Hi everybody. I have now decided to integrate my blogger account with my new website.
Please click the link below to visit the new site.


Sunday, 12 December 2010

Little Owl again.............

I made it out last Monday for a days shooting with my friend Bob, on what was a very cold, frosty and misty day.

It was a real shame that the light didn't approve during the day because the frosty settings would have made for some super images.
We spent some time at Lee Valley in the hope of seeing Bittern on the ice, but they didn't show up, so we moved on to the Lee Valley Nature Photographers hides and set up for some staged shots with the resident Jays, Great and Blue Tits and the ever present (and very territorial !) Robins !
I'll post some shots from there once I've gone through my cards.

On the way back, we came across a Little Owl who was sitting near the road - looking rather cold, but quite happy to pose for us.

As I said above - just wish the light had been better........

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Cold Snap

At this moment large areas of the UK have faced extremely cold weather, snow, freezing fog and all of the problems that this brings to our infrastructure.

Our wildlife on the otherhand, just gets on with it, and on my walks with my dogs, it never ceases to amaze me how hardy these creatures are.

Today I took a walk with my friend Calum over to the Chase, near to my house.

There was still a few inches of snow, but that was thawing fast so the ground was pretty boggy under foot.

We saw a lot of species including Sparrow hawk, Green Woodpeckers, Teal, Tufted Duck, Woodcock, Tufted Duck and the more common Swans, Moorhen, Coots etc.,.

Two species I was looking for specifically were Fieldfare and Redwing. We have a bumper berry crop this year, and so these birds have moved into the area and are making the most of natures larder.

They are very scittish however and tend to stay low in the bushes, so cluttered views are all that are possible at the moment.

Earlier this year in the February cold snap, the berries had been depleted and the Redwing were eating the berries thatweare in more photogenic places - this was one image from then and will have to do for now.......

Sunday, 21 November 2010

New site

I've been very lucky indeed today.

A friend showed me round 'his' site, which basically consists of uninterrupted access to a farm, it's buildings and the surrounding land.

Bob - you are one lucky bloke !

There are so many opportunities at the site for mini projects, I hope I will be able to join Bob throughout the coming months to see what we can plan and execute.

First up today was this super Little Owl - a bird, that until this year, had eluded me.

I'm very much looking forward to working on this new site and I'll be reporting regulary on my progress.

As for other things that I'll be doing - well, I'm off to Norfolk for the day tomorrow for seals.

Watch this space for a report on that trip.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Badger update

So, what's been going on with the badgers recently ?

Answer - not a lot I'm afraid.

I spent a few hours at the site with my good friend Calum last night. It sure made a change to arrive in the dark after the clocks changing, and to set up in the gloom.

Aside from Tawny's calling territory, a solitary Little Owl in the distance, we heard and saw nothing.

I think perhaps it's time to call it quits for 2010, and await the spring when hopefully, cubs will be born, and we can get that long awaited shot.

We've spent dozens of hours at the site and a small fortune on gear - 3 flashs, stands, remote triggers, STE2, night vision, IR lamp.

We've had some great encounters - deer, hare, rabbits, owls, peregrine, sparrowhawk and of course, the badgers themselves. Only the one shot though after all of those hours.......

Next year, we'll nail 'em - we've got the equipment afterall !

Back Again

Hello everyone and sorry for not posting on a regular basis recently. A quick catch up on what's been going on...........not a wildlife post this time.........

My broadband service crashed 4 weeks ago, and it took an age for my normally excellent service provider (BE), to diagnose that the issue wasn't at my end but at the exchange.

After getting a fix sorted, BT called out of the blue and offered their Infinity service, which is being rolled out across the country.

At 40meg down, 10meg up, their fibre optic broadband is great for instant browsing, downloading and gaming.

Normal service has resumed............

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Hermaness, Unst.

I will never, for as long as I am fortunate enough to walk this earth of ours, forget the moment I first laid eyes on the cliffs at Hermaness nature reserve.

The walk in, or rather up and through the reserve is via a board walk - a steep initial assent followed by a slow upward drag - which carrying my MKIII, 500f4l, 70 - 200 f2.8l, 24 - 105 f4l, tripod & wimberly, water, food and clothing for all weathers was a bit of slog.

When I arrived at the 'top', visibility was around 20 yards or less. I could tell the sea was quite a way off as I could hear faint sounds of breaking waves.
I could hear plenty of birds too, but I only caught glimpses as they came through the gloom.

