This month see’s the release of the brand new range of clothing called the Linnet range from from Country Innovation. I have been chosen to be one of the few test pilots of this range, and I’m looking forward to working with Maria and her company. When you purchase one of these jackets 10% from every sell goes to helping projects supported by Simon King Wildlife which is brilliant.
The material is brilliant offering perfect waterproofing, its windproof and breathable at the same time has very little rustle when you move which is so important when working with wild animals and moving around. The pockets are fantastic and can be found all over this coat some are bigger enough for my smaller camera lens when I want to change quickly. The hood is a proper hood not a fold away one and offers real warmth, it’s a perfect length too and the massive thing for me is when you wash this you dont need to wash then wash again to reproof it.
This brand has been around decades it doesn’t need me to say good things about it because the brand and the many thousands that choose this make speak for itself, trust is earned and this brand has earned that trust. What I can say though is this new Linnet jacket is brilliant in the short time I have had this and perfect for wildlife photography. I need things that offer me the best protection from the elements at the same time minimise my presence in the company of wildlife and this does that and more. Over the next few weeks/ months I will be writing my own findings and results on this brilliant product that I was so very keen on working with once I first saw it and realised the advantages it would give to my work as a wildlife photographer
Barn Owls are a bird that stir a great fascination and emotion for me, I have loved them since my very early teens. I have had a truly magical time on my Barn Owl project over the summer. As we enter the season of Autumn I just wanted to update you on whats happened since my last blog covering this project that you can read here.
The last few months at my Barn Owl project have been wonderful, the young now have fully fledged and they are exploring further and further afield. Barn Owls are great parents and unlike most birds that fledge and their parents move them on, Barn Owls are different and more tolerate of their young. Often the young can stay in the same home range for sometime after they leave the nest because the adults are completely non-territorial, which is great and gives them the best start in life.
This old working coal mine in my hometown, where I was born and bred dates back to the mid 18 century and is now a heritage site taken over by nature. It has a fence around that keeps these Barn Owls safe from disturbance which they use to perch on and hunt from. Once the sun starts to go down the place really does take on a different feel and the two family of Barn Owls there and their young all come out and fly around like small little handkerchiefs above your head.
Its truly a magical place and the power of nature which for me is unplanned, unscripted, innocent and beautiful is something I love capturing that with my camera. This is what true wildlife photography is all about and what it means to me. The following images I hope show you just how wonderful nature can be and in this case the beautiful Barn Owls.
A family, mother & father and three daughters came upon this young Barn Owl that had landed onto this post. A magical moment that was a real surprise for them as they walked past on the small footpath. They stopped watched and took photos and the young girls where jumping with joy and pointing with excitement. The background is a local estate that’s not far from this old 18th century coalmine.
There are a few locals that give their time up most nights that live not far from this site. One was a miner there before it closed in the mid 1980′s and the others all have a great love for these birds which I have always find very enduring and wonderful for these Barn owls. It has a fence around the whole site too, that keeps these Barn Owls safe from disturbance which they use to perch on and hunt from as you can see from the image below..
There is also security guards checking the fences too as its a site of local importance and national heritage. its also dangerous should people get inside due to its mining past. So the Barn Owls have the best help possible which makes this a wonderful story of people living alongside nature.
The following images show the young now that are hunting for themselves and going about their own lives. Slowly over time they have lost all of their down feathers and they adult plumage is really coming through. At times though they still return, without reason to where they were born. I’d like to think they find comfort in doing so with all the perils of adult life ahead of them.
With my last image I wanted to show you the adult female Barn Owl in all her beauty. Shes hunting in the fading light here, flying straight towards the sun over the rough grassland habitat she hunts over.
I support the wonderful work of the Barn Owl Trust here the UK, the only trust that looks after our native Barn Owls. Please have a look on their website with Christmas coming up as they have some wonderful gift ideas. All proceeds go to helping these wonderful birds.
I have lost count of the number of hours I have spent so far on this wonderful project. Time has gone so fast over the last several months. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Sealskinz UK who support me with their clothing. During the many cold evenings and rainfall I was very thankful of their socks, gloves and hat I use. Both sets of gloves I have worked amazingly well with my cameras controls.
