Nigel's  Wildlife  Photography  Blog:  2017

Thursday 21st December
A Message For 21st December - Traditionally The Shortest Day Of The Year

It is calculated that on 21st December here in Britain, we have the smallest amount of daylight and the longest period of the night during the year.  But, I am not sure why 21st December is called the shortest day, because even though the daylight time is at it's shortest, the day is still 24 hours in length.  Perhaps, I have answered my own question!!

Back to this blog post, as we approach the festive season, I would like to pass a message to all readers of my blog, be hey regular visitors or anyone that just happens to stumble across my website.

the message is actually contained in the image of a ptarmigan below, but I guess the many people will have seen that without the need to read this.  Either way, a Very Happy Christmas to you all.


Wednesday 6th December 2017 - Independence Day In Finland
Finland Became An Independent Nation 100 Years ago today


Finland is one of my favorite locations for wildlife photography.

Indeed Finland still has huge amounts of wilderness, you can drive for many kilometers and not see any other vehicles, this has resulted in the country being a great haven for countless species of wildlife.  I have been fortunate enough to have visited Finland over a dozen times in the past ten years.

These two images were both taken in the Taiga forest in Eastern Finland, and both species were both wild and free, they are two examples of many species that illustrate why Finland is such a special place. 



5th December
Extra Availability For Greetings Cards And Prints

I am pleased to announce that a selection of my Greetings Cards and prints are now available to purchase in Leicester.  These are available from:

Fabric Guild

54 Kenilworth Drive, Oadby, Leicester, LE2 5LG
Thursday: 10.00 - 3.30
Friday: 10.00 - 3.30
Sunday 08.30 - 1.00



At the Fabric Guild, I have several sizes of mounted prints available, along with most of my greetings card designs.  In addition, I will also be selling my 2018 calendars as soon as they are received from the printers which should be any day now.  


Special Christmas Fabric Guild Launch Offer

Visitors to the Fabric Guild in Oadby, Leicester will be able to purchase greetings cards at £2.00 each or six for £10.00. 


Remember, other current suppliers, include:

Portnellan Highland Lodges, Crianlarich, Perthshire, FQ20 8QS
(this is on the main A85 road about two miles east of Crianlarich)

Directly from my website:   My sales pages can be found by visiting this link


4th December 2018
It's that time of the year already

I cannot believe just how quickly 2017 has gone and the fact that here we are less than a month away from 2018.

But, for many years, a new year brings another of my calendars which is currently being printed, and it will be delivered later this week ready for posting out in good time for Christmas.

During 2017, my greetings cards have remained very popular and I am really pleased that the number of sales has continued to grow.  Also this week, I am collecting another few hundred cards from the printer including four new designs.   But as one of these will be used as my Christmas card, I am going to keep the image a surprise (as this will hopefully be appreciated by those that will be getting a card through the post in the next few weeks).

But, I can now share a few more details about my 2018 calendar which has  "European Mammals"  as it's the theme.

I have chosen this lovely Grey Seal above as my 2018 cover image, and for October, I have chosen an image only taken a few weeks ago of a Red Deer with braken in its antlers during the autumn rut.

As in previous years, many of my calendars will be posted to friends and relatives as Christmas presents.  But, also as in previous years, I have had some extra calendars printed to sell.  If any of the readers of my blog, or visitors to my website would like to purchase one of my 2018 calendars, please contact me.

Please click on this link, which will then open as a new window using my "Contact Nigel" page


Sunday 26th November
DPAGB Success

DPAGB - Yesterday, I visited the adjudication for "The Photographic Alliance of Great Britain" to watch the judging of the Photographic Merit Awards. 
Each of the images is marked separately by a panel of six expert judges and given a score out of 30.
I entered 15 images into the Distinction section, where an overall score of 300 needs to be reached to be awarded a DPAGB.
There were 30 people who entered prints into the DPAGB when the results were announced, 14 of these were successful and were awarded a DPAGB, I am very pleased to announce that I was one of them.

The fifteen images below show the images used for my PAGB adjudication 

Sunday 19th November
Silver At Smethwick 

Since gaining my EFIAP award earlier this year, I have taken a break from entering photographic exhibitions and competitions organised by many of the camera clubs that I have entered in the past.  No particular reason for this other than the amount of time that this takes, and I felt the need for a rest.

In the future, I will definitely enter more of these exhibitions, and I am fairly keen to enter some more BPE (British Photographic Exhibitions) and try and gain enough acceptances for their crown awards.

But as I have done very well in the Smethwick International Photographic Society Annual exhibition, I decided to enter their annual exhibition again this year.

