Nature provides food all year round for wildlife in readiness for the coming months ahead, whether it be the spring time or autumn into winter. Often some of these bounties are more richer than others and as a measure of that certain species give us a clue to this with their higher than normal numbers, one such species is the Waxwing.
With some of the mildest temperatures on record it’s been a funny couple of months with regard to wildlife. With daytime temperatures averaging around 16c it’s been really mild and warm and nature hasn’t really known what is happening. Some birds are calling and almost displaying behaviour that’s normally suited to the onset of spring.
I write to you from the amazing islands that lay off the North Coast of Scotland, closer to the arctic circle than to mainland Britain- The Shetland Isles. A place during this time of year where the sun rarely sets and lights the whole day which can really throw your body clock out. I’m spending a week alone here before my clients on my Stunning Shetland photography photo-tour arrive to enjoy their week with me and this islands wildlife.
There are few places left in the UK where you can be alone and find that solitude we are crave at times, Shetland though is one such place where you can be and see very few people. I’ve had a wonderful week, seeing some beautiful places and wildlife and I hope my clients see the same during their time with me over the next seven days.
One of my favourite places is the most remote point of the UK- Hermness a wonderful and remote places and home to thousands of nesting seabirds. After two ferries I got there and spent two days there camping, photographing the Gannets, Puffins and other seabirds that live there. The cliffs are truly beautiful and they are a picture within themselves. I used them to frame some of my images along with the natural light to create some nice images from my time there.
After a great few days on Hermeness, I then headed to Noss an island that has some of the most spectacular colonies of breeding seabirds anywhere in the world. I took the boat trip from Lerwick and headed to this amazing little island.
Once there the skipper slowed down the boat and for the best part of an hour we slowly drifted around the cliffs there and its an amazing place, the smells, the noises and sites are truly stunning. The following images I hope convey what I saw and the sheer size of this place and the birds.
Its an amazing place and I’m returning there next week with my clients. I spent the next few days just sitting and watching for any wildlife and being at one with nature and the solitude is truly beautiful and something we all seek from time to time. I count myself very lucky to have the great outdoors as my garden as I call it.
Just a few of the wonderful moments I’ve had with nature over the last seven days. I’m hoping the weather holds and the wildlife sightings continue over the next seven days. My photo tour starts tomorrow, and we then head out to Hermness on Sunday, a boat trip with my friend and D-Day veteran Geordie on Tuesday to the island of Noss and in between we’ll visit many sites and places to see the amazing wildlife these islands have to offer.
So goodbye from Shetland and I will post a short blog covering our week. dates and all the information for my 2015 trip are now up on my website, click on my Stunning Shetland trip and its all there, many thanks.
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.
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.