The ones I’m wearing in these images are the Fairfield gloves, soft yet so warm and waterproof. I have also used the Ultra grip Gloves too which are amazing. With the onset of more cold and wet weather to come with the changing seasons you really should try Sealskinz products because they are the best on the market within their field.
There a few places in the UK where you can experience the sights and sounds of nature any better than the North Norfolk coast during the Spring Tides that start in earnest from this month onward and for me herald the onset of the Autumn and Winter months. Its a place I never get tired of and everytime I visit it never fails to amaze me with the beautiful spectacles in nature that I witness.
Over last couple of weeks I have been there with clients on my Spring Tides one day workshops. We were treated to some amazing numbers of birds flying just feet over our heads as dawn broke, which was an amazing experience to witness. Your sight is not great so you rely on your other senses to see what’s going on which only heightens this amazing experience.
These spring tides happen 2-3 times a month throughout the autumn and winter months. They are the biggest and best tides for witnessing the thousands of birds roosting on the mudflats, being pushed closer to shore. Sights and sounds of nature that are amazing and never forgotten once you witness this breathtaking event in nature.
During a Spring Tide most if not all of the estuary is consumed by the sea and submerged underwater. Out on the mud and sand flats you’ll see thousands of wading birds feeding at low tide, as the tides rises, the mud and sand flats disappear underwater and the birds are suddenly forced to move closer into shore by the incoming sea. They then take off, and fly in vast and awesome flocks towards you on the beach at Snettisham,a place that provides a safe refuge in which to rest until the falling tide allows them back onto the tidal flats.
Some of the birds from Geese,Redshanks,Oystercatchers and Grey Plovers are wonderful to watch in flight as the fly overhead escaping the oncoming tide, but for sheer size and show the smaller waders, such as Dunlin,Knots really steel the show for me. They perform for the gathering public that make the early start to witness one of natures most amazing spectacles. These smaller waders gather in great ,dense packs and lines, almost like bee swarms, rising, falling, twisting and turning all in perfect, rhythmic sweeps and stalls, before pouring into the roost site like falling hailstones.
Once they have landed they seem like they are not quite happy,un-decided its safe from birds of prey that circle the sky on the lookout for an easy breakfast. So up they come and do it all again, twisting and turning in the sky, until, once again they land almost in the same or close to where they were in the first place. When the birds are in the sky they are almost as one, one minute dark,the next silvery white, turning their backs to you, then their pale undersides in a show of coordination that’s second to none.I have never seen two birds make contact, making this site a truly magical event to witness in nature.
We visited many different places I know around the North Norfolk coast during the rest of their days with myself and both clients had some wonderful encounters with other waders and birds. Despite the weather my clients did have some wonderful encounters with the Barn Owls there too which I was really happy for them.
On my one to ones I always go through and explain the importance of simple composition, giving the images room to ‘Breath’ and the most important tool in the box of being a wildlife photographer, which is fieldcraft, approaching subjects without causing them distress,using the cover available to break up your shape and silhouette where the wildlife will see you before you know it.
I do this in many ways, one of which is to show the client(s) how I use my own camera, illustrating the processes at first hand, giving an insight into which and what settings I use, showing techniques in camera, composing the image in different ways and showing the clients the ideas I have etc. I feel this is a very powerful learning tool for people that attend my workshops.
All my One To Ones, Photo-Tours,Workshops are run along the same lines, with my great passion for nature being one of the key elements in showing and teaching people how to have that contact with nature, which is all around them, by watching, listening, hearing nature, which in turns builds a picture of what’s happening around you at that time.
I am a full time working wildlife photographer and people can see from my blog I work on my own images and projects, crafting my “craft” each week. I also run. lead and fund my own photo tours and trips. This lets clients see the photographer and get some understanding of their work before they book which is so important today I feel.
Id like to thank all of my clients on their different days, Conner a 15 year young man who attended with his mother to learn about more about his own photography and Brian, Conrad and Jason. I wish you all well in your own wildlife photography and it was nice to meet you both. I have now added more dates that go through until June 2016 for these Spring Tide days. So for more information and what I offer on these days please clink on the following link.
N-Photo is celebrating its 50th issue (now on sale) and in the lightbox section there is an image of mine from the Norfolk Spring tides, which you can see above. Its thousands of waders taking off during a recent spring tide at dawn in Norfolk. Im back there again very soon with clients and cant wait to show them this event in natures calendar. You can see a little sample of this edition on this link.