I am pleased that I did, as I had 4 images accepted into the exhibition.  I also had a score of 15/15 for one of my images.  This was of a female Grey Headed woodpecker, and I am pleased to say the image was also awarded a Silver medal.


Friday 10th November
2018 Brings A Return To The Hebrides

During 2017, I have really enjoyed working several weeks in the Hebrides as a wildlife guide for Hebrides Cruises, it is one of the best places in Britain for a mixture of cruising, wildlife, and walking.  For anyone who likes being on the open sea, their boat trips around the Scottish coastline are very good indeed.

Over recent weeks, I have been discussing 2018 dates with them, and I am pleased to announce that Hebrides Cruises have asked me to return to the Hebrides again next year as one of their wildlife guides.

My Hebrides dates for 2018 have now been added into my 2018 diary, and I am really looking forward to many weeks guiding aboard their great boat "Elizabeth G".  During 2018, I will be visiting many new locations as well as some previously visited favorites such as Eigg and St. Kilda.


Friday 27th October
Red Waxcaps In A Quiet Season For Fungi

Recently, I have walked around a few local woods, and found very little fungi to photograph, everywhere seems so dry.  But last week, I was in Sussex helping Mark Sisson of Natures Images with his anual Fungi workshop.  The numbers of fungi about was relatively low, but there were a few good specimens around to photograph during the day.  It was a good day, and I enjoyed helping Mark and the participants.  It was all enjoyable until the usual crawl on the M25 on the way home.

I would have left the site earlier and started my return journey, but I ended up chatting to a few of the participants and stopped a bit later to photograph some nice waxcaps that were found relatively late on during the day.  We recommended to visit a large patch of grass were we saw large numbers of several species of waxcaps.  But the one that caught my eye (and my lens) was this Red Waxcap. 

Looking ahead, I might well pop down to the site again next year and spend more time trying to get a few more species photographed.   I really enjoy macro photogrpahy and have not done much of it recently.  Perhaps a bit of  forward planning on my part is needed. 

Tuesday 24th October
A Few Images From The Annual Red Deer Rut

Over the years, I have been very fortunate to have traveled to many locations on several continents in search of some of the best wildlife that the world offers.  Without any doubt, this has produced some fantastic experiences and everyone always loves visiting new locations to see species they have not previously seen.  But it is also very worthwhile visiting sites closer to home, indeed all nature lovers and wildlife photographers should not ignore their  "local patch".  So whenever possible, have a day out (or even a few hours), out and about photographing some of the wildlife on your doorstep.

For a few reasons, I have not managed to visit my local red deer for the past few autumn ruts, but, this year, I was determined to make an effort to drive the dozen miles to visit my local deer.  So on about seven or eight occasions during the past few weeks, I got my camera gear out and tried my luck with the rut.  I am pleased to report that I have really enjoyed the experience.  During a small number of these visits, I was alone, other visits were with friends and two were assisting Natures Images during their Red Deer wildlife photography weekend where it was great to meet a few people who i had met previously along with some new faces.

As with all wildlife, the quality of the sightings, light, backgrounds, etc. varied quite a bit during each visit, but I was pleased with a few of the resulting images.  When time allows , I will add more of my images from this years rut into my gallery pages, but in the meantime below are a few from these local photography sessions.


Early October
Ravens whilst looking through the Viewfinder

Ravens are a species that i frequently see whilst walking in Scotland while trying to climb more of the Munros.  They are also a common bird in the Hebrides and are seen on most trips.  From a photographic point of view, I have a few images of them, but nothing that I am happy with.

Last week, I was pleased that I ended up with a few more photos of a Raven which was an unexpected bonus, not the best of images and Ravens remain another species that i will need to spend more time trying to photograph.  But this all adds to the fun of wildlife photography and leaves another challenge for another day


1st October
Trying My Hand At Scottish Landscapes

One of the areas of photography that I really want to spend more time concentrating on is my landscape photography. this is particuarly so in Scotland which has some of the finest landscapes in the world and is also an area in which I already spend a lot of my time with my camera and trying to complete the ascent of all 284 Scottish Munros (I am almost there with only around 50 to go)

While working for Hebrides cruises a few weeks ago, both Mark Mullen (the bosun on Elizabeth G) and myself ended up with a day off so had a trip inland for a few hours with the camera gear.  The roads were busy, and the light was not good.  But as we returned back to Oban later in the evening we were rewarded with a lovely sunset.

We decided to photograph one of the many castles in Scotland, and here is my attempt of an image of Castle Stalker.


A great day out with my fellow crew member even if we were unlucky with the weather (other than for a very brief period late on.)

But, watch this space, I am already putting in place some plans for much more Scottish landscape photography in 2018.  It seems like a long way off, and will be featured in my 2018 blog, but hopefully many more, and many better images to come. 


