Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A Bit of Reminiscing

IMG_0015It’s been the longest period of time since taking up photography again, that I haven’t managed to get out.  It’s been the coldest April in over twenty years and the wettest in over ten!  Of course, the unpredictable and inconsistency of the forecasts doesn’t help and it’s very much ‘pot luck’ when I do go out as you can’t rely on what the forecast might say.

Just to remind myself that I used to go out and take pictures and enjoy the odd day of fine weather, I looked through some of my old images, and to keep my blog ticking over, picked out some of my favourites either because they had a story behind them or simply because I thought I managed to get them visually correct.  They also happen to be of some of my favourite subjects – Foxes, Red Squirrels, Puffins, Roe Deer and Kingfishers.

Puffins – Farne Islands

My first visit to the Farne Islands since I was a kid, was an amazing experience and a great photo opportunity for anyone with a camera.  Thousands of sea birds in all directions and all around you, next to you and flying overhead, you can’t help but not take a good photograph!  I picked just the right time of year as the Puffins were hurling in from all angles with their catch to feed their chicks but had to get through the awaiting gulls trying to rob them of their sand eels for a free meal.  I will definitely be going again this year – hopefully the sun will be shining this time as without it, it made for dull, flat images and grey backgrounds.



This has to be my most favourite animal to both photograph and watch, but for years barely got a glimpse of one. Since Fox hunting was banned and my general knowledge of them improved I’ve seen them on regular occasions though not to the extent where I can go onto location and plan to photography them with some certainty of success such I can with Roe Deer.  The picture below is one of my favourites as it shows it in perfect condition and it was in perfect conditions for taking the photograph – bright sunny weather that helped show the reddish brown coat against the green grass and enabled me to stop my lens down to get a greater depth of field so keeping the Fox in focus from head to tail.  There is also the direct eye contact.

I think I could spend all my time just taking photographs of these entertaining animals.  I would love to be as good as someone like  Walter Barthélemi who’s images, especially of Fox cubs, are fantastic.



Probably not everybody's idea of an interesting subject, but last year when I spent some time watching them at their warrens. I found them very photogenic especially the the younger ones who were less cautious and playful so easier to take photographs of.  Unfortunately, this year they haven’t been so numerous and the warren that I used to visit last year is completely abandoned as were the surrounding ones, so it’s unlikely I will have much success this year. 

This picture was one of many I took last year but particularly liked it because it was different, stretching up to feed on the leaves.  It was also an example of the patience needed in wildlife photography, as I had to wait up to an hour before they would come out of their holes and except my presence.


Red Squirrels

There’s something about the Red Squirrel that makes you can’t help but like them.  They seem to have a character that the Greys don’t.  Disturb them, and, unlike the Grey that will just disappear, they will stop to scold you first.  When this picture was taken, I was watching Red Squirrels from a distance, when out of nowhere I heard the typical scolding noise from just above my head – looked up to see this one peering down at me from only a few metres away!  In the last year, there has been an increase in sightings of them as they are fighting to cling onto this area due to the spread of the Grey Squirrels. It seems inevitable that they will disappear from most of the UK, so in the meantime I will make the most of any encounter I get.

Red Squirrel


Not so much taking pictures of Sparrowhawks, as I’ve had little opportunity, nor is this photography particularly any good, but it’s about being in the right place at the right time and simply being lucky.  It was one of those close encounters with nature that may come up once every few years.  In this case I nearly trod on this elusive bird of prey, as I walked through the woods.  It was tenaciously hanging onto a pidgin it had just caught and my presence wasn’t going to scare it off.  I backed off and watched if from a distance as it finally ignored me and tucked into its meal.



Definitely a photogenic and colourful bird though not the easiest to get an image of. The only thing missing from this image is a fish in its beak.  I deliberately kept it off centre to follow the ‘rule of thirds’ and the reeds in the background and sunshine bring out the colour.  It was on the branch for about 5 seconds and was gone, after waiting hours to see it.  It was worth the wait.


Roe Deer

For years I never saw one of these, although the most common deer in the UK, they are also very shy, feeding during the night and holding up during the day in cover.  It was a good example of learning about an animal and field craft that meant that I would regularly start seeing this deer.  It’s probably the animal I’ve photographed most in the last three years, often being able to photography them with just a 300mm lens.  If surprised they will bolt, but almost certainly stop and look back.  If they are not sure they see you, they will stop and stare at you in which case, it’s a matter of who will flinch first.

This image is an example of how simply just sitting down quietly, with your back against a tree to hide your silhouette and down wind, they will often come to you.  This one I saw, with another, walk straight towards me, getting closer and closer until it eventually saw me and even then wasn’t too sure about me.  It was my camera shutter noise that made it move away.  This image caught it just as it saw me.

Roe Deer

Grey Squirrel

More plentiful than Reds and not half as idyllic.  I like this image for its sparseness.  It was digging around in the snow, presumably for a previously buried cache of food and was poking halfway up out of the snow.  I took a dozen variations of this, but this one seemed the best.  The exposure was tricky due to all of the white.

Grey Squirrel in the snow

Short Eared Owls

My final image isn’t particularly very good, but it is of a bird that is just so entertaining to watch.  It’s only just in the last year that I’ve really seen them, presumably due to a good year for voles.  It has an amazing facial look, with those intense eyes and it’s great just watching them hunt.  Unfortunately, it’s always been poor light and from a distance which is why I’ve had little success so far.

Short Eared Owl

Hopefully this bit of reminiscing has been a bit therapeutic and helps keeps me going until I can finally get out, although again, this weekend isn’t looking too promising weather wise.