Click on image above visit my wildlife gallery!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Gallery Updates

I've just spent some time updating my recently neglected gallery with all new photos. Click the Barn Owl photo above to make a visit!

On another note, we visited WWT Slimbridge on the way home from Wales at the weekend - here's a couple of shots from the day:

Had to carry the 500mm around whilst there (it isn't insured in the boot of the car, that's something I'm going to rectify when my policy comes up for renewal later this year). This was complete overkill for a place where the birds pretty much walk right up to you. Also, the size of the lens+tripod attracts a lot of attention which (despite what Cath may think!) I don't really like. There's only so many "that's a big lens" conversations you can have before it gets a bit repetitive!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Gigrin Farm

At the weekend, I went to the wedding of my good friend the Rt. Rev. Ross Manning in Wales. While we were there, we took the opportunity to visit the Red Kite feeding station at Gigrin Farm.

They have special photography hides there, which have enough space to set up a tripod and swing a 500mm around in. If you are visiting and would like to use one of these, you'll need to book in advance (the photo hides were all full when we there there!). We didn't book in advance though (it was all a bit impromptu), so we just went into one of the normal hides. This was fine though (and cheaper - £4 per head instead of £20). I had to hand hold the 500mm which made my arms ache after a bit, but it was good enough.

Unfortunately, the weather was not good - a blanket of dull gray cloud, with the odd shower. I ended up with quite a lot of shots of Red Kites against a boring grey sky, and it was all a bit flat. As feeding time is 2pm in the winter, I expect the best time to go for photography would be a clear day in November/December (if such a thing exists in that part of the world!).

Anyway, I've never seen so many BoP! There were literally hundreds of Red Kites, something that doesn't really come across in the shots I got (which are mainly shots of individual birds).

Finally, here's something unusual - a leucistic Red Kite!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Barn Owl at Pulborough Brooks

Encouraged by the pictures of the Barn Owl from Lincolnshire at the weekend, this evening I made a second visit to RSPB Pulborough Brooks, to see if I could see the Barn Owl which is nesting in the visitor center there.

I waited by the small pond just at the begining of the nature trail.  I noticed they have closed off the patio there, which is just below the nest, to avoid disturbance. Standing by the pond means your a good 30-40m away from the patio, and out of sight of the opening to the nest itself.

After about an hour, there he was!

Not sure what that is he's holding - a vole perhaps?

It was rather cloudy and the light was pretty flat - both of these shots were taken at 4000 ISO. Every time I think my D700 doesn't cut it for bird photography (due to the lack of crop factor), something like this pops up - my D300 would have been pretty useless in this light.

Now I know something about the route he uses and also spotted one of his perches. All I need is a nice sunset...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Lincolnshire Barn Owl

Went to Lincolnshire this weekend for the first time in ages. Checked in with the Barn Owl on Saturday night, hoping he hadn't moved on (it's been months since I saw him last). But about half an hour before sunset he made an appearance. I managed to take quite a few shots of him - here is my favorite:

He did eventually spot me sitting in the brambles in my new camouflage jacket from wildlife watching supplies (looking pretty cool, I can tell you!). The camouflage seems to work well enough, he didn't notice me until he eventually heard the shutter going. This is as close as he's ever come!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Another evening at Pulborough Brooks

Went to RSPB Pulborough Brooks tonight to see if I could photograph Barn Owls which are apparently nesting above the visitor center there. Unfortunately, despite a two hour wait, I didn't see anything. There were about half a dozen builders there doing work on the visitor center buildings, and I suspect his might be the reason why. According to the sign in the car park, the building work will last until August - I may wait until then before I try again.

Still, while waiting, I did manage to photograph a Linnet for the first time, so the trip wasn't at all wasted:

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A day at Arne

Spent yesterday at RSPB Arne in Dorset, starting just before 6am, and finishing at sunset. Then I drove home, arriving at midnight. I'm knackered today!

So what did I see? Well, there were lots of green woodpeckers. I've never been able to get close enough to one of these to photograph, so it's nice to break that duck (not that I do lists).

I did get a lot closer than this, and have a couple of frame fillers, but I like this one best as it shows some habitat.

The were also a great many deer. I've never seen so many on a reserve. Every 10 minutes on would appear from a bush, stare at you for a bit, then run off. This one was taken from one of the bird hides.

On the way back to the car, at dusk, I saw a barn owl flying low across a field a few hundred yards off. I decided to set up and wait, to see whether it would come my way. It did!

This one was taken just a few seconds later, when it took off and fly right toward me.

This last shot of the barn owl flying is slightly out of focus - to be fair, you can only notice this if you look real close, but you'd definitely see it on a largish print. My D300 always struggles focusing on moving objects in low light, which makes photographing Barn Owls difficult. It was really hunting last night (the camera, not the owl), and I missed a good number of chances because it couldn't acquire the subject (Barn Owls don't even fly that fast). Rather frustrating! I'm pretty sure something like a D3s/x would have done better. The next body I buy will be one of those two I hope, if not the D4/s/x when they eventually appear.