Category: Wildlife Photography

The Barn Owl!.. 4 minutes of Delight!

The Barn Owl!.. 4 minutes of Delight!

As mentioned in my previous post (We found a Murmuration!) my Son and I had been looking for a local Barn Owl, after getting a fleeting glimpse when we were first told about it.

We knew where it was and could observe it hunting from a distance so as not to disturb it, but after a couple of nights we just hadn’t seen it again. Then on our 3 attempt, 1 week after the first glimpse I saw it in the distance starting its hunt.

It flew along the field towards me…

…keeping a lookout on the ground

Getting close and now out of the direct sunlight direction, it changed its direction slightly, just banking a little…

…but still coming closer.

It passed my position and headed towards the back of the field that I was standing next to. Now the lighting had changed, this field had no sunlight and a backdrop of a dark trees.

Then I must have missed it dropping to the ground, as my last few shots, (that I only noticed when I got home) showed the Owl carrying a Mouse.

The lighting conditions and camera settings for these photos were a bit of a nightmare, but considering I got caught off guard a week early and shot this, I am definitely happy with my results.

I had multiple issues to contend with; it was dusk and I was fast losing light, but then I was shooting in the Suns direction at one point, so had backlighting and flare, then no sunlight and dark background. Plus, a fast moving object, that you have to track in low light conditions, all while hand holding a big lens.

So I am very happy with the results as this was a first proper attempt!

So if this is something your interested in photographing, the first thing is to find and area where it looks like they would hunt and just sit, wait and watch. Also speak to any locals as they would know if one hunts there.

As for camera settings, I was using ISO 2500, F5.6, and this gave me a shutter speed between 1/800 and 1/200.

Oh, I almost forgot, you mustn’t, blink as from it appearing, to disappearing took just 4 short minutes!

We found a Murmuration!

We found a Murmuration!

My challenge to myself in February, was to get better photographs of Birds in flight. I have to say, that what I have taken since the beginning of the year has been some of my best bird photos ever. This is partially due to time, but also but techniques and understanding of my latest camera.

One of my side challenges was to try and capture a murmuration with my Son. He’s just getting into photography, using my old kit and has enjoyed the garden birds, but like me, wanted to see a murmuration.

We partially achieved are our goal, and while it wasn’t a massive murmuration and it disappeared behind the trees, we did see it and the build up to it.

There is a bit of a background story here though. We had been out many times looking for one and never found one. People kept telling us about them and saying, did you see it, but we were always looking somewhere else. One evening, while looking for it, we were told of a Barn Owl. So the next night went looking to that, after about an hour, I saw Starlings in the distance, about 500m away.

So we abandoned our Barn Owl search and ran. I could just see them above the tree tops.

On reaching the field, we were given an amazing low level display with birds, landing and taking up, swooping back down and repeat, all the time being nicely back lit.

The display was pretty impressive.

After more swooping, diving, and flying around the field

They headed to another field and took off to really start the murmuration just out of our view.

The next night we were back on the search for the Barn Owl, but we had to wait another 2 nights and several hours of waiting before we were rewarded.

Bird Photography Progression

Bird Photography Progression

So, with the 2021 UK lockdown into it’s second month I thought I’d post an update update on my progression of my bird photography.

To be honest, I’ve been putting off writing the post. What with home schooling and tutoring if I can, I’ve much preferred, when weather allowed to be outside testing my bird photography skills than trying to write about it. However, I thought I’d give a progression report.

I’ve, been constantly updating my bird table and added new feeders. I started with table as shown in my previous post, and I must say, I have been pleased with what I got…

…the birds liked my perches and it returned good results. I really like this Blue Tit photo.

However, I wanted more (doesn’t every photographer?). I changed some perches and I introduced an interesting stump, with has given me some great photos. Although the background isn’t amazing on them – I’m still working on that – but I noticed quite regularly the images didn’t seem as sharp as I’d like.

So I made a change. Despite using an image stabilising lens, I felt this was where I was losing the quality. I have a big heavy zoom lens and felt I was not steady enough and so I started using a monopod (I didn’t have room for a tripod in my make shift hide) and I immediately noticed an improvement. I also started upping the ISO (I hate doing that, but need to with moving objects). One issue though, is I’m fighting the weather, the dull conditions, which doesn’t help anything!

Since I’ve made those 2 changes, my results have really increased and improved.

My Son found for us (he’s been giving this a go to) a really interesting stump, which has added some great interest to the images.

I have been lucky enough to get most of our visiting birds land on it at some point.

Now, trying to do this in January, I’ve have spent a few days looking out the window at the rain. So, I finally to the plunge and braved some rain photography! I normally avoid it, but have now embraced it and have been very pleased with the results!

It’s funny, Starling are regarded as noisy and annoying birds, but I have loved photographing them in January and they have now given me inspiration for my February challenge to myself and that is to photograph birds in flight.

I’ve started at the beginning of February with the birds landing on the perches, but now I want more flight photos.

So that is my February challenge.

