Monday, 7 November 2011

Close to home

I usually check out the dung heap in autumn, just to see what is returning back to wintering areas, I haven’t seen much there as the dung seems to have migrated too, its not there! But there was a Wheatear or two finding plenty to eat at the site.
 The other images are local landscapes in some fairly dramatic weather conditions, all taken during some of the brief bits of spare time or on the way to/from various other projects.


This year is flying by, almost Christmas again and I am already fed-up with piped carols in the supermarket, glad I don’t work there!
 The seasons are passing on and I nearly missed the main wader passage due to other work commitments and frankly some very crap weather, it seems to have been wet and windy whenever I have been free to head out with the big lenses.
 I did get away to the coast though, one of my main target species was Curlew Sandpiper, I have many pictures on file but thus far have never managed to find a really confiding bird that I can shoot from right down in the mud, with it! Part of the problem now is that you can’t go anywhere without there being crowds of people, and amongst them is always another birder with a camera, usually one who makes more noise that a one-man-band in hob-nailed boots!

 Well I found the bird, a 1st year juvenile with a fine peachy flush of colour to its breast feathers, and after a little while stalking carefully I dropped to my tum and started shooting, soon the bird was used to me enough that I could get closer, however , dashing across the shingle I could see disaster looming, I’d been seen and another camera toting person was heading in my direction at breakneck speed…… fortunately once he was closer I recognized who it was and after a few hand-signals and whispered instructions the chap got down low and moved in slowly, he also waited until I was happy that I had the images I was wanting before joining in, It was so good that there are still a few who respect other peoples ‘finds’ and show some etiquette rather than bulldozing in, generally spooking the bird, leaving no-one with shots! Many thanks, you know who you are!

 On other days I had to myself a very confiding Purple Sandpiper (above) and an equally tame Golden Plover, it posed for me for about 2 hours....... 

 .......and also I caught up with some Sanderling, practicing ballet and running in the surf on the beach at Titchwell.

Lots more images on

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Farne-tastic weekend!

A blinding weekend, two days on the Farne Islands with Steve Blain and Paul Hackett, the weather was pretty much perfect except a strong swell on the sea made the timings a bit outside what we had hoped for, but in the end it was a photographically productive trip.
 I came home with all the target shots I had wanted, mostly that consisted of more and better Puffins in flight with bills full of Sandeels, Close ups of Shags showing the irrescent green colour better, Razorbills, I had perfect light for them on Saturday morning and a real poser to work with too.
You can find many more images from the Farnes on my Flickr pages click here .
I am on Facebook now too, please see the link on the top right of this page

Saturday, 18 June 2011

1 to 1 photography tuition

I am now available to take bookings for full day photography tuition (1 or 2 pupils) again, so if you are struggling with understanding your camera's settings, controlling exposure, fieldcraft and composition why not e-mail me for details.

Muddy puddles

Most years I set up a pool to attract birds so I can get shots of them drinking and bathing, this year I have had 2 on the go, the long dry spring has meant that the pools were much more successful than usual with one pulling in Yellow and Pied Wagtails, Corn Buntings Linnets, Grenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and several species of Warbler, especially a pair of Whitethroats who came to bathe at about 8:40 a.m. each day.
The other pool was shallow and deliberately muddy and offered much needed building material for the Swallows and House Martins around the farm.
There are many more shots on my Flickr pages

Yellow Wagtails

It's about time I did an update on here!! I don't know where this year has gone, it's half way through already and it feels like Christmas was just a few short weeks ago.
Always my favourite few weeks of the year is when sping migrants pass through the farmland near to home, the local dung heap is piled high with the bedding and muck from the winter cattle sheds and produces tons of bugs which from the end of March attract lots of Wheatears, Whinchats and Yellow Wagtails, all stop off to feed on their journey northwards.
This year the numbers were down, I suspect though due to there being several muck piles spread over the area rather than one big one so the birds weren't concentrated in one site, and this year the most accessable site had Sugar beet waste rather than dung spread on it.
7 birds have stayed, 3 males and 4 females took up residence around the Beet waste pile, of the males there is one with a very pale lemon coloured head that looks like a lutea ! There are 3 pairs of birds well into breeding now and they are eagerly coming to meal worms to feed to their young.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Barn Owls

