Entries in the ‘Projects’

Mothernature-At Her Best and Worst

Filed in Projects, Wildlife on Jun.16, 2015

Over the last several weeks I have had many projects on the go, one such project has been watching a pair of beautiful Pied Flycatchers. These birds visit our shores during the spring and summer months from their wintering home of West Africa and live manly in woodland habitat. Their numbers are quite low and they are on the “amber” list of species by the RSPB meaning they aren’t rare but not common too.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=craig+jones+wildlife&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-US:%7Breferrer:source%7D&ie=UTF-8&oe=&rlz=1I7DKUK_en&gfe_rd=cr&ei=fE6AVfj7O83H8ge98oCIDw&gws_rd=ssl

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I have wanted to photograph this species of bird in their woodland habitat for many years but I haven’t been lucky enough to find them. This year I had found a pair and they were nesting in a small nest box in a beautiful deciduous wood. These birds are beautiful and I was very lucky to have found a pair. They landed on a number of naturally occurring branches around this nestbox and I have composed them showing their home and these branches they are using with the following images.

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https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=craig+jones+wildlife&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-US:%7Breferrer:source%7D&ie=UTF-8&oe=&rlz=1I7DKUK_en&gfe_rd=cr&ei=fE6AVfj7O83H8ge98oCIDw&gws_rd=ssl

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Up until this point they were doing really well, both parents feeding and everything looked good. Then around lunch time the following day I was watching another part of the wood where they are hunting the flies when I heard a hissing kind of noise from where the nest box was.

I rushed over and saw the male bird hovering in front of the box and making a noise that I can only describe as an alarm call. Then in a flash something came from the nest box and ran down the front of the box. It was a Weasel with one of the chicks. It happened so quick that I didn’t really have time to do anything or to even think. I did manage to capture a few images of him making off with the chick as the male was hovering to see off the Weasel.

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What happened over the next hour and a half after this first attack was that the same Weasel came back several times to get the rest of the chicks. But as soon as I saw him I made a loud hissing noise myself and other noises to warn him off. Sometimes he stopped at the base of the tree, others he was up and on top of the box. Each time he left with nothing and this went on for a while. After the first attack the parent birds returned but were jumpy when going to the box, they seemed to know what had happened and stayed back and didn’t return with any food for those hours after the attack.

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I wanted to know what had happened inside the box but I had to stop myself from going to see and investigate because I didn’t want to disturb anything or leave my scent on the box and its not right to interfere with nature. I had done my best making sure that the Weasel didn’t get any more chicks during those many attempts. When I left there had been no sighting of the Weasel for several hours and I really hoped when I returned the following day that the chicks survived and the Weasel had moved on.

Nature is beautiful but at times very cruel I know this well but when you witness it for yourself it is upsetting and I can’t blame the Weasel for wanting to feed his family but as I say when you witness animals being killed by others its not nice and I had watched this pair of Flycatchers for a while now and then this happens.

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The following day I returned just after dawn, I waited several hours and no return by any adult. Before opening the box I made the noise of the adult bird and gently tapped the outside of the box and there was no noise or calls from inside. At that point I lifted the lid wearing gloves. The Weasel had gone back when I left by the looks of things and had all of them, very sad. Nature is cruel but that’s the circle of life and I learned that very early in my life but it was a  real shame.

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I spent most of the morning searching the same wood for another pair as there are nest boxes put up for them. As I was looking I always listen to bird calls, they will always let you know what is around. I know the Pied Flycatchers well and I saw a lone male bird that kept coming to another box. Once at the entrance hole he’d paused and then flew off. I didn’t know if he was preparing his nest for inspection for a female or just looking for another nest box or there was already another female inside.

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Then I heard ” Have you seen much?” and I turned around and a bloke was standing there, after a few words I recognized him and he me and we got talking as I had last seen him some five years back. I told him about the box that had lost its chicks and that I was watching this new box.

He informed me that a female was sitting on eggs in the box I was watching and that he was here to ring her. Keith is a member of British Trust for Ornithology and is a ringer in the Staffordshire moorlands area for them and has been for many years. He knew me and my work and passion and so he trusted me with this information and I watched him with great care place a small bag over the roof of the nestbox while blocking the entrance hole. Carefully then he removed the bag from the top of the box and inside was this beautiful female Pied Flycatcher.

I asked if I could take a few photos and it was no problem as Keith put the ring on, checked over the bird and once done he let her go. Soon after she was back in the nest. Amazing to be so close and what luck I’ve had at this site I said to myself. From losing a whole family of chicks to then being so close to one and knowing the BTO ringer for the area.

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Another truly beautiful bird the Redstart, a pair are sharing the same deciduous wood as these Pied Flycatchers which is wonderful. They are nesting in a nearby old oak tree not far from the new flycatchers nest.  I have watched them too over the last few weeks and now the chicks have fledged and I counted around eight in and around the tree tops.

