Entries Tagged ‘Norfolk Spring Tides’:

Wildlife Photo Tours 2013

Filed in Events, Workshops on Nov.21, 2012

With another year almost over this brings my 2012 photo tour programme to a close. What a year it has been, from the beaches of Norfolk to the heat of the Indian forests of Ranthambhore in search of the majestic Bengal Tigers and the amazing and unique island of Madagascar and its famous Lemurs, to breaching Humpback Whales in the Indian Ocean. Thank you to all of my valued guests for your custom and company and I hope you’ve had a wonderful time on my trips as well as learning more than you knew at the start of your adventure.

My 2013 tours are filling fast, with new destinations added along with my popular and favourite destinations.  The emphasis of my tours is to maximize wildlife watching and photography options for everyone while at the same time enjoying and learning more about the habitat and the wildlife that coexists alongside our target species.

I’d be delighted if you’d join me next year or in the future to witness the amazing wildlife my trips offer, while learning more about the subject and photography. The locations chosen for all of my tours offer unrivalled photographic opportunities. The pace of each trip is such that there is ample time to indulge in all that is on offer and maximise the photographic potential of each location.

Here you can read just a few of the reasons why lots of other photographers have chosen to join me.

In February 2013 I will start the year with my amazing trip to the Falklands which is now fully booked.  For details of my 2014 trip please click here for more information.

In April you can catch the season moving from winter into spring and see the wildlife of the Norfolk coast come alive on my Early Spring in Norfolk trip with 2 places remaining. Click here for more information and booking form.

Then in the middle of April I travel to the wonderful Dutch island of Texel for my Texel photo tour run alongside friend and fellow wildlife photographer Jeroen Stel who lives in Holland. 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, feeding their young all quite close to you, presenting some of the best opportunities to photograph Avocets, Spoonbills, Caspian, Black Terns, Oystercatchers, Kentish Plovers, and many more waders. Click here to see this photo tour.

Then I round April off and follow through to May with my second trip and head to Ranthambhore for my Tigers of India tour. The Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve is the single largest expanse of dry-deciduous forest left intact in India. It is one of the best places in India to see these amazing animals in the wild. My first trip is fully booked and I have a couple of places left on my second trip. For details please click here. If you would like to buy one of my limited edition Tiger prints that help a charity I support then please click here to be taken to 21 Century Tigers website.

The month of June finds me travelling north to two amazing places for wildlife. Firstly my ever popular trip to the Isle of Mull which lies on the west coast of Scotland. It has a breathtaking coastline of 300 miles and the climate is a mixture of rain and sunshine. The island is a wonderful place to see Golden Eagles, White-tailed Eagles, Otters, Porpoises and a whole host of Hebridean Wildlife. Come and join me as I take you around this beautiful island on this amazing 6 day/5 night trip. I still have places available so click on this link to see the details.

Later on in June I have a new photo tour-Stunning Shetland, where we will spend a whole week on this wildlife packed island. I will be working with my friend who lives on the island to deliver you some of the best animal and birdlife in the UK. I only have two places left so for more information please click here.

I start the month of July off with a brand new trip to the wild forest of Finland. You will get the opportunity to photograph wild Brown Bears, Wolves and the very unique Wolverine all from purpose built professional hides perfectly designed for photographers. These shy, iconic predators will go about their business around you, giving you a unique insight unto their lives at the same time giving you some if not the best opportunities to photograph these rare and elusive predators. I have a couple of places free so for more information or to book click here.

Another brand new photo tour for 2013 is my Jaguars of Brazil trip. Join me on this amazing 8 day trip in August to the Pantanal in Brazil to see the beautiful Jaguar in its wetland and woodland habitat. Wildlife in the Pantanal includes Anteaters, Howler Monkeys, Jaguars, Giant River Otters, Caimans, Anacondas, Ocelots and Capybara, along with a host of colourful and exotic birds. I have places free on this trip at present so for more information or to book please click here.

In September I am planning a 9 day trip to Sumatra which hopefully will be completed and ready for you to view very soon.  Then in the month of October it’s my Madagascar photo tour. After this year’s successful trip to this amazing island I am doing another 11 day trip photographing the very unique wildlife this island has to offer. For more information click here.

I then finish the year off with my Winter Waders in Norfolk trip. This place is famous for its winter flocks of Geese, Wildfowl and Waders who begin to gather here to make their home during our winter months. I have places free at the moment so for more information please click here.

