Entries Tagged ‘Spring’:

Spring Has Sprung

Filed in Articles, Workshops on Mar.28, 2017

The onset of spring cannot be denied now, with the warming temperatures, lighter evenings and the morning dawns becoming earlier. Spring is upon us, though there maybe many false dawns before the days of frost and grey fog are behind us. Spring is one of the four seasons and my favourite. It’s the period between winter and summer, and for me the words Spring and Springtime bring thoughts of life, birth and regrowth to our countryside.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

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Nikon Pro-Flying The Flag

Filed in In the Press on Apr.05, 2013

Spring time for me is the best time of year. Wildlife is everywhere and bird song fills the air, even more so over the last several days, waking up to several inches of thick snow which I thought this maybe an April fools too far. A cruel trick of nature where I do hope not to many species have suffered with one of the coldest March’s for many decades. I have been working on my projects in between my One to Ones. Hopefully they will bear some fruit over the coming months and I will update my blog with them fingers crossed.

Brown Hare-Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

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Snowy Spring

Filed in Spring, Wildlife, Workshops on Apr.10, 2012

Spring time for me is the best time of year.  Wildlife is everywhere and bird song fills the air, even more so over the last several days, waking up to several inches of thick snow on the moors of the Peak District.  I thought this maybe an April fools too far. During the last ten days or so I have enjoyed the very warm temperatures of spring whilst in Norfolk and other places around the UK running my one to ones and also my own project work.

Great Crested Grebes, Brown Hares, Barn owls and many more species all settling down, starting to pair up and begin a family at this wonderful time of year. I had a one to one in Norfolk and really enjoyed showing my client around. We captured some wonderful images of Barn Owls, Brown Hares and waders during the day and Ben wrote a lovely blog post with some great images which can be seen by clicking here

“You couldn’t make it up if you tried” first came to mind, as I had two one to ones booked in to photograph Red Grouse on the moors, the heavens opened and inches of snow fell. Some roads in and out of Buxton where closed so it was really touch and go on whether the days went ahead. I made contact with both clients as a blanket of thick snow in early April really is unheard of.  Also very worrying for the wildlife sitting on eggs and trying to breed/mate while the weather was plunged into freezing, wintery conditions.

Both of my Red Grouse one to one clients where great sports and both days went ahead as planned. The first day was a little tougher due to the snow being at its highest from the previous day’s downfall. We had to walk in places knee deep in snow as we ascended in darkness to where the grouse live and play out their lives among the higher regions of the Peak District.

Walking through thick snow with heavy kit bags does get you warm. Full credit to Steve though who knuckled down and was rewarded for his efforts with some amazing encounters of both male and female Red Grouse, the words “you only get out what you put in” ringing around the place as we sat down and drank our cups of tea some 600 meters up above sea level.

I always tell clients that the best way to see and in turn take your photographs is just sit and watch, read and listen to nature, she will tell you what’s around and what is happening. Never force anything and never go with a shopping list of shots you wish to capture. Adopt this approach along with care and respect for your subject and you get some wonderful moments into a wild animals life. On both days both clients did just so and had some lovely encounters with this iconic moorland bird that is so at home within this sometimes unforgiving habitat.

Rival males posing to each other and fighting over their females, trying their luck. We even witnessed a grouse having a snow bath. Cleaning his feathers among the deep snow. Animal behaviour is amazing to see and capture and I showed some key techniques and fieldcraft which enabled both clients to read a little more into what was happening, in turn resulting in lovely moments where we came close to these birds on so many occasions, peering into their world through their eyes. This always has a deep and long lasting impact on me, making that contact with nature is priceless.

The weather on both days started well but became foggy on the second day but again the grouse came close and carried on with their lives around us which was magic and true, real wildlife photography for me. Blending in, using what’s around you and just watching and working the land. Thank you Steve,Nigel also Ben for your company over the last several days and I wish you well in your photography.

