The Great Bustard

Its been sometime since I last blogged. I was thinking that with all the restrictions and less work I would have more time on my hands but I have decided that 2020 is in some sort of time warp and 24 hrs seems like 12 hrs, especially now that the evenings are so dark.

We have been blessed recently to have a rare bird visit Oxfordshire. “The Great Bustard”. I have had the pleasure of seeing it in several different locations.

In the UK, the great bustard became nationally extinct when the last bird was shot in 1832. This iconic species of the Wiltshire landscape returned to the UK in 2004 when the Great Bustard Group initiated the 10-year trial reintroduction. The project sourced birds rescued from agricultural operations in Russia, with a plan to release 20 birds per year onto Salisbury Plain.*

The first sighting was early one morning, it was a bit misty and the light was very poor. I noticed he/she on the brow of a field. So then had the challenge of getting closer. I had my three dogs with me so capturing it on camera was going to be a challenge. The image quality is not great due to the conditions.

The Great Bustard (Otis tarda) is one of the heaviest flying birds alive today.

The Male Bustard is much bigger than the female. I am thinking this is a female but thats just a guess.

Males: Standing height 90-105cm. Wingspan 210-250cm. Weight 8-16kg.
Females: Standing height 75-85cm. Wingspan 170-190cm. Weight 3.5-5kg.

The Great Bustard is omnivorous, meaning it eats both animal and plants. Its diet is mainly composed of plants during spring, autumn and winter.

They favour lowlands, river valleys, and undulating open land.

They are long-lived birds, those that make it through their first year apprently usually live on for another 15 or 20 years.

The wing span is huge and it is very impressive in flight.

The next time it was around, it was a very foggy morning. I was given a tip off that it was around. Visibility was very poor. After searching for 3/4 hr I was about to give up when I suddenly spotted it lurking in the fog.

Although the image quality is poor, you can see in the image below how big the Great Bustard is compared to the phesant to its right.

Putting its size into perspective below with a ewe.

Thankfully some slightly better weather and a few days later another oppertunity to see this lovely bird in another location.

Not always so easy to find!

Beautiful in flight

On the look out!

Getting a little peckish!

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the blog!

All images are copyright of Mel Taylor Photography and should not be used without permission.

*Reference RSPB Website.

Lockdown #7

Well, we are still here, in a slightly less strict lockdown. People can meet outside in groups of up to 6 people. Schools have opened for a few years. All non-essential shops opened yesterday. People that live on their own can form bubbles. Most people are sticking to the rules as they are relaxed. However, it seems that people can gather in massive numbers to demonstrate, not socially distancing and can cram on to our beaches on a hot day, not social distancing and nothing is done about it.  But enough about that and I won’t go down the Cummings route!

Out here in the sticks, the Goslings are thriving, and boy do they grow quickly.


Early morning huddle.


Group walk – 27th May 2020


All 5 Goslings are still doing well. They are much bigger and more independant now.

Image taken 6th June 2020, the Goslings are a month old. They are still being kept at a distance so photographing them is difficult.

Thanks for reading and Keep safe!


A Thank You for NHS Staff, Key Workers & Local Heroes.


‘Portraits of Togetherness’

‘A photographers thank-you to NHS staff … as an image can speak 1000 words!’

Like everyone else, photographers appreciate everything that NHS staff give to others, especially so during the last few very difficult months.

There is very little more precious than an image of who or what we love, so numerous members from the highly respected Guild of Photographers have launched a “Portraits of Togetherness” campaign, offering free photoshoots and more to local NHS heroes.


Details of the Nationwide offers can be found here –

All you have to do is nominate someone that you think has gone above and beyond during Lockdown to help others.

I am very proud to be part of this campaign. I am offering 3 Complimentray Pet Portrait Shoots, along with the winner if they want to join in, along with 20-30 High-resolution digital images.  Full details of my offer and the nomination form can be found on my website.


