Entries Tagged ‘Winter’:

Wild Planet Magazine-Barn Owls

Filed in Articles, In the Press on Jan.21, 2015

In the February’s issue of the highly acclaimed photographic magazine ; Wild Planet I have my third article published to date, talking about my life-long love of Barn Owls and the struggles they face with the changeable weather conditions here in the UK.

http://wildplanetphotomagazine.com/2015/the-silent-winged-hunter-of-winters-half-light/

My first memories of Barn Owls are from childhood, where I’d rush home from school, dump all my school bags, pick up my little rucksack, bird guide and binoculars and head on my push bike to a nearby stretch of farmland not far from my home in the hope I’d see a pair of Barn Owls Id spent many years watching. I did my first ever project on Barn Owls for the the Young Ornithologists Club (YOC) which is now the Wildlife s Explorers Club. Recording trips in and out of the nest with what prey, collecting pellets, drawings and all sorts it was amazing.

Barn Owl Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Quartering over farmland, hovering with moth like silence, flying effortlessly on the wing in the half-light at dawn or dusk is the supreme hunter, the Barn Owl. A bird that has always created a sense of great excitement and fascination for me. In British folklore, a screeching Barn Owl is believed to predict that a storm or cold weather was imminent. During a storm, if a Barn Owl was heard, it indicated that the storm was nearly over.

Barn Owls

Barn Owl

You wait and wait for a passing glimpse and a view into this bird’s life entrenched with mystery, then from nowhere and without warning one turns up in perfect silence, gliding, riding the currents of air, traveling effortlessly. Eyes glued to the ground beneath, on the lookout for small rodents that they feed on, as you witness their very distinctive appearance with a white heart-shaped face with no ear tufts and sharp black eyes all contributing to its striking appearance.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Those large black eyes only let the Barn Owl look forward in a fixed position and cannot move to the side, so consequently the Barn Owl has to turn its head to see to the side or back. Their hearing is amazing and the ability to locate prey by sound alone is one of the best in the animal kingdom.

Barn Owl’s feathers make them perfectly adapted for silent flight, but this makes them prone to water logging so they are not well 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.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

http://wildplanetphotomagazine.com/

For more of my article, how I work with wild Barn Owls and alot more information then please click on the following link. Also there is a link to Barn Owl Trust, based in Devon who have brought out a conservation handbook on Barn Owls, its a comprehensive guide for ecologists, surveyors, land managers and ornithologists.

Barn Owl Trust

Some of my images of Barn Owls were used in this handbook and I also help the trust with my images to help to raise awareness of these owls and the issues that face them.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did writing this. Over the last couple of weeks I have been out and found a brand new Barn Owl sight in an amazing and old setting that Im looking forward to working on this year as one of my major projects. Also the family of Barn Owls I photographed a couple of years back have also returned so it looks very promising this year with regard to Barn Owls fingers crossed.

Barn Owls are protected by law and so shouldn’t be disturbed so please be careful if or when you come across one. They have suffered in recent years due to extreme weather so they need all the help they can to build back up.  The information and protected status of this owl can be read further on this link.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

I hope this winter will be kinder to them and I look forward to showing you my new images of Barn Owls in the coming months, many thanks.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


Read full post

Merry Christmas 2013

Filed in Wildlife on Dec.20, 2013

As the year draws to an end now and my favorite time of year is just around the corner; Christmas, I would just like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  Many thanks to all the wonderful people I have met this year on my photo tours and trips. I really hope I’ve helped and inspired you all into seeing the wonderful and amazing world of wildlife that’s all around us.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/workshops.php

Thank you all for your support during the last year, and  I look forward to welcoming all my clients booked on my many trips for next year and one to ones.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


Read full post

Watching You, Watching Me

Filed in Wildlife, Workshops on Dec.15, 2012

Over the last week I have revisited my Red Squirrel site in the North West coastal region of the UK. It was nice to be back as I hadn’t been back all year due to work. I managed to capture these most adorable mammals in better light, and capturing their cheeky nature. This whole area is managed by the wildlife trust who keeps 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.


Read full post

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.


Read full post

Amazing Autumn

Filed in Events, Wildlife on Nov.02, 2010

The season of Autumn provides us with some of the most beautiful and intense colours within nature. Woodlands all over the UK are revealing their amazing colours of red, orange, yellow and gold.  This happens when the trees start to withdraw their chlorophyll from their leaves revealing these vibrant pigments in the leaves giving this amazing and distinctive appearance during the season of Autumn.

