Saturday, 15 December 2012

Waxwings, Awards and a National Mega!

The past week has been an excellent one for a variety of reasons! Last weekend I found some local waxwings which for once were showing low down enough to achieve a smooth green background.

On friday I also attended the RSPCA Young Photography Awards Ceremony. To my amazement I won the 12-15 category with the image below (a result that was far better than I ever expected)

Finally, with news breaking of a Buff Bellied Pipit at Queen Mother Reservoir on Thursday, it was perhaps inevitable that today I was down there photographing the wonderfully confiding bird. Unfortunately at QMR low angles are virtually impossible due to the raised bank but hopefully these photos do the birds justice...

As always thanks for reading!

Also apologies for the randomly placed copyrights on my image (it is a fault I am currently trying to resolve!)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Divers and Grebes

Not many photos to share from recent trips unfortunately - just a couple of record shots of some rather special birds. The first, a Great Northern Diver from Theale. The bird was some 50m away but still the best views I have had of this species.

This second image is of a Slavonian Grebe at a site near where there was supposed to be a Snow Bunting (but I dipped!). Again a nice bird but too far away, the fencing boundary 15m away from the water's edge didn't help!

I will be having another go at photographing Little Owls this weekend and if I am successful, I will post the photographs next weekend.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Glaucous Gull

It is not very often I dedicate a blog post to one individual bird as I aim to capture a variety of wildlife on each of my photography shoots, however on this occasion I can't resist! For many, gulls are perhaps pests but I have always admired their ability to adapt to an ever humanising world. The Glaucous Gull is a species I have always wanted to see, however they often turn up at unpredictable locations to roost each evening and seemingly disappear during the day. However for the past 3 years a Glaucous Gull has overwintered at Dungeness and I finally got to go and see 'Shorty' (named after his lack of tail when he was first found). I arrived at its favoured location at around 9am and found it fairly easily amongst the other gulls roosting by the beach. At first I was cautious approaching him as I was unsure as to how he would respond, but I needn't have worried as he was possibly the tamest gull present and I was fortunate enough to photograph him for about an hour. Confiding is perhaps an understatement as he casually caught starfish from the shore just metres in front of me. So, onto the photos, below is quite a long series of photos (some of which are very similar) but please let me know in the comment section which is your favourite! (I have numbered them so hopefully that will help!)


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Little Owl Project

The start of what will hopefully become a decent project for me, Little Owls. I investigated the new site today to find at least one, possibly 2 Little Owls residing in the barn and I am told that there are barn owls in the area too! An exciting project but for now I only have one shot to show!

Friday, 5 October 2012


Norfolk, my favourite place for birds in Britain. It may not be the most scenic of locations, a hill being quite a rarity, but the vast areas of reedbeds and coastal marshes are a haven for wildlife. Over the summer I was fortunate enough to spend a few days there, where I focused on one of my favourite birds, Bearded Reedlings (tits). Not only are they extremely difficult to obtain clear views of, they are also extremely charesmatic. Conditions have to be perfect with no wind, and it can't be too hot, otherwise they seem to prefer to hunker down in the reeds! I was very fortunate as I had fantastic views of both Male and Female birds. In terms of birding it was also great, with a number of scarcities being seen, including a new species for me, a Common Scoter. They are extremely common I know but I have never confidently seen one. Being a sea duck it was predictably miles out, but nice to see. On the drive back from Norfolk, we decided to stop off at Abbey Farm, a great little place near Kings Lynn. It is simply a farm, however the owner has made a conscious effort to maintain the farm with wildlife in mind. One of the star attractions are the little owls, and I managed to obtain this rather dodgy record shot of one. More Recently, I was fortunate enough to see a Little Owl very locally, so I will be contacted the land owners in the next few days in the hope over the winter I can start a mini Little Owl project. Other plans for the winter include Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and of course my worst enemy, the Bittern. Below are my images from Norfolk, I am particularly pleased with my Bearded Reedling efforts this year, being much better than my previous attempts.
On another note, in addition to my Highly Commended image in the BWPA (British Wildlife Photography Awards) this year, I have also won the 'Small Mammals' Category in the Hampshire Wildlife Trust's Competion. However perhaps more excitingly, out of the 4 Junior Categories in Marwell Wildlife's (Zoo) photograph compeition, I won 3 of them, and the overall Junior Compeition. Links are below!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