I have just spent the last two days attending the Hen Harrier Weekend and as I write I’m still slightly overhauled by all the passion and sheer bloody mindedness to save these truly stunning birds I encountered over these two days. This is the second year this event has run now set up by a man I have followed and read his blog and words for many years, Mark Avery. If you end up on his blog without an invite then you’re in trouble as he holds nothing back in his pursuit to see the right thing done for wildlife.
On the Saturday night the setting was the lovely Palace Hotel in Buxton where an evening with speakers and guest had been planned to first raise the plight of these birds and second to gain support for a much needed campaign to save these birds. Upon entering the room before everyone else I saw that each chair had an empty shotgun cartridge on which brought the whole horror and the extent of the killing of these birds home.
The evening for me was inspirational as I sat at the back just taking everything in. The stars of the show where the speakers and at times hairs on the back of my next stood up watching the presentations and sheer determination to save these birds. The following images capture some of the speakers and the people there all doing their best for this amazing cause.
I met Finlay over the weekend, one of the stars for me and a great example to the young . Very powerful message with this film which was shown on the Saturday night. Watch the whole film and you will see the amazing people and the work going into saving this bird known as the “skydancer” Such a lovely film with a great message.
The following images were taken on the second day, the Hen Harrier Day of action and I attended the event in the Goty Valley, in the Peak District a place I know very well. It was a brilliant turn out and powerful and moving speeches from Chris Packham, Mark Avery and members of the Wildlife trusts and RSPB. Very inspiring the whole event was and send a message out that people aren’t going to stand for what is happening on the uplands of the UK to these birds and all the other wildlife that live among them.
What is happening on our uplands throughout the country is truly shocking, the large scale killing, trapping and poisoning of anything with a pulse that landowner deem a threat to the Red grouse and in turn their precious intake of money they make from this commodity given to them in the first place by mother-nature.
Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, and increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as Hen Harriers.
The Peak District, even though some forty minutes away from my home in the nearby county of Staffordshire I class it as my patch. A place I write often about and that has brought me great peace and beauty since the age of 12 when my late mum would let me catch several buses to get there.
It’s a place I watch Dippers, Watervoles, Red Grouse, Mountain Hares and many more species live out their lives. I personally have seen so much change some over those years and in recent years more so I’d say. The areas I go to photograph Red Grouse, Mountain Hares and other wildlife has changed alot. I often come across gamekeepers or their staff walking the moors with shotguns and dogs and there is always a very uneasy stand off when I appear from nowhere and witness them knowing what they are up to but they soon disappear.
Some I know by sight and don’t bother me many others I don’t and are keen to please their masters by removing anything that does and could interfere with the management of the Red Grouse. The landscape of the Peak District is changing, it’s becoming like a mono-culture, meaning whole areas also most soleless but for the Red Grouse that are protected, and looked after until the men with the big guns come and pay the going rate to walk the same paths I have done for over three decades and shoot and kill the wildlife I photograph and love.
I find it often sickening when I see these people, that have no or little regard for the landscape and its all about “class, privilege, money, wealth, greed” and all the other vile things you were warned not to inherit as you grew by your parents. But for some it’s a badge, it’s a standard to which they can use and manipulate the countryside for themselves.
I don’t have any background in conservation or anything like that what I do have though is a lifetime almost of deep love and passion for wildlife. The camera is just an expensive piece of plastic that allows me to speak for the wildlife and those situations I find myself in. Often as in the case of the Sumatran Orangutans giving them a voice outside of their native country which I have been doing now for a number of years.
I have seen firsthand in many countries from Madagascar, India and Sumatra how difficult conservation is and how it at times is almost impossible to keep all sides happy. Over the years I have been going to Sumatra to help the charities there tell the story I have seen people I trust and respect greatly having had to jump into bed with the enemy to get anything done.
Meaning to sit at the same table as those killing animals with those hoping to save them. I have also witnessed alot that mono-culture I describe where everything is removed for the better of man and his wealth and greed. What is left behind isn’t nature and barely living and so sad.
