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canon wildlife photographer

A Marsh Harrier Kinda Morning

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A Marsh Harrier Kinda Morning

A few mornings ago I was up bright and breezy (well I was after a large caffeine injection) and out into the morning mist. I had decided to stay reasonably local and check out one of the local Fens no more than 3 miles from where I live. It's actually also a favourite spot of mine when I need to get a few miles on softer ground into my week's running schedule. Marsh Harrier [Male] with Nest Material I was actually on the trail of the illusive Watervole (partly to do with photography and partly to do with a survey that I am taking part in)

Marsh Harrier [Female]Sadly no voles to speak of, but my morning was certainly not a waste as I was able to watch a pair of Marsh Harriers flying for around an hour. Watched the male pass the female a few items of prey as well, which is part of their courtship routine. Such beautiful birds and I'm always happy to see them right on my local patch.

Marsh Harrier in Flight I really hope they are successful in breeding this season. Always an absolute joy to watch.

The image below is actually one from last year this time down at Burwell Fen. I love watching birds of prey hunt over the misty fens. Very evocative, don't you think?

Female Marsh Harrier Over Burwell Fen

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I Pick You

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I Pick You

A Male Wheatear looks to pick a flower for their sweetheart ... okay perhaps not but still :) Male Wheatear on Skokholm

Canon 1DX, 400mm f/2.8, ISO 1000, 1/2000 sec @ f/7.1. 

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Nesting Time [Atlantic Puffin]

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Nesting Time [Atlantic Puffin]

I'm going to miss my trip to Skokholm this year, having been there for the past two seasons. I hear from their blog (you should check it out) that the Puffins have started to return and begin the cycle all over again. Checking in on the blog a few times a week has become somewhat of a coffee time ritual for me. Atlantic Puffin with Nesting Material

Puffins will remain one of my favourite seabirds (although the Northern Gannet still wins out for me) and I look forward to getting myself back to Skokholm in 2016.

By the way the staff on Skokholm are some of the most knowledgable folks I've ever met and will always be thankful for being part of the evening bird logs. Although next time I'll make sure to check out if it's a Purple Heron or not :)

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Mammal Photographer of the Year 2015

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Mammal Photographer of the Year 2015

I don't enter many photographic competitions - in fact my most recent entry to the Mammal Photographer of the Year was only my second attempt, ever. My first attempt was to the British Wildlife Photography Awards, in which I had a few images put through to the first shortlist, but no further. I came across the Mammal competition a few weeks previously and thought I'd give it go as I really liked the look of some of the shortlisted entries from previous years. Of course, as usual, it was a last minute rush job to send out my chosen entries which was further complicated by being up in the Highlands of Scotland on deadline day. I tell you, I think my internet connection was being hooked into a piece of string that evening.

Anyway, while I didn't win, one of my images was shortlisted (final 20) and has since gone on to get some reasonably nice exposure in the British press. Quite nice to get a wildlife shot in the papers rather than one of a footballer. It's the Roe Deer leaping though the Frozen Cambridgeshire Fenland as pictured below from The Times.

In the Press - The Times

Getting shortlisted was very nice, but what has been most pleasing is that from all of the images that I submitted 4 (out of 5) were taken on what I like to call My Local Patch - an area of wildlife within 15 miles of my home. This particular one was taken on Burwell/Wicken Fen - an area that I am fast growing to absolutely love. The other thing that encouraged me was that two folks I know also were shortlisted, one in fact gaining the runner-up spot. Well done to Ben and Iain.

Head on over to their FaceBook page to see the 20 shortlisted entries. I think my favourite, for obvious reasons, is the Hedgehog. More encouragement on my Wildlife Photographic journey and certainly I may consider further entires in photographic competitions going forward.

Here is a link to the above image on my Portfolio site.  Want to read more about The Great Fen project? Well go here.

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Enough To Make Your 'Hare' Stand On End

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Enough To Make Your 'Hare' Stand On End

I remember our last night on Safari back in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa like it was yesterday. We had been searching, without luck up to that point, for a Leopard. As time ticked by (we were actually driving towards the gate for the final time) it seemed like we were going to be unsuccessful until our spotter, Given, noticed something in the thick bush. A quick  reposition of the jeep (aka hold on tight, this search just got real) and there she was - an adult female. I can still remember the feeling as we watched her stalking. The hairs were standing on my arms as I excitedly took Nicola's hand - we both just sat there awestruck at the sight of this beautiful creature.