BWPA Success

I can now very proudly announce that I have been highly commended in the British Wildlife Photography Awards with the image below. As you can imagine I am extremely chuffed with my achievement.
Sorry I haven't blogged for ages but you can expect to see some Red Kites, Siskins, Bearded Reedlings and Kingfishers in the coming weeks, so check soon for an update!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Kingfishers, Dartfords and Turnstones

Well it looks as if over the summer holidays I am going to be unable to keep this blog updated for every trip out with the camera, (there's just too many!) so once again this is going to be an update containing my ventures over the past week or so. I took another visit to Dinton Pastures and although I didn't see the Mink again, it appears it has caused yet more devastation at the Tern colonies and has wiped out birds on another raft - hopefully over the winter this mink will be trapped as it has been responsible for the destruction of many nests this year. Luckily, some Terns had obviously escaped the raids as there was a juvenile Tern in front of the hide and was being fed by the adult in mid air, allowing for some nice action shots, although, unfortunately I had to shoot against the light!
It was then (finally!!) my birthday for which I received a Sony A77. There is still a lot to learn about the camera but I am loving the 24mp sensor and 12fps, both of which are extremely useful for bird photography. To learn more about this amazing camera I spent an afternoon photographing Kingfishers, the results of which can be found on my 500px account: The week also held my first ever trip to Chobham Common which is possibly one of the best examples of heathland I have seen. Although my searches for Snakes were fruitless, a Male Sand Lizard bolted across the path in front of me and I was privileged enough to spend around an hour in the company of a pair of Dartford Warblers which are truly magical birds! The wind really didn't help and they were spending the majority of the time very low in the extremely dense heather but on one occasion the male Dartford Warbler distantly sat at the top of the heather. This is where the A77 really comes into its own and the photograph below is a 100% crop on the original. Other species seen include my first Parasitoid Wasps and on of my favourite butterflies, the Grayling.
And finally, my trip to one of my favourite nature reserves, Titchfield Haven. Being located along the coast, there are always masses of wading birds at Titchfield, and it continues to amaze just how few birders and photographers visit the place. For photography it is fantastic with birds often being located very close to one of the 7 hides. Perhaps some of my best views of birds were obtained on the seashore by the visitor centre, where around 80 Turnstones, the majority still in full summer plumage were feeding. They are remarkably tame birds though extremely difficult to focus as they are just never still! This is where once again the A77 is extremely useful as it has Object Tracking. I also saw a Rock Pipit, my first for a VERY long time and it is a species I have never seen reported at Titchfield. On the reserve itself we saw Green Sandpipers, Common Sandpipers, Black Tailed Godwits, Little Egrets but I managed to get my best ever shots of Reed Warblers, which I spent a lot of time photographing.
Many Thanks, as always, for reading and I hope you like the pics as much as I have enjoyed taking them! I'm off to Norfolk for a few days next week where I am hoping for Bearded Tits and Spoonbills so be sure to check back soon! After Norfolk I will be putting a lot of time into a local Kingfisher project which I have been working on the past few weeks.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Mink, Voles and Partridges...

