Monday, 11 January 2016

Looking back at 2015

2015 was another year where my photography was sporadic, mainly due to university commitments where I was doing my second year at Durham. In fact my first photo of the year wasn't taken until March! Over the Easter holidays I managed to get out for a few days to Suffolk where this Little Egret was a nice consolation for a Bittern that never really showed. Despite the deformed bill it seems to be fishing fine.

April saw me get out a bit too, although it was mainly local stuff. While staying with family over Easter in Yorkshire I put up some branches next to their feeders and it wasn't long before they started to get some use. Unfortunately their resident male Bullfinch never put in an appearance while I was there (other than when I was sat inside without a camera!) but this Blue Tit was much more cooperative.
I also spent a few evenings with a pair of Mistle Thrushes that were nest building.
Just next to the bank where the thrushes spent a lot of time was a small pool frequented by several species of common ducks and geese, such as this Canada Goose.

It was another few weeks before I managed to get out with a camera again, the small matter of my exams getting in the way! 2 days after these finished, however, I was out in the reedbeds of Suffolk where I spent nearly a month around RSPB Minsmere. Unlike the previous year when I was there, the Bitterns were not as showy, but I spent more time photographing other species such as Bearded Tits and Dartford Warblers.






Then it was back to university for a week for the last bit of the term, before nearly 4 months off followed! For the first few weeks of this monstrously long holiday I spent a lot of time in Richmond Park photographing a family of Little Owls which I had come across. Despite the horrendously early starts required to get there for sunrise I was rewarded with some great view of the adults and young birds.




I also spent a bit of time with some badgers near me that appeared in daylight in the evenings, although as the nights got longer in August this didn't last long! Hopefully I can keep going with these next Summer.

The happiest badger ever photographed!

In August I was back in Suffolk for a few days, with the aim of photographing birds in the flowering heather. Unfortunately it wasn't a great year for the heather, but I still managed some images while I was out there.




In September I went on holiday with the rest of my family to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It was the first time I'd been to America and I loved it there. Our visit coincided with gorgeous colours of the Aspens, and we were lucky enough to see some amazing wildlife, even including 19 wolves in Yellowstone park! Despite it being a family holiday, of course my camera came with me and I managed to get some photography done.



Getting back home I had a couple of weeks before my second year of university started, so spent several mornings in Richmond Park photographing the deer rut. Some of the mornings had great conditions, with clear skies and mist covering the ground.


Other than a couple of photos taken with a new lens in December, the deer photos were pretty much my last of the year. 

Re lenses, I am selling my 600mm f/4 AF-S II lens as I'm now using a 400mm f2.8. The version I'm selling is the one before the VR model. If anyone is interested in seeing some photos send me an email here and I'll send some over.

Other than images I've taken I also had some more in magazines, and I contributed to features for Amateur Photography and N-photo magazine. I was also delighted to have my third cover image, this time for the Wildlife Trusts' Wildlife Watch Magazine! I have also had images in several other magazines, and an exhibition of my photos at the National Trust's reserve Dunwich Heath. My images are still also being featured weekly on Mark Avery's blog (markavery.info/blog/)

In competitions, I was really pleased to have an image commended in the British Wildlife Photography Awards Portraits category.

All that's left is to wish you all a happy and successful 2016. I'll do my best to keep sharing photos as I go on here, Facebook and Twitter and am looking forward to seeing you in the field!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Summer in Suffolk

With not much planned in the first couple of weeks of August I thought I'd spend a bit of time in Suffolk. There were a couple of particular things I wanted to photograph, as well as generally wanting to get back there as I like it so much!

On my first afternoon, while sitting in one of the hides overlooking the scrape at Minsmere, I spent a couple of hours photographing a pair of Oystercatchers with their two almost fully grown young. The parents were still feeding the chicks, and this was when one of them was returning to a youngster with food.
I also spent a few evenings in the scrape hides, albeit with not much success. Luckily towards the end of my stay a flock of Spoonbills flew down and landed for 5 minutes, before taking off again and heading north.
Another image taken in the evening, this Greenshank was roosting on one of the marsh pools on the levels. There were several of these at Minsmere while I was there. They will have been migrating from their breeding grounds in Scotland and Scandinavia to wintering grounds around the south and west coasts of the UK. Other greenshank populations winter as far south as sub-Saharan Africa, southern Asia and Australia.
One of the particular things I had wanted to photograph up there, and my reason for visiting in mid-August, was birds in flowering heather. I had hope for Dartford Warbler and Stonechat, but the former were very elusive. Fortunately I had some success with Stonechats perching in purple heather plants.