I am sure all who read this blog will know that I have a big love for Barn Owls, last week I spent several days working on them at a regular haunt.
There's no substitute for spending time just watching them and getting to know their favoured hunting spots, perches and habits, once you know the birds daily routine the photography is easy; you can be in the right place for the light at the right time of day and wait for the bird to come to you.
So, after 4 days of getting to know my birds daily routine I waited by one of the favoured perching places and got some great portraits in the morning, then spent the afternoon at its favourite hunting meadow shooting flight shots, a very nice day!

Monday, 24 January 2011

The problem with Waxwings!

……Is that they are just too popular and too addictive!
With this winter looking like it would produce a big irruption of the Scandinavian beauties from early on I was keen to be out photographing them, it’s not that I haven’t already got lots of shots from previous years but the chance of fresh images on higher (ever growing) resolution was the driving factor.
However I am addicted to these fantastic looking birds and any opportunity to photograph them is usually a real joy; this year though some of that pleasure has been ruined by a few morons.
Now I am a fairly tolerant person but this year I have had my patience stretched by the idiots that turn up where these birds are feeding, that’s birders and camera wavers too; I’ve avoided using the expression ‘Bird photographers’ here because in the main (with 2 exceptions) it is the dSLR owning public with no real interest or knowledge of birds, the new to birding camera owners with no fieldcraft skills or understanding of Waxwing (or any other species) feeding behaviour and the almost totalitarian hard-core anti-photography birders who are the problem!
In general the camera wavers are usually pretty good at taking some carefully worded and constructive criticism of what they are doing wrong, they then stop chasing the birds around, get a few shots they are happy with and move on. Its much the same with most of the others too, some think they know it all'
“I’ve been photographing birds nearly 10 years mate who the f*** do you think you are”
is a typical reply when they're asked to not chase about all over the place unnerving the birds.
Only last week I was stood still in the same place for several hours where I had a great shot lined up on a branch the birds regularly dropped down on, each time they appeared the same idiot ran over to where I was and poked his 100-400mm over my shoulder causing the Waxwings to fly off, the birds got more unsettled, he was not pleased when I finally lost my rag.
Not long after I had the Waxwings right where I wanted them, next to a busy road they were not bothered by the traffic and they were down in the same place for the fifth visit, I was happily getting some great images when 2 idiots screeched to halt, slammed the car doors, then the driver, shouting and swearing, accused me of spooking the birds by being too close. Clearly he had no ability to comprehend it was his own door slamming noise and sudden movement or perhaps the Waxwings usual 'hit and run' swoop, feed and back to a safe perch method of feeding was the cause of their departure.
I do not claim any priority rights over anyone else to look at or photograph birds, but I would like to see a return to some manners and respect for other birdwatchers, it doesn't take alot of common sense to see that a photographer/birder might have a bird performing well for great views or pictures (however common the species) why people can't stay back and leave others to enjoy the moment is beyond my comprehension.
I am nearly 56, I’ve been birding since I was 10, and photographing nature since I was 16, I love it, and until about 5 years ago I could go out and meet like minded people who loved it too, sadly that pleasure is being eroded by that small minority of overly loud and obviously selfish morons who seem to spoil birding for everyone… including themselves!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Barn Owl book.

Next month, February, sees the release of a new Barn Owl Book published by New Holland written by David Chandler with photography by me, it's available for pre-order already.
With a nearly double page spread Lapwing shot in the latest RSPB "Birds" Magazine and a Short-eared Owl picture on the January "Birdwatching" cover, things are looking OK for 2011

New site

It's still under construction, but a couple of pages are viewable!