Entries Tagged ‘Winter Waders’:

Nelsons County

Filed in Events, Places Of Interest, Wildlife, Workshops on Jul.26, 2011

Ive just returned from one of my favourite places in the UK, Norfolk.  Having not been there for a few months it was good to reacquaint myself with some of the best places to view this wonderful countys wildlife. Outside of my one to ones I spent some time photographing my own work so the time flew by far too quickly.  The weather was really kind, with beautiful sunrises and sunsets in stark contrast to the weather leading up to my visit.

Norfolk is the birth place of one of England’s greatest heroes, Admiral Lord Nelson, born in the village of Burnham Thorpe. He was destined for greatness from a young age, going on to lead our fabulous Royal Navy. The Vice Admiral, died on board HMS Victory on 21 October 1805, and was reportedly proud of his Norfolk roots and referred to them in a victory speech.  Now Norfolk has returned the favour by calling itself “Nelson’s County” on new road signs. Norfolk is one of England’s most beautiful counties with its legendary big skies and vast beaches, it’s a paradise for wildlife 12 months of the year.

The dawn light is one thing I truly love, a sense of warmth and being alive fills me upon seeing the new dawn break, and there is no better time in the day for me. After the recent wet weather I got really lucky as she was being kind to me and my clients whilst on their one to one, where I cover the many places, going through help and advice within this amazing county.

Across natures calendar the breeding cycle is coming to an end and in most parts animals are feeding their last offspring. With only the slight high pitched begging call gracing the countryside as you walk around. Most wildlife now are resting, feeding and building up their own body weight in order to have enough strength to migrate to warm climites during the next 3 to 4 weeks. There are those that stay with us all year, where they now have more time, having reared their families. We also welcome our winter visitors very soon, with the small advance parties of waders, and geese having already arrived from their summer breeding grounds here in Norfolk.

While I was driving from the different sites I noticed that there were many poppies starting to bloom, showing their distinctive red colour among the blander colours of the countryside. This image below is as shot where a wall of trees was holding back the sun’s rays, with only a few rays penetrating through and falling onto this lone poppy growing at the roadside. It instinctively caught my eye, with the sun lighting up the colours and finer details of this beautiful flower, showing sometimes the simplest of images are all around us.

A large part of my time was spent looking for Barn Owls and to see how they’d all got on throughout the last few months. I visited several sites and the adult owls were showing well, hunting in the various forms of light I had, from beautiful sunlight to a little overcast on one of the several days I was there.  When you are showing clients around a place you know so well its great when a chosen subject you’ve spoke about turns up and I am really glad to say the Barn Owls gave my clients the opportunity to witness them at work, quartering and hunting in pure silence.

Gliding effortless over the farmland, always scanning the ground below. Amazing birds that have captivated me from childhood with their sudden appearance, gaining eye contact with you for a split second then disappearing as quick as they arrived. They truly are the masters of this habitat, never failing to get your heart rate racing once they appear and go about the job they were so well equipped to do.

A pleasure to see and photograph after the two extreme cold spells they’ve endured in 2010 and 2011. I will be returning to Norfolk next week with one to ones as the Spring tides start in earnest again.  These happen 2-3 times a month throughout the autumn and winter months.  These spring tides are the biggest and best tides for witnessing the thousands of birds roosting on the mudflats, being pushed closer to shore.  Sights and sounds of nature that are amazing and never forgotten so I’m really looking forward to these days and capturing a different take on this breathtaking event in nature.

I’ve been running one to ones on these days now for sometime, where we spend the morning watching this amazing spectacular in nature, then the rest of the day we photograph Barn owls, Waders and the winter migrants that slowly arrive on mass throughout the next month or so.  I have a few places left also for this years Winter Waders in Norfolk, a full 3 day, 2 night photo trip showing you these and more wonderful sights during the winter months.


GDT / European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011

My photograph “Spring Tide” capturing thousands of waders taking off during a Norfolk spring tide made the final of this prestigious award. With several of my images making the quarter, semi-finals also. The image captures the movement of those birds by using a slow shutter speed, giving the image a real sense of movement. With nearly 1000 photographers from 39 countries, who entered almost 14,000 pictures into this GDT competition.  My image made the final in the Bird category.

The European “eye” as I call it has always greatly inspired me and my own work, capturing more of the story behind the photograph and subject, showing the habitat and brilliant, simple compositions makes this competition one of my favourites, with some truly amazing images. Many thanks to my clients over the last several days, hope you enjoyed Norfolk, for more information on my one to ones or photo trips I run the please send me an email here .

Many Thanks.

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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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