Friday 11th August
Better Luck with Photographing Ospreys

Allthough I have seen and photographed Ospreys several times over the years (including a few weeks ago in speyside) I have always felt that I could have done better, or that luck was not quite with me.  Sometimes these things happen and it can take a long time to end up with images that you are pleased with.

A few weeks ago, I spent several days photographing Ospreys and feel my images of this wonderful bird have improved.  Sometimes we as photographers are never happy, and I now that I can do better still.  But at least its heading in the right direction.


These few images above represent a sample of the images that I took during my Osprey photography session, indeed alltogether, i was lucky enough to end up with several thousand Osprey pictures to sort through.

I am looking forward to finding a bit of time so that I can sort them out and update the gallery section of this website.  Indeed there are now at least a couple of dozen species that need to be updates in the gallery section, these range from Fly Orchids through to Dolphins.  I will make an effort to update everying as the nights draw in and it gets to dark for photography in the evenings.  Several new species will also be added including Beavers, Lords and Ladys, Mountain Hares, Gannets, Woodpeckers, etc. etc.


Friday 4th August
A Visit From Mr. Wolf

It is always impossible to know exactly what i am going to see or photograph when i go out with my camera.  Occasionaly, I just go out for a walk and dont know what I may find, but even on these relatively random days, I have an idea of what birds, butterflies, or flowers that i might come across.

But most of my photographic excursions are more targeted, I may visist a particular area in search of certain species, indeed I have a bit of a target list of species that i would like to see and photograph (even if some of this is stored inside my brain rather than written down in a list).

As readers of both my blog and my facebook page will know these targeted trips can be anywhere, a local wood or grassland, or a Scottish mountainside or coastline.  Sometimes I go even further away, and recently I visited Finland for two weeks and had a target list of four species.  As it happened, I saw three of the four species that were targeted, and some of the resulting images will be added to this website over the next week or so when time allows.

But sometimes things dont trurn out as expected.  I have spent many a day in a photographic hide waiting for a species that just dosent show.  Over the years, this has been Cranes, European Brown Bears, Buzzard, Red Throated Divers, etc.  Indeed the list is a long one and this is common with all photographers, everyone has days where things dont happen.

But every now and then, the opposite happens, you visit a hide and see something quite unexpected.  Sometimes this can be something relatively common that you dont expect to see in that particular geographic location or habitat.  Sometimes it can be something quite rare because luck is on your side.

But last week, while I was sitting in a Wolverine hide in Eastern Finland, it was a bit quiet.  There was no sign of the Wolverines which was unexpected because this particular hide was very well known for great sightings.  There was a few birds showing, but these were very nervous, both the Ravens and the Gulls were not their usual self, they were very quiet, and were only showing very briefly.  Indeed the whole forest had a very earier feel about it, it felt a bit odd, a bit tense, like everything wasa very wary and unsure.

We just sat in the hide with cameras ready for an hour or so expecting everything to settle down, but it did not do so, there was it was definately tense in the forest.

As it slowly began to get darker we thought that things would get back to normal and species would begin to show more. But we suddenly realised why everything was being so shy, there was Wolves about.

We thought we saw three of them, but they were in the shaddows and keeping their distance, one ventured a bit closer and we could see him walking through the vegitation.  Unfortunately we did not get a clear view and it was impossible to get any pictures.

But then he wandered clser for about 8 to 10 seconds and just stood and looked at the hide.  I managed to rattle off a few images including this image below.


Unfortunately the wolf did not hang about, but the forrest remained very quiet for many more hours and we saw him a few more times in the distance.

Wolves are always very shy, and I was very pleased to see such a magnificant creature so close and was very pleased to get this image.  I never thought that I would be lucky enough to see a wolf so close, yet alone manage to get a picture of one.  


Thursday 13th July
Ospreys - A British Conservation Sucsess

Without a doubt there are a large number of great bird species in Britain and it is very hard, if not imposible to choose either the best or a favourite species.  But one of the great sucsess stories of recent years is the reintroduction of the Osprey.  Indeed, one of the best spectacles of British wildlife is seeing Ospreys, either diving for fish or up close and personal while on a perch.

I have just returned from five days of osprey photography in the Cairngorm national Park where I was fortunate to see and photograph some of these great birds.

While we were thre, some of this years chicks were being collected for a relocation project to Poole in Dorset.  This is good news as the number of Scottish Ospreys is now at a good level and substainable and to see ospreys in the far south of England (hopefully breeding in a few years time) is obviously very good news.


Tuesday 4th July
Backyard Buzzard

As I look out of our back garden, we are lucky that the view looks out onto open fields that are not used intensive farming, indeed they are used to graze a few sheep and produce grass as a food crop for animals.  The views are good and over the years we have seen some great wildlife including Muntjack Deer, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and the occasional owl.

