Entries Tagged ‘Holland’:

A Taste of Texel

Filed in Places Of Interest, Wildlife, Workshops on May.05, 2011

The bird paradise of Texel in Holland became our home over the last four days during our annual yearly photo trip there.  This picturesque island on the north tip of the Dutch mainland is a heaven for wildlife, at around 25 miles long and seven miles wide the island is the largest of the Wadden Islands.

It’s a haven and paradise for thousands of waders and waterfowl during the spring/summer months where they choose this picturesque island to play out their courtship routines and breed, feed their young all quiet close to you, presenting some of this best chances to photograph Avocets, Spoonbills, Caspian and Black Terns, Oystercatchers, Kentish Plovers, and many more waders.

When we arrived after the over night ferry relaxed and far less stressed than if you travel by plane, we headed to a site on the mainland first where a family of Foxes are living wild among a woodland environment, twinned with paths and humans walking around.  Even through the foxes were wild it was plain to see they had become use to human actively, and after my own ongoing Fox project at home which has become so testing at times, it was refreshing to see these wonderful animals up so close, going about their lives around us, very endearing moment for me and the group.

We all shared some lovely moments before heading to Texel and settling into our lovely hotel accommodation on the island, where all your meals are of the highest standard, comfortable place in which to use as our base during our time on Texel.  In the morning we all heading out at around 05.30am for the morning light and to visit the places where the Avocets feed and other waders. The weather during the whole trip was warm, sunny but windy, this hampered a few of the birds we all had on our wish lists, but all in all many wonderful moments were all captured by the group during their time on Texel and the mainland.

Amazing light on offer each morning but that wind just made the going a little tough for the wildlife, right place right time is one of those key elements in wildlife photography and again we all managed to be there while witnessing a very beautiful piece of behaviour from a pair of Oystercatchers in the morning light. These birds by their very nature are very loud, their call travelling for miles, a single, high pitched note this can be your first indication that these birds are around.

We watched having been drawn to a certain pair due to the vocal calls, they were following each other in straight lines, mimicking each others movement then setting off again traveling behind each other always calling, how wonderful nature is.

Then in a flash the male would jump up onto of the female, calling constantly, steadying himself by flapping his wings really fast to keep himself up right, wonderful to see this action that really only lasted seconds before the male jumped off and started cleaning himself up.

We spent quite a lot of time photographing the Common, Arctic, Little, Sandwich Tern colonies that Texel supports in good numbers, most if not all are inland, dotted around this small islands pools, with the ever present noise and smell’s these busy little communities give off.  For me the Tern family is a beautiful bird, on one hand really hardy, tough, on the other so gentle and elegant with such a graceful appearance.  I watched as one parent sat on the nest as the other flew in and passed over the sandeels they had just caught, all while hovering for a split second, so beautiful to watch, I was able to capture the sequence with the image below.

The birds are so fast and fly in, you only have a few seconds and trust me there were hundreds of  attempts that ended in nothing but blurred images, but you only need one image to convey the moment. Great displays of affection between the birds were witnessed showing real care for each other which was very nice to see.

Among the vast colonies of Terns there were good numbers of a bird often over looked in the presence of other birds, the Black headed Gull, strikingly beautiful in their summer plumage.  They are a common colonial breeder, nesting among reedbeds and marshland, their dark brown hood often mistaken for black is stunning in the light and with matching leg and beak colour they are a match for most colourful birds.  The noise from these birds though can be earsplitting a real loud call they use to communicate with each often.

I captured them building their nest, the male would fly in and drop off the twigs to the female who chose to start their home on a grassy embankment covered in small colourful flowers. Great fun to watch and again above their noise really comical to watch.

The routine most days was the same an early start to see the island awaken,capture those beautiful encounters with our cameras, then head back for our wonderful self service hot and cold breakfast, then head back out for the whole day. Driving to the different sites and always on the look out for a shot, in this case it was the handsome Spoonbill. A large bird with wonderful markings on their bills and plumage, we managed to capture this guy feeding and having a good clean up, disembarking the vehicle slowly and moving very quietly and slowly to get a close up of this wonderful looking bird that’s very rare in the UK.

