Being among nature is a place I belong and feel most at easy at so its been great to get back out with my camera recently to start photographing the beautiful wildlife on the lead up to spring, the favorite time of year for me. With the issues with rain and flooding over the last several weeks it has delayed some of the projects I have planned for this year. The rain though, fingers crossed seems to have given us the worst and as many communities are still underwater around the UK my sympathies go to them.
Wildlife hasn’t had a great time either with vast areas of the countryside underwater where many animals have suffered like illustrated with the images above of a Short-eared Owl trying to hunt but for miles around all the fields with flooded, quite a sad and upsetting thing for me to see as I really felt for this owl while I recently watched him to to hunt.
I have started working on my Great Crested Grebes project, a bird I love, their elegant pose, their beautiful markings and stunning plumage makes them one of the most handsome water dwelling birds in the UK in my eyes. They are the largest of the European Grebes and during the spring and summer they are such a striking bird, with their spectacular head, ruff and spiky head tuffs when they greet each other or display during courtship.
Last year I photographed these birds at the same site but was unable to go back at the start of the breeding season due to commitments, so this year I’m hoping to capture them as they build their bond between each other and go through their amazing courtship dance where they dive for weed, surfacing with this in their bills and offer it to one another while sharply turning their heads back and forth.
In between the pouring rain there have been breaks in the weather and I have spent alot time there now, the lives of these amazing birds played out before me on each visit. They show real love and care for each other, when one goes out of sight the other calls in an attempt to locate its mate, such a strong bond which is so lovely to witness.
I am using a hide on the shore to photograph this pair of Grebes, just on the water’s edge and not in the water as this disturbs the birds and other species of animals around too much. Getting there before the sun comes up, with the dawn chorus as my companion, each bird jockeying for their own patch, staking their clam to that bit of land.
The are many species of birds there too, all starting to defend their patch so to speak, most are vocal from before dawn onward and there seems lots of fighting and warning off others in readiness to find a lady and breed. I love to watch and capture animal behavior and by doing so you learn so much more about your subject over time. I managed to capture a full frontal of the male Goldeneye here, if luck is on your side and if you get the head face on they can have a real evil look to them as in the image below.
Canada Geese calling and fighting break the mornings silence many times during my recent visits there, I only wished these images had sound.It’s such an amazing time of day and one you greatly benefit from for being among its beauty and peace. The water levels are still high here so im hoping everything settles down and things can return to normal as soon as possible for people and wildlife really.
I really am hoping to spend as much time at this site over the next several weeks before I leave for Sumatra for two weeks where I will be working and shadowing the amazing work of SOCP - Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, headed up by Dr Ian Singleton, but more news on the very soon.
In the meantime I have some 2015 dates for my photo tours now up on my website click here to view them. My One to Ones now in their fifth year are as popular as ever so if you’d like to learn more about everything from fieldcraft, to subject knowledge to your own photography then click here to see the places I visit with clients.
I will update my blog with more images from this site in due coarse, I wish you all well with the weather and the forthcoming season of Spring, many thanks.