In between all of these trips I also offer workshops to Skomer to photograph the Puffins, Mountain Hares, Spring Tides & Barn Owls. I also run workshops for Dippers, Red Grouse and Water voles which are still as popular as ever, all these worshops can be viewed here. I take clients to places I have visited since my early teens so they are very personal to me and make great one day workshops photographing these subjects as they go about their lives in the wild.

Lastly, my One to Ones, which are still very popular. The list of places throughout the year and more information can be seen by clicking on this link. Many thanks to all of the wonderful people that I’ve met this year and I look forward to meeting new and existing clients in 2013.

Just before I go if your looking for a wildlife calender for 2013 that helps and supports the amazing work of the wildlife trusts then click here to purchase this amazing calendar. I am proud to say that my Otter image has been chosen as the front cover and also January image of the month.


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Take Nothing For Granted

Filed in Animal Behaviour, Spring, Wildlife on Feb.12, 2012

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.


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In With The New Year

Filed in In the Press, Workshops on Jan.02, 2012

A New year and new life, with 2012 a few days old now it won’t be long before the air is filled with Spring bird song and new life, a real favourite time of year for me. You can just about witness anything by wondering around anywhere during the season of spring. Between then and now I am hopeful for a bit of winter weather and maybe some snow as I will be concentrating my efforts on Mountain Hares, Foxes and Owls during the next couple of months.

I have also been spending a lot of time with the adorable Red Squirrels, watching, photographing them and generally enjoying their unique characters over the last several weeks. Capturing a little of their behaviour and antics as they comb the forest floor looking for food and other food items they’ve stashed some weeks previously. Over the time I have watched these mammals I’ve become aware that it’s all about the size of your ‘ear tufts’ that gets you noticed, way before any introductions have taken place between the two sexes.

There is also a wide range of colouring between some of the squirrels at this place, ranging from really dark red to an almost light, red- ginger colour. The lighter coloured Red Squirrel seems to even detect or know he’s different in colour and seem more jumpy and whenever he appears the dark ones try to run him off, getting him away from the area in which the other squirrels seem to be.

It’s funny at times, as their seems some outward jealousy displayed, but quite cruel to see him have this amount of unwanted attention from those darker and more self aware Red Squirrels sharing this same habitat. But by just watching as I do, a whole community comes alive in front of you, animals living their lives right in front of you and most of the time these behaviours are just not seen.

I’ve watched and witnessed Magpies, the ever opportunistic bird watching the squirrels find food and bury the food, only to be dug up once the squirrel had gone. Here as you can see this Red Squirrel buries his stash while being watched by this Magpie who has other ideas about that food, again how cruel nature can be at times, witnessed by just spend time simply watching.

I made the best use of the light and cover, which  slightly hid my presence from the shy squirrels, the result was a more relaxed and less jumpy subject, this approach allowed me some wonderful views. Often not knowing where or when they will turn up, you have seconds to compose and take your shot before they’ve gone. I always use the natural habitat and vegetation that is around, which the subject is naturally using of his own free will. This makes for a more “as seen” image which I feel is so important in today’s wildlife images.

The above image was down to luck and beautiful morning light as I captured this squirrel looking into the forest with the morning rays of light illuminating his beautiful coat. The image below captures this squirrel using this small branches to come from the tree canopy down to the forest floor. I used the two trees left and right to conceal myself, shooting through the middle to give this out of focus frame to the image. Such wonderful and beautiful mammals to spend time with.

There will be more Red Squirrel moments captured, fingers crossed, throughout 2012 I hope.  I don’t like to use the word project as its too formal and as a wildlife photographer I never put a time limit on photographing a certain subject as its never ending for me. But I can guarantee I will be spending as much time as possible photographing these very endearing mammals.  Over the next few weeks I have a number of workshops, Mountain Hares, Red grouse and Dippers, so I look forward to welcoming my first clients of 2012.

In February’s issue of the Practical Photography magazine there is an interview with myself covering my obsession with waders. In the interview I reveal the reasons behind my passion for these birds and these amazing Spring Tides in Norfolk, and I also discuss the field craft techniques, capturing these amazing events in natures calendar. I touch on what wildlife photography means to me and how I hope to inspire people to see the beautiful world of wildlife which is everywhere. Click here to see the interview in.