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Spring Feeling

Filed in Spring, Workshops on Mar.05, 2012

The onset of spring cannot be denied now, with the warming temperatures, lighter evenings and the morning dawns becoming earlier. Spring is almost up on us, though there may be many false dawns before the days of frost and grey fog are behind us. Over the last week at many of the places I have visited alone and with clients there has been a real air of spring, with birds singing their hearts out, making the dawn corus truly deafening.

Spring is the best time for me, with nature coming into its own from months of dormant inactivity, where as each day passes changes are ever present, a truly beautiful time and one I encourage everyone to just sit somewhere and listen, watch as nature is unfolding.

Birds sing to attract a mate, showing off their pristine plumage where nothing is out of place or left to chance. Lighter morning and evenings add more opportunities for things to grow, bringing everything to life that lives. For me there is no better time to watch and photograph wildlife from wetlands, reed beds, lakes to rivers this time of year will provide marvelous wildlife watching opportunities where you will see different behaviors in wildlife not seen most of the year. The key time for me is when the clock goes back in a few weeks and we gain more light in the mornings and evenings, from this point on it only gets better in my eyes.

Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, of new life a wonderful time of year within nature’s calendar. The axis of the earth during Spring is increasing its tilt toward the sun and the length of daylight rapidly increases along with the temperatures the result being new life, growth and longer days.. Animals and birds begin breeding, building homes in readiness for their young.

Catching the season moving from winter into spring is a beautiful time of year.  It’s a complete paradise to be among its beauty at this special time of year, witnessing the countryside awaken from its dormant winter state. The words spring and springtime bring thoughts of life, birth and regrowth to our countryside. A special time for wildlife, where all species are looking their best.  The odd frosty night and cold morning thrown in to confuse and disorient the wildlife is always on the cards but one of the mildest winter s we’ve had is behind us all now I feel.

So make the most of this amazing time and get out into nature as much as you can over the next couple of months and you won’t be disappointed. Thank you to my clients who’ve attended my one to one wildlife photography days over the last couple of weeks. Where I have taken them to some of my favorite places around the UK witnessing the wildlife and also this wonderful change in the seasons, good luck to you all.

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Springs Around The Corner

Filed in Wildlife on Mar.03, 2011

Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed a slight change in the weather, with brighter mornings and lighter evenings.  It would seem spring is on its way and maybe upon us very soon. After a long period of poor weather, resulting in low light, it will be most welcomed, with my recent trips to Norfolk and my wildlife workshops at the beautiful Trentham Estate and working on the several projects I am doing in my own time the working conditions have been testing to say the least, but ingrained in me along with a deep love for wildlife is that motto of mine ‘that there is always an image to be had’, however big or small.

However good or bad weather, working with this mindset always rewards you, bringing out your flare and passion in changing conditions at the same time learning you more about how you view an image, pushing your own creative images and boundaries. I have been lucky on a few occasions though where I have been working on several different subjects, when the clouds broke and the area was bathed in warm sunshine.  Warmth lifts the spirits and brings places to life and I really think spring now is almost upon us and its the best time of year for me, full of life, action and behaviour.  A complete paradise to be among its beauty at this special time of year, witnessing the countryside awaken from its dormant winter state.

The mornings are a wash with bird song at the moment, all competing to be the most musical, filling the air as each bird stakes their claim on a certain patch of ground, among the beautiful songs at dawn one song in particualr symbolizes the British countryside and springtime more than any other call and that belongs to the beautiful male Blackbird. The call travels far, cutting through all other bird songs and is a mixture of different notes and pitches that once you hear its distinctive sound you will never forget the sound.

Spring is one of the four seasons, the period between winter and summer, and for me the words Spring and Springtime bring thoughts of life, birth and regrowth to our countryside.  A special time for wildlife, where all species are looking their best, in tip top form hoping to attract the ladies and breed with.  Behaviour within the animal world starts in spring, handsome males showing off, displaying to each other in an act of supremacy over the other, using what ever they can to win over the attentions of the females securing a mate for that year.  With the lighter mornings and evenings wildlife becomes busy, more active giving greater opportunities to capture its beauty during springtime.

