I make no secret on my website of my great passion and love for owls, they are so beautiful to watch as they go about their lives. From the days when I was made to wear my knitted woolly hat that my mum had made for me, before I ventured out. Owls have always fascinated me. I cannot put into words why I love this species of bird so much, I’ve grown up with them, consider them an integral part of my life.
Over the last four months there has been a great number of Short-eared Owls around the country, giving many people close encounters into their normally secret moorland lifestyles during the breeding season. Where there are Short-eared Owls you will often find Barn Owls sharing the same area and also many other raptors, none more so than at the Dee Estuary.
I have visited this area for many years and if you get lucky on your visit you can be treated to a bounty of raptors. The best days are at high tides where alot if not most of this reed bed and marshland can be covered with the approaching sea water. You can have some wonderful views of all these birds, but I have also been many times and seen very little. When things come together though its one of the best places to see all of these raptors in one given area.
In March’s issue of the Bird Watching magazine there are several pages of my images and wording describing this powerful event in nature’s calendar, one that often leaves me shocked and upset at the things I witness, but at the same time I realise this is Mother Nature at her best and worst all rolled into one.
If you would like to read the article then click here, and my thoughts are expressed in the text and through the images printed in one of my favourite magazines. I hope you enjoy the article. Thank you to the guys at the Bird Watching magazine for doing such a great job on the article and layout.
What a difference a few weeks makes and always be careful what you wish for. In my last blog I was only just saying how mild it was for this time of year and how wildlife has almost started making a home in readiness to rear their young. Cold temperatures and snow with freezing fog and frost all mixed in over the last several days, giving nature the worst kind of wake up call. You must never take anything for granted more so nature as this just may come back and bite you when you least expect it.
Grabbing my camera on one such day I captured a few images of the birds from my local park , looking for a different angle in which to capture the bird’s spirit.
Once the roads had cleared a little I did manage to visit the Peak District with Paul my client where we were hoping to see Red Grouse. The snow was also a wonderful bonus, as it had fallen covering the whole area in a beautiful blanket of snow. Thank you Paul for being a great sport in such testing conditions when walking up to where the grouse were.
I have just spent a couple of days in Norfolk photographing a much loved event in nature’s calendar, the Spring Tides. I’ve written so much about these days and had articles published showing my images. It was nice to be back and witness this event over the last couple of days having not been to Norfolk since November due to work commitments. Little did I know what was waiting for me in Norfolk, as I set off for this event from my Staffordshire home in the early hours of the morning, with the weather changing constantly as I passed through the different counties on route to Nelsons County, Norfolk.
You park up and get dressed ready for any event the weather may throw at you. Snettisham and the surrounding areas are open and very bleak where great care must be exercised in poor weather. Once in place depending on the tide times your normally greeted with a fanfare of calls, sometimes if your timings are spot on the sky can be awash with actively too as flocks seem to wiz by you, feet above your head, drowning you in a vast chorus of noise and calls as they whistle past. It’s a truly remarkable feeling and one you just never tire of witnessing in whatever weather or conditions.
A mixture of different light conditions and weather gave me a chance to play around with compositions and shutter speeds, giving a different effect and feel to my images. The slow shutter speed images are something I have always loved to do when photographing wildlife. I like to refer to this practise that I am so fond of within my work as capturing the animals but in slow motion. Freezing a moment in time, giving the image a sense of movement in the absence of any sound is what I hope to achieve by using this technique.
I mentioned their sound and if you could hear the noise generated by these birds during these spring tides it would mesmerize you, it’s so uplifting to hear. A bird adding a different key or note, I always like to try and listen then listen again to hear those individual bird calls because if you view the flock as a whole it’s hard to make out which birds are there and which aren’t.
This part of Norfolk is always bleak and remote offering you a great platform in which to view this amazing spectacle. Different days offer different images for me, where I am always trying to capture something different, learning from the past visits here. On the whole it was a good few days with many lovely images, once the peace returns and the tide begins to retreat the waders start their return back to the mudflats. When it gets to this point there’s always the queue to leave and I go back to my transport for a warm drink and often to dry off.
There are several areas in Norfolk I have regularly visited over the years to watch and hopefully photograph Barn Owls, and I was lucky enough during my recent time there to have seen two pairs at two of the four locations I know of. The others maybe there but the weather may have played a part in them staying in rather than venturing out. Again as previously mentioned I am always looking to push my own photography when I am alone and not with clients. Seeing something different and then trying to capture that idea with my camera.
