Red Fox on the Prowl
Winter is almost here again and the chances of snowfall are approaching. Will we experience the snow we have had the past two winters, I wonder? For wildlife photography, the snowy conditions can really make some great photographs. A bird or animal can really stand out when surrounded by the white of the snow without any distractions or other colours in the scene, and this contrast focuses our attention onto the main subject.
I’ve been looking through some of the photographs I have taken over the last couple of winters and found this image of a red fox prowling in the snow and decided to convert the image to black and white. This increases the contrast even more to bring out the detail in the foxes fur. I particularly like the eye-contact of this fox. It has just heard the clicks of my camera shutter and is looking directly where the sound has come from, but I was hidden in a hide so it did not see me. The unusual sound of my camera was enough to stop this fox coming any closer; it just turned around and walked off.
See some more of my black and white wildlife prints
I have been experimenting with slow shutter speeds for birds in flight over the summer with varying results. I know some people are not keen on ‘blurry’ shots like this and prefer everything to be perfectly sharp to the tips of the wings, but I like the artistic, watercolour wash effect that slow shutter speeds can create; as long as the head is in focus and not blurred.
This common tern photograph was handheld at 1/160 th of a second showing the movement of the birds wings and the falling rain. I tried using various shutter speeds, slower and faster, than used here, but slower speeds make it extremely difficult to pan the camera successfully with such a high speed erratic movement of a bird like this common tern. I found higher shutter speeds made it easier to get the head sharp, but the blurring of the birds wings was not enough for my liking.
Do you like this kind of ‘arty’ bird photography? Please leave a comment with your views.
In my last post I mentioned the anticipation and return of kingfishers to my local patch. Here is one of the first images I managed to capture in the warm morning sunlight of a juvenile male kingfisher sitting on its favourite perch. I was lucky to get this photograph because when I arrived at the hide, the shutters were closed, I peered out through a gap in the wood and spotted this kingfisher, but if I had opened the shutters I would have scared him off. There is a three inch hole in the hide at ground level, so I lay down on the hide floor under the seats and tried to manually focus my lens peering through this hole with my head at 90 degrees – not the most comfortable position! Luckily I managed to get a few shots in focus before he flew off!
After the kingfisher had flown, I opened the hide shutters and sat waiting for his return, but after five hours wait I had to give up. I have learned to accept that in wildlife photography, this is the norm, and you have to put in many hours waiting in the field, often without much luck!
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The kingfishers are back at my local nature reserve; at least one for now anyway. This happens around the same time every year as the young birds are chased off the adults’ territory somewhere further downstream, and they find their way to the lake. I have been going down and sitting for hours in the hide, but the light has been very poor with heavy rain and the kingfisher has only paid a few brief visits. I got a few photos, but hopefully I will get some nicer shots when the weather improves. The above photograph is one I took last summer. Here’s hoping I can get some similar soon!
My Kingfisher Prints are available to buy at Redbubble.
Long-eared Owls are usually nocturnal, so I was extremely lucking to witness and photograph this long-eared owl in flight early one morning whilst walking near Druridge Bay in Northumberland. I’m guessing the rain through the night prevented this owl from hunting and was forced to search for food during daylight, luckily for me!
I watched this owl for thirty minutes or so flying back and forth, occasionally landing on a distant fence post, where I could clearly see its long ear tufts. This photograph was taken as it passed by close to where I was standing.
This photograph is available to buy as a mounted or framed print and as a greeting card. Long-eared Owl Print
Hunting Barn Owl
There is often a lot of luck involved in wildlife and bird photography and being in the right place at the right time. This photograph of a Barn Owl hovering while hunting for voles is such a case. I was driving past Cresswell pond in Northumberland one evening as the sun was setting and noticed this barn owl hunting. I was lucking enough to be in the perfect position so the golden light of the setting sun was shining through the owl’s wing feathers which are enhanced by the dark green in the background.
It is always a great pleasure to watch these silent birds in flight and try to photograph them.
Barn Owl Print
Posted in Bird Prints
Tagged barn owl, birds, birds in flight, greeting cards, nature, northumberland, owl prints, owls, photography, prints, wildlife
Merlins are small falcons that breed in the uplands of Northumberland during the summer. In the autumn and winter they can be seen along the east coast as they move away from their breeding grounds in search of food. This particular individual I found one day whilst walking along the cliff edge near St Mary’s Island. I spotted this Merlin from some distance, so I decided to test my stalking skills and see if I could get close enough to photograph.
I crept along the cliff edge keeping out of sight, then when I thought I was getting close I peered over the edge. It saw me right away; so much for the stealth stalking! I was surprised the merlin didn’t fly off, but it seemed unconcerned with my presence and continued to preen itself and watch passing Rock Pipits below.
This is the closest encounter I have had to a merlin in the wild and I spent the next twenty minutes watching and photographing this stunning bird of prey before a carrion crow mobbed it and it flew.