Nigel's  Wildlife  Photography  Blog  :  2017

   
   
  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: 
http://www.nigelspencer.co.uk/pages/sales/greetings-cards.php
   
 

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.

If anyone wants further details of the Women in Rural Enterprise group, or more details of their Rutland Water event, please follow the link below.  This link leads to the event page on the WiRE webpages, and will open in a new window.

http://www.wireuk.org/events/what-a-picture-photography-and-sketching-workshop/

   
   
 
   
 
   
   
  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:

http://www.wildlife-photography-hides.co.uk

   
   
   
 
   
   
   
  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. 

   
 
 
 
 
   
   
  It is always good to see wildlife while out walking, and some of the species Sue and myself often see while out walking in Scotland are, Mountain Hare, Red Grouse, Ptarmigan, and Golden Plover.
   
   
   
  More Visits To The Hebrides Continues My Scottish Theme
   
   
 

In 2015, and then again in 2016, I spent a total of almost four weeks travelling round the Hebrides on a boat, and a few months back, I confirmed some exciting arrangements for several more weeks onboard a "live aboard boat"  cruising the Hebrides this summer.

   
   
 
   
   
 

 

I am really pleased that during 2017, I will be working with Hebrides cruises on several of their trips.
These are top class voyages which visit some of the best coastal areas in Great Britain with excellent wildlife to both view and photograph.  Their two boats spend the summer months visiting many great and often very remote destinations. 

My role will be on their boat "Elizabeth G" (which is pictured above and right).
For several weeks this summer, I will be their wildlife guide onboard.
I will also be helping with some of the everyday nautical chores along with assisting guests with their photography.

   
   
 

One of the highlights of any boat trip is any opportunity to see (and hopefully photograph dolphins and whales.  Last year, we were lucky to see several pods of Common Dolphins during the ten day trip to St. Kilda, we also saw a few Harbour Porpoises.  But the best sightings were one memorable day cruising along the Minch were we saw between 20 and 30 Minkie Whales.  Photos of last years sightings are all on last years blog.  There is always an element of luck involved with marine mammals, and I certainly have my fingers crossed for this years trips with Hebrides cruises that 2017 will be a year of good luck for everyone and for my camera.

On Elizabeth G last summer, the wildlife guide, Chris was filming Dolphins bow riding the boat and achieved some good sequences.  So, having seen how effective the small activity cameras are, I am thinking of investing in a "GoPro" for the season ahead.

Back in 2016, a few weeks later, when also in Scotland, I managed to see and photograph some Bottle Nosed Dolphins, which I have added below.

   
 
   
   
   
  Finland 2017
   
 

In previous years, i have been fortunate to have visited Finland several times, and 2017 is no exception. I have several target species, but I am not going to list them here.  Fingers crossed for another good trip, let's just see how my visit pan out, and hopefully more images will be added here later this year after another great trip.

In the meantime, I will however mention that, I hope to see several Ospreys in 2017, this year, I am hoping to photograph this great bird in both Finland and in Scotland.  In the meantime, here is an Osprey from a couple of years back.

   
 
   
   
   
  Other Plans
   
  I always enjoy photographing divers, grebes, and other water birds and in addition to the above, I have plans to add a few more of these into my collection.
   
   
 
 

 

  Other plans for 2017 include the usual mix of more birds, butterflies and flowers, If anything, my wildlife and photography targets have grown during the past twelve months.  There is still a long list of species that I would like to photograph.  Some of these have already been photographed before, but there will definitely be some new species added into the mix.
   
  Sometimes, plans are made just a few days in advance, but sometimes the opposite is true and some trips can take months, or even years to come to fruition.  For some time, I have been making plans for 2018 in terms of photographic trips, and these are going well.  But they are going to have to wait until another day from the point of view of being written about on here.
   
   
   
  Updating My Gallery Pages
   
 

One thing that has gradually changed for many people in the past year or so, is the move away from personal Website as a method of showing images and more into the use of social media.

I have used Facebook for a number of years and I have also posted many of my images onto Facebook, sometimes as well as putting them here onto my warpage.  But I am aware that sometimes, I don't get around to updating my Website and have used Facebook.
When I put new pictures on my warpage, they often go onto these blog posts, which is a great way to show what i have been doing recently.  But it is also common that I don't get around to updating my gallery pages, and during the early part of 2017, I want to update quite a few web pages, some of which will be new species pages.

I have plans to add a few more macro galleries including Green Winged Orchids, and Fly Orchids. There is of course always a few more images of birds to add into quite a few of the bird species pages.

Some of the new species pages to be built and added will include: Common Dolphins, and Grey Seals.  Initially these will be with images from 2016 and perhaps a few older images.  But I am sure many of these species will again feature in my 2017 photographic plans, so I will endeavour to add to the gallery over the next few weeks, and then add again as my images hopefully grow later in the year. 

   
   
 
   
   
 

Until recently, I have managed only a few images of seals that I have been pleased with, indeed previously my seal images have been taken from longer distances away and boats.  In mid December, Sue and myself got the opportunity to visit a Grey Seal colony to photograph the seals.  We had a good time with good numbers of very young seals about.  I only used my longest lens, and always ensured I was a good distance away from these lovely animals to avoid disturbance.  Sue helped with this and the seals were always allowed to go about their business in peace.  Well a relative amount of peace, as they seemed to enjoy chasing each other, and doing anything possible to annoy and disturb any other seals nearby.  But as mentioned above, I will be adding a "Grey Seal page" to my gallery during the next week or so.

I enjoyed the experience, and both Sue and myself have plans to revisit the site later in 2017 and add more images to my collection.  Hopefully some seals will also feature in the Hebrides visits which are planned during the summer. Especially as one of the trips I am on plans to visit Mingulay which is one of the British hotspots for seals.

There are always many species to see in the Hebrides,  although I already have many hundreds of images of Puffins, I will never become tired of getting more.

   
   
 
 
     
 
   
 

 

   
  Photographic Items away From The Camera
   
 

 

Image Processing:   As always, there are many other items away from the camera that are photography related that take up a photographers time.

As in past years, I enjoy these and are looking forward to many of them this year.

I sometimes hear a few people moaning about how far behind they are with image processing, but I manage to keep reasonably up to date with it.  Indeed, I enjoy image processing.
Indeed, I really enjoy being out on location, but I also look forward to seeing the results of my efforts on my computer screen.

 
   

Photographic Competitions:   I have enjoyed entering quite a few photographic competitions over the past few years.  I am both humbled and delighted that the judges have on occasions also liked my entry which has resulted in some pleasing awards including some great success in 2016.

Hopefully my AFIAP distinction will be gained in a couple of months time.  I have enough acceptances, have submitted my application, I am looking forward to hearing more on this.

I will also be trying my luck with a few new images in all sorts of competitions ranging from my local camera club which is Leicester Forest Photographic Society, through to international salons.

Judging is something that I occasionally do, more often than not in local camera clubs, both in wildlife and in open competitions.  I have been asked to be one of the judges in an international FIAP salon in Belgium in a few weeks time.  I will report more details on my blog later this month.

 
     

Wildlife Photography Talks:   Once I have processed these results, They are used for a wide variety of things.  In 2017, I will continue to update this blog and update my gallery pages.  Some of my images will be entered into photographic competitions.

And, as regular readers of my blog know, I also enjoy visiting clubs and societies and showing my work and i am pleased to have a growing number of bookings for 2017 as well as some for 2018.

Most of my talks are within easy travel of my home in the East Midlands, but over the next few months, I am visiting a few locations that are further afield including Bristol, Kiddeminster, and in early April I am at Kilmarus in southern Scotland.

 
     

Greetings Cards:  Recently, my greetings card sales have picked up well, and as a result, I had some new designs printed towards the end of 2016.  These were with a local printing company in Leicester that provided some great service and I was very pleased with the results.  the four new designs have also sold well.

As a result, I am going to increase my greetings card range by adding several new cards during the next few months.  My current thoughts are to include a few owls, Woodpeckers, and other birds.  I will also add more butterflies, mammals.  High on my list is also some Penguin cards.

 
     

Photographic Workshops:   Over the years, I have not run many photographic workshops due to time pressure.  A few years ago, O was asked to run some Pine Marten workshops in Scotland, and recently, I have helped quite a few people with various photography projects including some bits last September on my Hebrides cruise.