As our Winter visitors leave to go back home to breed the influx of our summer visitors start to slowly arrive to our shores making spring one of the best times in the calendar of nature.  I maybe a little early still but from the work I’ve been doing over the last two weeks a change is in the air, alas the odd frostly night and cold morning thrown in to confuse and disorient the wildlife is always on the cards but on the whole winter is behind us all I feel.

The countryside becomes a wash with colours and new growth, a mesmerizing number of birds fill the lands.  Flowers start to bloom, eventually carpeting the woodlands in a blue carpet of bluebells, one of the great sites of Britain.  Many other flowers suddenly start to appear, muti-coloured and hugely varied in form and shape.  A beautiful time of the year where that extra hour of light at either ends of dawn and dusk is very welcome and needed, making the days longer and warming the place for longer.  It really is my favourite time of the year.

I have been working on many different subjects, building trust and patience with each species involving many hours waiting.  I have two new Dipper sites and my workshops are as popular as ever, the Skomer workshops I do are being booked with the arrival of the “clowns of the sea” as I call them.  Any day now the Puffins will arrive now spending 8 months of the year at sea and only 4 months on land, an amazing feat.  I have always loved small in the frame images, showing the subjects habitat letting people see where the animal lives and how it conducts its life.  The following two image are a male Wren and a male Dipper on the same stretch of river looking in top condition.

While photographing the Dippers at this new site I spent some time watching this male, who had found these logs all gathered together at the side of the river and used them to defend his territory from and sing.  I saw him dive into the water and feed and he seemed to be acting differently so I turned on the video on my camera and began filming.  About thirty seconds into the film he turned around and in a flash regurgitating a pellet.  The contents of a bird’s pellet depend on its diet, but can include the exoskeletons of insects, indigestible plant matter, bones, fur etc, many birds do this to remove such pellets, I have rarely seen this though in Dippers and I was really lucky to have captured it with this short film.

Below I managed to photograph a male Kestrel hunting over marshland over the last few days which is among a large industrial estate, where I think they have started to make a nest, here I used the cover of the reeds to break my shape up at the same time hide my approach clearly showing the estate in the back ground. Something I plan on working on should these birds stay.

There is just so much going on now within the countryside so enjoy this magical time of year where for me there is just not enough time in the day to capture everything I plan working on, I am hoping to capture images from my time spent on the various different species over this beautiful time of year that spring is. This is not always possible though so for me just being there is enough, where I witness a window into a wild animals world.

For details on my workshops, one to ones and the photo trips I run  then please contact me here or alternatively view the workshops page for full listings. The Sumatran Orangutans trips itinerary can now be viewed and booked here

All of my photo trips from one to ones right up to the bigger trips are designed and lead from the front by myself, where each trip is designed  for wildlife photographers where I pride myself on working with the very best people on the ground and in the field giving that personal and private touch offering all clients the best service possible with smaller group sizes in most cases ensuring all my clients get my full expertise and guidance, learning more about the wildlife and the environment in which they live.  Many thanks and good luck with the weather.

And before I go on page 90 of the March issues of the BBC Wildlife magazine you’ll see an advert for a range of clothing called 511 Tactical series, they want me to trail some of their clothing and equipment while on my travels here and abroad. Ray Mears himself an ex-soldier has been using this brilliant clothing for years.

The name “511” represents a gruelling climbing grade as listed in the Yosemite Decimal Grading System, and as a skilled climber myself I’m looking forward to using this clothing and equipment.  I’ve spoken with their top UK guy and they are branching out from their American homeland and going for the ‘softer’ approach away from the guns and the body armour etc. They are looking to the outdoor market, walking, camping, survival market and climbing for which it was originally designed for and gets its name from.

