Tag Archives: winter

Omar’s Images of the Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece

Three Dalmatian Pelicans photographed at water level on Lake Kerkini - an image captured during a NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece Photography Holiday

Omar & his friend came all the way from Kuwait to join our Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece photography holiday. Our trips this year attracted many international clients from USA & Kuwait to Denmark, Belgium & Germany.

A close up headshot of a Dalmatian Pelican an image captured during a Natureslens Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece Photography Holiday
I have to admit to being blown away when I opened Omar’s email & saw his images. Some of them are absolutely sensational.
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Jessica’s Images of the Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece

A pair of Dalmatian Pelicans with their beaks just touching the water an image captured during a Natureslens Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece Photography Holiday

Jessica was a guest on one of the Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece Photography Workshops that we conducted in January 2018. Having run this tour for the past four years, the itinerary is now, in our opinion, the perfect experience. But it’s not what we think that matters, the view of our guests matters more.

Jessica said, “I had the pleasure to go to Greece in January 2018 to photograph the Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece & I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Not only were there plenty of opportunities to capture images of these big & charismatic birds in various conditions, but we also had a lot of fun with the group. Our guide Sean was always attentive & ready to answer our questions & give photography advice. The accommodation was ideal & the trip very well organised. Being able to photograph the pelicans very early in the morning & late in the afternoon added a special touch to the photos. I would certainly recommend going on this photography trip in Greece.”
A close up of a dalmatian pelican red pouch an image captured during a Natureslens Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece Photography Holiday Continue reading

Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography for only £4999

One of the juvenile snow monkeys of the Jigokudani Valley photographed on the NaturesLens Japan in Winter Photography Holiday

We have an offer that might entice you to join our Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday in February 2019; this is early-bird pricing for a single-occupancy room … you can book a place for £4999 each instead of £5249! We’ve managed to lower the pricing due to speaking with hotels & renegotiating our rates for rooms – & we’re passing those savings on to our clients.

You can join us & spend time with the gorgeous snow monkeys as shown in this post, also several days with the red-crowned cranes & the whooper swans, & four days focussed on stellers sea eagles & white-tailed sea eagles on our six boat trips & also at a couple of other locations.

A young snow monkey of the Jigokudani Valley photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

You can book now & hold your place with 20% deposit only! That is £1000 now, with the balance due in November 2018.

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Winter Wildlife of Japan – the Guide’s perspective

Perched on one of the pack ice icebergs, one of the Steller's Sea Eagles photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

I was excited when I was asked to co-guide the NaturesLens Winter Wildlife of Japan photography holiday. Japan is a country I’ve often thought of visiting, intrigued by the culture &, of course, the wildlife. How big a culture shock would it be? The holiday is primarily based on the Northern-most island, Hokkaido, which is very rural & nothing like the famous image of Japan as a land of teeming masses & neon signs.

There are gently rolling hills, extensive flatlands, & mountains, all snow-covered in February. The people are incredibly friendly & the accommodation clean & welcoming. Of course, there are cultural differences. You need to be a bit adventurous with the food; full of taste & always immaculately presented. A science degree & operator’s manual is required to ‘fully appreciate’ the WC! Not to forget the onsen – hot bath – one of life’s sublime pleasures after a day out in the cold.

One of Hokkaido's red crowned cranes flies overhead photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

The first port of call for two nights was the Tsurui area, with the focus on the Red-Crowned Cranes. An early start was needed to bag a good place on the Otowa Bridge to glimpse the birds at roost in the river & flying off for the day searching for food in the surrounding fields.

The famous red crowned cranes roost photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

The local farmers see the cranes as a considerable asset & manage their land to ensure the cranes’ survival.

A pair of red crowned cranes performing their courtship dance photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Close up detail of one of the red crowned cranes of Hokkaido photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

After a late & hearty breakfast, we visited the Ito Tancho Crane Sanctuary where there were hundreds of the birds. We were able to capture them close up & displaying typical societal behaviour, including the ‘dancing’, an attempt to establish status in the crowd. Moving on from Tsurui, we paid a passing visit to the Akan International Crane Centre, which presented further opportunities to capture the cranes in a different environment, & to visit the interpretative centre.