Lockdown #6

Photography is still on hold. I could with the new Lockdown ruling do an outside Dog shoot with one of the owners present and social distancing but have not yet started this.

So I continue to stalk the wildlife around locally. Since the lockdown rules have been lifted a little and there is no restriction on exercise, there has been a noticeable increase in the footfall in and around the village. So not always easy, as I also usually have three dogs and two teenage boys out on walks with me!

The Goslings are growing. If I miss a day of seeing them I can see that they have grown the next day. They don’t stay as fluffy yellow balls of cuteness for long.

The parents keep them at a good distance still and are very protective. Another goose was not greeted well.  No more staying at home for them, they are out and about and being Alert!


The parents are constantly looking out for Danger…



The little ones like their independence and a solo swim is often taken when Mum is not looking!


Swiming together is also fun, but Mum often leaves them to it.


Then some playtime can be had, not mad paddling to keep up!


This last image was taken on the 17th May, they are just over a week old. All five are still with us.


Thank you for reading. Keep Safe.


There is not much that is exciting in Lockdown.  I have become a Garden bird stalker, a Red Kite Stalker, bunny stalker and a Canda Goose Stalker!


The Canada goose is a large goose, with a distinctive black head and neck and large white throat patch. An introduced species from North America, it has successfully spread to cover most of the UK. It forms noisy flocks and is often regarded as a nuisance in areas where large numbers occur on amenity grassland and parks. (RSPB)

There are several breeding pairs in my area. This was the last image of the Geese on the 7th April before the breeding process started. Then Mrs Goose sort of has to go into Lockdown herself and sits on those eggs for 25-30 days, only getting off briefly to feed every day. (at least she doesn’t have to queue at Sainsbury’s!)

She sits…..


Sits some more……


Then sits some more! In various different positions. Daddy Goose gets to have a swell time wandering around doing what the heck he likes!

Then after days of waiting…. the Goslings arrive! They arrived today!

I was so excited… I tripped over one of the dog leads, fell flat on my face, thankfully the camera survived the blow!

Daddy Goose now has his work cut out for him. He has to keep them safe! Let’s hope the Buzzard that lives nearby does not get to them!


I look forward to watching them Grow!


Thanks for reading my post, keep safe!




Lockdown # 5 – 22nd April 2020

We are halfway through the first week of the second phase of Lockdown. My boys are back to structured days after having had two weeks off for the Easter holidays. Making sure they have good happy minds during this time is key to me. They have been coping well and have been mainly positive, the odd day of everything is boring but it soon passes. Start the day with a positive thought and the day always seem so much better.

We have been blessed with lovely weather for this lockdown period and spring is definitely here and lovely to see the leaves and some blossom arriving on the trees.


My 30-day Photography project is going well. I have struggled on a few days to get the inspiration for the photographing something to match the word of the day.

Days 4 to 8 – Rainbow, Mirror, Paper & Hands.


Days 9 & 10 – Artificial Light & Brown


Day 11 & 12 — Perspective & Time


The camera had continued to come out on most of the dog walks. We were lucky to not still be on top of the hill this day! Although probably would have managed a shot or two of the pilots!


The Kites have been giving us a few displays too.



Mrs Goose has been sitting on her eggs for some time now. The incubation period is 24-32 days so there they should not be much longer. I look forward to photographing the Goslings as I do most years from a distance. Geese are very protective over their young. Last year the entire brood survived.


Keep Safe!


Lockdown # 4 – 16th April 2020

Three weeks of Lockdown completed and at least another three weeks have been announced by the UK government tonight.

It saddens me that only three days ago I wrote and the death toll for the UK was 11, 329. Today a further 861 deaths were announced and the total deaths have risen to 13,729. My Sympathies to all the affected families and friends. It really is hard to believe.

We will embrace another three weeks of this different world we live in and help and support each other as best we can.