Those same problems face everyone that is involved in saving these beautiful Hen Harriers against the massive wealth and power of the hunting lobby or grown men with mates in the government as I call them. That wishes to destroy the countryside as we know it and make it into a place for them and them alone.
The RSPB have a wonderful project they have been working on for a number of years to save these stunning birds. Skydancer is a great story and is engaging with many people from young to old and its brilliant. Alongside that is a man I respect for his attitude and caring nature to wildlife and more so these birds, Mark Avery. He is using the anger and frustration displayed by the hunting lobbies and turning it against them with powerful words and retric with his powerful blog posts and campaigning and its slowly working and exposing these rich fools for what and who they are.
The last time I personally saw Hen Harriers in the Peak District was 2011 when a nest was disturbed they say. I know the eggs were crushed as I had been watching the pair on the Goty Valley where they nested. Nobody was ever prosecuted but take it from me and the people I know there the eggs were crushed and destroyed but no evidence of them or the countless other Hen Harriers that go missing each year ever came to light.
This year alone 5 male Hen Harriers have disappeared, there were 6 nests in the whole of England where Scotland has slightly a few more. But as a country its disgraceful and shows us in a shocking light that we can’t live alongside these birds and allow their numbers to increase. Six nests is not progress Natural England, the same number was recorded a decade ago and if it wasn’t for twenty- four hour monitoring of those nest by volunteers then the figure most probably would be zero.
The reason I attended this amazing two day event is because firstly I love wildlife, secondly I class the Peak District as my patch a place I grew up in and it shaped and formed who I am today and gave me alot of the knowledge I have of wildlife today. Thirdly because I truly love the Hen Harriers of which I have been lucky enough to see them in the Peak District and other places in both England and Scotland. Sadly though in recent years I haven’t seen many and this pains me to even write it let alone think about this shocking state of affairs regarding this bird.
And lastly and so very important because this is an attack on everyone that loves and enjoys the wildlife. Gone are the days when everything was killed, stuffed and mounted on boards for visitors to see, gone are the days when we killed for fun. What is happening on the uplands and moorlands in the whole of the UK is about the privileged taking control over the not so privileged in their eyes and exercising that so called power which often is vested within friends in high places and using it to do as they please.
Anything and anyone gets in the way and its removed, killed, poisoned, trapped, hurt, or in the case of those people trying to help sabotage of their funding, their projects and the facts and figures they are producing to the public. The desired effect from the hunting lobby is to slow it all down to such a pace people they think will lose interest and go away and allow them to drive around their managed and mono-cultured estates doing as they please.
The bad news for them is the pressure, the cause is gathering pace, things are changing, powerful people from the hunting lobby are making mistakes they are getting caught out and people are seeing this and capturing that.
Birds don’t just disappear, wildlife just doesn’t vanish, birds of prey are iconic and belong on these moors and so do the Red Grouse, the Mountain Hares and all the other wildlife slowly being murdered and removed so people can blast native, innocent wildlife for sheer fun and that’s it all is. It brings too the surface the murky side of this country I live in, is shows us the dirty underbelly of the class and what is does and how it changes some people born into wealth but are so removed from reality its unbelievable.
The passion, the drive I saw over these two days made me feel proud, proud that people aren’t having this bullshit no longer and things will change. At times the country only favours the rich, the upper class those with Tory friends and donors that’s clear to see but what they cant buy, stop or pay off is peoples passion to see the right thing is done. We are a nation of wildlife lovers at the core and nothing and nobody can ever stop that or use their power and wealth to blow out that cancel of hope. Because as long as you still have hope you have everything and change will and does come.
I salute everybody that fights for wildlife, I respect anyone that cares for wildlife and I’d just like to thank everyone there that wants to help these stunning and truly beautiful birds fight back from the brink of extinction. Thank you to the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust that do some much, Thank you to Birders Against Wildlife Crime – BAWC -for a very moving speech and all the work you do in protecting these and many other species of birds and animals. Thanks to Lush also for raising awareness in your stores and the “Skydancer” bath-bomb which is a great idea.
Please take care of these birds and anything I can do as a wildlife photographer then please contact me on email@example.com . I wish you all well and thanks again Mark Avery for all you do for wildlife. Keep fighting for the voiceless.