Autumn is a great time to get out with your camera as the ground is laden with fruits and nuts forming a carpet of food.  A very rich bounty in which all animal’s take advantage of this extra food source before the onset of Winter.  Capturing behaviour in some animals during Autumn makes for some beautiful encounters with wildlife. The most commonly known one is the Deer Rut , which was very late this year, I have been to several places around the UK over the last month and seen some brilliant behaviour and great moments.

This time of year is also one of the best times to see and witness one of the most secret and shy birds within the bird world, the Jay, part of the Crow family.  You only normally hear these birds in the tops of trees, but during the plentiful bounty on offer during Autumn you’ll see them on the ground feeding on the acorns and other nuts and fruits the trees shed at this time of year.

The changing seasons and the yearly life cycle of animals, plants and trees will enable you to photograph many different images throughout the year, which will tell the story of the changing weather and colours of the different habitats in which the wildlife live in.  The season of Autumn for me is arguably one of the finest times of year to enjoy and view wildlife with a backdrop of amazing colours, while most summer birds have now gone. Vast numbers of new arrivals make up for their departure, with the likes of Fieldfares, Redwings, and various Geese and Ducks that spend the winter months with us.

One of my favorite winter visitor’s is the beautiful Whooper Swan that have started to arrive from Iceland along with the slightly smaller but equally beautiful Bewick Swan.  When they have all arrived numbers can surpass more than 1,000 Whoopers in and around the various places I visit, one of the best is on the North West coast of the UK.  So graceful and elegant for a large bird they truly are beautiful and amazing to watch in flight.

I have also been photographing a real comical and funny bird, always on the move and constantly calling  as they climb and pose up and down trees with great finesse and ease, the Nuthatch.  I wanted to try and capture a few different view points of these charismatic, iconic woodland birds with their bold mannerism’s.  I waited out of site to where they were landing, hoping to capture their cheeky side within an image.  The following two photos I feel demonstrate this, with the amazing colours of the autumnal woodland as the back drop.  Very funny birds and just one of the many wonderful animals you can photograph now as they feed on this rich source of food nature provides them with during Autumn.

Autumn marks the transition from Summer into Winter and is a short season compared to the other three so make the most of it with the colourful foliage on offer, adding great impact to any photographs you take. With the cooler temperature’s you maybe lucky enough for some amazing sunsets as I was with this lone Kestrel hunting in the very last rays of light over marshland.

With so much happening now my best advice would be to just go out into nature and capture this amazing and visually beautiful time of year, your reward will be views of animals you may not be able to see during the other seasons of the year, at the same time witness these stunning colours. 

The migrants that these shores attract along with the special winter wildlife we have, finally show up in good numbers from now onwards giving you a unique insight into their lives, some of the best for me are Short-eared Owls that come down from the mountains to feed at sea level during our winter months, Mountain Hares that change colour to pure white to avoid predators and blend in with their snow capped landscapes along with Ptarmigan and many more species of wildlife where the only downside is that it becomes colder but you get to put more layers on!!.  Whatever you do you will not be disappointed with the beauty of mother nature.


Read full post

Barn Owl

Filed in Advice On Wildlife, Wildlife on Oct.21, 2010

Over the last couple of days the weather seems to have become a little colder which results in those frosty, sunny mornings I love, where the cold hits the back of your throat  while at the same time the sun comes up and bathes the countryside in a beautiful warm glow. Most of my wildlife photography is where I like to work the land, finding whats around me and the areas I visit, tracking through foot prints and waste food and droppings trying to build a picture in my head what has passed by or has visited recently.  So over the last few days I have had a break from the Deer Rut and have been walking in my local countryside not to far from my Staffordshire home.  A lot of the countryside at the moment has been harvested meaning sort, rough grazing and grass, crop etc ideal for one of my favorite UK birds, the Barn Owl.

While out walking over the last few days my attention was drawn to a few feathers, one a primary and the others being belly or flank feathers softer in appearance than the primary, white in appearance and in and around a prominent natural perch I had come across.  There was also white droppings at the base telling me this was a popular perch maybe for a Barn Owl,  I found a few small pellets or a mass of hair as they looked and upon separating them, something I loved to do as a child, tiring to rebuild the skeleton to found out what the prey was.  I found a small set of bones and a jaw bone from a tiny rodent and I knew then that this area and perch were being used by a Barn Owl.

