Entries in the ‘Places Of Interest’

RAW India

Filed in Places Of Interest, Wildlife on May.05, 2010

The days seemed to fly by with the routine of 05.00am start, finish at 10.00am, breakfast with my English teabags I brought to remind me of home, and then sleeping until 02.30pm, as it was just too hot to go anywhere, and then ready for my afternoon safari at 03.00pm finishing at 06.30pm.  The days were passing to quick for me, as I eat, sleep, and lived Tigers and the other amazing wildlife that live in this beautiful area of India all day and everyday. Seeing the local people recycling everything, life is tough,and lets you know just how lucky we are back home, yet the people with the least have the most to give, love, happiness, a clear lesson to us all, where everyone has a smile and warm welcome for you, from the man on the street to the guests sitting at your table.  I truly felt very welcome in India as the people are so friendly and courteous.

I and the ‘A team’, as I called Salim and Raj, had our photo taken with the scarf Salim had given to me to help with the dust and heat on the back of the neck,all in good spirits as we entered the park.

A Team

I was getting use to the intense heat now a little more, drinking litres of water some plain some mixed with a glucose/minerals to boost my own levels which were taking a battering due to sweating, heat etc and the physicality of holding on in an open-topped jeep whilst balancing a 600,with a 70-200 and 24-70mm lens with cameras attached, in the ready position should  my continued streak of good luck continue and we see another Tiger.

An hour into our safari we noticed a few jeeps on the small dirt track ahead, Salim spoke to them and  there was a female Tiger called T39 laying down cleaning herself, but at some distance away, so while the rest waited, hoping for her to come down close enough so we could all see her, I watched here through my viewfinder.  I had to use manual focus due to the dense vegetation, it seemed ages before she’d look up, but eventually she did as she heard us.  I captured the meanest of looks as she stopped licking her paws and looked up.  I used the out of focus tree trunk to my left to frame her within the image below.

Female Tiger

The sun pierced through the tree canopy with a few rays of light landing on her face.  This highlighted her beautiful eyes and facial features.  I watched her for some time as she cleaned her massive paws, after she stood up and started to walk away from us, to my left, Salim slowly drove the jeep along the only track their, a basic dirt track and we all looked back into the jungle to see if we could see her but the Tigers markings are some of the best camouflage I have witnessed in nature, she disappeared from view, yet we could here the alarm calls from monkeys and peacocks.  I named the Tiger ‘The Ghost Of The Forest’, as literally they just vanished as you can see from the images below.  As she sat down the markings blended so well with the habitat, how wonderful mother nature is!

Tiger In Habitat

Tiger In Habitat

She lay here for sometime then got to her feet with real purpose and started to stare at something that had caught her eye, it was Spotted Deer, one of the species of deer the Tiger hunts for here in Ranhanbhore.  I watched as she took on the characterises of the cats we see back home stalking a bird on the lawn, low, slow and intense stare.

Hunting Tiger

The Deer became jumpy and moved away quickly leaving this female Tiger a little deflated, so she continued to walk and we drove on the dirt track some 60 feet below here.

Tiger Hunting


As she settled down she was joined by her brother T38  and for the very briefest of moments both Tigers sat alongside each other, to close for the 600 so I used the 24-70 lens and D300 to capture this moment.

Brother And Sister

After a few close ups of the male T38, he then decided to move off and was heading our way!!



My guide Salim had waited back a little and let the other jeeps head off as for a moment the Tigers seemed to have vanished again, we stayed put and waited as I changed cameras and lens to the 7-200 and wide angle, then with an almighty ringing of alarm calls from the Black face langur Monkeys we saw the male walking towards us, almost level to our jeep but some 20 feet higher up from the road we were on, I lay flat on my belly inside the jeep, held my camera and watched as the most beautiful of animals the natural world has,weighing in excess of 200KG walk towards us.