We see a few raptors overhead including Kestrel, Occasional Red Kite, and it is common to see Buzzards in the distance.  Usually these Buzzards keep a good distance, but over the past few days both sue and I have noticed that there has been one bird flying over the house and also seems to sit on some of the fence posts in the back of the garden.

Buzzards are shy birds and not easy to photograph, but yesterday, I made my way very slowly into the garden and manged to get a few photos of the Buzzard on the fence post.  This is obviously work in progress and i am hoping for another opputunity or two before my next trip north to Scotland.


Sunday 2nd July
The Sgurr Of Eigg

Whilst in the Hebrides last week we had some great sunsets, one of these was whilst at anchor off the coast of Eigg.  It is a great location in the middle of the "Small Isles" and it was very enjoyable being on deck as the colours developed in the sky.

The weather forecast was good, as is generally the case, it was a bit windy, but also with warm sunny weather, so we planned a visit ashore on Eigg the following morning, first to visit the Masacre Cave and then to asscend the famous An Sgurr which is also called "The Scurr Of Eigg".

The Sgurr of Eigg dominates the island views especially on a lovely clear day with blue skies.  But as you travel around the Small isles and beyond, the distinctive shape of the Sgurr of Eigg is one of the most easily recconisable landmarks that can be seen from both boats and from other islands.

Above - Great views of Neighboring islands. In the near distance is Rum with its larger and higher hills.  I have been to Rum a few times, but have yet to climb any of its peaks.


Below - The summit of An Sgurr is only 391m above sea level, yet it feels much higher due to the relatively steep drop down to the sea and the distant views over many other Hebridean Islands and the Scottish mainland.

I dont often show pictures of myself on my website, indeed, I dont often have my picture taken, I prefer being "the other side of the camera".  But here is an image of me ontop of An Sgurr, on top of Eigg.

Wed 24th May
Scottish Update

I have just returned from three great weeks in Scotland, two of which I worked as the wildlife guide on a boat in the Hebridies and the third in Crianlarich where we had a relaxing time and managed to add a couple more Munros to the total during a visit to Glen Ettive.

More pictures and detail will be added to my blog in the near future, but in the meantime, above is one of the many great sunsets from the boat, this particular one is looking out tpwards Rum.  Below is some of the great wildlife seen on Lunga, iona, and Mull where we saw many Puffins, Eagles, Otters, Corncrake and other Scottish specialities including thesze Razorbills mating.

Monday 10th April
Four More Greetings Card Designs
I am pleased to report that over recent months, I have had a good run of sales of my greetings cards and as a result, i have added four more designs to the range, all of which are of Scottish and Northern European wildlife and can be seen below.

The designs above are:
Pine Marten
Red Grouse
Red Squirel
Mountain Hare Portrait

In addition, I have had a reprint of the Red Fox sitting in the snow as it was sold out, this brings the current total to 25 designs.  All 25 of the designs can be seen on my Greetings Card Page which also includes details of price, size, etc.


Special Offer - I am offering a special limmited deal to readers of this blog

If you contact me and ask me for my "offer pack of 25 cards" (one each of the 25 designs) and then pay by either paypal or online bank transfer, these are currently being sold at just £36 a set.   This price includes postage by Royal Mail tracked and signed delivery.


Friday 17th March
Rutland Ospreys Return From West Africa 

I am pleased to be adding quite a few more blog posts over recent weeks, but there seems to be a lot happening at the moment.  There is plently of preperations and planning for what is promising to be a hectic summer ahead.  But this is good, as I can't wait to get out more with my binoculars and camera over the coming months.

As regular readers to my blog will know, I follow quite a few wildlife rlated items, including the ongoing sucsess of our British Ospreys.  Each Autum they leave our shores and fly south to over winter in West Africa.  This is always a dangerous jouney for ospreys, indeed the migration is a dangerous time for all migratory species.

Each Spring it is always welcome news when they are spotted returning back to Britain to breed.  During the past few weeks, various osprey have been reported by salerliite tracking making the long journey back.  Some birds have been reported having already made it back to the relative safety of Britain, mostly these have been Scottish birds that still have a few more miles left to fly North.


During the next few months, I have three visits planned to photograph several ospreys in very different locations, and have therefore over the past few weeks I have been keeping a keen and regular eye on their progress on some of the many online wildlife news sites.  My nearest ospreys are very local to my home, and are the famous Ospreys in Rutland.  It is welcome news that there are now had reports that the Ospreys have now returned back to Rutland which is very welcome as theses will be the first ospreys that i am hoping to photograph in about eight weeks time. 