I will be using their tactical pants –cotton, tactile Pro pants, tactical Pro long + short sleeved shirts all in green and browns,sand colours, their Rush 72 back pack complete with hydration pack idea for long walks with heavy kit which is the way I work while in the field.  A place where you have to rely on your kit to make it just that bit more comfortable, I will update my blog and do a full field test and review when I’ve received the items of clothing and equipment. Their website can be viewed here.

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Animal Behaviour

Filed in Animal Behaviour, Wildlife on Mar.20, 2010

From the beginning,before the first glimmerings of civilization man has studied animal behaviour.It has been an essential part of the struggle for survival,with our remote ancestors relying on hunting and gathering:hunting large animals and gathering insects and shellfish as well as berries,nuts and roots.The success of this way of life must have lain in acquiring a knowledge,often intimate,of the habits and behaviour’s of many animals.Primitive man had to know where he was most likely to find particular animals,and in what seasons.Watching and learning the more intimate and private lives of their prey to gain a better knowledge,their spears and arrows only effective over a range of about twenty meters so they had to get close to their prey that was aware that man was a predator.

To achieve this,the hunters had to make themselves familiar with the habits of their quarry,its tracks,its waterholes,its favourite foods and whether it would stand its ground to defend its young all key behaviours and where mans interest of animal behaviour began.I have always been fascinated in animal behaviour,getting close and just watching the different behaviour,and getting as close to the subject as I could,with fluid movement almost like a cat stalking a bird.as the eye is very good at detecting movement,with the slower you are the less the subject will see you.Capturing some interest through behaviour can transform an image in my eyes,giving the person an insight into the subjects private world

Last Light

Artic tern

The are so many forms of animal behaviours from eating and drinking,hunting,territorial to hierarchical among their societies,courtship,and displays.I plan over time to go through the various main behaviours in wildlife,where I will illustrate and explain the specific behaviour the subject goes through alongside the time of year when a lot of the animal world behaves differently dependant on what season we are in.

As Spring is upon us now the main animal behaviour you will witness at this time of the year all revolves around courtship;territory,mating etc,where nearly all animals have a place to live,a home,if you like.They do not wander at will and the expression ‘as free as a bird’ is misleading,each animal normally spends its life in a certain area where it feeds,sleeps and rears its young.The form of living space varies throughout the animal kingdom and,for each species is intimately related to its way of life.At this time of year where a good territory can be the successful key in attracting a mate,where the male can advertise to the world his willingness to mate with displays and song from the security of his territory,occasionally having to fight off other males in pursuit of keeping what he has.

Displaying Dipper

Fighting Puffins

The female makes a tour of the territory and accepts the advances of the male of her choice and the start of their courtship begins where the pair have formed a partnership,and go onto building a nest and rearing their young.The aim of every male animal is to find one or sometimes,several females with which to mate with.It can be said that the whole point in life,at least in biological terms,is to leave as many descendants as possible and,according to Darwin’s ‘Theory of Evolution’ by natural selection,the best and most vigorous animals beget the most offspring.In other words, the survival of the fittest individuals must breed well and pass on the characteristics that made them so fit to the next generation.

The methods employed by a species to ensure this happening are called the ‘Reprodctive Strategy’ As far as the females are concerned,this means laying as many eggs or bearing as many young as possible,and for the male it means ensuring that he fathers the maximum progeny.The result of an act of mating is a fertilized egg,this not only contains the germ of a new individual,but is furnished with a food store that supplies energy for development and eventually a young animal emerges.

Moorhen Chick

Parental care then takes over where the young are fed,protected,kept clean and warm,even helped to learn to fend for themselves.While mammals have evolved live birth and the feeding of the young with milk produced in the mothers body,birds have retained the egg-laying habit of their reptilian ancestors.In my next chapter on ‘Animal Behaviour’ I will go through ‘Raising The Family’-parental care,teaching young etc hopefully helping you to understand animal behaviour better.

Shag Portrait


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