One of the female Brown Bears and her cub amongst the cotton grass of the Taiga photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography Holiday

The Wild Brown Bears of Finland

In June I had the pleasure of co-leading the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography Holiday to Vartius.

Close to the Russian border lies an area of the Taiga forest as wild & untouched as it gets within Europe, & here roams one of the greatest predators in the world, the wild Brown Bear!

One of the big male Brown Bears approaches the lake photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayOn our first day, we arrived at the main camp location around mid-afternoon, the group settled into their rooms in a comfy wooden lodge & unpacked, preparing all their camera gear for the first night in the brown bear hides. When unpacked the group headed to the restaurant for dinner; dinner was served around 4 pm every afternoon before every hide session. The food was great, home cooked & tasty, & set us up nicely before heading off to the hides. One of the Finnish Brown Bears alongside one of the small lakes photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayWe left our lodge around 5 pm every evening, taking in the 30-minute walk to through the forest & swamps to get to our hides. The hides were some of the best photographic hides I have worked from, supplied with ground level shooting holes & beds – what is not to like? We split the group up into various hides from 1 man to 3 man hides around the area which offered various views of the forest from open cotton field meadows, pine forest lakes & deep woodland hides.

One of the female Brown Bears and her cub amongst the cotton grass of the Taiga photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayEveryone was in the hides from around 6 pm onwards through until 7 am the following morning.

One of the young brown bears checks out the area before approaching for food photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayThe trip was timed perfectly to get the advantage of 24 hours of sunlight during the midnight sun. That phenomenon, known as The Midnight Sun, is caused by the tilt of the Earth’s axis in relation to its orbit around the sun, as a result, at both North & South poles, the sun only sets & rises one day every year! In Finland, the summer months of June & July are the months where the Midnight Sun is at its peak. When nights are still relatively light as it is possible to photograph all night long. The biggest difference from shooting at night comes from the incredible change in the nature of the light. The sun takes on a reddish-yellow colour, almost like during sunrise or sunset & everything around you is bathed in an unimaginably warm, bright light pretty much a photographers dream!

One of the large Brown Bears of the Taiga photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayOur first night in the hides took its toll on the body clock but the thought of waiting to see one of the wild Brown Bears was more than enough excitement to keep you alert & awake. After a few hours of waiting, we got our first glimpse of a wolverine although some distance away on the other side of the lake it was amazing to see this elusive animal.

Hurtling past at speed, one of the wolverines that visited the hides in addition to the bears photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayThe wolverine are regular visitors to the hides located in the area photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayAn hour later our first bear appeared, emerging from the deep woodland to the right of our hide walking slowly & sniffing the air around him. It didn’t take long for him to come into the feed station that was around 15 metres from where we were.

One of the young Finnish Bears stood amongst the cotton grass photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayFor anyone who hasn’t experienced seeing a bear in the wild, it is almost a heart stopping moment. An absolutely amazing feeling that certainly gets the adrenaline going. The large male Bear stayed in & around the hide for a short time before making his way back to the safety of the forest.

One of the large male Brown Bears ambles through the long grass adjacent to one of the lakes photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayThe rest of the trip followed the same format, we arrived back to the lodge around 7:30 am had a great breakfast then got some sleep before we were up again for the next hide session.

One of the brown bears of the Taiga, sitting pretty amongst the cotton grass photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayThere were a few hides that overlooked another lake, however, this lake was quite narrow allowing for some great opportunities on the opposite side. As always it was just a waiting game for anything to show. It was not a disappointment though, as 3 Bears turned up that evening. One individual male & pair of both male & female. This allowed for some amazing close-up reflection images that would have been very difficult to get anywhere else!

One of the yound Finnish Brown Bears with his reflection in one of the lakes in the area photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayAdjacent to one of the lakes, a young Finnish Brown Bear and his relfection photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayThe best evening for me was on the second to last night where I was blessed with some truly stunning light. This allowed the photographers to get creative & come up with some unique & original shots. For me, the light of this night along with great bear activity made this one of the best sessions of the trip.