The image above was taken a few years ago as clearly I have not had a chance yet to get out in 2017 and photograph Ospreys.  But I am really looking forward to getting out later this year and adding more images to my ongoing project of documenting this great species.  I am obviously planning to add some of my new 2017 Osprey images onto my website over the coming months.

Wednesday 15th March
A Brimstone Flew Through My Garden Today - Is Summer On Its Way?
I saw a Brimstone in the garden today which was excellent news, its always good to see butterflies after the long winter break.
To be more accurate, I actually saw a Brimstone fly through the garden as it was warm and the butterfly was not in the mood to stop.  Hence this image below is a Brimstone image from the archive.
Around 5pm this afternoon, I nipped out, and saw further signs that summer may soon be here.  There was an ice cream van touring the streets playing its familular tune.  Obviously trying to entice people to purchase, but I resisted the temptation.

A few minutes later, I spotted a jogger running along wearing just his shorts, clearly it was to warm for him to wear his running top.
Therefore, after a long and wet winter, It must be warming up with these signs that summer is on its way.
All we need now, is the Ospreys to return from Africa, and I can get my shorts out and then it really will be time to declare summer!!!

Thursday 9th March

Women In Rural Enterprise


As anyone reading yesterdays blog, it intended as a view on the fasinating subject of "awareness days" it was also an opptunity as a link with the subject of todays blog.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to support an event that is being hosted by "Women in Rural Enterprise" (WiRE), and as it feels new and exciting, I also want to write a bit more about this event here on my blog.

Women in Rural Enterprise is something that I have not previously been involved with, indeed it looks like the Leicestershire and Rutland branch is fairly new.    A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Claire McFadden who is one of the local co-ordinators, as Claire wanted to discuss one of their events with me.  Being curious, I naturally looked at their online programme and they certainly look to be setting up an interesting and worthwhile networking, advice, and social group. 

Claire contacted me regarding one of the activities that the Leicestershire and Rutland WiRE group is holding, which is a photography and sketching workshop on 17th May at Rutland Water.  After discussing this with Claire, I agreed to support the event.  I won't copy all of the details of the event or about the WiRE group here, but in summary, they  have chartered the "Rutland Belle" for a cruise on the reservoir, and it certanly looks like a good addition to their programme.

It will come as no surprise to readers of my blog, that my involement is that of a photographer.  I have been asked to assist with the running of the event from a photographic point of view.  My role will be giving hints, tips, along with any help or suggestions on items of a photographic or wildlife nature.

Rutland Water is a huge man made reservoir, with the prime purpose of proving the local population with a source of water, increasingly it is also used for a large number of recerational purposes.  These include many aspects of wildlife and conservation including nature reserves, public facilities and wildlife cruises during the summer months.
The added bonus of this huge new man made water is that lots of wildlife has made Rutland Water their home, and indeed flourised as a result of the creation of new habitat.

From both a publicity for Rutland, along with a wildlife importance perspective, one of the key Rutland wildlife species is the Osprey.  These well known birds became extinct in the wild many years ago, after several years, they returned naturally to Loch Garten in Scotland.  They were assisted by a reintroduction programme which also led to some birds being translocated to Rutland as part of the ongoing programme.  Therefrore, we are obviously very keen to see Ospreys as the key conservation species during our day.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to have seen ospreys several times over a wide geographic range from Finland through to India.  As many readers of my blog will know, as well as wildlife photography, I manage quite a bit of mountain walking and during the warmer months, I have frequently seen Ospreys in many areas of Scotland.  More local to me in Leicestershire there are now a few local sites where ospreys can be seen.  By far the most well known of these is Rutland Water.  Any day now the first Ospreys will return back, and I am really looking forward to reading about these returning birds, and their ongoing breeding sucsess this summer.  Indeed I am also looking forward to this WiRE event at Rutland Water in May. 

The above image of an Osprey was part of my panel of 15 images that was used as part of my Associate of the Royal Photographic Society.    The image is also available as one of my greetings cards, further details can be found at:

As stated above, Ospreys are a key conservation species linked with Rutland water, and clearly everyone involved in the event is hoping that luck will be on our side and that we all get plently of good views of this wonderful bird.

However, everyone understands tha with an event of this nature, there is obviously no guarentee of exactly what wildlife we will see, along with the opputunities will then result for photography, drawing, or other activities.  But, in some ways this does not matter, as this is a good opputunity to have an interesting fun day, also meeting some new people.


PS - I am sure bu now my spelling has come to your attention, I cannot get the spell checker to work on my webpage, so please accept my appologies.
Clearly I am much better at wildlife photography than I am at spelling.

