The audience at the SWT October meeting in Duns were transported back to the severe winter of 2010 by John Wilson ARPS.
John lives near Wooler and he had photographed a group of birch trees bedecked with hoar frost amidst deep snow and mist. The temperature had been –18° C. The title of his presentation was “Through the Seasons”.
The snow was 27 inches deep that year and only 18 inches the following winter when his hide roof collapsed under the snow’s weight and had to be rebuilt from scratch. It is now roomy enough for a chair and has more storage space.
John is a distinguished photographer and this first slide was followed by immaculate images of numerous garden birds in perfect focus. Some of these birds were tame enough to take peanuts from John’s hand.
I liked the bullfinch hanging upside down as it fed from a teasel. Then a redpoll, nuthatch and a delightful robin in the rain with a drop of water on its beak.
Other photos taken in 2010 included a Highland Bull with hot breath steaming in the bitter cold, a mole in the snow and a fox and it’s distinctive tracks. John showed scenes of the River Till iced over at the edges and a flock of about 3000 pink footed geese flying overhead. Once a neighbour called his attention to a stork allegedly in a local field.
Sceptically John set off to investigate and found it really was a stork and must have been blown from its course flying north from Africa to Eastern Europe. It stayed in the vicinity for nearly two days.
One February he had been to the Farne Islands with Billy Shiel and saw hundreds of seals with their pups. Later in the year he photographed puffins, shags and kittiwakes.
As spring arrived heralded by snowdrops he captured the joyous image of a hare and discovered the eggs of an oystercatcher on the moorland. A parent thrush fed its young.
John saw the tiniest fox cub he has ever seen. An otter checked him out near the Till.
By now bluebells were in flower, badgers were enticed by peanut butter smeared onto tree bark and damsel flies were mating. Butterflies such as meadow brown and peacock were seen. Grouse were in their best plumage.
John has a licence to film osprey chicks on their nest and gave us a fascinating series of images of the male osprey bringing a fish to the nest and retreating because the female was absent. Luckily the three chicks took maiden flights on July 17, this year.
One of his experiments was to entice buzzards to road-kill using rabbits and pheasants. All to no avail although the pheasant attracted a jackdaw which did itself become the victim of a buzzard.
Following this success John used Photo Shop to give a slogan to a photo of a dead pine marten near an approaching car; “PINE MARTEN – THEIR LIFE IN YOUR HANDS” which proved effective as a speed deterrent.