I’m hoping to get a few images of these but they are providing a difficult little subject to get near because their parents have hidden them away and I don’t want to impact on their lives or their parents. The following images are of that Redstart family.

Another truly beautiful bird the Redstart who are sharing the same deciduous wood as the Pied Flycatchers which is wonderful. They are nesting in a nearby old oak tree not far from the new flycatchers nest.  I have watched them too over the last few weeks and now the chicks have fledged and I counted around 8 in and around the tree tops.  I’m hoping to get a few images of these but they are providing a difficult little subject to get near because their parents have hidden them away and I don’t want to impact on their lives or their parents. The following images are of that Redstart family.

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When you go out taking photos of a project or something you love please just stop, sit down and look around you. You will see some many living beings, so many different images all around you. I love to capture this within my work and all you have to do is think outside of the species you are there for and look further afield and you will see natures beauty all around you.

The following images show some of the other birds that share this amazing deciduous wood alongside these Pied Flycatchers.- Blackcap, Song Thrush, Wren, Great Tit. Also there are a few images of the insects that provide food for these birds, an arty photo of ferns.

When you go out taking photos of a project or something you love please just stop, sit down and look around you. You will see some many living beings, so many different images all around you. I love to capture this within my work and all you have to do is think outside of the species you are there for and look further afield and you will see natures beauty all around you. The following images show some of the other birds that share this amazing deciduous wood alongside these Pied Flycatchers.- Blackcap, Song Thrush, Wren. Also there are a few images of the insects that provide food for these birds, an arty photo of ferns which I love and some close up images of Long-tailed Mayfly that are very common in this wood. Also there is an image of a Harvestman which are beautiful little creatures.  Harvestmen don’t have a waist or separate abdomen like spiders as they are often mistaken for them. They are part of the Opiliones family which are fascinating. The floor of the wood is littered with the Red Campion flower too the place is beautiful.

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Also there is an image of a Harvestman which are beautiful little creatures. Harvestmen don’t have a waist or separate abdomen like spiders as they are often mistaken for them. They are part of the Opiliones family which are fascinating. There are some close up images of Long-tailed Mayfly that are very common in this wood too that just looked stunning. The floor of the wood is littered with the Red Campion flower too the place is so beautiful and full of wildlife once you look around you.

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I’m hoping to get some images of the Pied Flycatchers feeding their young as I think they have another week or so inside the nextbox. The Redstart chicks are all around the place, and getting a few images of these are harder as they are hidden away so I will not impact on their lives just for a photograph. Fingers crossed this new pair of Pied Flycatchers manage to rear their young successfully and I will be there to capture it I hope.

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If I get lucky I will post the photographs in a future blog post just updating this wonderful project I have been doing. Finding your own subjects and photographing them over time is one of the best things as a wildlife photographer you can do. You learn so much more and you never truly know what you will encounter or see where you have to use your own skills and fieldcraft.

Working like this and taking images “as seen” on the ground and alongside nature is the truest form of wildlife photography in an industry full of set ups and pay as you go sites all producing the same images.  I would really recommend working like you see here to anyone that whats to learn more about their own wildlife photography and their subjects, good luck and many thanks.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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Sumatra-On The Frontline

Filed in Charities, Projects on Mar.11, 2015

Sumatra, the remote, Indonesian island where I was shadowing the rescue team –HOCRU from the Orangutan Information Centre- OIC.  during the two weeks there. The last time I worked with these guys was just before the Spotlight Sumatra exhibition in London, which was an amazing success.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

As soon as I arrived in Medan the capital of Sumatra I was picked up by Panut and we headed over to the HQ of OIC. We went through a very loose plan for my trip because nothing is promised or can be planned with regard to the rescues of Sumatran Orangutans that find themselves cut off, surrounded on all sides with conflict palm oil. This rescue team was set up by Panut as a direct response to these conditions these crucially endangered orangutans face on Sumatra each and everyday.

With the preparation, travelling and release there is alot of time involved with each rescue so during the two weeks I rarely had any free time. My aim by shadowing these guys is to show the world what they do and how etc. This is the only rescue team on the island of Sumatra, something when I say it still surprises me because the scale of the problems in Sumatra with Sumatran Orangutans are massive.

After spending the night travelling we reached the house in which we were to spend the night ready for the following morning when we were to meet with the forest police force and then go and rescue this orangutan. OIC has a network of local people that help them, and they also put the team up whenever they can, looking after them.

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On the morning of the raid we were up early, I dont sleep well when Im getting ready for something so I was up way before the rescue team from Orangutan Information Centre. We had some breakfast, a team talk from the director of OIC- Panut  and we set off. All I knew was a young Sumatran Orangutan was being held as a pet and that we could gain access into the courtyard at a certain time and with the help of the local/forest department police we would rescue her.