I will continue to try and keep my lads focused, we have hit some boredom patches and it’s hard to motivate them when actually, there is not much fun about at the moment but you need to keep a positive mindset and think of nice things to do and keep your days filled with activities.

402A4617We have had some lovely walks in this nice weather and I have been taking the camera out with me. It’s not easy to do wildlife photography with three dogs and two teenage boys with you! The chorus of the birds is amazing at the moment, however, I can hear them but they are not so easy to spot! The Kites have been enjoying the clear skies.


04/04/2020 – Red Kite

I manage to get this shot of a Magpie, they are really shy birds and do not stick around for long. So with all my company I was amazed it did not fly before I got the camera up, which is what usually happens.


04/04/2020 – Magpie

The Canada Geese are back. Lots of noise in the mornings as they fly around.

04 & 05 Apr 2020

I love to see the birds early in the morning finding the sun spots to warm up to start the day.

This Jackdaw couple have found a great nesting spot. A really snug little hole.

Not far from them I found this Rook getting his morning Rays.



The days are flying by and I dont get time to do look at what I have every day. I will post some more pictures soon. Keep safe and well.

Lockdown #3 – Easter Monday

A strange Easter for us as I am sure it was for everyone. We were thinking of going away for a few days and we usually visit my Mum in Somerset which we have not been able to do.

The boys 13/15 are being really good but there have been some signs of them getting a little fed up with the restrictions it has on them this week.

It’s shocking how quickly this virus has taken hold another 717 deaths in the last 24 hrs and a staggering total of 11,329 deaths since the first documented UK transmission on the 28th Feburary all cases before that were believed to have been caught abroad. There are also many deaths that have not been documented here, in carehomes and at home. My heart goes out to all the family and friends of these individuals.

Keeping positive and busy is key for a healthy mind and body.  I have been taking the camera out with me on all my daily excersise outings in the hope that I will be lucky enough to capature some wildlife and have been stalking birds around the garden.


Robin 26/03/2020


 Goldfinch 26/03/2020

I am also doing a 25 day dog training challenge, which has been great fun. Its games based positive Training. The focus of the training is to help you get your dogs attention more on you and off the enviroment and distractions that they may go running off to.

If you want to join in and have a go with your dog, a great thing for your kids to do then please click here.  The challenge is for 25 days you have access for life and can start at any time. The cost is only £27.  Maybe this looks familar for your dog?2020-04-13_0002

On the photography front I am doing a 30 day photography challenge, which was sent to me by one of my agility friends. I am working through the list in order. Here it is if you fancy having a go.

30 day challenge

Here are my first four days. Dirt, lowlight, Laudry and Water.


Keep well and Safe.

Lockdown # 2

Well, its Easter Saturday, the weather is lovely and I am sat here listening to the Coronavirus update glad to hear that the majority of people are listening to the Government guidelines to stay at home.

I am lucky enough to live in a rural village and have been taking my camera out on my dog walk early in the morning but also making the most of things in the garden.


Ladybird/Daisy- 24/3/2020


Blackbird – 25/03/2020


Tortoise shell Butterfly – 25/03/2020


Lockdown – Day 1 (23rd March 2020)

What a strange time we are in. If they had made a movie about it, we would have said that wouldn’t ever happen!

I hope you are all keeping well and safe. I have tried to take and image every day. Not always with my camera, sometimes just with my i-phone.

There is obviously no photography work. I have had a few jobs to finish editing which are now done. I await the Print labs to open to be able to get printed images to clients. I can do digital but I would always recommend getting Professional quality prints done of your favourites. The quality is so much better than that you will get on the high street and an image comes alive in print. They look so much better when printed properly than they do on a screen.

Respect to all the key workers taking risks every day to look after all of us.

I have volunteered to help but have not heard back yet. So we just help our older neighbours by getting them shopping, doing a bit of lawn mowing and getting prescriptions.

Day 1 – Dandelion