One morning while walking along the beach at Minsmere I spotted a Sanderling, another migrant wader making its way south, scuttling up and down the shingle, feeding on invertebrates in between the pebbles. Watching which way it was going, I walked ahead of it before lying down and waiting, and sure enough in a couple of minutes it was close enough to get some photos of it. It was so unconcerned about me being there that it just ran straight past me so close that I could almost touch it!
Another passage wader, that was present at Minsmere in much larger numbers, was the Black-tailed Godwit. I managed to get this image as a small flock of them flew past the hide.
I also spent quite a bit of time there photographing Beewolves, a species of parasitoidal wasp, but those image will have to wait until next time.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Summer Photography

Over the Summer I spent some time photographing wildlife local to me in London, and the first of these subjects was Badgers, an animal I have wanted to photograph for some time. Somewhat fortuitously I stumbled across some a short drive from my house so spent every evening for a couple of weeks out there with them. Below are a selection of images from that time.


I also had the idea to try for some wide angle images so every night for over a week had a camera and a couple of flashes out, to be triggered by some pocket wizards lent to me very kindly by a friend. Despite placing the camera under some plum trees, where the badgers would spend several hours every night, they would go nowhere near the camera. I was stood away from the camera watching them through binoculars and would see them go almost-but-not-quite near enough to mean I could trigger the camera. After that I was away for nearly 6 weeks so haven't managed to get back there yet, but it's something I'll definitely by trying again with next year!

The other species I spent a lot of time photographing was Little Owls in Richmond Park. Unfortunately for me this meant 4am wake ups were required so I could get to the park in time for sunrise, and after a couple of those in a row I would be absolutely exhausted! It was all worth it when I'd arrive to see the owlets, with no-one else around.



Next time I'll have some stuff from later in the Summer, when I spent some time in Suffolk, and then Yellowstone!

Thanks for looking.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Suffolk in Springtime

It's been a while since my last post, and I've managed to fit in quite a bit of photography since my exams finished at the end of May. First I was in Suffolk for 3 weeks again, doing some photography for the RSPB at Minsmere while Springwatch were filming there. As with last year I had a great time and even managed to wangle my way onto Springwatch extra again to talk about my photography! (Link was on iPlayer but this blog post has taken me so long to write that it's no longer there...) Unlike last year I came back with barely any Bittern images, but instead was able to spend time photographer other species I hadn't had a chance to before.

As ever there will be lots more images appearing on my Facebook page here and Twitter page here so head over and check them out!
A Cormorant, Great White Egret and Grey Heron perched on this wooden structure together. The egret was present for the whole of my stay, but this was the best view I had of it.
A Bittern flies up from the reeds to see off a hunting male Marsh Harrier. Both these species use the reed beds for feeding and nesting, and are unusual in that they would probably both take each others chicks if given the chance. I saw this happen a few times last year but never managed to get it on camera, and this time I didn't have much time to capture it before the Bittern dropped back down, so was pretty pleased with the result!
One morning whilst walking between two of the scrape hides, I came across a particularly aggressive Little Egret which was chasing off any other egrets that came onto this pool.  This was taken as it landed having chased the last one off.
The Bearded Tits were very active this year and gave superb views to visitors. As well as capturing frame-filling images of them, I was keen to capture some photos of them in their environment.
 While waiting for Barn Owls one evening at the back of the local pub this male Marsh Harrier suddenly took off from the field in front of me, allowing me to get about 3 images before it had banked too far around. I've never really got close enough to photograph them, so this was a nice bonus before the owls appeared.
Taken on the same evening as the previous image, this owl spent nearly an hour hunting over this field, which was conveniently located at the park of the Eels Foot Inn car park!
I had photographed Avocets before, but had never had the chance to get close to their chicks. This year they had a very productive year on the scrape and while I was there there were over 50 chicks out. One family would often come very close to one of the hides so I spent several mornings there photographing them.
This Ringed Plover and its mate had nested on the beach and had two chicks with them. I spent a brief period (so as not to disturb them) one morning photographing them.

I've also spent the last couple of weeks photographing wildlife more local to me, and some of those images will appear in the next blog post.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Spring Photography

I was back at home for my month-long Easter holiday a couple of weeks ago, and having not picked up a camera since January, was keen to get out and do some photography. I spent a couple of days up in Suffolk which, although not the most productive, did yield some images.
I noticed a pair of Stonechats along a line of gorse in theses dunes so set up next to one of the gorse bushes so I could also get some of the yellow flowers in the background. Fortunately I didn't have to wait long before both the male and female landed.

I was hoping to photograph Bitterns, but they remained elusive while I was there. Luckily this Little Egret came down to fish in the water instead, seemingly not at all concerned about me lying on the ground only a few metres away.

Over the Easter weekend I spent a few days with family up in Yorkshire. They have feeders in their garden, and a good selection of birds visiting them. I was particularly keen to be able to photograph a pair of Bullfinches which I'd seen from the window, but although they didn't appear again I did get some photos of some of the more common species.

Just before I had to get back to university, I also spent a few evenings at my local nature reserve in London, photographing some wildfowl and a pair of Mistle Thrushes which had a nest nearby.


That's all for this time. I've still got images from last year that haven't appeared online yet, so will do my best to get those up at some point.