On the way I got my cameras ready, settings and lens chosen, once we arrived we parked up we entered the small courtyard and to my left I saw a tiny cage with a Sumatran Orangutan slumped on the floor. The smell of urine was really bad as this tiny head lifted up and made eye contact with us. In the background I saw the owner come a man around 45-50 average build and he was talking to the police and team as I lay level with her and spoke to her. She was banging her body into the cage, perhaps excited there were new people in the yard. I’d like to think for those brief moments she came alive and was happy as I was saying “you’re okay now you will be free in a minute so relax”.

Then the tone and tempo changed and the man was standing in front of me talking loudly in Indonesian and waving his arm with a pointed finger. I ignored him and carried on taking images of the young female.Then I heard ” Craig… we have to go he wants us to leave” I was puzzled and said very little. Once back in the car I was told the police got scared, didnt want to take the orangutan or apply the “Law” that they have the power to do. The man holding the Orangutan told them he was an ex-Aceh rebel and was part of the mafia in that area and that if the orangutan was taken we would all disappear.

A common problem I have come across in Sumatra, fear, intimidation, corruption, bribes, money and a total lack of willingness to apply the rules the world have applied to these critically endangered animals. OIC dont have the powers of arrest, they depend on the police to help them and have to pay them for their time, petrol and any other costs. Those we met on that morning came in civilian dress, weren’t wearing their uniform and had little interest in their work or helping the orangutan. Soon after they dropped their invoice off to Paunt though for prompt payment.

The helpless task of saving Sumatran orangutans is made so much harder by the corruption there and to this day I am told this female is still being held illegally. She was estimated to be 6 years old and the children there told the team they had had her a number of years. This tiny small cage has been home for years and it was very troubling and upsetting to see. Efforts to gain her freedom continue, these images show just what a tough and emotional job these guys have and even when everything is on their side things still don’t go their way.

I’d like to think for a few moments her life changed as we were there, she woke, took food from Paunt and begin moving around her tiny cage. Leaving her behind troubles me to this day. This was as close to the frontline as you can get , in the yard of a mafia mans home seeing the results of the illegal pet trade close up for myself. The following images visualize what we saw on that morning I hope, and are dedicated to that Sumatran Orangutan.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

We then headed back to the locals house to eat and rest for the next day as the plan was to locate the female and her baby and fingers crossed rescue her. Again we woke early, got our gear together and set off for the area in which the reports had come into the team of her presence. A number of locals were helping to locate her so when we arrived the team knew roughly the area. I watched as Ricko the vet and the rest of the team put into practice a well drilled operation they have gone through many times.It was then just a matter then of waiting, watching, listening and fingers crossed we’d find her.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

The shout came back and I followed Ricko the vet, walking through the fragmented forest, we came across several trees and it was then I first saw her. The marksman had already darted her and soon after she fell into the large net held out and open below her by the whole of the HOCRO team as well as some locals. In a matter of minutes I heard a loud crash and she and the baby fell from the trees and landed safely into the net. The team took her to a safe area so they could do their vital checks.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

When you see these beautiful animals up close you are always struck by their size and colour. It is amazing to be so close to one and I remember my first rescue with this team back in September 2012. Once in a safe place the baby was taken from the mum in order for the check to be carried out. A member of the team got the baby and walked off very carefully so as not to stress the baby any further. Then the vet, Ricko checked the female, inserted a microchip, checked for any injuries, state of heath and so on.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Once this was done the team carried her to the rescue truck and reunited mother and baby as they placed them both in the cage that was to take them to a safer part of the national park and a second chance of life. We then drove an hour or so to the release site where we had to cross,shoulder deep a river to reach the safe part of the national park.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

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Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

It was great to witness all this and the end result once the team lifted the door of the cage and slowly she came out along with her baby and climbed the first tree she saw. Just wonderful to witness and see and it was a great day for the team and these two Sumatran Orangutans. We then crossed the river once more which I must say was so refreshing as the temperatures in Sumatra at this time of year is a blistering 36-38 degrees and the humidity levels are very high so you’re always wet anyway.

Once back to our base in Aceh we washed off and relaxed for a while before the 10-12 hour drive south back to the HQ of OIC in Medan. The driving and planning like I say often takes many hours if not days so even though a rescue itself is short its the before, after and traveling that makes the hours flyby.

Once we got back to the headquarters of OIC in Medan a long 12 hour drive the HOCRU team cleaned and packed away the kit and headed home. Some had been away from their families for nearly ten days so everyone was looking forward to the rest and time with loved ones. I cleaned all my camera equipment and charged batteries and backed up my images and did some editing of the rescue images to send back to the UK for SOS– Sumatran Orangutan Society. That night I slept at Panuts house and met his lovely family, wife, and two young children, one boy and one girl. The following day I woke and had breakfast and then headed to the office with Panut and carried on doing some editing to get the images back to Helen, the director of SOS. The news was breaking back in the UK and many sites carried the story and images – EIASOS.