Wednesday 8th March
Today, 8th March Is Internatational Womens Day

We all know that there are several well known days each year, some of these fall on the same date each year, and a few examples would include Christmas Day, Armistice Remembrance Day, Valentines day.  There are also several other days each year that are equally well known, but the exact date will varry each year, these would include Mothers Day, Good Friday, etc.

Over recent years, there feels like there is a growing trend to add many more days into our calendars, some of which are celebration days, and some are awareness days.  Recent examples include 2nd February as "World Wetland Day" and then a few days later, 27th February as "International Polar Bear Day".
Clearly there is a danger of everyday becoming a celebration of something, or an awareness of something else.  Indeed when I did a quick internet search, I found there are a large number of these days in existance.  Some of these were more international in flavour, while others did seem to be more prevalent in certain countries.


Many people get their news from social media, and many of these networks give quite a bit of exposure to these various days, and because the number of these days appears to be on the increase, does it make them more, or less meaningful?   Is the effect getting diluted each time a new day is added into the calendar on a new date?  
I guess everyone has a different view of the effect, usefullness and meaning of all of these days, clearly different people have particular causes that they are more interested in, or are more likely to support.

From a personal perspective, I wanted to see polar bears for a very long time, therefore each time I see something such as "International Polar Bear Day" it reminds me of the time a few years ago when when I visited Churchill and was fortunate to see several bears and was pleased with my photographs.  It also reminds me of the situation that polar bears face along with the sad fact that their long term future is not looking bright.  They are very high on my list of species that I want to see and photograph again.  Taking this into consideration, I guess that from my perspective, International Polar Bear Day, has worked on me, and it clearly makes me think of the issues that they face.


Progressing this thought a bit further, along with the growing trend of people using social media for their news, many of these days are increasingly gaining support and grab attention because they appear on various feeds on facebook, Instragram, Twitter, etc.  Some of us are aware in advance of these days, but these days are increasingly likely to feature on the various posts that catch our attention online.

I am fortunate to have many images of both male and female birds and animals that I could have used to illustrate the fact that today, 8th March which is International Womans Day, but I chose this lovely female Black Woodpecker.  I have put a female Grey Headed woodpecker onto my facebook feed, to illustrate the same day.  I guess this shows my keen interest in woodpeckers as a great species.

As the title of this blog post suggests, today, Wednesday 8th March, is "International Womens Day" and I guess that anyone still reading this blog, will be thinking what is the specific reason why this has been written about here?

Well, I don't have a specific reason to write about International Womans Day.  But the words "Womens Day" reminded me of "Womens Enterprise Network", and tomorow on my blog, I will highlight an event in a few months time that I am supporting, I felt the link was a useful way of highlighting this and therefore decided to take this opportunity.


Tuesday 21st Feb
Bluethroat Within Camera Range

Like most wildlife photographers, there are certain species that appeal to me more than others and for many years, i was keen to see a Bluethroat.  I guess it may be because they are a Briish rarity thats looks easy to identify, yet still interesting and a bit of a challenge.  A few years ago, I first saw them in Belguim, and since then, I have manged to see them in a few other european countries.  My most recent sighting was at Christmas 2015 during a lovely visit to Spain where we saw a few birds, but yet none was either close enough or still enough for anything but very poor record shots that should be deleted.

Indeed, each time I have seen a Bluethroat, it has been too far away to get anything other than a very poor record shot.  Therefore, for quite some time, i have been keen to see them again and improve my images.  Allthough, I know the species of birds, plants, mamals, etc. that I would like to photograph either for the first time, or in some cases again, I guess Bluethroat has been very high on my target list of species that I would like to photograph when the opputunity arose.

When I saw online that there was a lovely Bluethroat at one of the wildlife trust reserves in Lincolnshire, I immediately thought that this bird could be my opputunity.  I don't like big twitches and lots of people, I understand why people go, why people like lists, and why they are very popular.  But, they are often not good for the bird involved, and usually photographers and bird watchers get in each others way, which means that they dont usually lead to good photographs.

I resisted the thought of jumping into my car and driving the 50 minutes to see it, and decided to wait and see if the bird was going to wait around for a few days.  Often after about a week, the crowds of people will shrink, which leads to better photographic opputunities, it also leads to more time spent watching the bird in hopefully a much less stressed state.  Last week, a friend of mine paid a visit to the site and reported back that it was indeed a great bird and that photography was definately possible.  Therefore, I recently decided it was time for me to pay a visit, and started to  look at my comitments along with the weather forecasts.  When I visited, there were about a dozen people waiting for the bird to show, and within a few minutes it flew down onto the grass next to the reeds where it had been hiding out of sight.  This was not a big crowd for a bird of this rareity particuarly given its striking colours.