Here I captured him having a good old stretch or was he exercising in the morning who knows but a funny image where I was laughing as I took it as nature does afford you so much fun at times.  After three amazing days on the island of Texel we caught the early morning ferry on the Monday and like last years trip we headed to the mainland to photograph the stunning and beautiful Black Necked Grebe. On the way stopping off at another Grebe site, this time the Great Crested Grebe a site Jeroen knew really well.

Another stunning bird from the same family, here she had chicks with her perched on her back. Mum would swim around while dad would fish to feed them. Then unannounced the male would turn up with a fish in his beak and offer this up to the young chicks on mum’s back.  I watched as the young chick would reach round to take the fish, sometimes falling into the water, in the end though the parents where amazingly attentive to their offspring.

And here I under exposed a lot to get this effect, where the Grebe had swam into a darker area with the light still shining on her, making for a lovely image and a style I really look to produce in my work.

We travelled for about two hours until we reached the area in which the Black Necked grebes nest, where you can get some beautiful close up’s of this striking bird. We found a small spot,where we lay down and watched the Grebes feed at some distance away,over time they came closer into land, all the time feeding and on some occasions displaying to each other.

And the light was really changeable, so here I tired a hi key image over exposing to gain this effect in camera, adding a different feel to the image.

The group had some lovely encounters with these amazing birds before moving onto another site then heading to the port for our over night ferry crossing to Harwich. It was a really good trip, lovely clients all of which were great company so thank you all. I hope you got alot from the trip and I hope to have helped you in some regard with wildlife photography, how you can capture a subject within its environment, fieldcraft etc.  Thanks to Jeroen Stel for your time and effort in this amazing photo trip. Next years trip dates are up and for those that wanted to book this year but could’nt join us because we were full I’ll send you the dates on my monthly newsletter. For more info click here .

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Tremendous Texel

Filed in Places Of Interest, Wildlife, Workshops on May.13, 2010

I have just returned from a great workshop to the island of Texel that I ran alongside Dutch wildlife photographer Jeroen Stel.The weather wasn’t on the groups side for the first few days,but there was still some much birdife around the weather conditions added to the images the group got,with my belief of ‘There’s always an Image’  to be had,ringing out throughout the workshop we all stayed extremely positive,with the clients being rewarded with some beautiful behaviour,courting Avocets,Common Terns,Black-Necked Grebes all going through their courting routines,love was certainly in the air.


Common Terns

Black-Necked Grebes

The first few days with the weather being so unpredictably we drove around the island to the key spots,chancing our luck with what ever we could work with at the same time trying to dodge the rain clouds that seemed to be here to stay.I have always believed that weather can add some much to an image,capturing unseen and uncommon behaviour prior,during,or after the rain.I covered this very subject some time ago now in a previous topic called After The Rain .When possible try to sit out the rain or take cover with your personnel safety first and foremost,then you will be rewarded with some images that are a little different with the weather conditions adding to the image(s),as below with this simple Avocet feeding in overcast conditions and also while the rain came down,taken with my wide-angled lens to give you a sense and scale of the place, placing the subject within its natural habitat which I feel adds great impact to the image through the art of Photography.

Avocet feeding

Avocet Feeding

Avocet Feeding

As a group we spent quite a lot of time photographing the Common,Arctic,Little,Sandwich Tern colonies that Texel supports in good numbers,most if not all are inland,dotted around this small islands pools,with the ever present noise and smell’s these busy little communities give off.For me the Tern family is a beautiful bird,on one hand really hardy,tough, on the other so gentle and elegant with such a graceful appearance.I watched as one parent sat on the nest as the other flew in and passed over the sandeels they had just caught,all while hovering for a split second,so beautiful to watch,I was able to capture the sequence with the three images below.

Common Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern' Passing Food'

Our daily routine was an early morning start come rain or shine,back to our beautiful hotel on Texel,where the food was brilliant,lovely breakfast,3 course evening meal, it really made the trip for the guests.We covered the whole island during our 3 days on there,seeing so,so much bird life,the island is teaming with,where there is opportunity after opportunity to capture the wildlife Texel has to offer.At around 25 miles long and seven miles wide the island of Texel is the largest of the Wadden Islands. It’s a haven and paradise for thousands of waders and waterfowl during the spring/summer months where they choose this picturesque island to play out their courtship routines and breed.