That afternoon though everything changed, the team had a call to let them know a male Sumatran Orangutan had become trapped in land just outside a palm oil plantation. After several calls the team were called in from their homes and we all gathered our gear and headed north once more to the province of Aceh.  All we knew again was their was a male there that had wandered into land where locals were working and they had become scared.

OIC has posters up all around this area and with the help of locals they ring and alert them should a Sumatran Orangutan come into conflict with humans or became trapped and this was a perfect example of that once more. I had been in the country less than a week and already we were on our way to our second rescue it was unbelievable and quite sad that the Sumatran Orangutans are in such danger because for every one that gets rescued there must be many more that don’t and end up being killed or sold into the pet trade which really saddened me.

We reached there quite late, with around a couple of hours light left. The team went into their well drilled routine and off they went to try and locate this male. After a while we caught a brief sighting of him, a hand then he vanished. He seemed to know how to hide and the sun set that night as he gave us the slip. The search was called off as dusk fell, we stayed in a nearby plantation which were helping the rescue team. They made us welcome and cooked some food for us which was a welcome break as with the travelling and searching not many of us had eaten. We then got our heads down and looked forward to the morning.

Before first light we were all up and in place, the team were searching and watching for any tell tale signs of movement. After searching for two hours, they found him, I was on the top of the valley looking down as the team went in. Not long after they had darted him and then began the long walk to the top carrying him in the net with the locals and people from the nearby plantation helping to carry this massive male to where the vet could check him.

The male Sumatran Orangutan is the most beautiful of all the great apes. With privileged access I wanted to try to reflect that beauty within an image. After the team had done all checks on him, I was given the nod by Ricko the vet and I took this very personal image again with my macro lens. Being so close at times felt surreal, 5-6 times stronger than man, this male whose age was around 35 was in his prime and very handsome. He wouldn’t have woken up from the tranquilizer given to him at the point of rescue but still being this close to such a massive and powerful ape made my heart beat so fast. His facial hairs I love and are one of the key characteristics Sumatran Orangutans have from their Borneo Orangutan cousins. The following images take you through that days events.

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

These are the HOCRU team and some of the helpers from the plantation and locals that helped to carry this massive male pictured above.  Once he was safety in the cage we loaded up the truck and headed some distance away to the national park to release this beautiful male back into the rainforests where he belongs. When the gate on the cage is pulled up I’m always nervous as to how the Orangutan will come out, they always climb the nearest tree and vanish. This was no different, so amazing to see and witness though and this image below captures that wonderful moment.

https://blog.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

As we headed back to Medan from Aceh the team were over the moon and so was I. We drove through the night to get back and once home everyone was so tired. The rescue team were given a few days off by Panut and headed home. I backed up my images and headed to bed also. In just over a week on the island of Sumatra I had witnessed three Sumatran Orangutans rescued and relocated and it was amazing to see and witness. As I closed my eyes that night I hoped they were all doing well back in the wild.

My itinerary gave me some time to edit and get the images ready for OIC/SOS over the next day or so and I had time to sleep and get some much needed rest. While you travel around Sumatra it’s hard to escape the vast palm oil plantations that cover most of Sumatra now and also the deforestation that litter the landscape of Sumatra.  The following words and images reflect how I saw this and how I felt driving through these soulless places.

“THE BIRDS DONT SING ANYMORE” by craig jones

Soulless, a lifeless landscape of palm oil forests. The sun still rises in the East, each day it tries desperately to bring life to the spot where once some of the worlds finest rainforest stood. But nothing grows, nothing lives apart from alien palm oil trees

Nature wont forgive, a defiant act, its last stand against those that came without warning ripping every bit of life out in such a brutal manner, killing everything that lived there.

Nature wont allow the same to happen again

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Over the next few days the plan was to visit Medan Zoo for a mission that I hope will end happily for a certain animals while I photographed some of the conditions the animals live in there. After that I headed to see my friend Darma a guide for the forest who I hadn’t seen since September 2012 when I spent several days trekking wild Sumatran Orangutans. I spent some time in the jungles with him again and some much needed peace and beauty after the last week or so. Then I spent time with the HOCRU team in the field once more, after which I spent a wonderful day with the Sumatran Elephants before doing some undercover work and photography. All of this will be covered in my next blog.