Global Tiger Day is celebrated across the world in recognition of the animal regularly voted the public’s favorite animal. Despite this, the tiger is endangered and under threat of extinction from habitat destruction and poaching. One hundred years ago there were 100,000 wild tigers, now there are less than 3,500 tigers left in the wild. In the last century Asia’s wild tiger range has shrunk by 93%. Shockingly, 40% of that decline has happened in the past ten years.
21st Century Tiger, one of the many charities working hard to save the Tiger, based at ZSL London Zoo, are a unique funding coalition between Zoological Society of London and Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation in Australia which gives 100% of funds it raises, to carefully chosen conservation projects throughout Asia. 21st Century Tiger work with zoos around the world to raise money for wild tiger conservation and channels this money to conservation projects where it can make the most difference. Its sister organisation, Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) handles projects throughout the Russian Far East.
21st Century Tiger currently funds the work of both international and local conservation organisations with a range of projects from education and anti-poaching, to monitoring of the tiger populations in Sumatra, India, Malaysia and through ALTA, in Russia. These important projects address the pressures the tiger faces in today’s world of trade, exploding human population and vanishing forests.
Global Tiger Day was established in 2010 at the St Petersburg Tiger Summit when tiger range countries declared their aim to double wild tiger numbers by 2022. This day is an opportunity to raise funds for wild tiger conservation with 21st Century Tiger and to build awareness of the issues effecting their survival.
On this day please try and support all those that help to keep this beautiful animal alive and to preserve it for future generations. I have had a lifelong love of the Tiger and to think children growing up may in the future not have such love or passion for these animals through not being able to see them in the wild feels me full of great sadness.
Some of the many other charities trying to save these animals are -
They are many charities that help these beautiful creatures; I donate 50% from the sales of my limited edition Tiger prints that go to 21 Century Tiger. Over the next month I will be adding more limited editions to this collection. We can all do something not matter how small that all goes to helping the survival of this species.
If you’d like to photograph these amazing creatures in 2016 then I still have a few places free on my “Tigers of India” - 7 day photography tour. Its an action packed week with two safaris a day in one of the best please in the world to see wild Tigers. All the information and blog posts from many previous trips there can all be seen on this link. Its a magic place to see these Bengal Tigers and one place you will never forget.
Its amazing we have a day set aside for these majestic animals and one they really deserve and need. To all those that work tirelessly to save all Tigers I thank you and to everyone around the worlds that does their bit thank you also. Lets hope Tigers in the wild live on and have a viable future in the wild, many thanks.
A few images from a project that I’m working on at the moment. It’s an old coal mine which dates back to the 18th century but there are reports that coal may have been mined there from as early as the 14th and 15th Centuries. The whole place is protected now and stands empty and decaying, a visual sign of the past. It has been taken over by nature now, and pair of Barn Owls live within the ancient ruins of this building. A whole array of other wildlife shares the site from Kestrels, to Pigeons to many other birds and animals.
As a young child my primary school use to run school trips there and I can remember going on one and going underground which was amazing. It’s part of my local heritage as coal was mined in my hometown for hundreds of years before it all stopped in the mid to late 1980’s. When they all closed it decimated whole communities that were reliant on them for work and income.
I’m hoping to bring you more images from this project over time. In the meantime here are a few images of the owls and kestrels that live alongside each other.
The project as a whole will be one I hope that will show my own heritage within nature with my love of Barn Owls but more importantly my hometown. That since the late 1980’s has had its heart ripped out with all of the industries that once breathed life into this area taken from us resulting in wastelands upon wastelands from the past that nothing ever replaced to this day .Showing the power of nature to recalm and take back what was once theirs and injection life back into a place that died a longtime ago.
The Barn Owl chicks are around three weeks old now. They have been coming out more sand more recently, exercising their wings then they go back into the safety of their nest. They have down feathers still on their backs too, but look really health. Wonderful to see these young and here are a few images taken showing the 18th Century building once an old coal mine, that is now their home
Please support the work of the The Barn Owl Trust the only charity that looks after and cares for our native Barn Owl. One of my favorite living animals these birds need all the help they can get. For information, education, events that help these owls and products, prints you can purchases please see their website, many thanks.