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Capturing An Animals Spirit

Filed in Animal Behaviour, Wildlife, Workshops on Nov.30, 2011

Over the last week I have revisited my Red Squirrel site in the North west coastal region of the UK. I managed to capture these most adorable mammals in better light, having got use to their behaviour a little which in turn makes for a better image. This whole area is managed by the wildlife trust who keep an eye on the population of Red Squirrels that were almost wiped out 3 years ago. Numbers are slowly increasing with the hard work and dedication of the local trust and volunteers. Every living animal for me has their own spirit, their own character and I really try to capture that within my work. Unplanned, unscripted in its truest form, watching wildlife and capturing those briefest of moments when you witness their unique behaviour.  This is priceless.

The story with these guys is that they are really shy here among this pine forest habitat and not as bold as their grey counterparts, this though is the red’s undoing as the introduced greys are a more formidable forager of food and adapt to their environment far easier than the indigenous reds. Also the pox virus brought to these shores by the greys is wiping these little cute fellows out and experts warn that in as little as 20 years Red Squirrels could become extinct which would be a very sad day indeed.

A little supplementary food is put out by the trust but mostly these red’s forage for food on the forest floors, your first indication they are around is the sudden claw sounds as they chase each other around the tree trunks. Once on the ground though they are quick, real quick, darting all over the place and  you have to follow and focus almost at the same time which was a little challenging to say the least as you just don’t know where they will turn up.

I love to just watch wildlife, build a picture of what’s happening as all living animals have routines and patterns they stick to, creatures of habit, the way they move, walk or feed and congregate with others etc. So by watching these squirrels’ patterns when ascending from the trees to the forest floor to feed I learned a great deal from them. I’d focus in one given area keeping down on my own movements and noise that may just spook these fellows enough for them to disappear which is never my intention when working in the field with any living creature.

Once I’d heard the rustle of leaves that littered the ground I stayed still and lay flat on the ground to get that important and intermit view point with them.  No rain had fallen so they were dry and light which worked well for my hearing as you’d hear them coming, but bad for the squirrels as each movement from them was an open invitation to view them straight away as the rustle give their position away instantly.  I became aware the squirrels knew this and after a few paces they seemed to momentarily pause, dead still, then move again.

At first I tried to follow them through my viewfinder but found that they were just too quick and expert at giving me the brush off. Then I changed tact, focused in on an area I kept seeing them come to, it seemed a cross way veering off to many different paths they had to various areas where they stashed their bounty for another day. I also saw them rubbing their bodies along the fallen log in this area which the trust had left to rot and give back its riches to the soil.

The problem was if I moved my lens or camera as they approached they’d go before I could say hello, so I listened, looked left and right once the first rustle was picked up by myself. A light and not as heavy noise meant they were some distance away, louder and firmly noises meant they were close as my eye was pinned to my view finder with no time to swing a long lens around. I put all my eggs in one basket as they say and I had several wonderful close experiences with these beautiful mammals that crossed over an area to my front where they were picking and feeding on fungi and other food bits in and around this old fallen tree that was slowly being claimed back by nature.

I pre focused in this area and when he came close, I slowly used the large manual focus ring on my lens, which gave away no noise, shooting in quiet mode in camera, this reduces the noise as much as possible each time the shutter is pressed. Slowly I began, 1 shot, 2 shot, pause, as I watched for an indication he’s disturbed by me, if so I stop, if he wasn’t disturbed I continue with the same slow pace.  This approach works for me always remembering that these are wild animals with a healthy dislike for man. You have to work with them and in their environment and as a wildlife photographer I have a duty of care to the subject not to scare him into next week just for an image.

He routed around and fed on whatever he could find then went as quick as he’d come, it was wonderful to see these adorable animals so close and trusting towards me,  where he let me into his life briefly and where I was able to capture his spirit and sole as a living creature with these images. I mention this such alot on my blog but at a time when wildlife is really under pressure you have to put the welfare of the subject first before any photograph is taken.

Due care and thought for the animals well being should be one of if not the most important consideration before you head out anywhere to photograph whichever subject you are taking. With camera equipment and the need to capture images of wildlife there comes a great responsibility with it, so please be mindful of this when trying to get an image of a wild animal and watch for signs of stress and disturbance.  All wild animals have an inherent fear of man, place yourself in their circle of fear and you will be adding to that animals stress.

In this month’s Birdwatching magazine one of my wader images can been seen in their December edition. The image shows thousands of waders taking off while others waiting on the ground before joining them taken on a Spring tide in Norfolk. A bigger version can be seen on the 500px site by clicking on this link. It’s a wonderful place to display your images and somewhere I’d recommend having just joined.

