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.

Friday, 22 May 2015

New talk underway

With the Forest of Dean talk now well polished and most of the key species 'in the bag' I have started to think about my next subject. I have entitled the newest talk in the portfolio 'Britain;s Best Wildlife' and am aiming to deliver a stunning series of images as I describe our most loved species.

Lots of work to do and especially on the top 5 which I want to really show to a very high standard. Watch this space as I keep busy on those over the next few months.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

More from the forest

Another day in the Forest of Dean was tougher for images but there is a wonderful green vibrance as the leaves unfurl with fresh colour. The adders too are around but can be hard to find tucked in the vegetation.

With the breeding season underway the mandarin drakes too are keen to show off their exotic plumage to its full extent and raise their crests for passing females.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Spring in the Forest

It's spring and my favourite time of year. The time always flies by though so this year I have booked a few days to spend in the Forest of Dean determined to get more images for the new talk.

I have been trying really hard to get close to hawfinch as this is certainly one of the key species of the  forest. Up to yesterday though I have had no joy but finally with some friendly advice I have been able to get my lens on these cracking birds.

As ever I am always in the Forest before first light (no mean feat when you live 80 miles away) just so I can catch the shy boar before they retire for the day. As the mornings are drawing out now I have managed to find some in daylight too so images are improving all the time.

This female has approached me twice now on separate visits, I stay still and quiet and she loses interest and trots back to her family. It is such a thrill to have an encounter with such a charismatic creature.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Hogs and Hawks

I have been getting back into the Forest of Dean again this winter but it is only just becoming light early enough to find the wild boar before all the cyclists, dog walkers and traffic send them into cover. I saw this mature female with her family from the road and then predicted where she was heading for. Thirty minutes brisk walking later they appeared just where I had hoped and even stopped to pose for me.

This week I also re-homed some orphaned juvenile hedgehogs. Rescued last autumn and fed up over the winter by Joan at West Midland Hedgehog Rescue these youngsters would have had no chance of survival without her help.

I have photographed many species of raptor but have not until now really got to grips with Goshawk. This year I intend to change that and with Paul Melton Hawks I managed to get some lovely images of this charismatic bird.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Past present and future

I have been very behind with this site of late and this is well overdue. I have been busy with my camera though at least and finished 2014 with a few small projects and trips. One trip was to Wales for a day. It was a dawn to dusk photo fest but in the sunshine I came back with some images I was delighted with including this chough and peregrine from South Stack.

2015 has seen me start a local hide project. I have tried to maximise the site near home by placing the hide in such a way that I can have a chance of woodland species, buzzard and also river species. So far I have had some lovely woodland birds visiting the feeders, the nuthatches perhaps being the most photogenic so far.

The buzzards are feeding on the roadkill I leave for them but so far not when I am in attendance. This weekend though at least my river watching was finally rewarded with this cracking kingfisher.

I still have a bit to do on my Forest of Dean portfolio and have a feeding site down there now too (fingers crossed) and this year I am also booked on trips for diving gannets and daytime pine marten so exciting times ahead.