This is one of the main parts of photography that always excites me, as my arty streak in me comes out and working alongside your cameras abilities you can often capture something different. With the few sightings I witnessed of the Barn Owls I tried different compositions, manual focusing, and extreme positioning of the subject in the corners of my viewfinder, creating lots of blank and open spaces to the front of the main subject.
Norfolk’s also a great place to for Brown Hares and I came across a few during my time there, wonderful mammals to spend time with and watch.
Many different images from the various different weather conditions that I’ve endured and as I write this blog there are still areas of the country where snow is around, but in the coming week the temperatures are set to rise so maybe nature has seen the last of winter now but I don’t want to speak to soon as before. On a serious note I do hope wildlife hasn’t suffered to much during the recent cold spell and fingers crossed spring is just around the corner.
Tigers around the world need help, they are crucially endangered, with their numbers in the wild at a dangerous level. Upon first seeing these animals in the wild it reddened me speechless because of their amazing beauty. They cannot just be left to die out with just a few remaining in zoos and parks. A world devoid of wild Tigers would be a very sad place indeed.
Through 3 limited edition prints I raise money to help these beautiful animals, where 50% of the profits from the sale of these images goes directly to 21st Century Tiger. They spend every penny on saving this most beautiful of animals we have roaming the earth at present. In several weeks I return to India once more hoping to share my passion for these animals with my clients booked onto my Tigers of India photo tour. Each one has a dream of seeing these animals and along with the brilliant guides I work with there I hope to show and help each person capture some wonderful images of this amazing animal.
I am donating one of my 2010 Year of the Tiger images as the first prize in a photography competition for another UK Tiger charity called TIGERS4EVER.org. It hopes to raise awareness of the plight of the Tiger in the wild. The print is only 1 of 100 ever printed and will be the first prize in this competition. Calumet UK are very kindly supporting Tigers4Ever’s 11-16 age category photographic competition also with a 1st prize of £100 Calumet gift vouchers.
If you are interested in entering and helping this charity where all monies raises through this competition goes towards helping Tigers then please click on this link http://www.tigers4ever.org/ many thanks and the best of luck.
There is a real air of spring around at the moment among the UK countryside, with the odd spell of frost or even snow on the higher grounds, just to add to the confusion for nature. 2011 was one of the warmest years on record with lengthy periods of warm weather each month right up until the end of the year. In with the New Year and again those mild, warm temperatures seem to be still with us with little promise of the cold spells we’ve had in previous years.
On the ground nature is confused, the sudden warming temperatures for this time of year is playing a cruel game with nature, one minute warm the next an overnight frost. You can see and hear the birds singing to attract a mate, defending their territories with great cause. Dippers displaying and starting to gather nesting material, the countryside really feels like it should be much later than it really is due to the influence of the warmer weather.
Mother Nature is powerful though and animals and plants will overcome and survive. I believe as nothings is as powerful as nature. While being among wildlife you get the impression that you’ve missed something or they have, what I mean is by watching the behaviours of the wildlife its seems that winter has been by-passed and were heading straight into the season of spring. I really hope that the cold spells of weather that nature has endured in 2010 and 2011 wont now come along and catch the wildlife out as that would be one of the cruelest lessons in which to learn from. However, I fear that this could happen quite soon.
As each year passes and we hear that a warming record has been broken, or nearly broken again, it provides further evidence that unfortunately we are not just seeing a natural cycle of global warming, but instead humans are having an effect on the climate. I am not qualified on paper to start debating what is right or wrong I just know on the ground among wildlife things are changing and I do hope nature won’t be caught in between these warming temperatures and strange happening among the seasons.
Over the last three months though there has been one bird that seems to be doing really well within the warming temperatures and that is the beautiful Short-eared Owl that seems to have invaded many areas of the UK feeding on the bountiful supply of rodents. The internet is awash with brilliant images showing this often rarely seen owl outside of the breeding season. Recently I have spent back to back days there trying to capture different angles and images of these stunning owls.
Over that time the owls are late risers and rarely come out before the early afternoon but I go there at dawn and wait as you never know what may happen, as the site has other birds of prey. Fortune often rewards me and I was lucky enough to see a lone Shot-eared owl hunting in the morning light. I’d located an area in which these ground dwelling birds roost overnight and then just suddenly appear in the afternoon. I set my gear up overlooking this area, not to close to disturb them, placing my converter on my long lens as I waited.