I waited a few hours during which it showed a few times, sometimes at quite close quarters and I rattled off a few images.  A few of the results are shown below, and I am pleased that I decided to pay it a visit.  Hopefully the four Bluethroat images below, show why.


6th Feburary
A Visit To A Lincolnshire Woodland For A Few Hours

For a couple of weeks, I have been meaning to travel east for an hour and get across to Wildlife Photography Hides which is close to Bourne in Licolnshire.  I wanted to pay a visit to my friend Tom Robinson who has built and owns the various hides on offer.

Tom kindly invited me to have a morning session in his woodland bird hide.  Finally, a few days ago, i managed to find some time for a visit Tom, and i was pleased that I did. It was a lovely bright morning and I was very impressed by the large number of woodland birds that were constantly visiting during the morning.


Tom has several hides around his farm and other land nearby and over the past year or so, I have got some pleasing images from them.  Tom is becoming well known for the quality of his comfortabl hides which are very solid and very easy to relax in.  His new woodland bird hide is no exception and is certainly a good hide, good backgrounds and an very enjoyable few hours.

I have already got lots of pictures of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, but as several birds paid lots of visits, I am always happy to photograph them again and again.

As well as plently of Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, and other small birds, there was also good numbers of Goldfinch which are always a welcome sight.
As with any hide, you cannot always be 100% sure exactly what species are going to turn up, and several times a male phesant decided to take a walk into my camera field of view.  This was a close up of one that came particuarly near.

I am already planning on a return visit to woodland Tom's hide, as every visit is differnt.  The weather changes, as does the light.  Another day will bring a fresh view with yet more oppertunities, and you never know if you are going to get lucky with different species. 


Further details of all of Tom's hides which are close to Bourne in Lincolnshire can be found on his website at:


Thursday 2nd Feb
100 Of The 1000 In 2017

As some of you may recall from my previous posts, I am trying to walk 1000 miles in 2017.  It is a bit of fun which is aimed at an attempt to do a bit more excercise and increase my fitness.  The task of recording the miles walked is very easy, as one of the Apps on my phone records the distances i have walked.

Obviously, I am not going to just wait and see how much distance I walk during the year.  Indeed I have been taking an interest in the stats which need to average at just under 3 miles per day.

As a start, I set myself a target of 100 miles in 36 days, this was quite an easy target to aim for, as it's 10% of the miles in 10% of the days.
It is only a rough taget, and in some ways, it does not quite fit.  It leaves no room for any dips in the distance covered.  Indeed I have a few travel days ahead of me in 2017, where long distances will be covered on Britains motorways, getting to wildlife destinations, mountain walking trips, and to Oban as a gateway to the Hebridies.  But I am working on the theory that it might become easier to increase my distance as it gets warmer and the day light hours get longer.  Also there is a good chance that some of the planned mountain walking days will mean the days travelling will be offset by a few more miles.

Back to my current scores:
10% of the days is 36 days, which will be reached on 5th Feb.

Tonight, my yearly total has just past 101 miles, which is 3 days ahead of target.  There is clearly still a long way to go, but so far so good and progress is definately heading in the right direction.

I like to add at least one image to each blog post, so here is a Mountain Hare photograph I took a couple of years ago.  It was taken on a day when I certainly managed to cover much more than my daily average miles.  I am sure the hare probably covers the 1000 miles in a month, yet alone a year, judging by the amount of time they spend running around the mountainside.

Wed 25th January
Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery

A few days ago, I entered the open exhibition of the Leicester Peoples Photographic Peoples Gallery.  I entered two photographs, and they have both been accepted.  As a result, I have delivered the two A3 mounted prints that will feature in their forthcoming exhibition in the gallery which is Leicester City centre.

The exhibition will run from 1st February, through to 28th.  The gallery is in the adult education centre which is in Beavoir Street in Leicester.  I think the exhibition will be open Mondays to Fridays, and entry is free.  There is also a small cafe in the education centre which is situated next to the exhibition, so visitors can enjoy a coffee and a cake whilst viewing the photographs.


The rules of the exhibition stipulate that up to two images can be entered, and these must not have been displayed in public before.

Therefore, a few weeks ago, I had a look at some of the many RAW files sitting on the hard drive of my computer. I chose three files to process and then I chose two of these for my submission.

I decided to enter two images from two of my favourite wildlife destinations.  As regular readers of my blog will know, these locations are the Falkland Islands which Sue and I visited in 2012, and Finland which is a destination that I try and visit every year.


The two images are:

"King Penguins on the beach" shown above

and "Black Woodpecker" shown below.