I hope you have enjoyed this first blog and if you’d like to donate to this rescue team, the only one of its kind on the island of Sumatra then please see this link many thanks.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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Back Among Nature

Filed in Projects, Workshops on Feb.20, 2014

Being among  nature is a place I belong and feel most at easy at so its been great to get back out with my camera recently to start photographing the beautiful wildlife on the lead up to spring, the favorite time of year for me. With the issues with rain and flooding over the last several weeks it has delayed some of the projects I have planned for this year. The rain though, fingers crossed seems to have given us the worst and as many communities are still underwater around the UK my sympathies go to them.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

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Wildlife hasn’t had a great time either with vast areas of the countryside underwater where many animals have suffered like illustrated with the images above of a Short-eared Owl trying to hunt but for miles around all the fields with flooded, quite a sad and upsetting thing for me to see as I really felt for this owl while I recently watched him to to hunt.

I have started working on my Great Crested Grebes project, a bird I love, their elegant pose, their beautiful markings and stunning plumage makes them one of the most handsome water dwelling birds in the UK in my eyes. They are the largest of the European Grebes and during the spring and summer they are such a striking bird, with their spectacular head, ruff and spiky head tuffs when they greet each other or display during courtship.

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Last year I photographed these birds at the same site but was unable to go back at the start of the breeding season due to commitments, so this year I’m hoping to capture them as they build their bond between each other and go through their amazing courtship dance where they dive for weed, surfacing with this in their bills and offer it to one another while sharply turning their heads back and forth.

.https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

In between the pouring rain there have been breaks in the weather and I have spent alot time there now, the lives of these amazing birds played out before me on each visit. They show real love and care for each other, when one goes out of sight the other calls in an attempt to locate its mate, such a strong bond which is so lovely to witness.

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I am using a hide on the shore to photograph this pair of Grebes, just on the water’s edge and not in the water as this disturbs the birds and other species of animals around too much. Getting there before the sun comes up, with the dawn chorus as my companion, each bird jockeying for their own patch, staking their clam to that bit of land.

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The are many species of birds there too, all starting to defend their patch so to speak, most are vocal from before dawn onward and there seems lots of fighting and warning  off others in readiness to find a lady and breed. I love to watch and capture animal behavior and by doing so you learn so much more about your subject over time. I managed to capture a full frontal of the male Goldeneye here, if luck is on your side and if you get the head face on they can have a real evil look to them as in the image below.

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Canada Geese calling and fighting break the mornings silence many times during my recent visits there, I only wished these images had sound.It’s such an amazing time of day and one you greatly benefit from for being among its beauty and peace. The water levels are still high here so im hoping everything settles down and things can return to normal as soon as possible for people and wildlife really.

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I really am hoping to spend as much time at this site over the next several weeks before I leave for Sumatra for two weeks where I will be working and shadowing the amazing work of SOCP – Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, headed up by Dr Ian Singleton, but more news on the very soon.

http://www.sumatranorangutan.org/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

In the meantime I have some 2015 dates for my photo tours now up on my website click here to view them.  My One to Ones now in their fifth year are as popular as ever so if you’d like to learn more about everything from fieldcraft, to subject knowledge to your own photography then click here to see the places I visit with clients.

I will update my blog with more images from this site in due coarse, I wish you all well with the weather and the forthcoming season of Spring, many thanks.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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BBC Wildlife-Barn Owls

Filed in Advice On Wildlife, Projects on Mar.17, 2013

The April issue of BBC Wildlife I’m pleased to say includes one of my Barn Owl images. A bird that has fascinated me since childhood. Amazing birds and hope you enjoy this issue which is packed with tips and advice on these birds.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

I’m currently working on a project photographing Barn Owls which started last year, where some of that work can been seen in this slideshow. Hopefully I’ll have more news and images for you shortly in the meantime big thank you to Wanda, Sophie and the team at BBC Wildlife magazine for using my image, many thanks.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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Spotlight Sumatra- Ready

Filed in Projects, Wildlife on Sep.14, 2012

My blog will be a little quiet over the next two weeks as I venture off to the island of Sumatra. What a waits me is a chance to see and photograph one of the last frontiers of rainforest habitat anywhere in the world, the only place left in the world where wild Tigers, Rhinos, Elephants and Orangutans live alongside each other.

Spotlight Sumatra is an idea which has been around for almost two years. No script and nothing pre-planned as such, it’s just me and my guides trekking through the jungle and hoping to capture critically endangered Sumatran Orangutans that are hanging onto life there. Fingers crossed I will be also going out on rescues, as currently SOS staff know of many stranded Orangutans either kept as pets or cut off, surrounded by a sea of bare, burnt  land or palm plantations. They need to be moved and this involves staff darting them and then moving them to safety. Such important work to safeguard these guardians of the rainforests. One happy ending can be seen here.

I will be seeing at first hand the work that the charity along with many others are doing out there. I will be presenting some slideshows in their ‘cycle powered’ cinema too, showing the locals wildlife outside of Sumatra. Also showing the people that the world cares and is watching the fate of their country and wildlife. I will be updating SOS back in the UK when and where I can while on this amazing adventure. Their blog can be seen here. There will be a few talks planned also in late October- showing you these amazing animals and Sumatra. For more news on this then please keep checking on SOS’s website.