Often the periods of waiting were greater than the time I’d see them but for me it’s just the enjoyment of being around wildlife. That’s enough for me anything else is always a bonus. I often say I could sell all my camera equipment tomorrow and still be happy sitting and watching with my binoculars.
I have witnessed them diving for prey, perched in the morning light, and hunting in the pouring rain, which is very rare to see. This is a costly exercise for owls as they don’t do well in rain. As I witnessed this it does pull on my heart strings as you just know that owl is hungry and gathering enough food to stay alive. It was tough viewing this.
I also have had some lovely encounters with a pair of Barn Owls that have lived in this area for some time now. They appear when they want to and unlike some Barn Owls I photograph in Norfolk they are rarely seen in the day. They don’t have any routine here and this Barn Owl came out as the sun was setting and gave the whole area a lovely warming glow and feel, which is a welcome relief if you have been there since before dawn. You have to use fieldcraft skills and patience when photographing owls as they sometimes fly past you, and in this case straight at me. Another amazing encounter as the sun was setting. I am really lucky to see and witness this.
Their hearing is one of the best in the animal kingdom so great care when you start to shoot is needed otherwise they will bank off from where they hear that noise, in this case the camera shutter, so hold your nerve and wait and then press when you’re happy. I’ve seen some wonderful behaviour in both the Short-eared owls and this pair of Barn Owls recently that I have tried to capture within these images.
After the success of my previous wildlife workshops with Calumet Photographic I have several others now lined up on their seminars page. Two dates for the amazing Spring/Summer Tides in Norfolk covering this event which has captivated me for many years and Sping Time on the Moors in the Peak District. For those that live in and around the capital, London, I will be doing a two day Beauty of Wildlife workshop at Calumets Drummond Street branch on April 14th and 15th. These workshops are open to all skill levels and backgrounds within wildlife photography.
The workshops are designed to give you the best opportunities to take the best images from your day in the field whatever nature throws up. To ensure that everyone’s needs are met the workshops are limited to 8 participants. You’ll be in good company, sharing your ideas, images and love of photography amongst the beauty of wildlife.
You’ll take your photography to the next level and in the process you’ll immerse yourself in your photography and I will be right there giving you a personal photography lesson. For more details click here to be taken to Calumets seminars page, then either click on the Drummond Street branch in London or the Manchester branch to see the full list of wildlife workshops that I am doing in conjunction Calumet Photographic.
During the last several days I have been busy working in my office, the great outdoors, as I call it, amongst nature which is a place I find great peace in, capturing more magical moments. With a couple of one to ones in the Peak District, and a visit to the SWPP conference alongside PhotoTraining4U who had a stand there, my other free time has been put to good use watching and looking at the several subjects I am hoping to photograph this year. It’s always enjoyable at the same time very time consuming setting up your own work from scratch. But when it works and you see the subject(s) and capture them going about their lives it’s the best feeling you can possibly have as wildlife photographer.
I have been lucky enough over this time to have had some wonderful close encounters once again with different wildlife, the Short eared Owls are still very much around, hunting in the late afternoon sunlight. They normally stay at sea level until around late February to early March, but with the warmer temperatures they may just disappear at anytime. They are also very nomadic out of the breeding season and once a food source has dried up in the area that they are staying in they just leave without warning and find another vole rich habitat in which to spend their winter months before returning to their spring breeding grounds.
A Kestrel hovering right above me in the first rays of dawn light was one such magical moment. I got into place just before dawn, hid myself away along a natural gully and waited, as the sun’s rays began to warm me I heard Magpies and Crows calling which can give you your first clue wildlife is around. In most cases they call when there’s a bird of prey around hoping their calls and mobbing behavior will somehow move that bird on. I watched this Kestrel, hunt, then back track on itself, covering the ground in a sweeping motion, doubling back on himself to cover every inch.
He carried on coming forward, searching in vain the grasses and reeds below him, those same reeds that were sheltering me. He then hovered right about me, and in the still of the morning I could just make out his faint wing beats as I watched and captured that moment with my camera. We made eye contact, watching each other which always has a deep impact on me, a powerful feeling I cannot explain. Those briefest of moments are captured here with these images shot with my 1.4 converter on. He stayed for around 15-20 seconds then went. He’d heard me and as I am writing this blog I can see him looking down at me, remembering that moment as though it was seconds ago, that’s the power of nature.