I used the wide -angle and captured him below just looking up at the Monkeys as the alarm calls rang out through the jungle, echoing for miles, my hairs were standing up on the back of my neck, my heart was beating so fast I not only felt the beats but could hear them in my head, as I captured the very moment he looked up, completely camouflaged in his habitat, with a few rays of sun light piercing down on him.  Oh my god! was I lucky this day,  and for me this has to be the best moment I have ever felt whilst watching/photographing nature, 20 feet away from a wild Tiger, who earlier had been hunting and was hungry, what a truly special moment I have on record now and also in my mind, just beautiful!!

Male Tiger

He carried on walking but we stayed still and let him be and go off onto his travels.  We headed back to our check point and again as they spoke and drove I was left in the back just in shock at what I’d seen,completely privileged and honoured with the experience of this day, which will be with me forever.  2010 The Year Of The Tiger, and I am 20-30 feet away from a wild, large male Tiger, it doesn’t get much better than that for me as a person who loves wildlife, and waited 30 years to get my chance to see one, Wow, wow!

As we headed back for my much needed cup of English tea,courtesy of my Yorkshire Teabags, I was still on the look out for images, as I’d seen the beautiful birds that live here.  I managed to capture a Bee-eater,and a Ring-Necked Parakeet feeding in some lovely light and dream back grounds,another beautiful day, god was I glad I came!


Ring-Necked Parakeet

Well its all go, as I’m off to Texel tomorrow for my ‘Texel Workshop’ co-hosted with my friend and fellow wildlife photographer Jeroen Stel for 4 days photographing the beautiful wildlife that lives in and around this part of northern Holland.  I will continue with my RAW India when I am back as I carried on becoming luckier,bye for now!


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RAW India

Filed in Places Of Interest, Wildlife on May.04, 2010

I have just come back from an amazing trip to Ranthambhore, India amd after three months of planning the trip was all I could have hoped for and much,much more.  With British airspace being closed on the lead up to my trip it looked however I tired that I would be beaten by an unprecedented event in history-Volcanic dust in the atmosphere, but lady luck was on my side and a few days after my first flight was cancelled the airspace was reopened and I was back in business!  Last Saturday I made my way to Heathrow Airport,Terminal 5.  British Airways,who during the issues were great in the help to customers and I for one will always use this airline from now on.  The flight was nearly 9 hours,very comfortable, good food.  As we landed in Delhi Airport at 11.30pm local time the captain welcomed us and let us know the time etc and  the temperture which at 11.30pm at night was 35c!

I passed through customs with no problems having sorted my visa some months earlier, and I looked for my driver who would be holding a card with my name on,we met, his name was Ellios, and ahead of me was a 373km drive to Ranthambhore Bagh seen above where I was to be staying throughout the 7 days there.  The journey was hard and hot,the roads were hard and not like roads we know back home but I was on a high and the journey had to be done..I reached Ranthambhore Bagh at 08.30am after seeing the sun come up as I passed through small villages, it was a beautiful sunrise.  I met my hosts and Salim Ali who was to be my guide during my stay.  Salim had grew up in the area as his dad was a ranger/guide in Ranthambhore before him so I was in the best hands.  I went to bed until around 02.00pm where a little dinner was put on and then my first safari at 03.00pm with Salim and Raj.  I had a jeep on my own throughout the week, it was a great choice as this gave me great flexibility as I was using my 600mm lens and tripod alongside  a 24-70 and 70-200mm lens with D300’s to hopefully cover many different images/angles.

The Ranthambhore National Park, which is a part of the much larger Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, a Project Tiger reserve, lies in the Sawai Madhopur district of eastern Rajasthan. It is right now the only forest reserve in Rajasthan state and in the entire Aravali hill ranges where tigers exist. The Chambal River forms a natural boundary of the Park towards the east, and on the eastern shore of Chambal lies the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh,this Project tiger reserve spans over 1334 sq. km of area, of which 282 sq. km is the Ranthambhore National Park.

During the 19th century there was excellent forest cover almost all over India. The population density was very low and exploitation of forests to fulfill local needs was negligible. During that period the forests of Ranthambhore were the private and exclusive hunting reserves of the Jaipur and Karauli royal family. These forests were managed by the Shikar Khana Department (Hunting Department) of the state. The local villagers were allowed to take many kinds of forest produces in unlimited quantities for their private use, after payment of an annual tax (called Babs). In selected areas of the forests, which were used for hunting by the royalty, grazing and tree felling were strictly forbidden, but there were few restrictions, elsewhere. However, due to the low population density, there was hardly any damage to the forests.

