfordshire)  

The weather took a turn for the worse and the summer ended! Rain, grey skies and more rain to make it worse my last one of the year was in the Lake District renowned for dodgy weather after all it's why it called the Lake district ! After  the weather forecast changed a number of times causing me to pack van unpack, pack.On Tuesday morning getting up at 9 Am the Weather looked fine Dry and some Sunshine so i jumped in Van and drove the 234 miles up to Arnside Knott parked up, boots on and started my search within 10 mins of looking saw 2 flying towards me then disappearing! Was happy but needed a picture to confirm and finish my challenge then at 2:52 pm it happened the 59th and final butterfly of 2017.
I saw 15 + in the end all over hillside, I'd done it after many more photos i drove home Smiling all the way home!

59.Scotch Argus (Arnside Knott, Cumbria)  

First off i'd like to thank My Wife and family who i'm sure are very glad its finished!

Everyone for your Help for finding places and advice couldn't have done it without you! 

Plus all the  favorites and retweets on Twitter and all the kind words of support.

Plus Instagram for your kind words 


Closest traveled : Meadow Brown (Across road from home)
Furthest traveled : Chequered skipper (1000 mile round trip)

Easiest to photograph : High Brown (as it landed while I was eating sandwich)
Hardest to photograph: Large Heath (wouldn't keep still)

Most expensive : Cryptic wood white (2 day trip to Ireland)

Favourite: Swallowtail,Glanville Fritillary 


Publow / Pensford =2
Newton St Loe =8   
Somerset Levels =1
Axbridge =2
Taunton =1
Mendip hills =2
Draycott =1
East Woodlands =2
Sand Point =1
Haddon hill =1
Green down =3
Poldens Hills =1

Cotley Hill =12

Lulworth Cove =2
Alners Gorse  =1

Northern Ireland
Craigavon =1

Haugh woods =2

Isle of Wight
Compton Bay =1

Glasdrum =1

Glapthorn =1
Rodborough =1

Irton Fell =1
Meathop =1
Latterbarrow =1
Arnside Knott =1

Hickling Broad =2
Buxton Heath =1

Fermyn Woods

Alun Valley=1

Aston Rowant =1

Now the Miles who everyone has been asking about 2895.2 which is a lot ! 
But add on at least 1500 more miles for returning journeys making a grand scary total of 4395 
Cost of fuel  £576.18 + Air travel Ireland 
Wow, some pushbike a lot of walking and 2000 pictures.

Photography i used a 7dmk2 with 100-400L series lens

If anyone needs any advice or info on sites i'd be pleased to help.

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