The Spring tides for this year have now finished after this weekends brilliant showing, the next ones I have free are from February 2012 onwards so if you wish to know more information about these Spring tide days I run or to book one then just send me an email here The image above was taken on one of the last few Spring tides this weekend with clients, showing a Sanderling feeding with the tide coming in, replenishing the beach he was feeding on. Thank you to all those who have booked onto my Spring tide days and I look forward to the next ones in 2012.

And just a quick reminder Practical Photography magazine will be displaying a portfolio of my Spring tide images in their issue out on the 29th December 2011 so look out for that, many thanks.


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A Helping Hand

Filed in In the Press, Places Of Interest on Nov.18, 2011

Wildlife around the globe is in trouble, some species are on the brink of extinction and many others are threatened daily with habitat destruction and loss. The most endangered ones would have been long gone had it not been for a helping hand by humans.  Consigned to the history books with a stuffed version in museums to show us and remind us of what we lost. Without the hard work by the many wonderful people involved in helping to keep so many different species alive today, the worlds wildlife would be in an even worse mess than it is now.

Red Squirrels could be extinct in Britain within 20 years according to a recent review of some of the UK’s mammals,Scotish wildcats, hedgehogs and mountain hares are also at risk the report suggests. That report by Oxford University’s wildlife conservation research unit warns that mammals are being hard hit by intensification of farming along with other human activity. Damage and the loss of habitat is affecting not just the wildlife but also the rural economy because it creates a countryside devoid of wildlife, discouraging walkers, birdwatchers and many others whose money should be going into this economy. One of the biggest examples of this is that of the Red Squirrel, which was widespread throughout the UK until the introduction of the Grey Squirrel from America in the 1850’s.

This visitor to our shores is not only a more effective forger of food than the red but it brings with it the lethal disease called squirrel pox virus. The greys have colonised most of the UK now with the reds only really hanging on in Scotland but even there the virus-infected greys are moving into those areas. There are a few places south of the border of Scotland where you may see these adorable mammals, where red squirrel colonies are doing better thanks to a helping hand from wildlife trusts, volunteers and others concerned with the species not completely dying out from our shores as predicted by this report in around 20 years time which makes for shocking reading.

One place in England where numbers seem to be on the up is Formby, managed by the National Trust. Formby is well known as a special place to see red squirrels and numbers have recovered well following the deadly outbreak of squirrel pox virus in 2008. My last visit to this place was on the 18th December 2008, I remember it well as I had just taken delivery of my prime lens after using the older version of the Sigma 50-500mm lens. I wanted to put the lens through its places and chose Formby.

I decided to visit Formby hoping to see and photograph these cute and adorable mammals. What I didn’t know was that Formby had just recorded their worst year, with almost 80% of the reds having caught this dreaded pox and dying. When I got there I walked around the woodland walks most of the day and never saw one squirrel all day which was really odd as the place had been recommend to me and all of the research I’d done online suggested the place was full of red squirrels. Later that day I saw a warden and he explained to me the pox disease had almost wiped out the whole red squirrel population there and you would be very lucky to see one today which was really bad to hear.

I’d not been back since that day in 2008, until this week after researching some facts and figures and it seems that things are improving through the hard work and helping hand from the wildlife trust, and many other staff involved in the research and help to save these reds. The signs are that 2011 has been a good breeding year and Formby anticipate the results of the autumn monitoring will show that red squirrel population has recovered to over 60% of the pre squirrel pox level which is amazing and a great success story.

A few squirrel feeders were introduced in one particular place within Formby to give visitors a better chance of getting close views of red squirrels. They have been reintroducing in a controlled way so that the staff there can monitor the situation and avoid the reds becoming too dependent on supplementary food, maintaining their wild ways and feeding patterns. Many of the smaller woodland birds there also benefit from the feeders with the onset of the colder weather while larger birds like pigeons and crows are excluded by the design of the feeders.

During my time there this week I found the squirrels to be extremely shy, they would come down from the tops of the trees, their crawls scratching on the bark letting you know they were on the move. They’d come to the feeders and they’d grab something, run down the tree trunk and off to find a quiet place in which to bury their bounty for another day. Once the food had been consumed in the few feeders they’d concentrate their efforts on picking up the left over’s which had fallen from those feeders and littered the forest floor.

