Entries Tagged ‘Weather’:

Testing Times

Filed in Articles, Workshops on Jan.25, 2014

The weather has been testing to say the least since Christmas, with driving rain, gales, and flooding to many areas of the UK. On top of which mild temperatures with little sign of cold or snow on the horizon.  I have had to put back and re-book many one to ones and workshops just because the weather has been so unpredictable.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

More alarming though I’ve started seeing birds acting as though its Spring almost , singing and defending territories in readiness for their partner and nest building. It was almost the same pattern last year until alot of wildlife got caught out around March/April time with snow, frost and freezing temperatures. I only hope nature doesn’t get caught out once more.

I have managed a few one to ones over the last few weeks though,and this cute, soaked Water vole was one such day.  His little face here really is a picture as he kept my client and I company for an hour or so on a rain-soaked windy day last week.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

And my Dippers are in full song on many of the rivers I visit throughout the Peak District too and my client had a wonderful day watching, learning and photographing these amazing birds.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

I have been lucky enough though on some days to be in the right place with the right weather, or should I say a break in the weather. My Barn Owl project was ground to a halt with the conditions but over the last week or so I have seen both adults around and managed a few photos this being one of my favorites.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Barn Owls are having a tough time of it of late, with several cold winters, now with wet weather and flooding fields and also poisoning issues around the country this beautiful, iconic bird of the UK has its back against the wall and seems to be in real danger. To find out more about what you can do to help the Barn Owl Trust click here.  Its a charity I help with my images, a number of which are in their current handbook that helps farmers and landowners to manage their land better and live with Barn Owls.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Another firm favorite owl of mine and one I was luckier enough to see in the last few days too is the Short-eared Owl. This perch had been put in a few days ago by another photographer and the owl had started to use it to land on. I placed my hide not far from this perch in an attempt to get a nice close up portrait. As the sun came up this owl woke and started to hunt and I was very surprised as I was all set for the long wait because they mainly hunt in the late afternoon.But as you can see by the angle of the light this was the morning, with the light low on the bird which tells you what time of day it is.

I don’t no who was more surprised, me to see him or him to see me here. I shot through the dense reeds to hide alot of the imposing branch that was there and this was the result, giving a defused effect to the foreground. He stayed for a few moments, once I took a couple of images I just watched him as this was close and its often nice to watch rather than take photos I believe. I love his crazy looking eyes, bright yellow as he looked straight at me, such a handsome owl.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

I really hope for all wildlife concerned that the weather improves and there’s not a nasty sting in its tail resulting in a spell of bad weather when nature least expects it. I wish you all luck in whatever you photography and please dont let the weather put you off as one minute its raining the next the sun comes up so always be ready. This Mute Swan was feeding in the dawn light, when I arrived at this site it was raining within fifteen minutes it had stopped and the sun came out so you never no, good luck.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

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Filed in Workshops on Jan.30, 2013

As the continued mix of extreme cold weather, then rain seems to be staying with us, this in turn has added a great deal to the photographs my clients and myself have captured over the last two weeks, where the weather has changed animal behaviors, added impact and drama, with the only slight drawback, that its colder and the roads are more difficult to drive on. Nature always finds a way through any hardship and a motto that was taught while I was a serving soldier was- Improvise-Adapt-Overcome. A saying that is well suited to natures power to overcome anything.

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Winter Guests-Caerlaverock

Filed in Workshops on Jan.21, 2013

I’ve just spent two days at Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, a spectacular 1,400 acre wild reserve situated on the north Solway coast of Scotland with clients. During our winter months this area becomes home to the whole Svalbard breeding population of Barnacle Geese, where some of the best views of this great wildlife spectacle can be seen from the hides within this beautiful place on the North West coast of the UK. On one of the morning we were treating to the most amazing sunrise where twenty minute or so before the sun actually came up the sky was turn bright red. The warm air meeting the cold air resulting in a beautiful dawn.

