As we moved into the second half of our Pelicans of Greece Photography Holiday the lake had really started to thaw with larger areas opening up. With an increasing area to fish in the birds started to move around, the sheer number of cormorant fishing in the open areas was astonishing & another reflection on how productive the lake is. Here rafts of them can be seen snorkelling whilst pelicans wait on the peripheries hoping to steal their catch. I shot this with a slower shutter & again high key to try & replicate the effects of a painting.
Last month saw me heading off to the mountains of the Sierra Morena in Spain leading the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday.
I knew from the itinerary that had been planned that it was going to be an amazing week of photography with some great sightings & photo opportunities. After a very early flight, the group & I arrived in Spain meeting up with the local guides. After a couple of hours on the road we arrived in the local town of Adamuz, which would be our base & home for the duration of the trip. The town is situated in beautiful natural surroundings & is a very picturesque location. Due to the time we arrived, we decided we were going to explore a few wildlife locations that we would be working on over the coming days. It was a great afternoon exploring our surroundings & getting some ideas for the images to come.
The next day we split into two groups to keep noise etc to a minimum whilst working from the hides. A couple of us spent the day in the Golden Eagle hide.
My first visit to India was in April 2016, also with NaturesLens, & I absolutely fell in love with the place, we had some awesome tiger sightings in Tadoba, but let’s just say I came away with some ‘unfinished business’ so it didn’t take much persuading to book myself onto the Indian Wildlife Photography Holidays that NaturesLens had arranged for May 2017.
In the weeks prior to our trip there had been many posts on social media showing some amazing tiger sightings so the anticipation grew, & Bandhavgarh didn’t disappoint. It has to be said, however, that nothing is guaranteed – we heard of a few people who had seen very little but NaturesLens put everything in place to give their clients the absolute best opportunity, securing top class drivers & guides, who, over our time in Bandhavgarh, became part of our ‘Team Tiger’ group.
When I refer to ‘sightings’ I really mean ‘photographic opportunities’ not a shadow in the bush which is hardly distinguishable or a bum shot! When I say ‘photographic opportunity’, I mean time to capture an image of quality that meets my own personal standards & that I would be happy for others to see. In total, over the week the group encountered 17 different tigers, some shared moments with numerous other folk & some very special exclusive moments with no one else around other than one Gypsy vehicle – just you & the tiger – those really are moments to treasure.
This image is very much one shared with practically everyone else on safari. For several days Kankatti & her cubs visited the waterhole at pretty much the same time each day so naturally, everybody gathered to witness this special event. We sat & we waited for over an hour in the blazing heat – about 45˚ – & then suddenly the sound of camera shutters. I couldn’t see anything to start with thanks to a beautiful growth of bamboo but then the family appeared, walking around the waterhole & bathing in just the perfect spot.
What an absolute treat! Read more
I’ve just returned from spending two weeks, in good company of some great NaturesLens clients, where we were on a trip to attempt photograph the fantastic Japanese Winter Wildlife, including the Blakiston’s fish owl, the red crowned crane, the adorable snow monkeys in their spa & in the snow, the fantastic Steller’s Sea Eagle, & their close relations the White-Tailed Sea Eagle, dreamy Whooper Swans & more in the wintery landscapes of Japan.
This year, for potentially the last time, we started our Japanese Winter Wildlife trip with the snow monkeys; for next year, we will be starting on Hokkaido & finishing with the snow monkeys, this is mainly so that we can get into a truly wonderful hotel, that no-one should miss out upon. This year, as every year, the snow monkeys did not disappoint, all our clients captured some fantastic images of these primates in their hot spa & in the surrounding snow-clad valley.
The first photographic target species on Hokkaido are always the red-crowned cranes, every year, we try for sunset, sunrise & daytime images of these graceful birds – this year, we only had a decent sunset on the first day of two in the area, but the cranes obliged & flew over the tree-line & in-front of the setting sun.
Moving on from the cranes, we spent several days photographing the beautiful whooper swans on their caldera lake, these are a subject people always fall in love with. Our hotel for the swans was one that boasts wildlife literally outside the windows, & we had a Blakiston’s fish owl & fox come up from the river. The next morning, sable & Hokkaido squirrel were spotted, along with another fox.
After a couple of days in the area, we moved on, northwards, three days of bitter cold, early morning starts & a plethora of eagle action was promised, & delivered upon. Each of the days was very different in conditions, with pack ice forcing us back into the harbour on the second day. Each day, the eagles kept us entertained & the memory cards just kept being filled with superb images of the birds diving, posing, performing flypasts & more.
A quick sojourn down the peninsulas on our way towards the south of Hokkaido, saw us photographing fox & deer in large quantities, & heading to a large frozen lake to photograph the morning squabble for fish amongst Black-eared Kites, White-tailed Sea Eagles & Steller’s Sea Eagles. This location produces some of the cleanest background images of the eagles that I believe are achievable, the action is frantic, like a kite-feeding station, the interactions often harsh, but the photographic opportunities are plentiful.