Barn Owls are without doubt though one if not my favourite UK birds, and I have enjoyed lovely moments too over the last several days with these beautiful owls. Only recently I have read with great interest a report on how they hunt. Having been fascinated with this bird from childhood I’ve learned a lot about them and their feather structures having taken them home with great interest having found them on the ground. The way in which they hunt or quarter and their heart shaped faces have always amazed me, the heart-shaped face works in a similar way to humans outer ear , collecting and directing sound toward the inner ears which helps this amazing hunter do what it does best, slightly glide over land hunting in almost pure silence.
The report has found that each of a Barn Owls ears is a slightly different size and shape, and one is higher on the bird’s head than the other. The owls can analyse the differences in the sound received by each ear to automatically calculate the exact position of that sound-source. Which means that they can detect prey below them in pure darkness and hunt with great effectiveness and stealth. In most parts Barn Owls hunt in the dark so visual information is not possible, so their hearing really is their lifeline. Flying in silence helps them listen for movement, prey that’s moving.
Most if not all of the owls plumage is covered in a dense covering of feathers, those feathers produce more lift with each beat due to their shape and design, having a high curvature. This design allows the air to pass through and they offer little turbulence, reducing friction noise between the feathers. The end result is one of the most prolific hunters within the natural world. And the report suggests in time the structure of the Barn Owls wing may provide a guide for the design of quieter and more efficient airfoils for the aviation industry. Proving yet again that so many designs of man-made products are derived from the wonderful world of Mother Nature.
Barn Owls are amazing and they are just so wonderful to watch and photograph, the following slide show shows images taken over the last three years, from several different sites, showing these amazing birds of prey hunting and flying on the wing, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did putting these images together.
Thank you to my two clients, Mike and John for your company on your one to ones within the beautiful Peak District. I will continue working on my subjects and fingers crossed I’ll have some wonderful images to post on my blog in the coming months.
When the sun shines everything around awakens and comes to life, warming the slight chilled March air, you can hear the countryside come to life. Over the many years I have visited Norfolk whether it be alone or with clients on one to ones or workshops, the wildlife never disappoints. It’s a place I feel at home in, a place that never truly gives up its secrets straight away, almost teasing you with the ever present sightings of different birds gracing this amazing place with their presence throughout the year.
Each month I meet clients on one to ones/workshops, during the Spring Tide days, helping them with their photography, giving real and helpful advice and at the same time showing how to approach and use what you have around you in order to get close to and photograph wild animals in their environment, at the same time watching for any behaviour you may be lucky enough to witness. In between these visits I work on my own projects, mainly focusing on the bird that got my love and interest going as a child with the YOC- Young Ornithologists’ Club, the Barn Owl or ‘Ghost’ as I call this amazing bird.
This nickname relates to when I wait and watch for these Owls to show up. You wait and wait for a passing glimpse and a view into this bird’s life entrenched with mystery, then from no where and without warning the Barn Owls turns up in perfect silence, gliding, riding the winds currents, traveling effortlessly. Eyes glued to the ground beneath, on the lookout for small rodents that they feed on. They divide the field or area and hunt or quarter which refers to this practice these owls do so well on the lookout for movement, in turn prey.
They are amazing birds and one of my favourite British birds, watching them fly and hunt for a few minutes and then to make eye contact with you is a priceless moment to treasure. When you see them in the wild you witness their very distinctive appearance with a white heart-shaped face with no ear tufts and sharp black eyes all contributing to its striking appearance. Those large black eyes only let the Barn Owl look forward in a fixed position and cannot move to the side, so consequently the Barn Owl has to turn its head to see to the side or back. Their hearing is amazing and the ability to locate prey by sound alone is one of the best in the animal kingdom.
Barn Owl’s feathers make them perfectly adapted for silent flight, but this makes them prone to water logging so they are not well suited to hunting in wet weather. The key to an owl’s silent flight is in its feathers, the next time you find an owl feather, turn it on its side and look at the edge — the line of fibers is scalloped, like a stretched seam. The slight alteration in shape allows the feather to cut the air without making sound, making them perfectly aerodynamic.