In a flash one or more would come, in a ‘grab and go’ style and vanish off into the distance to again bury their catch and return. Often they would chase each other around making for a really comical spectacle, once that stopped they’d get on with the stashing of food.

I used the natural light that was piecing through the tree canopy and often the squirrels would appear out of the dark areas and then disappear back into the shadows the next, it created a lovely effect though where I tried using the natural trees and branches they were using to compose my images on and around. Most of the time though the squirrels were on the forest floor making for that very intermit view point where you are level with the subjects eyes. I had a wonderful time and it was great to see these fellows doing so well with all the work and care in looking after their welfare by the trust.

If you’re planning a visit to Formby you have a much better chance of seeing a red squirrels on the woodland trails that form part of this area. The trust asks people to stay on these paths, don’t via off them or climb over the fences and don’t bring you own food as the wardens put a little bit of food out for them to go along with their natural diet. The reds spend much time feeding on natural foods like pine cones which are much better for them, and please respect these animals by not placing them under any stress in order for you to get an image, sit, wait and watch and you’ll get to see their patterns and bombing raids as I call them, ‘grab and go’ moves to feed then disappear back into the pine woodlands.

The threat of further squirrel pox outbreaks remains and squirrel workers are actively involved with residents in the local area in an attempt to contain outbreaks of the disease should it reoccur. Anyone seeing a grey squirrel or a sick red squirrel in the Formby area should report it to the National Trust rangers there. This guidance is laid down but the wildlife trust to protect these at risk animals. I will be going back to carry on capturing these adorable mammals and will update my blog to how they are doing in the future.

Several of my wader images from the amazing springtides in Norfolk made the papers this week, showing the beauty of this event. Click here to see The Mail online and here for the Daily Telegraph image of the day. And I had the image below printed in Wednesdays paper where it covered two pages and looked stunning with the details and colours of thousands of waders taking off.

I have put together some images that show the true beauty of this amazing event that happens in Norfolk throughout the year in this slideshow below.

 


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Amazing Watervole

Filed in Animal Behaviour, Wildlife on Sep.06, 2011

I have often said on previous blog pages covering many different subjects and places, you just never know what you’ll see when working with wildlife. And this one sentence couldn’t be further from the truth on a recent outing photographing Watervoles at a site within the beautiful Peak District, Derbyshire. This little creature lives a peaceful life on our riverbanks up and down the UK, often going unnoticed by passersby, but should you go to close or spook this animal you’ll be greeted in most parts by a loud “PLOP” as the vole makes a quick dash for safety by diving straight into the water and away to safety.

I am very fortunate to have found over the years several good sites in which these animals live and breed in. Watervoles are one of my favourite mammals, with their enduring character and cuteness, making them a lovely subject to watch and also photograph. They are legally protected in Britain and sadly their numbers continue to plummet. Due to its small size and the fact that it lives both on land and in the water, Watervoles are prey to numerous predators wherever they appear to live.

Mink, Weasels, Foxes along with Adders are the most common predators on dry land, with Owls and other birds Of prey hunting them from the air. Large fish such as Pike are known to hunt these mammals also. Their vast reduction in numbers in recent years however is not just caused by this high level of predation, the loss of much of their natural habitats has had a much more drastic effect along with the destruction of bank side vegetation, and pollution playing a vital part of their declining number on our shores.

I have been very lucky over the years in finding sites when I’m out and about, often there looking for another subject, when suddenly I’ll see gnawed nuts, shredded bark and cut grass leaves, all clear indicators of their presence around me at these new sites. One such site I have been watching for some time now, in-between my one to ones/workshops and other projects, I have captured them going about their lives along this very healthy river system in a beautiful and secluded part of the UK.

They share this space with a family of Little Grebes and I managed to captured the fully grown fledgling floating effortless on the dead calm water here, learning the skills his parents had taught him over the last several weeks.

On this day in question I got into place at dawn, settling into place, there was little wind, as Watervoles have an incredible sense of smell. I stay as low as is possible and become part of the riverbank, hiding away using the natural cover afforded to me from the reeds and bank side vegetation always mindful not to disturb these animals with my presence. I never enter the water around where they live or breed as I personally feel that this is a step to close, the welfare of any animal comes before any photograph, something you must be aware of with every living animal you photograph.