I was a bit knackered from my walk, so I decided to sit down, listen and hope the air cleared.

Half an hour went by - no people, just an overiding sense of isolation and calm.

45 minutes later, and the fog lifted to show me this view......

An incredible scene - towering cliffs, raw weather and a remoteness I've rarely experienced before or since.

Thousands of gannets, fulmar, skua, puffin and many other sea birds, all sharing the cliffs and surrounding seas.

That day, I spent 5 hours on Hermaness. I saw 2 other people.

At times the sun shone, at others, it rained and at others, the sea mist blew back in, but all times I feel in love with this utterly wild and unspoilt place.

I walked back into Hermaness a further 5 times during my week on Unst and in the end, I enjoyed the walk - even with all of my kit !

Saturday, 25 September 2010

to crop or not to crop.......

............well, that was a question raised on NPN a couple of days ago, and boy did it create some interesting views from posters to that forum.

Now I only post my images on NPN - it has a massive audience, some of the best nature photographers and always provokes lively debate.

I'm not going to name names here, but one very well respected wildife tog (IMO the best we have in the country at the moment), made some sweeping and pointed comments re cropping, baiting, stacking, HDR etc.,.

Now re cropping, I've done it, if cropping has let me get that lovely shot of a subject that was just out of reach, then I've taken advantage - along with the other tools in PS that allow all images to be manipulated to a larger or lesser extent.

I do think though that cropping is something that most newer togs will grow out I hope, of as their skills develop - that's my experience in any event.

Minor comp adjustments aside, there is nothing to beat that feeling of getting that full frame image onto your PC, and knowing that you've nailed it !

A question for you - is this a crop of FF ?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Unst Otters

Back in May I spent a week on the Shetlands, staying on Unst, the northernmost island in the UK.

Over the next few weeks, I will blog some of the sightings and my experiences whilst there.
I stayed on a farm close to my friend, Robbie Brooks, who lives in the lovely community of Baltasound.

I was very fortunate to discover that a family of otters lived close by, and on my first morning after I arrived, I made my way to a likely looking spot along the shore line, set myself up and waited.

I can't actually recall how long I sat in my spot, but with such peaceful surroundings, it could have been hours. I spotted movement and the next thing, two otters appeared over the rocks and started to hunt and feed in front of me. The pair were a mother and her cub, and having fed, they settled down on the rocks in front of me for a sleep.

My first ever attempt at otter watching, and I've got a paor of them feeding in front of me, and now settling down for a kip !
For the rest of my week on Unst, I spent many hours sitting on the rocks, watching the tide and waiting for the otters to appear - which, fortunately for me, they did.

This shot was taken after I crawled down the beach to get closer and the otter swum right up in front of me with a crab, and proceeded to eat it within feet of where I was lying. Not a bad experience to have had at my first attempt.....

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Fallow Deer

A quick post tonight.

After many months of trying for a shot, I managed at last to get my shot of the deer that live not far from me. Apparently, there are something like 200+ deer roaming the area, but they keep themselves very well hidden.

This particular deer was feeding in the trees in the last light of the evening.

It slowly moved into a shaft of light and allowed me to take the shot you see above......

Monday, 13 September 2010

Local Patch

I've been working a new site over the past few months with my good friend, Calum Dickson, and very frustrating it's proved too! I can honestly say that I've never spent so much time planning a shot, waiting and watching - so far, we've had no luck. To say no luck is not quite the truth - from a photography point of view it's been a learning curve. Multiple flashes, remote shutter releases, depth of field calculations, tasty food for our 'subjects'...... We've also had some close encounters - two of our quarry charged at us one night, another has appeared from nowwhere and walked right past us. A few nights back Calum flushed one from the a field of corn and it walked over to me and smelt my boot ! What have we been after - badgers ! I've just this one image to prove that they exist, but as natures harvest this year seems to be more bountiful that I've ever noticed before, I guess our peanuts and dog food offerings just don't interest them at the moment........keep checking though and I'll make sure I report when we do get them - which we will !