I’ve been hoping that the ones I watch and photograph in Norfolk survived the recent two very harsh cold snaps we’ve had, which has really impacted hard on the numbers of these birds around the UK, where Norfolk has always been a stronghold for these birds. The pair that hunt over farmland and marshland have done well so far and are looking their best with the breeding season just around the corner but I have been lucky enough to find another couple of places that have Barn Owls.
So this year I am hoping to document the different birds that live in different environments capturing my trademark images showing them within their natural habitat of rough grazing, marshland and Norfolk reeds. With the onset of summer around the corner and longer days, the prospect of working with Barn Owls fills me with such joy.
Within my work, habitat, small in the frame and behaviour, form my foundation where I only photograph wild animals, letting people see how and where a certain subject lives and how it conducts its life, so with these images I wanted to show where they live in Norfolk. One site I have known of for many years has a mixture of rough grazing and reeds with small streams and dikes splitting the place into many little areas, perfect for small rodents and perfect for Barn Owls. I photographed using high iso’s to give me enough speed to freeze the bird in flight, at the same time balancing that with the poor light. I love small in the frame images, where there is a real innocence about the image, adding a sense of truth to the image and in turn learning people more about the subject.
My work on Barn Owls will last forever, capturing images for as long as I live. They have such beauty and grace in my eyes, a bird that takes me right back and brings a massive smile across my face, visualizing the great joy that these birds have brought to my life over 3 decades. I hope to bring you more images of this iconic bird over the coming months and even years to come.
My Springtide & Waders Workshops are fully booked until July onwards. My Barn Owl/Raptors One to Ones days can be booked at a time at your convenience now with the weather getting better and the longer days, these days last from dawn until dusk and include a homemade packed lunch made by my wife. I will show you several different sites, go through key fieldcraft skills on how to approach and photograph these birds without disturbing them, as they are protected by law, so great care must always be given to these birds.
I give camera advice, settings, composition and exposing advice for these birds, show you the best flight settings, basically, everything I use myself. Thanks to Nigel for traveling up from Ashford in Kent to Norfolk for a One to One yesterday for Barn Owls. I look forward to seeing your images.
If you would like any advice on anything I have mentioned or touched on here in this blog post then please drop me a line here, alternatively please go to my One To One page. For more than one person there is a discounted rate and I often get couples and friends all attending together. To enquire about free dates please email me, manythanks.
The first Spring Tides of 2011 graced the Norfolk coastline this weekend with its customary mix of dramatic weather conditions and amazing ariel displays as thousands of waders, mainly Knot twisting and turning as the incoming sea covers the land forcing them into the air. The effect this gives is amazing, one minute its a wall of dark and then the next a wall of white, twisting, turning like a massive fish out of the water. The Spring Tides only really happen around 3-4 times a month and in some months, like December, there weren’t any at all. When the sea comes in and covers the whole area forcing the birds closer to shore, they gather together for protection and by doing so form stunning shapes and patterns.
I was in Norfolk for the Spring Tides over two days, running One To Ones. On the first day, Friday, the light in the morning was amazing, beautiful colours with small clouds giving the place that summers morning feel. As the light came up thousands of birds were flying around, forming vast flocks, twisting and turning, all in perfect harmony with each other, creating a smooth fluid movement, which is breathtaking to watch. Anyone who witnesses this does so in sheer amazement that something so beautiful happens on our own shorelines during the year.
Once the sea has consumed all the land the birds fly around in an almost panic state before settling into the pools or pits as they are better known in front of the hides there. These offer them a safe place to roost in, rest and relax until the spring tide starts to retreat, exposing the vast areas of mudflats, where the sea has replenished the whole area with food brought in by the incoming tides. Its then you get to see their numbers and sheer power, feeling the force as they take off from these pools, the noise is amazing and the sheer power of one of natures most amazing spectacles has to be seen to believed.
The light had faded a little, with the sun coming out one mintue then returning behind the clouds the next. As we watched with great anticipation as the Knot slept, heads tucked into their wings, sleeping, waiting for the signal to return back to the vast mudflats where they can roost far out to sea. The photograph above shows this behaviour as thousands of Knot all sleep, huddled together forming these vast groups, occasionally the air was filled with them all calling, chattering to each other, moving, others flying in, swelling their numbers. Sometimes the wait is long then next it is short, but when it happens its amazing. I had a sequence of one to ones with a few people during these days in Norfolk and the second group had never seen this event, which made it even more enjoyable. So as we all waited, apertures ready, enough shutter speed to freeze this moment, fine tuning everything for that moment they take off, something I have witnessed many times over the years, where each time you see something different, then with no warning, no introduction, they go.