A short drive further brought us to our next stop & another cultural assault on the senses. What an excellent hotel; the rooms are a cross between Western & Japanese traditional style, with all mod-cons but the beds lower to the ground. The food was a masterful display of Japanese catering at its best. The hotel lobby has fire pits for warmth & a full height/width window looking out on the adjacent river valley where wildlife abounds. A Blakiston’s Fish Owl visits each evening & other wildlife observed included fox, stoat, Eurasian Jay, Eurasian Nuthatch, Eurasian Blackcap, & Brown-eared Bulbul, all in about half an hour. Our photographic destination was Lake Kussharo to seek out the Whooper Swans.  They proved a little elusive but we did successfully track them down. We also paid a visit to the scenic Lake Mashu, a caldera lake high in the mountains.

Hokkado's whooper swans of Lake Kussharo, a caldera lake in a snowy landscape photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

Moving on, we headed for Rausu on the Northwest peninsular of Hokkaido, for what, for many, was the avian highlight of the trip. The sea eagles, both Stellers & White-Tailed.

Stretching for the pick up, one of the Steller's Sea Eagles over the waters of the Sea of Okhotsk photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

Our base was another Daiichi with a pleasing choice of indoor & outdoor onsen.

Silhouetted at sunrise, one of the Steller's Sea Eagles grabs a fish from the ciy waters of the Sea of Okhotsk photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

Early starts were again the order of the day to meet up with our wildlife cruise boat. This was preceded by a rapid trip to the convenience store for breakfast essentials, including (you’d better believe it) cans of hot coffee. Weird but very welcome, given the temperature of -11°C with a windchill down to -23°C! The boat, though, has a warm cabin to retreat to for respite.

Wings out stretched, one of the Steller's Sea Eagles soars over the icy waters of the Sea of Okhotsk photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

For the next three days, we were out in local waters for about 5 hours each morning. We were treated to fishing displays by the Steller’s Sea Eagle & White-tailed Sea Eagle at sea, at sunrise, on pancake ice in the harbour, & on drift ice further out to sea. The birds were so close to the boat that a medium length lens was sufficient. The portrait image of the Steller on the sea ice is uncropped!

Making off with a fish, one of the Steller's Sea Eagles flies above the pack ice of the Sea of Okhotsk photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday One of the Steller's Sea Eagles stood on the pack ice of the Sea of Okhotsk photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday One of the White tailed Sea Eagles grabs a fish from the icy waters of the Sea of Okhotsk photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Perched on one of the pack ice icebergs, one of the Steller's Sea Eagles photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

An unexpected bonus was a small pod of orca transiting south in search of food. The boat crew go to great lengths to get their passengers close to the action.

An orca swimming off the coast of Rausu in the Sea of Okhotsk photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

Heading a little further south, we took in an area on the south-east of the island for a day to catch both types of eagle & Black-eared Kites as they scrabbled for the daily feed of frozen fish. The eagles command the frozen surface & jealously guard the fish. However, the kites are good scavengers & successfully get their share. The eagles stomp around the ice looking for food, providing an opportunity for unusual images. We also got lucky with visits from 4 foxes.

One of the Steller's Sea Eagles creeps in a comedic fashion over the surface of a frozen lake photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography HolidayA black eared kite soars above the eagle feeding site photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Having stolen some of the eagle's fish, one of Hokkaido's red foxes beats a hasty retreat photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

Leaving Hokkaido, we flew to Tokyo for a night before the drive north-west to the Nagano area to photograph the Snow Monkeys at Yudanaka. The hotel is right at the start of the trail up to the monkeys, & is traditional. This meant tatami mats on the room floor & sleeping on a futon – an unusual concept, but I slept well. The host was attentive & provided still more sumptuous food at each meal. Visiting the monkeys in their thermal spa involves a half hour walk uphill. Not steep but ice spikes needed to maintain a sound footing,

Resting in a pool surrounded by snow, one of Japan's famous snow monkeys bathes in the thermal waters photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Searching for food in the snow, one of Japan's famous snow monkeys photographed during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

It’s possible to get very close to the monkeys, correctly known as the Japanese Macaque. But like many primates, they will take any opportunity to explore bags, especially if they can sense food! Portraits are the order of the day, with other opportunities to capture family behaviour & experiment with high key imagery.

That was it. Almost two weeks of excellent wildlife images, a new culture, excellent food & good company.

