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Saturday, 30 July 2011

The wonders of modern technology

I've not posted for a while, but then I've not really had much to post about.

The Badgers seem to have dispersed and i've been leaving the foxes alone for fear of having them get too used to human company, which on a farm isn't great for a fox's life expectancy.

Why did I title this post in the way I have ? Well, I'm currently sitting in my hide, waiting for a family of little owls to appear that I've been watching with my mate Bob. The light is stunning, but the owls have not come down from their trees yet.

To pass the time, I've been watching Sky sports on my mobile - Broad took a hat trick against India in the second test - a feat never achieved by any bowler in a test against them.

I've also checked the news, have been listening to a bit of radio, and now I'm writing this post - not bad for passing a few hours in my hide.

What about the lowls ? Well, the normally blissfully quiet spot is rather busy this evening unfortunately. The farmers are starting the harvest and the game keeper is busy getting his birds ready in preparation for the shooting season.

It's a wonderful sunset though, so fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The perils of being kind.....

I spotted this story in the press this morning:


It reminded of my time on Unst as Robbie, Suze and I stumbled across what appeared to be a sick Gannet one evening whilst on our way back from Saxa Vord.

I didn't see the bird at first, but the ever watchful Robbie spotted it tucked into the rocks near the roadside.

Robbie stopped the car and we got out to investigate.

Gannets look quite large on the wing, but up close and on the ground, they are huge - especially with wings out stretched!

As I approached, the bird didn't notice me and sat, with it's head tucked under a wing.

It was only when we got quite close that it awoke. Robbie hung back a bit and when the bird stretched itself to it's full height and started to flap its wings I backed off as well - suddenly being a good Samaritan wasn't quite so appealing.

The bird then made it's way to the shore and swam off into the bay. We'll never know what was wrong with it or whether it survived the night.

One thing I'll never forget though were Robbies words of advice as I approached the bird;

'Be careful Graham - it'll go for your eyes'.............

Sunday, 10 July 2011

New website

A very quick post today I'm afraid.

I've taken the plunge and after several months of deliberation, I've decided to build myself a website. Yep, something I never thought I'd end up doing, but I'm now a good way through setting it up, understanding the site builder I am using and getting to look how I want it to look.
As I mentioned, it's still in the design phase and I won't publish details until I am happy with it.....keep watching for news.....................

Sunday, 3 July 2011

stealth nature gear trousers - product review

Whilst photographing on Unst, and experiencing all of the weather conditions that you can experience up there, I thought I'd write a post about my Stealth Nature Gear trousers.

At this point, I would point out that I have the original version and that Stealth have now produced a revised version of the trouser - the mkII.

The trousers themselves are identical to those shown in the link above although mine do not have the removable knee pads and as I will explain below, they do not have the reinforced stitching.

Why did I decide to purchase these trousers ?

Well, I'd been after a pair of trousers that suited me more for photography than my usual Paramo 'waterproof' hiking trousers.

As anyone who as photographed wildlife will tell you, there are certain things that are essential in any clothing item - the main one is waterproofing.

Most 'waterproof' trousers will repel water in various clever coatings or linings however, if you put pressure on an area of the clothing, water will find its way through. My Paramo's certainly allow water to soak through when say, kneeling.

The Stealth Trousers deal with this by firstly having goretex reinforcing on the knees, but also knee pads and a water resistant lining. I'm now quite happy to kneel anywhere to take a shot, get out of sight etc., knowing that I'm not going to get a soggy knee for the rest of the day. As the knee is lightly padded, it also makes kneeling on rough, hard ground a doddle.

The trouser seat also has a Goretex panel but no padding (I've enough padding as it is), which means a dry bum when sitting, which is also a great feature.

Pockets are plentiful with 2 rear bellows pockets, 2 cargo pant style pockets, hand warmer pockets, secure zip pockets and even fold over secure CF card 'storage' (useful, but I'm not sure I'd put my valuable UDMA cards in there !).

The trousers also feature zip out internal gators, a high back with braces buttons and zipped side gussets for ventilation and 'extra' room.

Day to day use -

Firstly, and as mentioned above, waterproofing - tested on Unst in extreme conditions, I can vouch for their waterproofing - walking in sustained rain to Hermaness (and a very heavy storm in the Cotswolds), these trousers remained dry on the inside. Crawling around Puffin burrows on soaking grass also didn't phase them.

Comfort - very comfortable and warm - great for winter, spring and autumn. Due to the layers though, unless you're out on a cold evening/morning, I wouldn't wear them on a warm day, but then that's not what they are designed for anyway. I'd also add that when walking into a location, carrying kit, they do get hot inside - a way of allowing them to breath more would be great for those situations.

Storage - lots - more than enough for keys, gloves, wallets, cable release, cards etc,.

Stealth - very quiet in use - the moleskin helps and is pretty tactile and thornproof.

Downsides - the biggest issue so far for me is that the vertical stitching has split next to the vent zips on either side of the waist band.

Heat - they are warm trousers. When walking a long way to locations with a lot of kit I have got pretty hot, even on cold days. Having said that, I'd rather be warm (and dry) - especially if I am going to be sitting for any period of time when in position.

Overall - I love these trousers and would thoroughly recommend them, provided the drawbacks have been addressed in the MKII version.