Birds start to take off as the others wait on the ground for their turn to join their group and return to the sea. Peeling off , perfectly timed formations take to the air back to where they belong, the power and force can be felt as you sit in the hides. With the photograph above I wanted to convey this moment, how some birds wait for their turn while others have already taken off, following each other back to the safely of the sea, a truly amazing site within our wonderful wildlife in this country.
Then with only the last few birds to leave the land, the sky is full, thousands, upon thousands of birds take off, a shiver always goes down my spine upon seeing this, such is the power and beauty of this event. After which a hot coffee is a must to warm you and reflect on what we just saw. I then head around the coastline showing the clients the various places I visit, capturing images, going through techniques and helping everyone take better images, where at the same time seeing and learning what amazing wildlife we have around us and how they live their lives.
I also have a few Barn Owl sites I visit and work on. During the day I show clients this area hoping that they turn up, as many people have never seen one of these amazing birds which are one of my favourite species. Then right on time, they arrive from know where, hunting the ground, they then disappear in a flash giving you a brief insight into how they hunt and go about their lives.
I have been running these great days now for sometime, where each month there are a few dates that this amazing event happens so if you wish to make an enquirey or book, then send me an email here and I will get back to you with dates,spaces etc. These One To Ones can be run on an individual basis or as a group. Big thank you to all the nice people I met this weekend, Roise, Martin, Stuart, Marjan.
Over the last couple of days the weather seems to have become a little colder which results in those frosty, sunny mornings I love, where the cold hits the back of your throat while at the same time the sun comes up and bathes the countryside in a beautiful warm glow. Most of my wildlife photography is where I like to work the land, finding whats around me and the areas I visit, tracking through foot prints and waste food and droppings trying to build a picture in my head what has passed by or has visited recently. So over the last few days I have had a break from the Deer Rut and have been walking in my local countryside not to far from my Staffordshire home. A lot of the countryside at the moment has been harvested meaning sort, rough grazing and grass, crop etc ideal for one of my favorite UK birds, the Barn Owl.
While out walking over the last few days my attention was drawn to a few feathers, one a primary and the others being belly or flank feathers softer in appearance than the primary, white in appearance and in and around a prominent natural perch I had come across. There was also white droppings at the base telling me this was a popular perch maybe for a Barn Owl, I found a few small pellets or a mass of hair as they looked and upon separating them, something I loved to do as a child, tiring to rebuild the skeleton to found out what the prey was. I found a small set of bones and a jaw bone from a tiny rodent and I knew then that this area and perch were being used by a Barn Owl.
And here he was, with primary/secondarie feathers missing in his wing, the sunrise was amazing with a small blanket of frost all over the ground, not a bad frost but just enough to give that crunch sound under foot when walking, which by the way is not great when you are stalking a wild animal. I have spent a few days there and have watched this male hunt, he seems to have appeared from knowhere, as often Barn Owls do outside of the breeding season as they can become quit nomadic, wondering the countryside on the lookout for prey.
Amazing birds that I call the Ghost due to the fact without warning and no clue they can just turn up, hunt for a few minutes make eye contact with you as you witness their very distinctive appearance with a white heart-shaped face with no ear tufts and sharp black eyes all contributing to its striking appearance. Those large black eyes only let the Barn Owl look forward in a fixed position and cannot move to the side so consequently the Barn Owl has to turn its head to see to the side or back. Their hearing is amazing and the ability to locate prey by sound alone is one of the best in the animal kingdom.
Barn Owls are fascinating creatures and anytime I spend with these amazing birds is priceless. I have been back a couple of times and been able to capture him a few more times, I do feel with no sightings in the past here he may just be passing through so in the meantime its a very welcome treat for me among my other projects I am working on at present including; Mountain Hares, Short-eared Owls and my little female Kingfisher on the river Trent.
My advice would be to walk the land and watch and look for clues of whats around and you maybe surprised at what you find as this time of year so much wildlife is on the move in readiness for the oncoming winter. This for me is the true meaning of fieldcraft a word I hear used alot within wildlife photography, but fieldcraft means to use whats around you, reading the clues and signals all animals leave behind where most if not all the clues are right there all you have to do is just look that bit closer.