Wildlife encounters can leave you breathless

Fast forward a few months later (to this morning in fact) and I was reminded that I don't need to head to Africa on Safari, the Arctic Tundra in search of Polar Bears or indeed the rivers of Alaska for the great Salmon run to be treated to a wildlife experience that not only gets my blood pumping, but fills me with the same excitement I felt that balmy evening back on the truck in South Africa.

Over the past few weeks I had been neglecting the Hares in my area so with a favourable sunrise forecast I headed out to a spot I knew not only had good numbers, but also was favourable for dawn shooting due to the direction of the light. Using my car as a mobile hide I got setup and within 20 minutes was treated to my first encounter - although looking at the image below I'm not too sure this particular Hare was too pleased to see me - how rude !!

How Rude !!

What I was really interested in however was to see if there would be any male / female interaction, chasing or boxing. And it would seem my luck would be in. Across the other side of the car (and directly into the sun) I spotted a couple going at it hammer and tongs across the field before watching them disappear behind the car and out of view. I flicked a few switches on the 7D MK II in anticipation for what was hopefully to come.

Heart racing, dirt kicking, full on adrenaline rush

Suddenly out of the scrub, and despite me thinking I was ready, without too much warning came the two Hares - at full throttle. Now I'm not the smallest of chaps and my car (which as I said was being used as my mobile hide) is a 2 seater MX5. Certainly not the easiest to move around in, especially when wielding a 400mm lens out the window. Still I managed to get them into the frame, lock on AF, and fire off a couple of shots. I love the menacing look of the eyes of the male behind in the shot below.

Eyes For You

They were zig-zagging left and right as the female tried to loose her pursuirer and I have to admit I lost them a few times with the 7D (mostly my own lack of experience) failing to lock on (aka plenty of sharp grass shots if there is a market for those). Still the last frame on the sequence, before they disappeared behind the car and out of sight, was quite pleasing. Still not as sharp as I would like but that's to be worked on.

On Your Tail

The whole sequence lasted less than 5 seconds and as I paused to reflect I realised that the hairs (or should that be Hares) were standing on my arms and my heart was beating as fast as it had been that night in South Africa. The encounter once again showed me that magical wildlife experiences can be found right on your doorstop - and that is the most exciting thing of all.

Now excuse me while I go and try to dislodge the seatbelt buckle from my nether regions after a few hours spent in the MX-Hide ...

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The Blue Hour

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The Blue Hour

Oystercatcher at speed during the Blue Hour on the Island of Mull, Scotland. The Blue Hour - Oystercatcher at Speed

The technical details

  • Camera - Canon 1DX
  • Settings - ISO 1000, f/5.6, 800mm (400mm lens with 2x converter)
  • Focus - AI Servo

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Follow the Leader

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Follow the Leader

An absolutely beautiful morning down at Burwell Fen at the weekend. Quite quiet on the wildlife front but even on mornings like that it is still fantastic to be out amongst the goings on. On the way back to the car the Greylag Geese were starting to make their way to their daytime feeding grounds. Trying to frame the birds between the best colour in the sky and the tops of the trees. I think it works quiet well. Follow the Leader

Technical details

  • Camera - Canon 1DX
  • Lens - 400mm f/2.8
  • ISO - 100
  • Aperture - f/3.5
  • Shutter - 1/1250 second

Oh, on a different note my very first eBook has been published and is available for sale here.

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Cape Cormorant (South Africa)

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Cape Cormorant (South Africa)

Twas a windy day down at Bettys Bay, South Africa. We had mainly gone to see the Penguins that reside there (and I have to admit much better views of Penguins that at the more popular Boulders Beach). The Cape Cormorants also nest down there and gave some impressive fly-bys. The Cape cormorant or Cape shag (Phalacrocorax capensis) is a bird endemic to the southwestern coasts of Africa. Such beautiful birds, especially the colours around the face. Cape Cormorant in Flight

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