Friday, 6 July 2012

Some Welsh birds

This was a day that turned out to be very productive, I haven't photographed Redstarts since I was shooting film, a big gap in my digital bird image library that needed filling! 
I planned a day when the weather forecast looked good and headed to Wales armed with a pot of Mealworms in the hope of getting a few images, and within 2 hours of getting to the site I had blasted 28 gig on both Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers, as well as Nuthatch and Robins too!
 Once I had checked out the images on the camera and was happy with them I decided to head off to Gigrin farm and get some Red Kite and Buzzards, a good decision as I did well there too and eventually headed home with a couple of days worth of editing and processing to do, quite handy really as it kept me busy while it rained again!

More local birds

Some more local birds photographed in the bright spells between the rain and cloudy weathe, the Corn Bunting population seemed quite high with at least 13 singing males in the small area around the farm that I regularly take pictures on, they are not always very accomodating, but this one favoured the newly planted Hawthorn hedge  and would come back to the perch soon after I parked near it, by staying in the car (a great mobile hide) I got some nice images. 
 The seed on the feeder patch soon drew in Pheasants, this one I nicknamed Dyson!
There were 2 days when there was a massive passage of Meadow Pipits, I counted 27 at one point, they were fun to look at due to the plumage variations, one had me guessing if it was Olive backed or not!
A star bird locally was the Barn Owl (last pic) they were nested in a fallen willow by a stream but hunted a piece of set-aside land away from the nest site, often coming to close to focus when I was there, you could almost set your watch by the time of their visits!

Local birds

It seems odd looking back at some of this years pictures as it looks like we have had lots of sunny weather when the reallity is that it's been very wet, so I am surprised that the Lapwings were as successful at raising young when it appeared their nests would have been washed out, all seven pairs on the field near my feeder site had 2 or 3 chicks!
 It was another great spring for Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails on the dungheap, it didn't take many days to get them coming to mealworms, but the surprise bird was a real tame Skylark, I've never managed to get them on supplied food before, and wonder if it was down to the weather making finding natural food difficult to get. Whatever the reason I have ended up with several hundred great images of one of the Larks, what a poser it was too!
 Linnets also came for seed, however the shot here was taken as one perched on the Oilseed Rape flowers in one of the surrounding fields.

Pasque Flowers

These flowers are the plant world equivalent of Swallows to me, they are an indicator that summer is just around the corner.
 There are not that many sites in the UK where Pasque flowers Pulsatilla vulgaris grow, so I consider myself to be lucky in that I am not far from a few of the Chiltern hill sites and the ones that grow on Therfield Heath near Royston. 
 I photographed these with a Canon EOS 1DsMkIII &100mm f2.8 macro lens whilst laying on the ground, obviously it is very important that you pick out individual flowers or isolated groups and don't trample on the others while you take your shots, I also used a silver Lastolite reflector and sprayed some of the flowers with water to get a nice "Dew" efffect as well!

Sunday, 22 January 2012


I can thoroughly recommend David Whistlecraft's woodland bird hide, here's some of the images I took on my visit.

Owl photography

If you want to learn the best ways to photograph wild owls without disturbing them why not book a full days tuition, e-mail me for details.

Winter gems

A long time since my last post on here! I was not out as much prior to Christmas due to having what seemed like a chesty cold, it turned out to be a lung infection that resulted in low blood oxygen so I ended up in Hospital and unwell over the New Year celebrations, I'm bouncing back to full fitness now though.
I really like the winter, it's the time to spend at a feeding station, mine is now very busy with lots of common woodland birds coming to get photographed, a great reciprocal arrangement, I help them survive the long cold nights by keeping them fed and they pose for pictures! The Robins are now getting ready to pair up for spring, I have one who poses to sing ... next years Christmas cards perhaps!

The other good thing about Winter's short days is that you don't need to get up as early to shoot the sunrise, this puddled farm track is near Burwell in Cambridgeshire.

Below are some more feeder site birds, the Nuthatch is at one of my sites, but the Wren is at David Whistlecrafts Norfolk woodland hide, I have been there to photograph the Crossbills and Siskins that come to his pool, more on that in the next post.

Another great thing about the winter is the influx of Short-eared Owls that arrive from Scandinavia and beyond, these are a joy to photograph usually. However this year I have been appalled by the behaviour of many of the 'birders with with cameras' that have literally crowded out some of the sites these birds depend on for winter survival, the constant noise of talking, slamming car doors, mobile phones and pagers is bad enough, but several of these idiots spend time hounding and chasing the birds in vain attempts to get close up images. The lack of fieldcraft, general stupidity, complete disregard for the birds welfare, and utter disrespect to other genuine and careful photographers is contemptable!

For just a few days each year the sun rises in a position that allows a clean unrestricted long telephoto lens shot of Ely Cathederal from far away, the longer the lens the bigger the sun will look, I used 840mm (600mm + 1.4X) to get this image.