The past few days have been fantastic days for photography (certainly not the weather which continues to be miserable). On Monday, the weather forecast was particularly dull so I therefore opted for a day at Dinton Pastures Country Park, Reading so I could shelter in the hides during the heavy showers. The lakes were, unsurprisingly, completed flooded with no sign of any scrapes though surprisingly a Common Sandpiper and Oystercatcher were seen on the lake margins. Last week at the site an American Mink was reported destroying the Tern Rafts and to my amazement, when I left the Bittern Hide there he was on the footpath casually dragging away his prey (a very unlucky rabbit). He quickly ran off but obviously returned later on because the Rabbit was no longer on the footpath upon my return. I then went over to Lea Farm and en route I photographed a Grass Snake again found on the footpath. I then spent the next hour or so photographing the Common Terns conveniently posing on the perches 20 metres in front of the hides.
On Tuesday I took a trip to Birdworld in Farnham to practice on some captive birds. While there I spoke to one of the guides who informed me of a pair of Wild Grey Partridges in a field to the rear of the park and after 20 minutes of waiting I was looking at my first Grey Partridge. This individual however was remarkably tame, though the setting wasn't ideal (bricks!). The collection at Birdworld was extremely impressive with over 160 species of captive birds.
And finally, on Wednesday we went to Arundel WWT. First of all we walked along the moat surrounding Arundel Castle to look for Water Voles and quickly found 2 swimming incredibly close at times. One even came onto our side of the bank and was oblivious to school groups etc. passing by him. We then went into the wetlands centre itself and covered the collection first, followed by the hides. The collection was an opportunity for me to photograph species such as Common Scoters up close which can normally only be seen hundreds of metres offshore! The woodland hide allowed us to get very close views of Pheasants, Goldfinches and Reed Buntings but the scrape hide was incredibly quiet with a Male Mandarin in eclipse plumage being the only thing of note, and is most likely an escape from Arundel's vast collection. The Sand Martin hide however was very productive with a Common Tern perched about 15 metres away.We then found a Juvenile Dunlin very close to the hide. He seemed far smaller than the bird I photographed in Scotland last year though this is perhaps because he was a juvenile. We then went back to the Water Voles and we again quickly found them!
All in all a great few days which has left me with nearly 5000 photos to sort through and edit!!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Spot of Flycatching?

Apologies for the highly cliché title but I couldn't think of anything better! Well as the original title suggests, today I went looking for Spotted Flycatchers at a Cemetery in Grazeley, near Reading. We arrived at around 10:00am to be told by a birder who had been on site for the past hour that there was no sign of them. He then departed and after 20 minutes of searching the cemetery and the local recreation ground (where they had been seen the night before) we too failed to find them. Now I presumed that the small patch of woodland adjacent to the Cemetrey had been checked, but I soon discovered that this was not the case and within 5 minutes of entering the woodland I was watching 2 families of Spotted Flycatchers (9 individuals in total). We watched the birds for the next couple of hours and they were almost permanently on show. The light was poor and the birds unfortunately often remained distant but I managed to get a couple of OK record shots. The area was surprisingly rich in wildlife with Kestrel, Buzzard and Red Kite all being seen along with my first Marbled White Butterfly of the year.
As always - thanks for reading :-)

Friday, 13 July 2012

Garden Birds

Welcome to my new blog! Hopefully this will allow me to be a little more flexible with my blog posts and include more photographs. Since breaking up from school (yay!) I have spent a great deal of time in my portable hide in the garden (to be honest the weather has restricted me from going much further afield!) As the weather has been so miserable I have been able to get a perfectly black background from one particular perch which I quite like. To ensure the birds spend long enough on the perch so I have the time to get the photographs I would like, food is hidden inside the perch, meaning the birds have to spend a few moments extracting the food. The sparrows were particularly poor at doing this and would spend minutes at a time on the perch allowing me to get the perfect set up. To ensure the background was solid black I had to (for the first time in ages!) use manual exposure as opposed to Aperture Priority, which took a lot of getting used to!
My next target were the Long Tailed Tits, which have recently raised 7 young at a nest site nearby. Although not visitors to my garden, they can often be found in the scrub areas outside. They were far trickier to photograph than the sparrows as they are very unpredictable in terms of where they are going to perch although with a little perseverance I was able to get respectable shots of the adults and the juveniles.
And finally, one of my favourite birds, the Robin. Hardly the pinnacle of exciting birds but it is one of the few species where I prefer photographing the juveniles to the adults. I was lucky enough to have a pair breeding in a nest on the floor very close to my home and yesterday I was fortunate to witness them fledging! Well I say fledge, they are still unable to fly, so perhaps hop out of the nest into a low lying shrub would be a more accurate description of the event. Of the 3 fledgling, 2 did the sensible thing and immediately sought shelter (it was raining... unsurprisingly!) however one decided to hop the other way into a bog. Now I am strongly against interfering with nature but on this one occasion to decided to help the poor little guy out and helped him out of the bog, and returned him to the patch of forest from which he fledged! Of course, throughout this period I managed to take just over 1000 photographs so below are a couple of my favourites, however more can be found on my website: