Monday, September 30, 2013

An upcoming talent - upcoming

Back in 2008 I wrote a post which included shots of both water voles and a lesser spotted woodpecker nest - weeks like that don't come along every ...... well, week.

It included reference to a young lass I met at the vole site by the name of Jodie Randall.  Even then her website highlighted an individual style, and she has developed further HERE.

She won a BWPA award in 2010, provided a picture for an album cover, helped set up a website/blog for young nature photographers (New Shoots) and most recently I noted will be speaking at Wildphotos this year. 

Not bad going - and you read it here first!  I'd recommend a look at the Newshoots blog - there are some really quite artistic approaches as well as good 'classic' nature shots.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Local buzzards

The sound of the local buzzards mewing reminded me that the fledging of the youngsters had proved a good time to try and get pics in the past, so having tracked down another roadkill rabbit it was time to set up the hide amongst the bushes and sit back in the hope of a visit.
Took a couple of hours, a few magpies aside, but then I heard calling and a bird came in for a look. It was quite wary so I didn't start snapping. Interestingly it didn't feed, but started calling answered by a second bird which came nearer before they swapped over.  Ageing buzzards is tricky but I suspected a parent calling a juvenile - who knows.

The new bird settled into feeding allowing plenty of time for snaps - nothing out of the ordinary, and the light was a bit flat, but as in the past a rewarding experience to be so close to such a beautiful bird.

Later there was a changeover again although this bird didn't really feed.

By late afternoon when we walked the dogs round the rabbit had all gone.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Black and white but mostly red all over

Kay going away for a week with her mum gave me the chance for a day out with the camera - but where to go in August?  The problem with birds at this time of year - the moult - was highlighted in the last post, but without other prep time I couldn't think what else to do.

So it was an early start and off I headed to the Elan valley and the red kites at Gigrin farm.  I got a few early morning snaps cruising the fences at Elan, and later deleted them all in error - too many memory cards!  Still although I could do with some better shots of meadow pipit and pied wagtail it wasn't a heartbreaker.  I did get some nice views of red kite, raven and goosander, but not close enough for pictures.  A wander round Gilfach Farm NR was pleasant enough, but of course the migrants were all headed south again, so it was flowers and butterflies and a stroll by the river.  Enjoying an ice cream I noticed a baby bank vole exploring the big wide world - cute but it won't last too long if it doesn't realise the world isn't just food.

A quick nap in the car and off to Gigrin.  It's quite a while since I was last there, but my memory was of shooting up at the birds in flight, so I decided to fork out a bit extra for the higher 'hides' to see if I could get anything a bit different.

You've probably seen Gigrin on the tv - they feed dozens, sometimes hundreds of kites on pieces of beef scattered around a small field. 

The kites appear at varying times after the 3pm start, and usually the first birds in action are the buzzards and corvids.  It was here I first realised that a raven could be bigger than a buzzard.  Then the kites dive down and grab some meat - rarely landing, but instead eating in the air or heading to the surrounding trees.

The kites start circling in ever increasing numbers, a frustrating number displaying the wing tags that may help research but do stand out in a snap.  A chance to snap the well known leucistic (white but not albino) kite showed just how much of a problem the moult might be.

There are many thousand Gigrin red kite shots out there now and whilst it was nice to get some for the portfolio the chances of something different was always going to be limited.  The light at first was a bit harsh, but by 5.30 when everyone else had gone home the light warmed up and I got a few better shots.   To start with there were the inevitable cruising bird snaps.

I decided the best chance of a different shot probably lay with catching a bird just at the point where it flipped from cruising into a dive to grab some food, but it was easier said than done.  This really was a case of needing to keep going and a reminder that I need to practice flight shots more!  So often it just didn't quite work.

Some were more interesting and I had also forgotten the fabulous plumage on the kites back where the warm colours and strong patterns really stood out.

I had hoped to get a raven shot or two for my albums.  In the end I did get a couple of flight shots I liked but more cropped than I would have hoped.  Still with the 5DIII in play (I'd say better tracking than the 1DIII) there was some scope to crop and still have a shot that looks good on the web.  There's the black, and a view of the leucistic bird that avoided the moulting mess provides the white.

Still it's the kites that take the honours and here are probably my favourite shots from the session - none the epic snap, but let's not be greedy.

Now a few shots with some snow might look good ...............