Did I enjoy it? Well, let’s say that I am really looking forward to going back in 2019.

Why not join us & experience for yourself the beauty of Japan’s culture & wildlife?

Photograph the Winter Wildlife of Japan for yourself

To photograph the charismatic winter wildlife of Japan for yourself, join David Miles & Ian Roberts, members of the NaturesLens guiding team, in Japan during February 2019 for a trip lasting 13 nights; this photography holiday will offer you the opportunity to capture images of the red-crowned crane, snow monkey, steller’s sea eagle, white tailed sea eagle, whooper swan, plus more; the NaturesLens Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday is offered on a half board, non-shared room basis, & costs typically £5249 per participant, but there are several early-bird places available priced at £4999.

All the details of the  Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday are available on the dedicated event page.

Part 2 of Peter’s graphical review of our Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

A White Tailed Sea Eagle flies over the frozen seas outside Rausu this image was captured on the Island of Hokkaido during the NaturesLens Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

Peter sent us so many fabulous images from the boat trips taken during our Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday that we had to dedicate an entire blog post to them.

A Steller's Sea Eagle flies away having successfully grabbed a fish from the Rausu seas - this image was captured on the Island of Hokkaido during the NaturesLens Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Continue reading

An’s graphical review of our Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

An exceptionally beautiful Stellers sea eagle poses on a outcrop of frozen pack ice located on the coast of Rausu captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

An & her husband Peter joined us on our Winter Wildlife of Japan photography holiday last year. Below are some of the images that she kindly sent to us to share…

One of the reasons for visiting Hokkaido is to witness the dance of the Red-Crowned Cranes. An was lucky enough to be able to isolate this pair of cranes as they performed their ritual dance. I love this image as it reminds me of a couple of prima ballerinas.

A pair of beautiful red crowned cranes performing their dance in the snow captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Continue reading

Bookings open for Dalmatian Pelican Photography in 2019

Our trio of Dalmatian Pelican photography trips this year have been a massive success – the third group are out in Greece right now – some of the images that have been posted have been nothing short of staggering, summing up the beauty of the birds.

An image captured by Sean Weekly during the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelican Photography Holidays

There will be blog posts from some of the guests forthcoming – & of course; Sean will be writing up his experience & posting images on the NaturesLens blog. The picture above & the one below are from Sean, who has created something moody & brooding.

An image captured during the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelican Photography Holidays by Sean Weekly

If you would like to take the opportunity to join Sean in Greece to photograph these charismatic birds for yourself, you’d better be quick – the first set of dates for 2019 is already fully reserved, so we have opened up the second set of dates – you can view the details & make a booking enquiry here.

The NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans of Kerkini Photography Holiday is offered on a full board, non-shared room basis, & costs £1099 per participant.

To close – here are a pair of images from Annette, who was part of the first group that joined Sean on the lake for several days of Dalmatian Pelican Photography.

An image captured by Annette during the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelican Photography Holidays

An image captured during the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelican Photography Holidays by Annette

Some time spent with the Wildcats, Eagles & Lynx of Spain

The young female Iberian lynx image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday

During December 2017, I was lucky enough to spend some time with the Wildcats, Eagles & Lynx of Spain; this was preparation for a trip that we were researching to add to our portfolio.  Once again, I visited Spain in the hope of capturing some images of the elusive Iberian lynx. This wasn’t the first time that we have attempted to launch a photography trip focussed on these subjects. My initial attempt was back in January 2016, but unfortunately, it was unsuccessful for a variety of reasons, not least the lack of sightings.

I arrived in Sierra Morena hoping to be lucky as the reports I had been receiving was that lynx had been spotted in the areas on a regular basis. I arrived too late to go into the lynx hide so spent the afternoon chatting with my host about the species I hoped to photograph to see if we could turn this into a potential photography tour for the guests of NaturesLens – over the next few hours, the plan for the Wildcats, Eagles & Lynx of Spain was formed.

Our host has been working on his lynx project for some years & the area is now home to a more Iberian lynx than Doñana National Park with excellent, regular sightings.

The following morning, I rose early to visit the Imperial Spanish Eagle hide. As soon as the sun rose, to my surprise, a Golden Eagle appeared on the large rock to my right. I watched this magnificent raptor feed for a short while, to allow it to settle before I started taking images.

Perched on a rock, a Golden Eagle lit by the dawn light image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday Continue reading