By the end of the first quarter of the 20th century, the need for conservation of forests was being felt all over India. The population was growing rapidly and the forests were coming under pressure. In Ranthambhore, the system of “royalty permits” for commercial felling (mainly for firewood and charcoal) of entire blocks of forests was taking its toll. In 1925, the Jaipur state created a post of Superintendent of Forests and in 1939 the Jaipur Forest Act was enacted. The Rajasthan forest Act was enacted in 1953, giving these forests some legal protection. In 1955, these forests were declared as “Sawai Madhopur sanctuary” and the practice of sale of forest produce through “royalty permits” came to an end. This was when the forests received their first “real” protection. However, legal hunting continued unabated till 1973 and by then the tiger population was almost totally decimated.

In 1973 a part of this sanctuary came under Project Tiger Scheme. At that time there were 16 villages inside the sanctuary but between 1976 and 1979, 12 of these villages were shifted outside the sanctuary. In 1980, in order to give greater protection to the forests, an area of 282.03 sq. k.m. of the inner part of Sawai Madhopur sanctuary was declared as national park.During the 1970s, tiger sightings were extremely rare in Ranthambhore but by the mid and late 1980s, as a result of the decade long protection given to the forests, Ranthambhore became the best place in the world to see wild tigers. Ranthambhoretiger reserve attained notoriety for illegal poaching of tigers in the year 1992.. Since then the forest authorities became very strict and now, generally speaking, poaching is not a serious threat in these forests. Since 1992, the tiger population has gradually recovered and in 2002 the Park boasted of nearly 40 tigers, a density of nearly 10 tigers per 100 square k.m. – which is one of the highest in the world,with the present count around the same which is great news for the Tiger within this area of India.

There are seven’ old’ gates within the national park and twice a day we passed through the gate called ‘Mishra Dhara Gate’ as seen above on our way to one of the 5 zones you are allocated before each trip,with each zone being around 25 km plus in size where your jeep has to stay on a small path which takes you around the chosen zone,with a very strict code of conduct on board eg.no shouting/loud noise, you cannot get out of the jeep, its all controlled really well with the Tigers welfare being paramount.  The terrain of Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve is mostly rugged and hilly,with day time temperatures of 45c its very hot and dusty.  For me carrying my 600 as we drove around over the bumpy terrain was hard at first as I rested it on my forearms as the roads were just to bumpy to place it any where, with your heart in your mouth all the time as to that magic word you hope to hear all the time -‘T’iger’!  Then seconds to compose yourself and your camera before the Tiger has gone.

On my first trip on the Sunday we didn’t see any Tigers, but I got a good idea of the place,how it worked a little, where the sun came up and set etc.  I can connect with a new place really well and get a good or bad feeling almost there and then, most of the time being proved right, I call it my ‘Sixth Sense’ or luck who knows! On this occasion I had a good feeling I would see a Tiger for the first time in my life since my fascination with Tigers after receiving a book called Animal World from my late mum for my 8th birthday, the book forms part of my Profile images on my website,and with some thirty years now passed since I first received this book my dream of seeing a Tiger was about to happen!

The routine in the morning was an early start at 05.00am, get my cameras+lens ready, the staff would make me an Indian coffee which was the perfect start to the day for me, Salim+Raj arrived at 05.40 and we set off to the park on my first morning.  I always relax when trying to find nature as I have found if you put pressure on yourself then the nature just doesn’t show up!  My first morning there was beautiful,we had a lovely sunrise,the noises of the place were so different to that of the UK wildlife I am use to, so many different calls it was just an amazing time!


I watched Great and Little Egrets fishing, Night Herons watching the sun come up, India Lapwings, male Peacocks displaying, and so many different species of birds I’d only read about before that were just all around me here!