Your reward will be something you have seen and learned all about yourself and when the subject appears as did this Barn Owl its a great moment as you view a moment in their lives something I truly love. Its one of the main things I teach and show on my One To Ones and Workshops in order for the client(s) to take this skill away with them. So they can apply this in their own photography and get close to wildlife without impacting on the subjects life. If you would like any further advice or help on anything I have raised then please send me an email here many thanks.
I’ve just returned from two wonderful One To One days in Norfolk that a client from Scotland:Bobby had booked with me.I’m always happy when people make the effort in booking onto one of my trips or One To Ones,where in Bobby’s case traveling some distance I took care of everything, the hotel booking,food,packed lunch the lot so no matter how far the client has to travel to attend one of my trips I pull all the stops out,enabling them to ‘Just Press The Button’ and enjoy and capture the chosen wildlife they have asked to photograph and learn more about.
I find the task of meeting a stranger in the early hours of a new day not a problem as I do really like helping people to take better images,where I teach it all from expert fieldcraft,crafted over many years of being at one with nature right through to the camera settings,pressing home all the time that wildlife photography is for everyone,where good images can be obtained with effort and patience.My passion for nature ever present and I show the beauty of whats around us all,where I share my skills and information from the moment someone attends my trips/One To One days,so when they go home they do so in the knowledge they have learned in parts, the skills,setting,knowledge of nature that I know and use and over time with practise and patience their work will improve as mine has done.
The key target when I am heading east from my Staffordshire home to Norfolk is the beautiful Barn Owl-‘The Ghost’ as call them as you can be waiting for some time,then from know where this white bird appears,almost like a ghost,perfectly silent in flight,going about its business,quartering the fields on the look out for rodents and small voles,briefly looking up at you with its ‘Disc-Like’ face,giving you a split second look at their beautiful faces.My preference has always been to get into place before the light comes up,using camouflaged clothing,and place yourself in nature, where by watching,listening and observing what is happening around you you can start buildling a picture of whats happening around and over time this for me is the best tool to learn with regard wildlife photography and one I always press home on any workshops/trips I run.
The weather in Norfolk was’nt great,but on the first night we where afforded a beautiful sunset,where I was dreaming the Barn Owl would fly past,but some dreams are just to big and will always remain just that,dreams.The colour from the sunset turned the whole place a red/orange colour,it was just amazing to watch with no wind you could here a pin drop,just the noise of the waves breaking the perfect silence.
Bobby managed some great shots and also some wide-angled landscape image,where there is always an image to be had even in the absence of wildlife.The two days went to quick,with only the images on my hard drive now to remind me of my latest trip to Norfolk.I tired to capture the Barn Owl within the farmland habitat in which it share’s its life alongside humans,where there is the close contact between these two and where the Barn Owl seems to be thriving with good numbers of these birds all over Norfolk
For me the Barn Owl never stops thrilling me with its presence,it is a really popular bird within the general public, when you catch one flying around on its quest for food it is just amazing to watch this master at work.This year I have witnessed them feeding in pouring rain,something I reported on in an early blog and behaviour I’ve never seen before.With the recent cold spell at the beginning of the year,one of the coldest in over 50 years, the Barn Owl struggled to feed itself and in some areas numbers have been down,but the real damage of this spell of weather won’t be truly known for some time yet.
I have released a Limited Edition Barn Owl image,with only 100 prints available.Where I had observed this male Barn Owl for sometime during our recent cold spell, I watched as he hunted over snow-covered ground. Here he is captured stopping and hovering over prey, just short of where I was laying down on the freezing ground. I could here his wings flapping during the brief time he hovered then moved on. To celebrate that beautiful moment in nature alongside my own love for Barn Owls I have brought out this Print.Where you can buy with or without a frame by clicking here and scroll down
A lot of my work and prints can be viewed this weekend as I have a display at the Pavilion Gardens,Buxton,Derbyshire.and I’m just making the final adjustments to my stand and choosing the images I will display and sell to the public.Its great to see my work in print as to often its just left on the computer or used at a much reduced Jpeg size,where the detail cannot be truly seen.So if you are in the area this weekend please pop in to say hello and if I can be of any help,or questions on wildlife photography etc than please ask.