Barn Owls - 2010

Another target species for me in 2010 are Barn Owls. I had success early in the year with this beauty who turned up for the last 20 minutes of light at a site I know that's an hour or so's drive from home. I love to watch these birds and I'm glad to see that after the harsh winter we experienced this year, their numbers don't appear to have declined - at least not at the sites I know where these birds appear regulary. I've visited this particular Barn Owl several times this year, and each time he's put in an appearance for me and shown very well. Other spots I've been too are the sites I know in North Norfolk, and again Barn Owls numbers there appear to remain high although the pressure from photographers and birdwatchers is, it seems to me, on the increase.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Royal Photographic Society

After 3 years of photography, and many, many hours in front of my PC, processing choosing, changing, reprocessing and arranging, I sent my panel off to the RPS in Bath for the Natural History Distinctions Panel.

Last Wednesday, 8 Sept, my panel was accepted and the recommendation was submitted to the Society for ratification.

I am one happy bunny right now - Graham Goddard ARPS.

I like that !

Yellow hammers

A species I've not had a chance to photograph in the past are Yellowhammers. Early in the Spring, whilst out photographing Hare, I heard that distinctive 'alittlebitofcakeandcupofteeeeaaaaaaa' call of the male Yellowhammer.
A quick search revealed this fine specimen signing his heart out from a near by fence post. So now I had found Badger, Deer, Hare and Yellowhammer at what was turning out to be a very productive site for me.

I posted this shot on NPN recently - a few comments were made re the size of the post that the bird was singing from - of course I'd like to have a smaller perch, but there's not a lot I could do about it until, a
fter a while, the bird moved closer, and I managed another sequence of shots - this time on a more pleasing perch.......

My quest for Hares !

I've travelled far and wide to capture Hare - Elmley Marsh on Sheppey has a population, as does a certain place in Hertfordshire shown to me by my good friend, Calum Dickson.

Well, I was very pleased to find a number of Hare thriving not very far from home which will allow me year round access and I won't have to travel for hours to get my images.

The image above of a Hare bolting in front of me was taken on a freezing morning before I discovered my new site. It had been raining, which had turned to sleet and then snow.

My hands were so cold I could barely operate the camera when this Hare came over to my hiding place. This was the sharpest image of a series of 6 that I managed to take before he dissappeared into the next field.

After 3 hours sitting in the rain, sleet and snow, I've never been to cold ! This image was taken in February in Hertfordshire.

As I mentioned above, I've since found Hare's much closer to home.

Persecuted in the past by poachers and their dogs, I'm pleased to report that numbers are recovering well.

I will be visiting the area regulary throughout the seasons to capture the changing environment of these most photogenic little fellows.

Kingfisher update

At the beginning of the year I set myself a goal regarding my local Kingfishers, and that was to watch them very closely and to hopefully find and photograph their fledged chicks.

So what has happened to these stunning birds this year.

Well, the birds successfully bred early in the season, and I'd been expecting their first brood to fledge in May. It seems however that something happened and this brood failed. I don't know what could have been the cause, but I have seen rats in the location ? Obviously these are shed 1 birds, so I wasn't going to investigate closely, but as the site is fairly 'public' - comings and goings can be monitored.

I'm pleased to say that the birds bred again, and this time, the chicks fledged in August. I didn't manage any photographs, but on my daily dog walks, I heard and witnessed the adults taking good care of their chicks.

So did I acheive my goals for 2010 for these most colourful of birds ?

Well, sort of.

There are only so many 'Kingfisher on a perch' shots I want in my library but I did get 'Kingfisher on a perch with a fish' I did get, as shown here.

2010 update

Hi and apologies for being extremely poor at updating my blog. 2010 has been a very busy year for me, photographically, and domestically as we've had lots of work done on the house.

I'm not going to blog about the endless DIY I've been doing, but I am going to update the blog and I will make sure that I add regular entries from now on.

First things first, I am going to add a few new entries summarising my trips this year, photographs I've taken and my achievements in 2010.

Happy reading.....................

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Well, here we are in 2010

Well, my first post for a while since things went quiet towards the end of last year.

What plans have I got for 2010 ? I've already visited North Yorkshire with my friend, Stephen Kaluski and we have a great time photographing Red Grouse and birds of prey.

This fantastic Peregrine presented an opportunity too good to miss !

My Kingfishers are back, so that project is under way already. I'm off to Shetland in May for a week, so I will get plenty of images there I hope.

I am going to try for my ARPS qualification which is something I've sought to do for an age, but never got round to it.

I hope you will continue to enjoy reading my blog.

Cheers, Graham.