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Winter Waders- Norfolk

Filed in Places Of Interest, Workshops on Dec.04, 2010

The name of this workshop could not have been better named ‘Winter Waders’, as our three days there were christened with freezing temperatures, treacherous conditions and in parts gridlock on the roads but all and all we made the very best of our time there.  My group had travelled from all over the UK in the coldest snap for December since records began, with one guest having come from Ireland I was really happy that the 7am start time on the first day that all guests had made the slow and dangerous journey safely.

The biting temperatures cut through us all on the first day forcing us to move more rapidly between the various sites and beeches that I know, as the wind and penetrating temperatures worked against us, but the guys were great and we still were able to capture images on this cold introduction to Norfolk.

We had some good sightings on the first day using a mixture of fieldcraft and a touch of luck.  Thousands of Pink, Greylag, Brent geese filled the sky.  They were all over the place due to the strong, prevailing winds driving in from the coastline.  A lot of them were flying above the clouds which made it hard to see but their calls could be heard no matter what.  When the clouds did break briefly the sun came through and we were lucky, and had a few lovely encounters.

I can never predict or promise that the wildlife will turn up and my attuide has always been that there is always an image to be had or captured no matter what, so with the weather being so bad we still were able to capture some lovely images of waders and other wildlife that spend their time in Norfolk.  During our time there the weather was a mixed bag, with the snow not hitting this part of the UK on the first day or so.  However, the following morning we were scrapping the snow off our windowscreens and thats when we knew the snow had caught up with us. The Geese were on the move really early in the mornings and it became hard to capture clean shots of them flying over, but most of the guys had wide angles so we were all able to capture the Geese overhead.

I showed different technique’s to the group, panning, waiting until they were straight over head to add drama, low in the frame, minimal ground, slower shutter speed for the wing blur, capturing impending movement within the image, something I have always loved to do.

Daytime temperatures rarely broke past freezing point but as we moved around different sites it became less of a problem until you remained still, which happened mainly when we were photographing different waders and gulls low on the ground for some time, to obtain a more personal point of view. I love to capture behaviour within my style of wildlife photography and this image of an adult Herring Gull trying to stay upright in the strong winds was very funny to see.  Using the light available I composed him so that the image coveys an air of menace to the gull, which I really liked, with one side of him lit and the other in dark.

The wind was causing all sorts of problems and we saw many different waders in ones and twos, blown off course, struggling to land and stay on the ground as they were trying to feed on what ever they could find.

The pattern of events over the next few days were similar, anticipating what the weather had in store and if the wind would drop, watching and photographing the winter waders and migrants and also spending sometime with the Barn Owls.  We were also lucky that it never rained over the three days as this increased our chances of seeing Barn Owls, even though the ground was frozen.  The days are shorter and the light is less during the winter months and if the ground is permanently frozen the Barn Owls primary prey of fieldvoles and other rodents tend to stay huddled together during the coldest spells at night, only really venturing out during the day which makes for the best times to see Barn Owls hunting during really cold spells.

On most of the days we saw the Owls, hunting with real purpose, diving with such force as to break the covering of snow on the ground, at the same time capturing their prey.  The majority of the time they seemed to fail but on the odd occasion they stayed on the ground where they could have been eating their prize as quickly as possible, replenishing much needed supplies of energy to survive. They were hunting in fog, snow and windy weather, such was the need to feed.  I always feel uncomfortable seeing nature work at a pace which is dictated by the conditions, right on the line on survival but such is nature where they say only the strong survive, but for me still very uncomfortable to see.

On the final evening the clouds broke and we had a lovely sunset, the colours lit up the horizon, the sky full of geese, the sounds of which sounded almost like surroundsound as the geese were having their final feed, then heading off to their overnight roost sites.

Thank you to all my guests who came on my workshop, great company.  I hope you got a lot out of the three days and even with the the weather against us we were still able to capture lovely images and at the same time see this beautiful coastline.  I look forward to seeing a few of your images,  many thanks.