I have had a few more requests, and am in the process of putting a few more workshops together.  Please get in touch if this is of interest to you.  (Please also get in touch if there are any other aspects of my photography you wish to discuss.  I look forward to hearing from you. 

 
   
   
   
  Please Revisit My Blog soon
   
   
 

Although I have some exciting plans for 2017, I am looking forward to reporting on them and watching this page grow.  A lot of effort is spent on both this blog and my Website, so it would be good if you could watch this space.  During 2017, I will continue to endeavour to make a big effort to update when I can, this will include an update at least once per month, and often more. 

As I have stated before, it is a bit of a custom for me to start my yearly blog pages with a few thoughts of how I hope the year will progress along with a few thoughts on my plans to date.  It has been a very wet start to the year and I have had the opportunity to spend a bit of time writing more than I usually would.  Sue has spent much of the day sewing and has also enjoyed making some more great bags.

   
   
 
 

The rain has not been kind to our wildlife, and there has not been much wildlife around in my Leicestershire garden today.  As always, there has been a few camera shy foxes keeping their distance in the fields that we overlook.  But in the garden there has not been the usual buzz of winter activity around the nut and seed feeders. indeed I have only seen a few robins wandering across the grass in my garden on the hunt for food.

in 2017, I am going to target many of these common garden and woodland birds.  After all species such as: robins, woodpeckers, wrens, and long tailed tits, are all amongst our favourite British species, and it is easy to overlook them for some of the rare and uncommon birds and mammals.

   
   
 

It is very early in 2017, and I am looking forward to some lovely light for making photographs over the months ahead.  After all photography is all about making lovely images in lovely light.  But this year has certainly started dull with a damp, grey, wet, and misty start to 2017, and this has meant a bit of time sat in front of the computer, I had planned to go out for a walk today and try and burn off a few extra calories.  It has been a great Christmas in terms of mince pies, roasted parsnips, and the many delights of stilton.

Over the past twenty years, my waist line and weight have gradually expanded, until about 18 months ago, when i decided it was time to shed a few pounds.  Six months later, I had lost several stones, and both mountain climbing and lugging heavy camera gear around became much easier.  I have not weighed myself for a couple of weeks, but as soon as the weather improves, it is time to do some new year walking, eat less of the Christmas goodies, and shed half a stone. 

But that has not been today, the weather has dictated today to be an indoor start to 2017. As a result, I have written much more than I normally would at the start to the year, and although I have managed to update my blog fairly regularly during the past few months, I have written a longer post than of recent times.  I hope that quite a few people get round to reading it.   I have certainly enjoyed the update.  It has put me in a very positive mood regarding my trips and my photography in 2017 and I am really looking forward to the year ahead.  i might even try and find a bit more time to make my blog posts a bit longer with more news and thoughts as well as the facts surrounding my activities.

   
   
  Thank You All
   
 

To all of you who have read all of the above post, a big Thank You, for your ongoing support both here and on my Facebook page.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my update and my next twelve months of plans.

Best wishes to you in your travels, and for the photographers amongst you, I hope you get some great images during 2017.

   
   
 
   
   
  And finally for now, I will finish this post with a picture of the lovely "Lords and Ladies" in flower.  It is a plant that I had been wanting to photograph for some time.  During 2016, one of my good photography friends took me to a site that was less than an hours drive from my house.  It was a great day out as there were several hundred of these in flower.  We were a bit late in the season, and the vast majority of them were past their best.  It is a site that I would like to revisit again in 2017.
   
   
 

There are always several species that just don't work out as planned, this is wildlife and nothing is taken for granted.  But equally there is always a surprise or two, and you never know when its around the next corner.

Therefore, it is always fun at this time of the year wondering what the next twelve months will actually bring ???

   
   
 
   

 

 
To view my older blog posts - please use the above links in my "Blog" menu, where I have divided the blog by calendar year going back to 2012.
 
 
Blog History
 

I used to keep an active blog on my old Website and one of the things I am very keen to do is to get back in that habit and update this blog at least once a month and often more. 

Please revisit and keep an eye on what I have been up to along with my thoughts.
If you wish to comment, please use the Contact Nigel page.