As the season almost comes to an end on the beautiful welsh island of Skomer, it has been a wonderful year with some great encounters and images of the funny and very comical Puffins. Shortly they depart for the ocean and wont come ashore again until late March early April next year as they spend all that time outside of the breeding season at sea, which is truly remarkable.
Being so trusting you can have really wonderful views of these stunning birds but you always have to remember to put them first and to move out of their way should they wish to cross some of the paths where we are allowed to walk on. The following images have been taken over the session and its a stunning place.
Next years one day workshop dates are up now if you’d like to join me. Also next year I am running a 4 day, 3 night trip for up to 8 people to Skomer while we will still on the island and photograph when everyone’s gone home. For the information on this carry on down the page and please contact me if you’d like to join me in 2016.
Skomer Spectacular 3 night Photo Tour.
Join me in summer 2016 for an amazing experience, living on the island of Skomer alongside its wonderful wildlife. A magical wildlife haven located just off the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast, 3 miles from Martin’s Haven, and covering 750 acres of habitat. Skomer is the perfect place to see and photograph Razorbills, Guillemots, Seals, Short Eared and Little Owls, Manx Shearwater and the star of the island, the Puffins.
DATES & COSTS
Cost for this three night trip is £480
Due to the Welsh Wildlife Trust not announcing island accommodation availability until October of each year, exact dates are not yet known but your 3 night stay will be during the height of the puffin season in May, June or July.
Everyone is welcome on this amazing trip from birdwatchers to photographers why all levels are catered for by myself. Skomer’s wildlife is very accommodating and everyone will have the chances to make the most of their time on this wonderful island
Please register your interest by contacting me on firstname.lastname@example.org I will then send out a booking form and let you know all the details, and answer any questions you may have.
GROUP SIZE AND ACCOMMODATION
this workshop is limited to 8 guests, staying in the islands only accommodation, a beautiful farmhouse set right in the heart of the island.
Catch the first boat from Martins Haven to Skomer at 9am
After a brief boat ride we arrive on the island and then we have a briefing from the wardens on the island. Then we head to our accommodation, unpack and make ourselves at home and have a warm drink and then head out after lunch to start exploring the island.
DAY 2 & 3
The pattern of event for the next two days will be very similarly maximising your time n the island. From sunrise to sunset and all through the night if you wish as it’s amazing on the island once it goes dark, we are free to come and go on the island and I will be showing you and guiding you to some of the best places on the island at both ends of the day and during the day.
We catch the first boat back to the mainland at 9am.
Over the last several weeks I have had many projects on the go, one such project has been watching a pair of beautiful Pied Flycatchers. These birds visit our shores during the spring and summer months from their wintering home of West Africa and live manly in woodland habitat. Their numbers are quite low and they are on the “amber” list of species by the RSPB meaning they aren’t rare but not common too.
I have wanted to photograph this species of bird in their woodland habitat for many years but I haven’t been lucky enough to find them. This year I had found a pair and they were nesting in a small nest box in a beautiful deciduous wood. These birds are beautiful and I was very lucky to have found a pair. They landed on a number of naturally occurring branches around this nestbox and I have composed them showing their home and these branches they are using with the following images.
Up until this point they were doing really well, both parents feeding and everything looked good. Then around lunch time the following day I was watching another part of the wood where they are hunting the flies when I heard a hissing kind of noise from where the nest box was.
I rushed over and saw the male bird hovering in front of the box and making a noise that I can only describe as an alarm call. Then in a flash something came from the nest box and ran down the front of the box. It was a Weasel with one of the chicks. It happened so quick that I didn’t really have time to do anything or to even think. I did manage to capture a few images of him making off with the chick as the male was hovering to see off the Weasel.
What happened over the next hour and a half after this first attack was that the same Weasel came back several times to get the rest of the chicks. But as soon as I saw him I made a loud hissing noise myself and other noises to warn him off. Sometimes he stopped at the base of the tree, others he was up and on top of the box. Each time he left with nothing and this went on for a while. After the first attack the parent birds returned but were jumpy when going to the box, they seemed to know what had happened and stayed back and didn’t return with any food for those hours after the attack.
I wanted to know what had happened inside the box but I had to stop myself from going to see and investigate because I didn’t want to disturb anything or leave my scent on the box and its not right to interfere with nature. I had done my best making sure that the Weasel didn’t get any more chicks during those many attempts. When I left there had been no sighting of the Weasel for several hours and I really hoped when I returned the following day that the chicks survived and the Weasel had moved on.