India Lapwing

Night Heron

Little Egret With Fish

Male Peacock Displaying

All of this stunning nature around me I was in heaven! and I had’nt even seen my first Tiger yet. As we drove around our given zone, I saw so much different and interesting wildlife it was amazing, just then my guide said ‘Leopard’ and pointed up and to my left I swung the camera,600 and tripod around and just managed a few images before this very shy, rare animal vanished, Salim told me you must be lucky Craig, sightings of leopards are rare here with around 30 living here they are very hard to see and I had just seen this beautiful animal with its real distinctive face and big, round eyes.  Wow!



He was gone in a flash but I really felt blessed I’d seen a Leopard, indeed very lucky, what a first morning.  The safaris are from 6-10am and 3-6pm in the evening, and on my first morning we were in the final hour when we spotted my first ever, wild Tiger, I froze for a second, stood up and there she was, T17, a 3 year old female walking along the dirt tracks the jeeps use, with the Tigers using them too.

Female Tiger-T17

Female Tiger T17

As we got closer the sheer size of the Tiger became very apparent to me, Salim went down another track hoping to get in front of her should she continue on this path, we managed to get in front and a nervous wait of a few seconds to see if she’d gone into the forest or had carried on,then I heard something,she was there walking towards our jeep T17 full front on view,wow she was beautiful,she was heading to a very small pool of water to our left, I captured her drinking with the 600, I then switched to another camera with my wide angle on (24-70mm) as she had finished drinking and carried on walking our way.  I wanted to capture her within this habitat as she came closer, my heart was beating so fast I could feel the beats in my neck!!

Female Tiger T17

Tiger Drinking

T17, female tiger walking towards me, taken with a wide-angled lens as I leaned out of the jeep for a lower view point, it was a beautiful, surreal moment for me and one I will never forget, after she’d gone my driver and guide drove us back while I just sat there going over what I had just witnessed in my head, completely amazed.  Just after the image below was taken she went into cover and was not seen again, but the memories will be with me forever.

Female Tiger T17

Female Tiger T17

My first encounter of a Bengal Tiger was just amazing, thirty years ago when I was eight my interest in Tigers began after receiving a animal book with a roaring Tiger on the front cover, so on this day my dreams had come true with a beautiful moment I managed to capture not only with my eyes but also with photographs.  I am completely taken with these beautiful animals and with each safari I would see even more of the Tigers of Ranhambhore, some days I’d see 4 in a single trip, not all can be photographed as with the dense vegetation and the brilliant disappearing skills its a lot harder than you think to compose a good image with the small amount of time you get upon first seeing these stunning animals.

That evenings safari brought more beautiful encounters for me as I was living up to my nickname of  ‘Lucky‘.  We were in another zone now, and we lay in wait at a popular watering hole used by 1 or 2 different Tigers. Nearly an hour had gone by and nothing, the temperature was 45c and I was melting, 2 litres of water in the morning and two litres in the afternoon, a must as dehydration can creep up on you without warning, I also had glucose/mineral salts to to replace what my body was losing, it was a constant battle to rehydrate yourself and be on tip top form for the Tigers and the rough roads.  The surrounding animals give a warning that you don’t forget when a Tiger is about and I heard this, the next thing a male Tiger, T7 I was told was heading for the waterhole, but for a moment had noticed the jeep and give me a look I managed to capture below.

Male Tiger T7

male Tiger T7

Much bigger than the females, with a totallydifferent attitude/approach I found, quite shy on one hand but outwardly more aggressive too.  These two images clearly show just how well camouflaged they are within their own natural habitat which amazed me, because away from these surroundings they really stand out with the beautiful markings.

Tiger Eye



The first two days were brilliant and my first sighting was amazing.  Over the next few days I will update my blog with the rest of the special days I spent there, in the meantime I hope you enjoy these images of this most beautiful of animals, the Bengal Tiger.


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Filed in Articles, Places Of Interest, Wildlife on Apr.10, 2010

I have just spent the last 3-4 days in Mid-Wales photographing some of the beautiful wildlife this part of the UK has to offer.I was invited by my friend Ken along with a number of fellow wildlife photographers who have a annual week in this breathtakingly beautiful place.First on my wish list was a trip to Gigrin Farm to photograph the amazing population of Red Kites that live and feed here.

