Colin Crawford

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Welcome to my Blog were hopefully you can get to know me a bit better. I was born in Liverpool in 1967 and moved to Skelmersdale in 1976. I run a number of websites, one called GreenLeaf Net Solutions, were I’m offering my skills in Web Design & Development to local business, charities and community groups. The other website which I run  is called Eco Hosting Services, and as the name suggests, I offer green web hosting at affordable prices.

I graduated from Lancaster University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree with Honours in Mathematics & Information Systems. I do pocess other qualifications like Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) in Windows XP and Server 2003, HND in Electronic Engineering.

When I’m not developing websites, I like to go on Nature Walks with my Chocolate Labrador called Woody and try and spot the local wildlife.  Occasionally if I’m lucky, I take photographs of interest with my Canon Powershot SX30 IS.  The nature walks can take us from Mere Sands Wood in Rufford, River Tawd in Skelmersdale and Marshside RSPB in Southport.

Another Kingfisher sighting river Tawd Skelmersdale

Skelmersdale Kingfisher 2-8-2013

Since Saturday 27th July 2013, I have been down the river Tawd to see if I could see my favourite bird, the Kingfisher. Well no sign of it until today, Friday 2nd August 2013.

So six days later and another sighting but then it might of been there and I didn’t see it.

I was standing in the same spot when I first saw the Kingfisher on the previous Saturday and at first nothing, but I happened to look over towards the bridge and saw some movement near the water.

The movement I saw was by a concrete pipe lying in the water, so I pointed the camera over into that direction and focused in but I couldn’t make out what I was seeing so just took several shots. There was definitely something there and then it moved and the camera focused in a bit more and yes it was the Kingfisher back again.

Two Kingfishers on the river Tawd Skelmersdale

On Saturday (27/7/2013) afternoon I went for a walk down the river Tawd with my dog Woody. Whilst Woody was splashing about in the river with a root off a tree, I saw a blue flash go past beneath me as I was on top of the river bank. Instantly I knew it was a Kingfisher and it started to whistle two times, which as I’m led to believe that’s it’s territory.

I only went out for a quick walk so didn’t take my camera out with me, so I decided to go back home and get it. Upon returning I waited on the bridge with Woody for about 20 minutes and no sign of the earlier Kingfisher.

I waited just a bit longer and a Kingfisher passed under the bridge that we were standing on. It headed up the river towards the culvert where the river Tawd starts. Moments later another Kingfisher turned up and they flew together back towards me and then one of the Kingfishers flew back down the river, whilst the other headed back towards the culvert.

skelmersdale-kingfisher

I didn’t want to head towards the culvert in case I frightened it away so decided to stay on the bridge in the hope it would fly past. I pointed the camera in that direction and caught sight of it and managed to get a few photos but they weren’t that good due to the distance.

Dipper on the River Tawd Skelmersdale

A Dipper on the River Tawd in Skelmersdale Lancashire and that has to be a rarity unless someone can prove me wrong.

Dipper on the River Cothi Carmarthenshire

Dipper on the River Cothi Carmarthenshire

Just after nearly 2 weeks from seeing my first Dipper in Carmarthenshire Wales, I got to see a rare sight on my local river, which runs through the town of Skelmersdale where I live.
Dipper on the River Tawd Skelmersdale

Dipper on the River Tawd Skelmersdale

It was about this time last year when at the same spot of the river I got 2 sightings of a Kingfisher. I did not expect to see a Dipper as I was looking for the Kingfisher. Of late I’m getting to see more different birds in Skelmersdale that I didn’t think existed here.

This Dipper on the River Tawd looks like a Juvenile as it doesn’t have the proper markings of a Dipper. Where has it come from? Just further down the river, I did see something fly just above the water heading further upwards, maybe this was another one. I will have to go back and see if I can spot them again.


Greedy Heron at Mere Sands Wood

Photo of a Grey Heron
Photo of a Grey Heron with a fish

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I’d just got into Rufford Hide at Mere Sands Wood when some of the regular bird spotters at the side windows were making a bit of a noise, so I went over to see what they had spotted.

I looked out of the open window and over in the reed bed was a Grey Heron with an extremely large fish. Normally when Grey Heron’s catch a fish it doesn’t last long and is swallowed immediately but this heron had placed it on the reeds and every now and again it would prod it with it’s beak.

Probably, I think with the size of the fish, the heron was making sure it was dead before it tried to eat it. Eventually, the Grey Heron picked it up and then tried to swallow it whole. It managed to get most of the fish in its beak but still needed to reposition it so that all of it would go down.

The fish was swallowed bit by bit and then it was gone from view, but you could still see a bulge in the Heron’s neck. At this point the Grey Heron drank some water from the lake trying to make it easier for the fish to go down. After a while it flew off towards the front of Rufford Hide to digest it’s food.

Whilst we were watching the Grey Heron, there was a lone female Mandarin amongst the Mallards. I have normally seen male Mandarins so not sure if I have ever seen a female so it was nice to see one of these as well.

As usual with the Rufford Hide being the most popular, people were waiting to get a raw chance of seeing the Kingfisher and in fact one Bird Spotter had been in the hide since 7.30am that morning. It was a nice day but with all the windows open it was freezing in there. At the point were I couldn’t feel my fingers I decided to go and was amazed that it was warmer outside of the hide.

Hopefully it won’t be long now when everything springs back into life.

Spot of Volunteering

West Lancs Carers Centre Website

I have just volunteered to offer my services to a well known Charity in Skelmersdale called West Lancashire Carers Centre as I built them a brand new website using WordPress.