Much of the time when you are waiting for a wild animal to turn up you never know where, how or if your chosen subject will turn up so during this period I always become tuned into my environment, listening and watching for anything that indicates life, movement and the possibility of a different image or a new site or subject appearing. This approach is time consuming but greatly rewarding when you witness or see something for the first time, or even learn a bit more about your subject or that of any other living creature that may show up during your time at a certain place.

Without warning though I heard a slight rushling noise coming from deep inside the reeds as I witnessed the tops of the broad reeds moving, like someone was passing through underneath them if that makes sense. The next thing I saw was a Watervole climbing out on a very narrow branch and trying to reach some leaves at the end.  I just could’nt believe what I was seeing here.

Using his tail and hand as he balanced himself at the same time slowly and carefully moving along the branch, a few times pausing in an act to just steady himself. I didn’t know what to do first, laugh or stop and ask myself was I really seeing this, a wild animal doing a behaviour I’d never seen or even heard of before.

As the Watervole neared the leaves he would gather one and just casually sit there, suspended above the water beneath him and eat a few more before climbing back down to firm ground and a place you are normally accustom to seeing Watervoles live and feed in and around.

I feel privileged to have seen this behaviour on this day, really underlining you just never know what will happen as you watch wildlife and by being ready with your camera, constantly watching your subject you will, with luck be able to capture such events that would be hard to explain outside of a set-up image.  Not long after this he carried on feeding on the ground, a little out of shot, then disappearing into the dense undergrowth, where I didn’t see him again that day.

I’ll be going back soon hoping to see this pair and over the summer months my Watervole workshops have helped many of my clients not only to see this wonderful mammal in the wild but they have been able to take some wonderful images also. If you would like more information on these days then please click here and scroll down to the bottom of my workshops/photo tours page.

I had a lovely surprise over the weekend with one of my favourite Spring Tides at Norfolk images published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, the image can be seen above and the link here. It was taken on one of the Spring Tides that really start in earnest on the lead up to Christmas now. I focused inside the flock as half of the birds, which are called Knot, started to take off, leaving a queuing system on the ground as the other Knots waited to join them by taking off and returning to the mudflats of the wash in Norfolk.

If you would like to witness this amazing event, I run one to ones/workshops there concentrating on these spectacular days in the morning, then throughout the rest of the day we visit many other amazing sites around the North Norfolk coastline, finishing at one of my Barn Owl site there capping off a wonderful day of wildlife photography, for more details please see my link here many thanks.


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A Nice Surprise-BBC Discover Wildlife

Filed in Places Of Interest, Wildlife, Workshops on Aug.04, 2011

A selection of my photographs have been chosen to form part of the online gallery of the highly prestigious and respected BBC Wildlife magazine; Discover Wildlife.  Showing a few of my favourite images taken in the wild, capturing private and personal moments with my camera.  I contacted the editor many months ago and was informed that there was a long waiting list and thought know more of it after submitting my images. Then a welcome email this week confirming that they are up was a lovely surprise.  So a big thank you to Sophie, the editor and her team who were very helpful.

During the last few days alongside my own work, I visited the county of Norfolk for the predicted spring tide, with an early drive to meet clients at 4am. We then head out onto the beach in readiness for this amazing event.

There was good activity earlier on out on the mudflats, with good numbers of Dunlin and Knot all congregating together.  Still having the remains of their summer plumage visible which gave a splash of colour within this mudflat environment.  Alongside these waders were the Oystercatchers, whose number grow as the weeks pass.  The weather was kind in parts but the lack of light at times quashed our shutter speeds during the morning.  The weather picked up during the rest of the day in Norfolk.

Once the sea has consumed 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 located there, which are provided by the RSPB. Upon settling down and looking out of our chosen hide we were greeted by hundreds of Waders, Dunlin and Knot all gathered on shingle banks, moving one way then the next, with more birds coming in all the time from the mudflats.

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. I wanted to try and convey all the movement, shapes and sights of these waders, so I focused right into the heart of the action using a tele-convertor along with my long lens.

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 be believed. It’s always great to witness when clients haven’t seen this amazing spectacle, people are amazed as they witness this event in nature and all the drama it brings to these Norfolk shores a couple of times a month.

We all had a great day and the weather was really kind which is something I always wish for clients to have on their day. I have been running these great days now for sometime, where each month there are a few dates when this amazing event happens, so if you wish to make an enquiry 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 two to one as in Ian and Marie-Laure’s case.  Big thank you to you both and I hope you enjoyed your day with me having learned more about wildlife photography.


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