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Barn Owl -Update

Filed in Articles, Wildlife on Feb.09, 2010

Having returned to my Barn Owl site over the last few days, where I’d previously watched and photographed this beautiful male Barn Owl hunt for food during the country’s really cold weather last month,I was delighted to see the male hunting but at the same time quite bemused as it was raining,with the rain falling as sleet,a behaviour I’ve never seen before in Barn Owls due to it’s hazardous nature.The structure of an adult Barn Owl’s feathers make them perfectly adapted for silent flight,but this makes them prone to waterlogging so consequently they are not 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.

Barn Owl

Hunting is certainly more difficult in these testing conditions, as sound as well as sight are hindered in locating small mammals due to the rain.I watched him hunt for about two hours with little success,the wind buffeting him around like a kite ,expelling loads of energy in the process.There was no sign of the female so I presume he’s alone and may probably move on shortly.I really hope not as I have become quite fond of this very resilient Owl.I also have received a lot of ‘Fan’ emails asking if he survived the recent cold snap which I covered in my first ‘Barn Owl’ post,so thank you to those people and here is the proof that he’s alive and kicking and his plumage is in stunning conditon with the onset of the breeding season around the corner.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

And what seems to becoming customary now when I go out photographing of late is the ever presence of Stonechats,whether it be male or female they seem to always find me,and keep me company.The image below is of a female who was really intrigued by me,capturing the mood of the day with the inclusion of the weather conditions in the background.



The following is a list of useful Tips, which will help to increase your chances of successful Owl watching:

Wear dark, quiet clothes

Get to know the area during daylight, and establish the most suitable areas of habitat for the species that you are hoping to observe (i.e. where they are most likely to hunt)

If you suspect that an area is being used as a roost or nest site you must not disturb it, but watch from a safe distance

When watching a nocturnal species, arrive at your observation position before dusk – this will allow for your eyes to become gradually accustomed to the gathering darkness, and will ensure that you are ready and settled before the owls emerge

Do not disturb the birds in any way – remain hidden at all times

If you accidentally stray close to a nest, move quickly and quietly away as Barn Owls have Schedule 1 protection status

I have really enjoyed my close encounters with this tough,hardy male Barn Owl and if he remains in this area I will look forward to photographing him,even better if he attracts a mate and breeds I’ll have another long term project to concentrate on with the images being displayed on future blogs-fingers crossed.I hope you’ve enjoyed the trails,tribulations of this owl documented in my blogs as much as I have on the ground.

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After The Rain

Filed in Photography Tips on Nov.03, 2009

A photographic tip for when you are out and about in the field photographing wildlife and you get caught in a rainstorm is, firstly protect your camera equipment I use Wildlife Watching Supplies, first class camera,lens covers/hides.Then try to sit out the storm or take shelter because after the rain has passed it will present you with some beautiful light in which to capture your subject.In the four images that acompany this article you will see During the storm and After.

Bar-Tailed Godwits


During-These Bar-Tailed Godwits are seen here enduring the harsh condition of this rainstorm



Afterwards -The rainstorm has passed and the Bar-Talied Godwits are having a clean up

After this amazing rainstorm had passed the light and air changed,the rainstorm acted almost like a purifier in ‘Cleansing’  the air and light and it becomes a magical time to get photographing your subject who will be preoccupied cleaning themselves,so with some good fieldcraft skills in approaching your subject you should be able to get a close and different image in pleasing light,

Rain effects visibility by changing the amount of light reflected  from the subject,back to the photographers eye and after rain that ‘Cleansing’ of the atmosphere create’s this clear,warm light perfect for photography.

Bar Tailed Godwit


As shown here with this juvenile Bar-Tailed Godwit feeding among the reed beds .With the same rainstorm having passed, the water became like glass creating an almost perfect reflection in the water and there was a sharpness to the atmosphere all as a result of  ‘After The Rain’

Singing In The Rain











 If it does’nt stop raining you can always have a little fun and try to catch your subject in an amusing manner as I have done here with this Sedge Warbler in my version of  ‘Singing In The Rain’





In closing I would just like to say where possible and with your safety and that of others first and foremost, just try to sit out the storm,you will be rewarded for your efforts afterwards by the beautiful light on offer.I hope this Photographic Tip has helped you.Good Luck

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