Their old website has now gone and was not easily maintainable by the staff of West Lancashire Carers Centre, so now new content can easily be added without any knowledge of XHTML/CSS. To allow them to update their website I spent 2 hours showing 4 members of staff how to use WordPress but it was a lot to take in especially for the people who hadn’t seen or heard of WordPress before.

Following on from this, I thought it would be best to offer 3 hours per week to help them use their new website and anything else IT related. Hopefully by volunteering I can learn new skills and help out a needy cause.

You can visit their new website here => http://www.westlancscarerscentre.org.uk/

Migrant Hawker Mere Sands Wood

With such a nice sunny day for a change, Woody (my Chocolate Lab) and I went to Mere Sands Wood in Rufford after having a spell on Ashurst Beacon in Skelmersdale.

Our first port of call was to go and see the lovely Margaret who likes to give treats to Woody and spoil him rotten. We ended up in Lancaster hide after Margaret gave Woody a rawhide bone to chew on whilst I did a bit of wildlife spotting.

We had a nice walk around meeting other dog owners and other walkers but the highlight of the day was to see a Dragonfly that I haven’t seen before. I had seen this type on Spotter Jotter a few times and only wished that I could see one.

I was taking Woody through the Meadow at Mere Sands Wood and I spotted a Dragonfly on a bush and noticed that it was a Migrant Hawker, so I stopped and managed to get a number of photos of it. It was a bit hard as it was hanging vertically but I think the photos came out alright. I had to adjust the Levels, Hue and Unsharp mask in Paint Shop Pro.

We walked around again and like always we end up back in the Meadow and my last photo was of a female Common Darter.

Photo of a Migrant Hawker Dragonfly

Photo of a Common Darter Female

Kingfisher Sighting River Tawd Skelmersdale

Photo of a Kingfisher

Taken at Mere Sands Wood Rufford

I took Woody out yesterday down to the River Tawd in Skelmersdale Lancashire for a run about and for me to take some photos of the local wildlife. We ended up right down by the river bank, and whilst we were there I heard a very distinct call that sounded just like a Kingfisher.

As I looked towards the direction from where the noise was coming from I saw a rather dull looking coloured bird flying right down the middle of the river.

It was that fast I couldn’t get a good glimpse of it and it was a bit dark where I was due to the cover of the trees. At this part of the river there’s quite a few turns and I managed to see it go round the final bend and then out of sight.

The river Tawd is known locally for the dumping of shopping trolleys, rubbish and the likes and as far as I know it doesn’t seem to have any fish in it so it would be quite rare and remarkable to see a Kingfisher on this stretch of the river Tawd.

I decided today 28th June, to go back and have another look. I went back to the exact same spot and waited for a bit with Woody moaning and whinging and just out of the corner of my eye I saw something fly past so I looked in that direction and just got to see the back end and electric blue flash of a Kingfisher. This is truly amazing to see such a rare sight on this river. The Kingfisher looked like it had something in its beak, maybe food and maybe there’s a nest with young in it.

My goal now is to go back and see if I can get a few photos.

Large Skipper Butterfly – Skelmersdale

Photo of a Large Skipper Butterfly
Our trip out today was over to what was a farmer’s field where he use to grow wheat and now it is private land but looking like a meadow with lots of flowers, grasses and other wildlife like birds, insects including butterflies and moths.
When we arrived at the meadow, it was kind of dull and cloudy with some patches of blue sky. As usual I checked around for other people who may or not had a dog, so that I could let Woody off the lead. He has a bit of a problem when he sees other people, dogs or both and wants to go and say hello. Anyhow there wasn’t anyone about so I let Woody have a run about.
Photo of a Ladybird

We got almost all the way round the field when I saw a butterfly fly past, it was small and brownish in colour, something I wasn’t familiar with. It did settle down on some long grass and I managed to take a photo of it, but I didn’t know what type of butterfly it was.

We did go up to Ashurst Beacon for a walk around the meadows and Woods and I spotted some Speckled Woods, and more Large Skippers. With butterflies on the decline it was great to see two different types together.

Kingfisher – Mere Sands Wood

Photo of a Kingfisher Mere Sands WoodGot my first sighting this year of a Kingfisher at Mere Sands Wood in Rufford Lancashire from Marshall’s Hide.

We arrived at Mere Sands Wood at 4pm and spoke to Margaret about any recent sightings, and she mentioned that a visitor had seen 1 adult and 2 juvenile Kingfishers around the Reserve today. Just before the Visitor Centre closed, we went to Lancaster Hide (behind the Visitor Centre) first to see if the Kingfisher was in that lake. There’s various places or perches that they normally use and we couldn’t see any.

After the Lancaster Hide, we had a walk around the reserve and visited the other hides but again no sightings of any of the Kingfishers. We came out of the Rufford Hide and decided to go back to the Marshall’s hide as this was my lucky place to see the Kingfisher last year. Once inside and sat down, there’s a few places the Kingfisher likes to sit and hide so I used my camera to scan these areas and again no Kingfishers. About half an hour went by and I heard the distinct call of a Kingfisher and it made it’s appearance opposite the hide about 6.30pm.

It flew out of the short cut to the other lake and hid into the trees and stayed there for a while. I caught sight of it’s blue feathers amongst the branches and managed to take a photo but the weather and distance played a huge part in the quality of the photo so it wasn’t that good. After a bit waiting to see if the Kingfisher would show itself on the branches just outside the hide’s window, I looked a few times in the same spot but couldn’t see it there. There was another call from a Kingfisher so it must of been the same one and disappeared.

Now that I know the Kingfisher is back at Mere Sands Wood, I’ll be making more frequent visits to see my favourite bird and hopefully get some decent photos.