Black-Tailed Godwit

Black-Tailed Godwit

One of the many species of birds I wanted to see was the beautiful Black-Tailed Godwit,where the Dutch call this bird ‘The King Of The Birds’ with its stunning colours and trade mark proud stance it certainly carries its self like a king.On this day we saw this male on an old fence post,with all the group getting great images from this bird it was a real treat indeed,where the over cast weather played in our favour again with little or no bright,contrasty sunlight the birds shone in the soft lighting.

At almost every turning,each place give up there secrets to us all,where we were able to capture in good numbers the stunning wildlife that lives on this small island.Spoonbills were also a first for me,I’d seen them in my many trips and workshops to Norfolk but never at this close range as on Texel,their bills and marking amazed me,such a handsome bird.With a careful approach,using proven fieldcraft skills that allowed us to get quite close as we watched and observed them feeding,using their massive ‘Spoon‘ shaped bill to great effect.


Spoonbill Feeding



The group we had was a mixture of UK and Dutch people with one Belgium man who I nicked named ‘Dotty Man’ his real name is Benoit,as we saw a few Dotterel feeding in a large field,another first for me,but sadly it came to nothing as Benoit’s fieldcraft put pay to the groups chances as the birds flew off after they saw his advances,all in good fun though and there is always next years trip Benoit!!, which already I cannot wait for.I hope the group of people that joined Jeroen and myself enjoyed the trip,it was good to show and help them all with the simply techniques and principles I use as a wildlife photographer,and I enjoyed all your company,with a lovely, relaxed atmosphere throughout the trip.

On our last day on Texel before we headed for the mainland to photography Black-Necked Grebes and Purple Herons,the clouds broke,and the island was bathed in beautiful sunshine,where our continued run of good luck carried on,with lovely views of Marsh Harriers flying over their hunting grounds of farmland and reedbeds

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

With the sunshine came so many beautiful colours as the island grows Tulips and many other flowers,with vast fields of pure colour.Our cars stopped for a bref moment,with the presence of movement to our left in a field of yellow flowers,this for me was the moment of the trip.As we watched the flowers move,we couldn’t see what was making this movement,it went on for some time as I followed the line of flowers moving in my viewfinder.Then almost comical like this male Pleasant popped his head up for a few seconds,then carried on,with the moving flowers forming a trail upon where he had gone and was heading,I couldn’t stop laughing,as nature does afford you such funny times from time to time ,this being one of  them.


On the last day I thought the bird I most wanted to see during the trip would elude me,as the weather was not very favorably,with strong winds it seemed the beautiful Bluethroat would not be seen.During the days on Texel we heard their distinctive call several times among the habitat,but sightings never materialised until later on in the day,I managed a few images but they never came to close,so I composed them within their environment.Such an unusual bird,with the prominent blue patch on their throats where their name is derived from they are so beautiful looking.




The evening finished with a late evening walk after our evening meal in search of one of my favourite Owls;the Short-Eared Owl at a site Jeroen knew of on the island.As with nature you can never count on the subject to turn up when you want,in this case the Shorty never did but we were treated to a beautiful sunset,were I saw a small dark speck on the horizon,on a hill,as I walked forward and composed the bird in line with the setting sun I could just make out it was a Buzzard,beautiful colours and patterns to the sky,for me it was a dream end to our time on Texel,with our departure first thing in the morning to photograph Black-Necked Grebes on the main land.

Sunset Buzzard

An early start to catch our ferry,where we got to the main land in good time,we traveled for about two hours until we reached a popular sight where you can get some beautiful close up’s of this striking bird.We found a small spot,where we lay down and watched the Grebes feed at some distance away,over time they came closer into land,all the time feeding and on some occasions displaying to each other.The weather had gone cloudy again,with the sun making the odd appearance,this made exposure a nightmare,so I chose to turn some of my images of this beautiful bird into Hi-Key images,which highlights the brightness and makes for a ‘Arty’ image,going along with my belief of there’s always an image to be had!

Black-Necked Grebe

Black-Necked Grebe


It was a brilliant trip,great clients,loved Holland,very flat and picturesque,with lots of windmills about.I hope that the clients got alot from the workshop/trip and I hope to have helped you in some regard with wildlife photography,what it means to me,how you can capture a subject within its environment etc.We will be running another Texel trip next April/May 2011,until then thanks again,big thanks to Jeroen for your time and effort in making the trip a complete success,and sorry for my snoring!!


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