And here he was, with primary/secondarie feathers missing in his wing, the sunrise was amazing with a small blanket of frost all over the ground, not a bad frost but just enough to give that crunch sound under foot when walking, which by the way is not great when you are stalking a wild animal. I have spent a few days there and have watched this male hunt, he seems to have appeared from knowhere, as often Barn Owls do outside of the breeding season as they can become quit nomadic, wondering the countryside on the lookout for prey.

Amazing birds that I call the Ghost due to the fact without warning and no clue they can just turn up, hunt for a few minutes make eye contact with you as you witness their very distinctive appearance with a white heart-shaped face with no ear tufts and sharp black eyes all contributing to its striking appearance. Those large black eyes only let the Barn Owl look forward in a fixed position and cannot move to the side so consequently the Barn Owl has to turn its head to see to the side or back. Their hearing is amazing and the ability to locate prey by sound alone is one of the best in the animal kingdom.

Barn Owls are fascinating creatures and anytime I spend with these amazing birds is priceless.  I have been back a couple of times and been able to capture him a few more times, I do feel with no sightings in the past here he may just be passing through so in the meantime its a very welcome treat for me among my other projects I am working on at present including;  Mountain Hares, Short-eared Owls and my little female Kingfisher on the river Trent. 

My advice would be to walk the land and watch and look for clues of whats around and you maybe surprised at what you find as this time of year so much wildlife is on the move in readiness for the oncoming winter.  This for me is the true meaning of fieldcraft a word I hear used alot within wildlife photography, but fieldcraft means to use whats around you, reading the clues and signals all animals leave behind where most if not all the clues are right there all you have to do is just look that bit closer. 

Your reward will be something you have seen and learned all about yourself and when the subject appears as did this Barn Owl its a great moment as you view a moment in their lives something I truly love.  Its one of the main things I teach and show on my One To Ones and Workshops in order for the client(s) to take this skill away with them.  So they can apply this in their own photography and get close to wildlife without impacting on the subjects life. If you would like any further advice or help on anything I have raised then please send me an email here many thanks.


Read full post

Reservoir Birds-Article

Filed in Events, In the Press on Feb.23, 2010

In this months Birdwatching Magazine my images from a great day I’d previously mentioned on my blog called ‘Birdwatching For Beginner’s Walk’  have now been printed in the March issue of the magazine,I have printed the pages below aptly named‘Reservoir Birds’  I accompanied Matt Merritt/Features Editor as we visited Carsington Water in Derbyshire for this event which has been running now for 4 years on the first sunday morning of the month and run by volunteer ranger David Bennett,whose knowledge of the wildlife at this place is breathtaking.Each month enthusiastic groups of birdwatchers meet and are shown around this beautful setting hoping to learn more about birdwatching/birds while walking around Carsington Water, one of the largest reservoirs in the UK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had perfect viewing conditions as the sun shined,with a thick blanket of snow on the ground adding to a real winter feel to the day.A good number of people turned up and I captured them using almost the same composition as I do when photographing wildlife,and I must say is a lot easier!.A good day was had by all,great to help beginners to see the beauty of birds and other wildlife around this mighty impressive site,so for the full story pick up a copy of the March issue.These walks run on the first Sunday of every month,they also do more advanced walks so for further information,or to book on the free Carsington Water Walk,call 01629 540696


Read full post

Winter Sunshine

Filed in Articles on Dec.19, 2009

Over the last couple of days during the countries cold spell the winter sunshine has been amazing on the North-West coast. While waiting for Barn/Short-eared Owls last night to come out to hunt the colours of the sky were just breathtaking. I managed to capture this with the image below in near darkness.

Winter Sunshibe

I was trying out the Nikon D3S at low light and all these shots were at iso 2000 in almost near darkness.The sharpness/clarity of the camera is amazing,the feel of it in your hand is brilliant,and at 14 bit Un-compressed Neff (Raw) file size the frame rate is 9 fps, has a buffer capacity of 35 shots in FX (36×24) mode,In Dx (24×16) mode the frame rate goes to 11 fps and buffer capacity increases to 52.

The images I captured of a lone Kestrel frantically hunting in the very last rays of sunshine,composed small in the frame to include as much of the sky can be seen below.

Kestrel At Dawn

Lone Kestrel

I was praying a Short-eared Owl or Barn Owl would just come out to hunt but it was’nt to be,the colours of the sky more than made up for it though.Winter sunshine and it’s colours are really beautiful to see,coming about when a cold front meets a warm front resulting in these magic colours and cloud shapes.So when you have finished photographing or walking at the end of the day just hang on that little bit more to see if the sky changes colour as the sun is setting and you too maybe treated to the sight I witnessed last night.


Read full post