My simple aim is to hopefully give the Sumatran Orangutans a voice through my images.  I hope to capture some amazing images and see the variety of wildlife that lives on the ‘Isle of Gold’ that Sumatra was once known as in ancient times. I hope I can do them proud!

Many thanks to Wex photographic and incognito 100% natural mosquito repellent for supporting my trip, with kind offers of products to help me on this amazing adventure. I will be posting my review and thoughts on these great products when I get back, many thanks.


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Beautiful Barn Owls

Filed in Articles, Projects, Wildlife on Jul.11, 2012

Quartering over farmland, hovering with moth like silence, flying effortlessly on the wing in the half-light at dawn or dusk is the supreme hunter, the Barn Owl. A bird that has always created a sense of great excitement and fascination for me. In British folklore, a screeching Barn Owl is believed to predict that a storm or cold weather was imminent. During a storm, if a Barn Owl was heard, it indicated that the storm was nearly over.

The custom of nailing a Barn Owl to a barn door to warn off evil persisted into the 19th century, something you just wouldn’t believe people would do but back then strange things went on and happened to these amazing owls.

The Barn Owl had a sinister reputation, a bird of darkness, where people associated it with death. The Ancient Greeks and Romans saw owls as a symbol of wisdom. Athena the goddess of wisdom is often depicted in art with an owl perched on her shoulder. Sometimes owls were also viewed as messengers from the gods, full of wisdom and helpfulness.

Over the last several weeks I have been watching a family of Barn Owls live out their lives in an old disused building overlooking some beautiful countryside . In some of the most testing weather since records begin two adult owls have raised three healthy chicks that now are almost ready to take their places among our countryside. With the wettest June on record it’s been hard work watching the parent birds put their own lives on the line by hunting in this wet weather.

A lot of the time though the weather has broken and this has allowed the owls to hunt and build up their larders of food which is a key behaviour among Barn Owls. This stored food then helps during the long periods of wet weather.

With no sign of improvement it’s hard to believe its summertime in the UK. I like to study air pressures and weather fronts as it really helps within my work.  The reasons for this wet weather are simple when you take a look at the weather charts, the jet stream.

During most summers the jet stream lies to the north of the UK, so rain-bearing weather fronts and depressions miss us and hit Scandinavia instead. This year however this jet stream has shifted southwards and is lying over France and southern Europe, this has left the UK wide open to these depressions and all this wet weather.

One possibility to what maybe moving this jet stream is warming temperatures between the Arctic and the tropics and the shrinkage of the north polar ice cap. These changing weather conditions and patterns may be around a lot more than we think in the future where alongside wildlife we’ll have to learn to live and change alongside this ever present climate change that are here to stay for sure.

My hide is some distance away, completely hidden from view and well camouflaged.  The image above is the view I have from my hide and one of the perches they are using now, exercising their wings and doing their tester flights just before sunset each evening. I move my hide to a different place under the cover of darkness as not to disturb them and also once the dawn light comes up the wildlife will see the hide and accept it as part of the landscape. Again cutting down on any stress, and disturbance to the wildlife and in this case the Barn Owls.

With a mixture of different focal lengths, tele-convertors, crop modes in camera and time I’ve been able to photograph this family and capture them going about their lives at this location.  Wild Barn Owls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and so should never be disturbed in any way. I am using really high ISO’s on my camera in order to get some shutter speed, as they aren’t coming out until around 9-9.30pm. I never use any sort of flash with wildlife as I feel any form of bright light suddenly hitting an animals retina disturbs the subject.

When you work somewhere new like this site, you gradually build a picture of movements, favourite natural perches, flight patterns etc. This is a skill you have to learn in order to try and second guess where and when your images will come from. This takes time and is very time consuming but for me its the very essence of real wildlife photography. At the same time you learn so much about the subject, and the habitat in which they live. The image above is of the paler male Barn Owl perched on a stone lintel, he is so stunningly beautiful.

The Barn Owls use the main barn as well as some smaller buildings which often both the adult and young perch on. Hours pass by, with nothing, not a sound, then a white flash passes by my hide, a corus of loud hissing noises can be heard as the adult owls come in with prey. This image below is the male Barn Owl who likes to perch on the pitch of this old roof here and on this evening my hide was close and by pure luck he landed, stopped and looked straight through me.

I was too close really, so I went for a close up of his amazing and beautiful, heart-shaped face. I managed to take just one photo on silent mode before he flew off and carried on hunting, and this is that amazing moment captured here. The male has much lighter plumage around the breast and face and has a completely white chest nothing else, the female on the other hand is slightly bigger and has black spots on her chest.