Red Kite

Red Kite

The Gigrin is a family run upland sheep farm of approximately 200 acres, owned and farmed by Chris Powell, and Mrs Lena Powell.The land is 700 feet rising to 1200 above sea level giving wonderful views of the Wye and Elan valleys in mid-Wales.Gigrin became the Official Red Kite Feeding Station in the winter 1992/93 following a request from the RSPB who had witnessed the late Mr Powell feeding the kites.Red kites being hungry when they awake, will hunt for food during the morning and early afternoon, so Gigrin is a top up or emergency ration for them and is not intended to replace their wild food source.

On the day we were there the weather was a mixture of  overcast and cloud with the odd ray of light piercing the cloud cover,this added a great atmosphere to the place and shows what ever the weather throws at you there will always be a photograph you can obtain from the day.Being my first visit there I wanted to try and capture a few different images from the normal portrait of this beautiful bird that at close quarters is massive.With the light and overcast conditions I was able to create some images from Gigrin that were a little different,encapsulating my trademark of strong composition,with the poor,overcast conditons turned around to help and aid my images.

Red Kite

Red Kites

While photographing the Red Kites this ‘Leucistic’ Kite turned up.It has started to visit the feeding station more and more after being born in 2003 and until recently had’nt been seen for some time I was told by the owners of Gigrin.Leucistic means that the colouration is mainly pure white and not the usual red or black of the normal kites and not to be confused with an ‘Albino’ as these lack colouring and have pink eyes unlike the yellow/blue eyes of this beautiful Leucistic Kite.

White Kite

'Leucistic' Kite

I also tryed out a few ‘Arty’ shots using a slow shutter speed which results in capturing the sense of movement within an image,giving the photo great impact like the two I have included below with the first one capturing the Red kites trademark of ‘Diving’ for the food which is placed out for them by Chris.There is also a small in the frame image I have converted over to ‘Black+White’ which has brought out the cloud patterns on the day.They have done a wonderful job at Gigrin over the years and its well worth visiting.

Diving Red Kite

Red Kite

B+W Red Kite

During my stay in Wales we all covered a vast distance,traveling to different location,from the Osprey Project at Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve,three miles south of Machynlleth.We were able to see the Osprey on the CCTV screen but a little to far for photography.We headed for the coast,where I photographed the returning Waders,I managed to capture this Oystercatcher feeding away,turning over Shell’s and breaking open mussels.


Wales really has so much to offer in the way of different habitats,and various wildlife,from coastal to reedbed/marshland we covered it all,with the weather being very kind,the odd night frost thrown in just for good measure as I was camping.I had brought the essentials through;Tea Bags,Bacon,Fresh Bread and HP sauce all so important when you are camping as a warm drink and food are the best tonic,in my case a bacon sandwich.

The trip was great and thanks to Ken for inviting me,thanks also Brian,Tom,Phil,and on the last day before my drive back home to Staffordshire I had my best shots of the stunning Willow Warbler within this habitat of ReedBeds,with the sun behind me setting it was a real treat to end a great trip.

Reed Warbler


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Red Deer At Bradgate

Filed in Places Of Interest on Oct.20, 2009

Went to Bradgate Park today in Leicestershire to photograph Red Deer during their rut and I was amazed at how close you can get to these beautiful animals.

Red Deer


The park is owned by the National Trust, the habitat is mainly open grassland but there is rocky/rugged outcrops scattered across the park.There is a small stream to your right as you go through the gate and my tip is to follow this until you come to a stone bridge on your right, cross the bridge and this is the best place for ‘backlit’ shots of the deer in this field as the sun comes up in front of you.A 300mm lens and above  will be fine as they are quite approachable.

Red Deer





The deer rut takes place in October and in the early morning light it is often possible to backlight the stags roaring in the field I mentioned.You will need to arrive while it is still dark to get into position on time.The car park will be closed then but there is limited parking on the road,walk into the park and through the gates then follow the stream and good luck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Red Deer











Red Deer

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