Watch my progress in my Garden Bird Gallery page, and I’ll write another blog on my progress soon.

Lockdown Bird Photography

Lockdown Bird Photography

When the first UK lockdown was announced in March 2020, one of the first things I did with my kids was to build a custom bird table using an old broken one I had.

I found some old branches and created a stand that the birds could land on as well as feed from. It also gave it a natural look for taking photos.

Nine months on, when our 3rd lockdown was announced, I decided to modify the table and add some more interesting perches to it, with the intension of photograph the birds on it.

I admit, it is not an amazing creation, but you only really use bits of it in the photos.

Taken on the same day as the above photo, I had a Nuthatch land on the left hand perch.

Over the days, many more birds have come to land on this and it has created some nice photos.

I’ve found the small birds to be the most tricky to photograph on it, but plenty of bigger ones and landed there too.

The starlings have actually liked the perch on the right, that sticks up. Initially I had this as a cut rose stem,

but have since changed it to more of a mossy gnarled stick.

After the seemingly success of this, I went in search of some more perches and items and found an old tree stump.

If you fill parts of this with seed, that is hidden from the cameras view, the birds will happily spend some time on it routing out all the hidden goodies.

Sometimes they’ll even pose for you.

I’ve managed to get a great selection of bird photos so far using this simple setup. One thing a would add though, is Ive bought some camo netting from which I’m managing to hid under to take the photos. This has definitely helped.

More photos are now in my Garden Birds gallery.

A Visit to Meeth

A Visit to Meeth

Once again, I seem to have been too busy to write blog posts.

I’ve been more busy with family-life than work, but I’ve still been doing lots of work too! From photographing Electric cars, to B&Bs, Lightroom Demos and Online Tutoring. Anyway, I managed to escape from kid sitting and work and get out for a little bit of time to get some wildlife photos.

So, I sent myself off to the local nature reserve.

Meeth is a disused quarry which has been turned into a nature reserve. It’s a bit of a walk to get to the lake and quite tricky to see the main lake as well, but along the path there is plenty to see.

I found this Gatekeeper feeding on a thistle.

I was heading to the bird hide at the end of the path, as you get good views of the dragonflies flying around.

Keeping a look around I found some lovely flowers near the ground, so I set-up to watch the flowers and a few minutes later my patience paid off.

On reaching the hide, I stayed to watch the dragonflies flying around and have a bit of lunch, then worked my way back to the car. Just a short visit.

Common Blue

Common Blue

I managed to get out with the camera yesterday and headed to farnham park in search of insects!

It great there this time of year, there are long grasses intermingled with buttercups and other wild flowers. The grasses are about half a metre high!

Trying to find butterflies is however a bit tricky, or should that be getting to and getting a good view is tricky! You see them flitting around near the ‘path’ areas through the grass then then fly deeper into the grasses with no way or getting to them.

Something kept telling me to head towards one of the ponds, so I listened to the ‘voice’ and was greeted with a Common Blue’ butterfly flitting around in the path grasses in front of me.

Trying then to get a view from far enough back without any grasses in the way was difficult. Each time I move the butterfly flew away, but staying still, each time it came back to within a few feet of before.

So this is what I ended up with. I would have liked to see a little bit more of the side and without the piece of grass, but considering this was on the ground not on the top of a piece of grass I guess it is ok.

Even more Success

Even more Success

Today some Starlings visited the bird table, the new food most be working!!

I got this great close up of one of the Starlings

Starlings may be regarded as nuisance birds, but their colouring is really quite amazing

Bird Photography Continues

Bird Photography Continues

After my first attempts at setting up a perch in the garden to photograph the birds, which got a good result, I had changed the perch to a more natural looking twig, it was a laurel twig before, but that’s where the success stopped. The birds didn’t seem to like it! Strange, as it was part of a tree branch!

Anyway, I persisted with the twig and today bought some more seed and some mealworms (expensive!). Within about 20 mins I had birds on the perch! I also put a ‘cage’ over the bird table to allow the small birds in, but keep the pigeons out!

I initially got sparrows, but then got a juvenile robin and suddenly the parent landed to feed it. It was a rushed shot, but actually managed to capture the moment!

So a couple a good photos today!

New Big Cat Images

New Big Cat Images

I have now started to upload some new Big Cats photos from the photographic day on bank holiday Monday at the Cat Survival Trust.

Here is a teaser


To see more and follow what new ones I might add, please view the Big Cat Gallery, oh, and they are all now retina quality images for the iPad.

I have also made a change that allows the image to be bigger if you have a large screen. That was one of the first changes I made of buying the large screen mac!

Bird on a Perch continued…

Bird on a Perch continued…

After my initially success on day 1 of setting up the perch, day 2 also was successful.

Since then though, I have changed the perch, to be more like a tree branch instead of the piece of laurel bush and my results have been a bit more hit and miss. I have managed to get a photo of a Robin but the composition wasn’t as good, so maybe now they are scared of it.

Anyway, I’m sticking with it as the perch looks good and hopefully soon get some good results.