February 2018 is yet another return visit to Japan to photograph the various species on offer, including the blakiston’s fish owl, red crowned crane, snow monkey, stellers sea eagle, ural owl, white tailed sea eagle, whooper swan & more; so if you fancy photographing the wonderful winter wildlife & the amazing bleak landscapes, whilst absorbing the culture & everything else Japan in Winter has to offer, then join me for this spectacular Winter Wildlife experience, all the details of the Japanese Winter Wildlife photography holiday may be viewed here.
As mentioned previously, there are a number of blog posts coming showing the bird life of Florida from the trip in early 2016, & this is the 2nd of several posts in which I will publish images of some of the wildlife that I was lucky enough to photograph during the week-long trip to photograph ospreys in Florida.
PS my favourite image from this set, is right at the bottom, I was saving, what I thought was the best until last!
A female osprey perched on the edge of her nest waiting for the return of her mate
One of the female ospreys patiently awaits the return of her mate &, hopefully, freshly caught food for their young
One of the male ospreys, having successfully fished, removes the head of the fish, prior to returning to the nest
One of the Ospreys, gently lit in the beautiful light that we experienced virtually every morning, looks backwards, back towards Blue Cypress Lake itself
A female osprey sitting on her nest, later in the week, we saw her newly hatched young peeking above the edge of the nest
One of Blue Cypress Lake’s ospreys perched on the ramshackle collection of twigs, branches and lichen that make up the nest
An osprey returns to the nest following an expedition out to the lake
A Floridian osprey about to land on it’s nest with the remains of a fish caught from Blue Cypress Lake
Heading out before dawn each day, ensured that we experienced beautiful sunrises as the sun rose opposite all the cypress trees that grow into & from the lake
As the sun rose, the ospreys came to life and began to leave the nests, as long as we had made it to position correctly, silhouette shots were there for the taking
An osprey rides the warming thermals above Blue Cypress Lake
An osprey patiently watches the fish in the shallows of Blue Cypress Lake below
JOIN NATURESLENS ON THE OSPREY PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY FOR YOURSELF
We have an opportunity in 2019 for you to undertake osprey photography for yourself, the photography holiday costs £3749 exc travel to Florida itself – all transportation within Florida, accommodation & guidance/tuition from myself is included, the date for the Ospreys of Blue Cypress Lake is April 13 – 21, 2018.
To hold a place on the trip, we only require an £800 deposit from you, with the balance due 12 weeks prior to the trip taking place.
An osprey prepares for flight – opportunities for images like this present themselves many times during each session on the lake, the density of ospreys means all types of behaviour are easily photographed
I’m always filled with anticipation heading over to Skomer Island; the gannets, puffins & other auks flying around the boat as well as the sea rolling. In addition to that, on this occasion, we had very limited visibility into the sea mist creating a great atmosphere.
A variety of weather is something I quite like with photography but I’ll always keep my fingers crossed for at least one afternoon of killer golden light!
Alas, it was foggy for the first two days. However with these conditions we were able to experiment with high key simple portraits on a white background. The resulting photos looked as though we’d trained the puffins to pose in a studio environment.
The flat light allowed us to shoot all day & because of the time of year quite a few pufflings were exploring the area around their nesting burrows – a lovely sight. Here’s one just peaking out;
The benefit of murky weather becomes apparent when waiting for the Manx Shearwaters – they come in earlier when compared to nights with a clear sky meaning a little longer in bed for us! I don’t think I’ll ever tire of wandering out across the island at night with the sound of just a small proportion of the 300,000 pairs that nest on the island curling around above our heads.
On our third & final day the island was blessed with lovely weather, it was 30 degrees & positively tropical. That day we enjoyed the nice weather waiting & hoping for it to continue into the afternoon & evening; & it did.
We had a wonderful sunset at the Wick with puffin numbers increasing as the light got better & better, everyone took a completely different set of photos when compared to the higher key images captured with the flat light.
Myself & one guest, John, stayed at the Wick well after dark to take some photos in the blue light & into the night. Having not done this before I found it great fun seeing the puffins’ activity at night.
They continued to renovate their burrows, squabble & make their strange noises but the place felt a lot more serene!
All in all, it was simply another great trip to Skomer Island.
JOIN US TO PHOTOGRAPH THE ATLANTIC PUFFINS OF SKOMER ISLAND FOR YOURSELF
Skomer Island is one of the most important locations for the colonies of Atlantic Puffins in Europe & it is easy to see why. For photographers keen to add puffin images captured in different conditions & lighting to their wildlife portfolio, a three night stay on the island provides an abundance of opportunities. Our focus during the NaturesLens photography holidays are the comical puffins, which can be seen on Skomer in abundant quantities from mid-May through to July.
Fair Isle, measuring at just 3km wide & barely 5km long is Britain’s most remote inhabited island. It can be found marooned in the North Sea between Shetland & Orkney. Due to its location it is not the easiest place to get to. But once you set foot on the island, it truly is a puffin paradise & with almost 24 hours of daylight during June it is a photographers dream. The puffin population on Fair Isle may not be the biggest in the UK, but it is difficult to argue that it isn’t the most beautiful. Read on for my thoughts on the Puffins of Fair Isle & why Shetland, & in particular, Fair Isle, is one of the best locations to capture images of the comical clowns of the sea.