Illuminated in a fantastic golden light, one of the big male Brown Bears wanders through the cotton grass photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography Holiday Illuminated in a fantastic golden light, one of the big male Brown Bears wanders beside the lake photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography Holiday Illuminated in a fantastic golden light, one of the big male Brown Bears approaches one of the hides photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography HolidayAn amazing experience & one I am so privileged to have been a part of.

One of the young Finnish Bears approaches through the cotton grass photographed during the NaturesLens Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography Holiday

WOULD YOU LIKE TO CAPTURE IMAGES OF THE WILD BROWN BEARS OF FINLAND FOR YOURSELF?

For 2018, NaturesLens have already announced a return to photograph the Wild Brown Bears of Finland – the trip has been scheduled to start on June 24 & ending on July 2, 2018.

The Wild Brown Bears of Finland Photography Holiday costs £1099 each participant, this price excludes air travel to Kajaani itself – all ground transportation from Kajaani & back, food, accommodation & guidance/tuition is included.

To hold a place on the trip, we only require a 20% deposit from you, with the balance due 12 weeks prior to the trip taking place.

One of Calera's Bustards at sunrise image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

Dan reports in from our Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

This was my second year leading a group for NaturesLens on their Spanish Bird Photography Holiday that is focussed around the fantastic hides in Calera & once again they did not disappoint.

The stars of this area in Spain are the bustards & the black-winged kite but when Europe’s more common but still wonderful & colourful birds are also on your doorstep there’s really nothing not to like – add in some paella, sunshine & a few beers & I’m happy!

This year I had the chance to photograph a few species I missed last year. Starting with the charismatic little owl! I’ll share the others in my second blog but for now just look at those eyes…

A little owl poses in the Spanish olive grove image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday Read more

One of the pelicans stands in an icy Lake Kerkini image captured during the 2017 NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelican Photography Tour

Pui Hang’s review of the 2017 Dalmatian Pelican Photography Tour

Lake Kerkini in Northern Greece is situated in the northeast of the district of Serret just 40km from the town of Serres & 100km from Thessaloniki. The lake is one of the most important wetlands in Europe with about 300 bird species having been observed there. Among them, the Dalmatian Pelican, a prehistoric looking but utterly photogenic & charismatic bird.

Our 2017 Dalmatian Pelicans Photography Tours to photograph the Dalmatian Pelicans of Lake Kerkini marked our third year of visiting this beautiful lake & back in January, I had the pleasure of leading the first of our two trips out there with Sean Weekly, the newest member of our guiding team.

I have to admit to being more than a little excited about the trip. Kerkini was experiencing its coldest winter in over a decade with lots of snow & ice, something they had not seen in 15 years & snow was something that we have been hoping for since we started visiting the area.

As we approached our hotel, we could see that the lake was completely frozen over, which meant boat trips were not going to be possible unless there was a big thaw while we were out there.

A frozen Lake Kerkini barely a pelican in sight at our normal locations image captured during the 2017 NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelican Photography Tour

Read more

Double the Hide Sessions for Bear Photography

We have doubled the hide sessions for the Slovenian Bear Photography Holiday that is to be held during September 2017 – this means instead of 4 sessions, there are now 8 – 4 of the mornings now have a session of bear photography included as well.

One Of The Adult European Brown Bears Poses On Rocks - Photographed On The Natureslens Slovenian Bear Photography Holiday

Our revised itinerary now looks like the following:

02/09/2017 Travel to Slovenia Overnight near Ljubljana
03/09/2017 Travel to Markovec Afternoon Bear Photography
04/09/2017 Morning Bear Photography Afternoon Bear Photography
05/09/2017 Morning Bear Photography Afternoon Bear Photography
06/09/2017 Morning Bear Photography Afternoon Bear Photography
07/09/2017 Morning Bear Photography Travel to Ljubljana

If you would like to join our Slovenian Bear Photography Holiday on the dates of September 2 – September 7 2017 – now with 8 bear photography sessions instead of 4 & at the promotional price of £1099 for the four places on this departure – the details are available here & the booking form is at the base of the page.