Nature is beautiful but at times very cruel I know this well but when you witness it for yourself it is upsetting and I can’t blame the Weasel for wanting to feed his family but as I say when you witness animals being killed by others its not nice and I had watched this pair of Flycatchers for a while now and then this happens.
The following day I returned just after dawn, I waited several hours and no return by any adult. Before opening the box I made the noise of the adult bird and gently tapped the outside of the box and there was no noise or calls from inside. At that point I lifted the lid wearing gloves. The Weasel had gone back when I left by the looks of things and had all of them, very sad. Nature is cruel but that’s the circle of life and I learned that very early in my life but it was a real shame.
I spent most of the morning searching the same wood for another pair as there are nest boxes put up for them. As I was looking I always listen to bird calls, they will always let you know what is around. I know the Pied Flycatchers well and I saw a lone male bird that kept coming to another box. Once at the entrance hole he’d paused and then flew off. I didn’t know if he was preparing his nest for inspection for a female or just looking for another nest box or there was already another female inside.
Then I heard ” Have you seen much?” and I turned around and a bloke was standing there, after a few words I recognized him and he me and we got talking as I had last seen him some five years back. I told him about the box that had lost its chicks and that I was watching this new box.
He informed me that a female was sitting on eggs in the box I was watching and that he was here to ring her. Keith is a member of British Trust for Ornithology and is a ringer in the Staffordshire moorlands area for them and has been for many years. He knew me and my work and passion and so he trusted me with this information and I watched him with great care place a small bag over the roof of the nestbox while blocking the entrance hole. Carefully then he removed the bag from the top of the box and inside was this beautiful female Pied Flycatcher.
I asked if I could take a few photos and it was no problem as Keith put the ring on, checked over the bird and once done he let her go. Soon after she was back in the nest. Amazing to be so close and what luck I’ve had at this site I said to myself. From losing a whole family of chicks to then being so close to one and knowing the BTO ringer for the area.
Another truly beautiful bird the Redstart, a pair are sharing the same deciduous wood as these Pied Flycatchers which is wonderful. They are nesting in a nearby old oak tree not far from the new flycatchers nest. I have watched them too over the last few weeks and now the chicks have fledged and I counted around eight in and around the tree tops.
I’m hoping to get a few images of these but they are providing a difficult little subject to get near because their parents have hidden them away and I don’t want to impact on their lives or their parents. The following images are of that Redstart family.
When you go out taking photos of a project or something you love please just stop, sit down and look around you. You will see some many living beings, so many different images all around you. I love to capture this within my work and all you have to do is think outside of the species you are there for and look further afield and you will see natures beauty all around you.
The following images show some of the other birds that share this amazing deciduous wood alongside these Pied Flycatchers.- Blackcap, Song Thrush, Wren, Great Tit. Also there are a few images of the insects that provide food for these birds, an arty photo of ferns.
Also there is an image of a Harvestman which are beautiful little creatures. Harvestmen don’t have a waist or separate abdomen like spiders as they are often mistaken for them. They are part of the Opiliones family which are fascinating. There are some close up images of Long-tailed Mayfly that are very common in this wood too that just looked stunning. The floor of the wood is littered with the Red Campion flower too the place is so beautiful and full of wildlife once you look around you.
I’m hoping to get some images of the Pied Flycatchers feeding their young as I think they have another week or so inside the nextbox. The Redstart chicks are all around the place, and getting a few images of these are harder as they are hidden away so I will not impact on their lives just for a photograph. Fingers crossed this new pair of Pied Flycatchers manage to rear their young successfully and I will be there to capture it I hope.
If I get lucky I will post the photographs in a future blog post just updating this wonderful project I have been doing. Finding your own subjects and photographing them over time is one of the best things as a wildlife photographer you can do. You learn so much more and you never truly know what you will encounter or see where you have to use your own skills and fieldcraft.
Working like this and taking images “as seen” on the ground and alongside nature is the truest form of wildlife photography in an industry full of set ups and pay as you go sites all producing the same images. I would really recommend working like you see here to anyone that whats to learn more about their own wildlife photography and their subjects, good luck and many thanks.