The ability to see things that are hidden and hunt completely undetected are key to a Barn Owls life and survival.  Often without warning they arrive and vanish before you have any chance to capture this. I always like to capture wildlife as seen on the ground, going about their lives with no disturbance by my presence at all, I like to compose my subjects on whatever they land on.

They are venturing out more and more now and it won’t be long before they completely leave the comfort of this building and start to live and roost among the many trees littering the surrounding landscape. When I leave the site in almost total darkness I often see one or both of the parent birds flying over the farmland with one of the younger ones in tow, their white bodies giving an almost floating appearance as they fly and dive.

Maybe they are having hunting lessons, learning their craft, who knows but it’s very enduring to see and both adult owls have been brilliant parents that have managed to feed and bring up their brood in some of the wettest weather since records begin.

I hope to continue to follow the progress of this Barn owl family over the next several months, where any day now the young will fully fledge and leave the place that’s been their home now for several months. Its been a special and privileged time for me to witness these amazing owls live their lives around me. Often I’ve just sat and marveled at their antiques, and behaviours, with each youngster having their own personality. They is one that’s just slightly smaller than the others and seems to need more attention from his parents which is so enduring to see and watch.

I will be releasing a few more Barn Owl limited edition prints soon which will be available framed or unframed and in canvas format to go along one of my favourite ones that can be seen and purchased here if you scroll down to the bottom of the page. Where 50% of the profits from each sale go to this trust I support with my work, because I love Barn owls and want to help them.

The Barn Owl Conservation Handbook is a comprehensive guide for ecologists, surveyors, land managers and ornithologists written by the Barn Owl Trust. I help this trust in any way I can in order to help this amazing owl keep safe and it’s survival. After the launch of this guide last week I received this from the Barn Owl trust, which was wonderful and I’m so glad my Barn Owl images can help.
Dear Craig

I am very pleased to say that the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook we started writing in January 2010 has finally arrived and the first copies are being mailed out today. This publication represents a major milestone in the Trusts history.

On behalf of my co-authors and all the books future beneficiaries I would like to thank you for your unique contribution in providing your wonderful photograph of a Barn Owl hunting in flight during daylight that appears in colour on the back cover alongside Mike Toms testimonial.

Without your photos, the Handbook would not be as good as it is. Thank you very much indeed.
David

David J Ramsden MBE

Senior Conservation
Officer

Click here to be taken to their website and to purchase this guide. Also this as many charities in today’s times is run on donations so if you can help them to carry on their wonderful work then please do so and visit their website by clicking here many thanks.


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Spotlight Sumatra

Filed in In the Press, Projects on Mar.18, 2012

Spotlight Sumatra see’s me going to the island of Sumatra alone in mid September for two weeks, staying with the locals in something called home stay. A small but comfortably home within the jungle landscapes. Alongside my guides and helpers for this trip we will venture into the jungles for up to three, four days at a time even longer if we are lucky, to track and photograph these Orangutans. Jungle life will be basic but great, a sort of rough camping but off the floor as you never sleep on the jungle floor for your own safety.

I am hoping to capture some amazing images of Orangutans that SOS can use to sell promote and help raise the plight of this great ape that maybe the first great ape to become extinct should continued trends contuie in the destruction of their forest homes.  There will be more news of this amazing expedition that will take me deep into the jungles of Sumatra in due cause.

I have donated a Limited edition Barn Owl print which can be seen above along with a one to one wildlife photography day with myself to help rise some money towards Sumatran Orangutan Societies Jungle VIP auction.  Joining the list of celebrities taking part in the auction, hoping to raise as much money as possible to help this charity in saving this great ape.

Thank you to all that have helped so far and many thanks to the lucky winner who won my one to one and signed print which can be seen here on ebay. The auction carries on until March 31st with new stuff being added all the time. To keep up to date on the latest items please visit the website of SOS here many thanks.

I will be posting more news over the coming months on my blog as interest in this expedition grows. Where the sole aim of this trip is to highlight the plight of this most beautiful of apes and our closests living relative. I will be showing you the kit I’m taking, clothing and equipment. Doing live updates for SOS’s blog and my own,  hopefully transporting you to this rarely visited part of the world which will be amazing, the trip cannot come quicker enough. I look forward to taking you all there on this amazing journey to Sumatra.


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Merry Christmas

Filed in In the Press, Projects, Wildlife on Dec.19, 2011

As the year draws to an end now and my favourite time of year is just around the corner; Christmas, I would just like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Many thanks to all the wonderful people I have met this year on my workshops and trips and I do really hope I have helped you all, inspired you all in seeing the wonderful and amazing world of wildlife around us at the same time getting the very best from your kit to use on the ground in the simplest of ways. I look forward to welcoming all my clients booked on my many trips for next year and one to ones.

