Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

99 Red Balloons

Ok, some of you may not remember the hit of 1983 “99 Red Balloons” by Nena. If I remember correctly, and despite its catchy tune, its doomsday message was quite thoroughly depressing. And so, as it happened, was my Saturday afternoon at Tophill Low.

I arrived at the hide about 2:00 pm to be greeted by a huge number of greylag geese, 20-30 curlew, several cormorants and the usual teal, mallards, coots etc. Oh, and not to forget the pair of resident mute Swans with their three cygnets. Around 2:30 pm four hot-air balloons flew over the reserve creating havoc amongst the wildfowl. This was obviously disappointing, for me and all the other visitors to the reserve. It’s a pity the pilots didn’t plot their course more accurately—or perhaps they were just plain unaware of the disturbance caused by their actions.

Still, many years of management training have taught me that you should always look for opportunities as well as the threats. By this time, nearly every bits had taken to the air and the cormorants and curlew were circling in the skies above the lagoon. I spent the remainder of the afternoon taking several “bird-in-flight’ photographs. Here’s a few…


Greylag geese-flight

Mute Swan-flight_4

Just before the balloons arrived, I spotted an unusual looking Goose on the edge of the lake. I hadn’t read about all the excitement of the ‘snow goose hybrid’ on Richard Hampshire’s Blog, so I just took a lazy couple of snaps for record purposes. I’m not sure if it’s the same bird but it looks pretty close to me. I hope my picture aids the debate? I will try to put something special together for my 100th Blog (and this also may coincide with my 100,000 view on Flickr). More soon…

Snow Goose hybrid?


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3 thoughts on “99 Red Balloons

  1. An extra balloon came along after the other four, and don’t forget the hang-glider, too. It certainly wasn’t a quiet afternoon and the goose exodus was quite spectacular!

  2. Nice shots! Especially the first one with the balloon in the background.

  3. Beautiful bird photography–the diving kingfishers are amazing! How did you capture that?! We have a series on our site called Bird of the Day, with birds from India, Nicaragua and the Galapagos Islands currently. Come visit!

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