The trip will be led by Kevin Morgans, one of the NaturesLens photography leaders, you will spend mornings, afternoons & evenings photographing the Slovenian Bears from within comfortable hides deep within the forest.

Witness this beautiful solitary animal as it roams the fir & beech woodlands, tracking prey across the land that the Slovenian Bear has called home for centuries.

One of the juvenile lion cubs looking thoughtful an Image captured during the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

India’s Big Cats – the Asiatic Lions of Gir

Julianne joined us for the second week of our Indian photography tour to photograph the Asiatic Lions of Gir. She was looking to hone her composition skills & hopefully capture some stunning images of the majestic residents of the Gir forest, the Asiatic Lion.

Whilst her first day drew a blank for lion sightings, Julianne was lucky enough to spend time with a mother jackal & her adorable young pup.

A Jackal mother & one of her cubs photographed during the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

In fact, Julianne proved to be extremely lucky on her first day when during the afternoon game drive, whilst trying to get a good angle on a buzzard in a tree, she encountered a leopard lounging in the bushes. In her own words “I have been trying to get great leopard photos for a decade & this is THE best encounter!”

One of Gir's Leopards sat in the foliage capture whilst on the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

Read more

Sitting contentedly, one of the Dalmatian Pelicans of Lake Kerkini photographed on the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans Photography Holiday

The last of the Dalmatian Pelican images from Sean

In January I had the pleasure of co-guiding one of the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece Photography Holidays, along with Pui Hang. We took a group out to Greece to capture images of an oft-overlooked bird, the Dalmatian Pelican. This is the third and final part of a series of three blog posts covering the trip. All the Dalmatian Pelican images shown here were taken on this spectacular trip. If you missed the first part, then you can read it here or the second part here.

A Dalmatian Pelican lands on Lake Kerkini photographed on the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans Photography Holiday

We had hoped that the lake would thaw sufficiently for a boat trip on our last day. The sun was melting the ice and snow by day but by night the temperatures dropped, freezing the lake again. Ironically, the second group led by Dan were hoping that the lake remained frozen so that they could also have a chance at getting some unique shots too.

Read more

Bandhavgarh is home to a large amount of wildlife here is a baby Langur Monkey cradled in it's mothers arms image captured during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of India Photography Holiday

Peter’s review of our Bengal Tigers of India Tour

In the beginning of May 2017, it was time for us to make our second attempt to capture images of the impressive Bengal Tigers of India, when I write second attempt it’s because Linda – my wife – & I, had previously been to Bardia National Park in Nepal for the very same reason,  but, because the tigers in Nepal are much wilder, it was difficult to get as close to them as we would like.

So, on this occasion, we joined NaturesLens on a trip to Bandhavgarh National Park in India. Bandhavgarh is one of the best tiger reserves in the world, with the highest population of Bengal Tigers, so the odds seemed good & the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of India Photography Holiday looked to tick all the boxes of what we hoped to achieve.

We met with Pui Hang & David of NaturesLens in New Delhi airport, also with them were Jayne & Simon, two guests from the UK, meaning that we had a nice little group of 6 persons in total.

The flight from New Delhi to Jabalpur is a relative short flight in a small plane. Getting the gear to fit in the overhead luggage compartment could have been a problem, but it turned out to be no problem at all, even David managed to persuade the cabin crew with a rather loud “IT WILL FIT” that his bag would fit, & it did!

After the flight & a drive, we arrived to Tala & our wonderful accommodation, which would be our base for the next 7 days. & a very nice base it was, large rooms, nice bathrooms, &, of course, a pool to cool off in.

The stunning accommodation that is used whilst staying in Bandhavgarh during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of India Photography Holiday

The lodge which stay at during the the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of India Photography Holiday is luxurious and has a large pool during

Read more