With all my Christmas shopping done early this year I spent the least amount of time within the urban jungle I live in, fighting my way through this habitat in which I am least equipped for, I just have the last dash before Christmas to get the cream for my trifle, which I do each year, a family recipe from my late mum which I still make each Christmas as a form of comfort in more ways than one.

Having done this all early this has allowed me more time to carry on my work with the amazing and graceful Short eared Owls on the north west coast of the UK. Having spent many days and hours at these owl sites I have got use to alot of their patterns, their larders in which they store their catch while the going is good. They are beautiful birds and often I have this place to myself as I watch for the slightest movement on the ground.  They are normally late risers and their liking for a lie in sometimes catches you off guard and one minute nothing.

Then once you make a cup of tea or do something else and look up there before you is the flapping of their wings and the faint call or hiss as they awaken and start gliding through the air with those large wings, a mixture of beats and flaps followed by a graceful soar then this routine is repeated as they hunt. I am always greatly touched upon seeing wildlife go about their lives around me and this spurs me on to hide away more, not wanting to break that trust you build up over time.

These images I have been processing took me back to my recent time spent with these owls, where I relived every moment as I was processing each special moment captured. Some I shot into the natural light, some I under-exposed and over-exposed creating a hi key effect which I love. I also used the blurring effect to create movement with some, this gives the image a sense of movement and when shot in portrait composition it gives a dramatic effect which brings my creative side to the surface. You pick up the subject as early as possible then with your camera and lens firmly attached to your tripod follow or pan keeping your focus on the subject the best you can.

Hidden away having watched these owls now for some time I got alot of information about their ways and patterns and I chose to hide away, low to the ground hidden and camouflaged with the wind in my face to take any noise away from the approaching owl, no fast movements, nothing that would make these owls jump or be scared in his pursuit of food.

I saw him coming towards me so here I waited, waited and then once he was so close he almost filled my viewfinder and I pressed my shutter capturing several amazing close ups, this is one I love with the sense of movement captured in the wings by the slow shutter speed while I nailed the focus on his face, giving that sense of impending movement to the image. Every moment I spend with nature is special to me and everyday my life is enriched with its beauty and time spent with these owls of late was no exception, a wonderful, close, special moment with this owl as he went about his business and I watched and marvelled at his skills in hunting and catching prey, his flight patterns, his calls, his ability to fly and turn without warning, just amazing!

For me wildlife photography is about using your skills and knowledge of wildlife together in the pursuit of capturing an image from the wild where nothing has been changed by man. As a professional I think I have a duty of care to not only the subject but also to the general public to show an image as seen on the ground. This approach is the whole foundation to my work. In an age when there are lovely images everywhere you look I think images should be judged today on the amount of effort and knowledge and fieldcraft used in order to capture an image as personally I don’t like anything that is to contrived or set up where the animal is made to do something in order to get an image almost like a master and servant, where if you do something you get a prize for that, it has to be unplanned, unscripted and true for me.

My passion for wildlife goes alot deeper than just an image, I watch, study, listen and spend time in watching their behaviour, trying to work with the animals and sometimes when I get an image I feel I have cheated the subject by using my skills in capturing that given image by laying in weight having studied them I hope that makes sense. When I watch an animal I have that connection and I shoot with my heart and eye and I build that trust and care for the subject and when I have taken the image and captured that priceless moment I worry if I have betrayed that trust built up through patience, fieldcraft and care.

I care about every image I take and what I do, I love wildlife and nature means the world to me, it has helped me in life and instilled a great peace from an early age, nature helps in many ways, its beauty brings joy in so many ways and its presence in people lives helps them to live and breathe and at this special time of year it’s even more important I feel to embrace what we have around us all. A few of my favorite images from the last twelve months are in the following slideshow, showing the true beauty of wildlife.

One of my Barn Owl images graces January’s issue of the much respected BBC Wildlife magazine which is on sale now, its always lovely to see your work in print. I spent two months watching and photographing this male Barn Owl during one of the countries coldest spells of weather for decades. At times it was hard to watch as he was hunting in all weathers and times of the day in a desperate attempt to feed in order to survive, how cruel nature can be to its own sometimes. he did survive though and all ending well for this fellow. Thank you to Wanda for requesting the image and Sophie Stafford, the editor, for having this image in your magazine.

Photography Training for Photographers

And just before I go I wanted to just update you all as I go live in the new year as PhotoTraining4U’s Wildlife Master. I will be doing a series of short films following me through some of my work in the field, tips and advice when working with animals in the wild and much more. You will see how I work, get a chance to ask questions relating to my work or questions, advice and help in regard to your own work. If you wish to join then quote the following affiliate code: 7816 when joining. Click on the small icon above and this will take you to this site which is an online site for all your photography needs.

It just leaves me to say I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and new year and I wish you all the best for 2012, many thanks.


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