Wednesday 11th January
1000 In 2017
While out mountain walking, I have always been interested in how far, I have walked, but many years ago, it was a case of placing a bit of string on the map along the route, and then placing it along the map scale.  Very unscientific, particuarly by todays standards with all of the modern gadgets and gizzmos availabable.  But I enjoyed having a rough estimation and found it useful.
After a few years, I purcased a wrist watch that had a built in Altimeter, and a few years later, a GPS unit. and all of a suden all sorts of data was more available.
Wind forward quite a few years, and like many others, I have ended up with a smartphone.  Indeed it has been used quite a bit to take a few photographs (or should i say snaps) over the past few years.  A couple of years ago, upon an upgrade, i established that my new toy, could even had an "Activity app" and that all I had to do was place the new toy in my pocket and my excercise was recorded by magic.  This included steps, distance, floors gained, and all sorts of other info.
For the past few years, I have taken a keen interest in how many steps i have walked, and in 2016, I averaged over 8000 per day.
On a certain well known national radio station.  It was suggusted earlier this week, that it is a good challenge to try and walk 1000 miles during the calendar yar of 2017.  As my Smartphone tracks how much I walk, I thought this will be an interesting excercise.  My target is more than 1000 miles.  I will update you with progress.

Sunday 1st January
A Prosperous New Year To You All


As we move into 2017, more and more people get their news from social media, and this includes details of their friends and family.   When I look at Facebook, I see that many people from around the world have indeed posted a wide range of items.  This includes many New Year greetings, along with several posts showing a wide range of weather.

It could be fair to say that here in Leicestershire today, we have a very damp start to 2017.  Wet days can be fun, it can be both relaxing and interesting to sit and watch the rain.  Other times, there are good photos to be created in the rain using slow shutter speeds to show the water movement.
But today, I have yet to press the shutter on my camera, and the chances are that I will not be spending any time with my camera today.

Hopefully the rain won't last long, and we will soon get some lovely fresh winter days.  But today's weather reminds me of a wet January day last year, when my friend Ian Haskell and myself spent a few days in southern Scotland.  We were with Alan McFadyen using some of his great wildlife hides, we were photographing a variety of species.  Amongst the species photographed during our long weekend were Sparrowhawk, Jay, Little Grebe, this involved a couple of days in Alan's woodland hide, along with a day in a very wet Kingfisher hide.  The photo above was taken that day.

This image is far from a "straight image" and is a million miles away from what is accepted into any wildlife photography competition.  But, for a bit of fun, it has been given an "arty treatment in Photoshop", the result is a bit of a "marmite photograph" and not everyone will like it. But I like marmite and I enjoy the opportunity every now and then to combine a couple of images, add a layer, a texture, along with a blend mode or two.  Play about for a couple of hours with some of the more advanced Photoshop tools.  sometimes the results are shocking and the image gets deleted.  But other times, I quite like the results and keep them.  Indeed, on a few occasions these have been entered into the odd creative section of photographic competitions.  Who knows, this might even get a run out in the months ahead.

Back to the original photograph, it was taken when the kingfisher was sitting very still.  A slow shutter speed was used to show the movement of the rain.  But also, the reality was, very poor light which meant that there was actually not much shutter speed available.  These things always need a bit of luck, and the Kingfisher shook its head at the right moment, this allowed an image that showed the rain.

The day in the Kingfisher hide really was that wet, and thinking back It reminds me of the rain when I looked out of the window first thing this morning on the dawning of a new Year.

A Wet, But Happy New Year To You

Sunday 1st January
There Is A Definite Scottish Theme To My 2017 Plans

Each year, I try and summarise a few thoughts in my blog about the year that has just about it is coming to and end, and then I start a new bog for the year ahead.  (This can sometimes be a bit tricky, as the spell checker on the Website builder thinks that I am updating a "bog"), sometimes this can be hard work, I hate spelling at the best of times.
Most of my blog posts, are a reflection of what I have been doing during the previous few weeks and during the past twelve months, I have always made an effort to try and update this at least once per month.

I also try and post an image onto my Facebook page at least once per week, so please seek my page out and send me a friend request if you are interested in my photography.

Each January, In the new blog, I share a few thoughts on what i am hoping to achieve, see, and photograph in the year ahead.  Sometimes these are items that have already been planned, often for many months.  But some are just ideas and thoughts of items that i wish to target.

This year, my blog is continuing this same format, so if you would like to know a bit more about what i am hoping 2017 will bring for me, then read on.

The Scottish Munros 

Last September, I completed my 200th Scottish Munro, which considering how long ago I started is very slow but steady progress in my long term project to climb all of the Scottish 3000 foot mountains (The Munro's).  During 2017, I already have around eight visits to Scotland either confirmed or pencilled in.  Of these, three visits are specifically for mountain walking (but my camera will not be very far away and it would be good to complete at least another 20 new summits to add to my Munro totals during the year ahead.