Friday, 1 July 2016

Western Isles revisited

I have not been to the Hebrides for almost ten years having travelled there extensively in the past. Needing images of hen harriers for my new bird of prey talk was my excuse to take a short trip to Skye and then on to the Uists. Only two days though meant that I was under pressure to cram in as much as possible and I was pleased to add lots of images to the portfolio. Including some okish images of my main target species.


These black throated divers were a nice surprise on Loch Druidibeg.

A couple of landscape shots including this one of the black Cullin mountains on Skye

Short eared owls are thriving on the hebrides and can be found hunting in any suitable moorland or grassland habitat.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Terrific tufty!

A few days at Centerparcs in the Lake District was great for the family and we had brilliant weather whilst the rest of the country suffered. Best bit though was the pair of red squirrels behind our cabin.

I had of course taken a big tub of peanuts so the little fellows soon got used to my daily offerings and I had several chances to photograph them in the morning and evenings.

Not all good news there though as squirrel pox has hit the colony hard with maybe 60% having succumbed. Certainly we didn't see squirrels anywhere else on the 400 acre site and the rangers were very concerned.

I have photographed red squirrels in Scotland and Lancashire before but was pleased to get a wider portfolio of shots with these ones. A lovely subject that I could photograph again and again though.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Back to the Forest

Lured back to the Forest of Dean in the hope of Goshawk images I enjoyed a lovely sunny day. Unfortunately though my main subjects of Goshawk and boar eluded me and even the adders, dipper and pied flycatchers would not pose nicely. There was plenty of wildlife around though so I didn't come back completely empty handed.

Searching for boar turned up this fine roe buck in the bluebells. And whilst watching the peregrines at Symond's Yat Rock I was distracted by this wood mouse (or might it be a yellow necked mouse?) dashing and grabbing seed from near the viewpoint wall.

Finally instead of the little owls I was hoping for this red legged partridge posed for my camera. Some days you just have to take what you can get!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Another Highland winter

I have been wanting to get back to the highlands in the snowy winter months for a few years and this February managed to get a few days there.

In the Findhorn Valley the mountain hares were numerous and some quite confiding.

This particular hare was so un-fussed by our presence that I was able to use the full range of lenses. This image is with a 16mm wide angle and it was great to show the vast mountain habitat.

 Some coveys of red grouse were in the snow as well and made for some interesting compositional opportunities.

 A couple of hours at Loch Garten were also rewarded with some great views of crested tits. Nice light made it a very productive photography session too

Friday, 9 October 2015

Badgers in the garden

For the last six months a family of badgers have been visiting our garden nightly. This is the old boar of a pair and they have two cubs. Photographing them directly and with flash mounted on the camera or even close by resulted in red eye. For this shot I left the camera in the garden to shoot remotely and then mounted the flash at almost 90 degrees to create interesting side light. I also positioned the flash behind a bush so that the background would not be illuminated and leave a deep black to offset the badger. Finally I have processed the image in black and white to remove the distracting green of the grass and also add some atmosphere.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Finally...the elusive Pine Marten

Around five or six years ago I started out on my mission to photograph pine martens. I visited the speyside wildlife hide near Aviemore on three occasions and all three awarded great views of martens however it was always after dark. In June one year myself and a friend also booked the same hide exclusively all night to maximise the chance of a daylight showing. Despite the long vigil once again we only got night time views. Three years ago I became aware of a site in Southern Ireland where martens were coming to a hide in daylight. A flight, hire car and 28 hours in a small one man hide later and I was heading home not having even seen one!

So this was the latest attempt and at last success. Three days at a site on Scotland's Ardnamurchan peninsular being eaten by midges was richly rewarded by great views and photo opportunities of these very elusive but charismatic mammals. Mission accomplished?..well there are other shots I would like to have achieved!

Either side of the pine marten sessions I decided to explore Ben Nevis, Glen Coe and Rannoch Moor. Areas that I have often passed through but never stopped to admire. I wanted to dedicate some time to landscapes which I have never given enough time to. This image of the River Etiv took me quite a while to nail but the long exposure meant that I got something akin to a good shot...for me at least. It has also whetted my appetite for more landscape opportunities.

Yorkshire magic

June saw me head to the Yorkshire coast with a group of friends, the aim to photograph diving gannets from a boat off shore. Unfortunately the winds meant that the trip was cancelled so will have to wait until next year now. However all was not lost as the lovely RSPB Bempton Cliffs was full of photographic opportunities. Careful positioning of the tripod meant that I could frame this courting pair of gannets through the abundant red campion flowers.

From the exact same position I then had a prolonged view of this peregrine hunting for rock doves above the cliffs. This was a great spectacle but also the best chance I have ever had for photographing a species that I have always had a soft spot for. I even managed to capture the stoop but this was my favourite shot of the series.