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Monday, 30 August 2010

Ardingly Reservoir

I'm still on Singapore time, so this morning, wide awake at 5am, I drove to Ardingly Reservoir.

It was a beautiful morning without a cloud in the sky, so it was good to be there already at dawn to take advantage of the good light.

It's been awhile since I was last there, and in the meantime the Herons that were nesting there seem to have moved on. I expect they will be back next year.

Plenty of song birds though.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Jurong Bird Park - Singapore

For the last week I've been away on business in Singapore. Before my flight home on Saturday, I was able to visit Jurong Bird Park. I spent about 5 hours there - it's the best bird park of this kind I've been to, and I'd heartily recommend it as a day out if you are ever in that part of the world. In the UK, I try to avoid this kind of place, as it is usually so crowded that you can't walk around freely. Happily, the Jurong Bird Park is so huge that even on a Saturday afternoon it never felt full.

So, on to some photos, and completely different from Barn Owls, as promised. First up, ever wondered what the inside of a Pelican's mouth looks like? Here you go:

Nice eh? Like Jabba the Hut with feathers.

This next one seems to be some kind of starling, which perched nicely for me in one of the many huge aviaries.

And finally a couple of Parrots:

As you might imagine, the birds were completely tame - all of these shots were taken at a distance of no more then 10 feet. I only had my 70-200mm on my D700, so no reach at all really, but it was still enough for most shots. I could have used a 300mm on a couple of occasions though. I did see a couple of Japanese tourists walking around with Canon 400mm 2.8s on full Gitzo + Wimberly rigs: complete overkill for this kind of thing really.

Tomorrow is a bank holiday, so if at all possible I'll try and get out somewhere. Next weekend, I'm off to the bay of Biscay whale spotting!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Pulborough Brooks (again)

Another trip to Pulborough Brooks tonight. Got rained on - but the light was good (fantastic rainbow) and I did manage to get a few shots. Here's my favorite. I love this kind of photograph - it shows there's no need to fill the frame with the subject, it's nice to show some environment to.

"Enough with the Barn Owls!" I hear you cry. OK, OK - I promise my next post will be completely different (it will not be for a couple of weeks though).

Monday, 16 August 2010

Pulborough Brooks Barn Owls

Took the opportunity to visit Pulborough Brooks tonight - the weather was pretty good, and the forecast for the near future is a bit gloomy. Tonight I saw both Owls, and one of the pair came close enough to photograph.

Most of the Barn Owls photographs I have are in flight, so it's nice this one perched obligingly close by. I did get a couple of in flight shots nevertheless.

I'm glad I managed to go tonight, and that the weather held. This may be the last chance to photograph this pair, as I expect their young will fledge soon and I'm going away on business soon until the end of August.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Chaonry Point (day 3)

Great weather today. Not a dolphin in sight.  I do get the feeling we were rather unlucky on this trip. We spent three days at the point, and despite there being plenty of dolphins and some good weather too, at no time did the dolphins and good weather coincide. These things happen - I'll try again next year.

Tonight we had an aweful aweful journey home. It took us nearly 8 hours to fly home from Inverness to Gatwick. I will never ever fly EasyJet again. We may as well have driven. Next year, I suspect that's exactly what we will do (with a stop over in the lake district perhaps).

Here's a completely unrelated bunny picture to cheer me up.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Chanonry Point (day 2)

Better weather on the Black Isle today. The morning was still gloomy and overcast, but thankfully no rain. Plenty of Dolphins too.

This one's a youngster, it stuck pretty close to the adults - I'm assuming one of them was mother.

Another youngster with a parent. This pair came within 20 meters of the shore - oftentimes too close for the 500mm I was using. They're incredibly difficult to photograph at this distance, because spotting, framing, focusing and pressing the shutter all needs to take place in about 1 second, before they disappear back beneath the surface. It a question of persistence and luck really.

Here's what I meant about "too close" - this was taken at 500mm on a D700. If you plan to make a visit, I'd recommend bringing a lens to cover the 400-500mm range for the longer range stuff, but also something like a 300mm (on full frame) or even a 70-200mm (on a crop sensor). Occasionally, the dolphins really do come very close indeed.

Once again, there was plenty of other wildlife to be seen. I'm not sure what this small bird is, but I think it's a Shore Lark (can anyone help me out here?).

And finally my favorite - the expression on his face is just great.

Final day tomorrow, and then back to Gatwick. We have time to visit again before we go, as the tide is due to start coming in about 6 hours before we fly. Fingers crossed for a bit of sun.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Chanonry Point (day 1)

I'm in Inverness at the moment, looking for Dolphins. The nearby Chanonry point is a well known Dolphin watching destination in Scotland, and that's where we went today. Unfortunately, the weather was really grotty (we got rained on pretty good). I spent most of the time shooting at 800 ISO, wide open.

We saw plenty of dolphins, but only a few came close to the shore. Here's a couple of shots. The first one looks OK from a distance, but there is some motion blur (I just couldn't get a high enough shutter speed in the available light). The second one is a bit cluttered, I think. I'm not really happy with either, to be honest - I think I can do better tomorrow if the weather improves (and currently the forecast says it will).

Aside from Dolphins, there is plenty of wildlife to be seen at the point, including the odd seal in the water, and plenty of sea birds too. We spent quite a while in the afternoon looking for crabs and starfish in the strand line. So did this Herring Gull, and he found this shellfish, which he carried up and dropped onto the shore to break it open!

Really pleased with this last one - great timing (i.e. lucky) on my part.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Huxley's Birds of Prey Centre

Today we went to Huxley's Birds of Prey Centre near Horsham, Surrey. We've been to a few bird's of prey centres over the last couple of years, and this is one of the best we've seen. If you're ever in the area looking for something to do, it's well worth a visit (

Peregrine Falcon


Eagle Owl (Eurasian, I think)

Harris Hawk

The weather is finally improving here in the south of England, after weeks of dull overcast skies. If we get a clear evening tomorrow, I'll probably go back to Pulborough Brooks to try to see the Barn Owl again.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

New Wide Angle

Just hit the buy button on one of these:

I've had my eye on this lens since it was released a few months back. The reviews all seem very positive, and so tonight I decided to put my existing wide lens, a 20mm Voigtlander prime, on ebay. The prime was a lovely small, light pancake lens. But I've found that the manual focusing has put me off using it for my wildlife photography. In the last year, I only used it a few times.

Also on the fire goes my Tamron 28-75mm, which I've never used for wildlife. I figure the 16-35mm on a D300 can anyway reach most of the effective focal lengths the Tamron on a D700 can. Significantly, the 16-35mm on a crop sensor gives a roughly 50mm field of view at the long end.

The 16-35mm zoom range, and the AF and VR of the Nikkor should be far more practical. It's unlikely to sit on the shelf like the prime and the Tamron have.

So - watch this space for some close-up wide shots, and some landscapes too!