Ophrys Photography

Wildlife photography by John Devries, Kent UK. Inspirational images from nature.
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Image(s) of the month 2008

Image of the month archives :


December 2008 - Green heron, stonechat and jay

green heron

This is an extremely rare vagrant to Britain. It is a green heron from the central United States.This is the first time that the bird has ever been recorded in my county of Kent.It stayed for a couple of weeks on the Royal Military canal at Hythe living on fish that it seemed to catch with considerable ease.


This is a male stonechat. The picture was taken on a sunny November day at Capel Fleet on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. The lane is very narrow and we had to back the car up countless times while trying to get a shot from the car window as the bird and it's mate moved about on the fence posts.On one occasion the male perched on this dried stem which made a nice shot. Picture was taken with the Canon 1DmkIII camera and 500mm f4 lens plus 2x extender.


December is the month that I like to focus on garden birds. The feeders are now attracting losts of birds, including a pair of jays this year.They are usually very shy and difficult to photograph, but for some reason this pair are more obliging than usual. There are also a couple of grey squirrels around which seem to help put the jays at ease. Photo taken with Canon EOS 1DsmkII plus 500mm f4.

November 2008 - Woodmouse and bear cub

Wood mouse

The woodmouse is one of Britain's commonest rodents, but as it is largely nocturnal, secretive and fast- moving, it is rarely photographed well. So I was very pleased to get this shot. Rather cute isn't he ?

European brown bear

This young European brown bear cub sped up a tree when an enormous male appeared in the forest clearing where they were feeding. The cub's mother was much smaller than the male but bravely launched an attack on him and saw him off. In this shot, the cub is watching the action and shortly afterwards clambered safely back down to the ground after the danger had passed.

October 2008 - Grevey's zebra and Oryx

Grevey's zebra

This is the rare Grevey's zebra. It has much less coarse stripes than the common zebra. A really beautiful animal. Photographed in evening light in Samburu Kenya.


The oryx is reputed to have inspired the myth of the unicorn. If it stands sideways you only see one horn, so it looks a bit like a horse with a single horn on it's head. This image was taken in the mid day sun in a temperature of around 47 degrees centigrade! Image taken in Samburu, Kenya.

September 2008 - Grey-headed kingfisher, Kenya

Grey-headed kingfisher

This is a grey-headed kingfisher from Samburu in Kenya.Kingfishers can be very obliging there compared t the very shy birds I usually encounter in the UK. This one was perched up on a twig right out in the open in the scorching sun, some distance from water. The landrover enabled us to make a close approach, and this picture was taken using a bean bag for support. Canon EOS 40D camera and 500 mm f4 lens.

August 2008 - Hornet on lavender and Gannet's head


This is a hornet on a lavender stem.The hornet is the largest member of the UK wasp family, but contrary to it's appearance is a gentle giant. It is very placid and the chances of getting stung unless you do something stupid like attack a nest are very low. This is one of my first images taken with my awesome secondhand Canon 1Ds mk II. This has 16.7 high qualtiy megapixels on it's big full frame sensor. I think I am going to enjoy myself with this new toy!


This is another shot from last month's Bass Rock gannet trip. It is an unusual perspective. I love the way the bird's eyes can actually look underneath it's beak - and that blue eye-ring is just beautiful isn't it ?

July 2008 - Puffin with sandeels, herring gull, gannets.

puffin with sandeels

This is a classic shot of everyones favourite, a puffin, with a beak full of sandeels. I took it on Staple island in the Farnes off the cosat of Northumberland. I also visited Inner Farne and Bass rock on this trip. The site, sound and smell of a colony of thousands of seabirds is a very spectacular experience.

herring gull

My next picture is a wide-angle shot of a herring gull - taken on the boat trip across to Bass rock, the home of thousands of nesting gannets.

gannets displaying

I couldn't resist putting in a picture of a gannet pair greeting each other after one returned from fishing at sea.

June 2008 - Female red-footed falcon and red-backed shrike

red-footed falcon

This is a female red-footed falcon preening it's scythe-shaped wings. The image was taken in Hungary from a tower hide at a nest site.

red-backed shrike

This is another fantastic bird from Hungary - the red-backed shrike. It is also known as the butcher bird, as it sometimes produces a food larder by hanging it's prey - dragonflies, beetles and sometimes even mice, onto barbed wire or brambles for consumption later.

May 2008 - Sawfly orchid, Ophrys tenthredinifera and Common tern

ophrys tenthredenifera

Well, this is "Ophrys" Photography, so about time an Ophrys ochid was made Image of the Month I guess. This is one of my favourite European ophrys orchids - Ophrys tenthredinifera. It was taken in April this year in the Gargano in Italy. Unfortunately it is not found in the UK. However, the early spider orchid - Ophrys sphegodes should be in full flower now, and may be seen in great numbers at Samphire Hoe in Kent.

common tern

This common tern was found at Rye Harbour nature reserve. It sat on this post for about thirty minutes while I waited for it to do something interesting. Eventually, it stretched it's wings vertically before taking flight.The shot was taken with the Canon 1Dmk III with 500mm f4 plus 2x converter.


April 2008 - Elephant, Starling ,Red squirrel and long-tailed tits

Image of the month - elephant

Something a bit different this month - I don't do much monochrome, but I thought that this study of an African elephant that I took in Kenya last September was a good candidate for conversion (No need to shoot in black and white with a digital camera). I used Photoshop CS3's new b&w tool which is found in Image>adjustments >black and white and adjusted the colour sliders until I arrived at a pleasing range of tones in the image. I have started a new monochrome gallery which I will be adding to as I find other images that please me.


Image of the month - Starling

My second image is of a very common garden bird - the humble starling. It is surprsingly beautiful when captured in full sun like this. The picture was taken with my new Canon EOS 1D mk III.

Image of the month - REd squirrel

I couldn't resist putting in this image. How cute is this little guy ? He is a red squirrel in his winter coat. The picture was taken in Finland where the red squiggs have grey and red coats in winter, unlike the UK ones which are all red. Both forms are still called "Eusasian red squirrel" - but are colour morphs. In Formby, there are some very dark red squirrels with black tails. On the Isle of white I believe they are very dark - rather like those to be found in parts of southern Europe.

Image of the month - Long tailed tits

Keeping up the cuties - my final image this month is of a pair of long-tailed tits who obligingly posed momentarily on this tree trunk for me before fluttering off. Have you noticed that these birds have an orange upper eyelid ?


March 2008 - Water rail and Green woodpecker

Image of the month - Water rail

Water rails are usually very secretive birds, but this one ( in fact one of a pair) are very used to people walking their dogs along the tow-path beside the little river where they live amongst the reeds. Consequently, they will often creep out to find food or have a little paddle. I liked the reflection with this one. Image taken with Canon 40D.

Image of the month - Green woodpecker

The second image is of a green woodpecker on my field gate. It is one of the first images I have taken with my new Canon 1D mk III camera - what a start ! It had come down to some apples that I had put on the ground, but flew up to the gate right by my hide when a blackbird made an alarm call. I still had the 500mm lens and 1.4x extender on, so I was lucky to get the whole bird in the frame. She (female because there is no red in the moustache) stayed about 2 seconds before flying back to the apples on the ground.

The new camera is producing some wonderfully detailed images straight out of the camera with minimal post-processing. The autofocus also seems spot-on - canon finally seem to have fixed it !

February 2008 - Golden eagle and Crested tit


Image of the month - Golden eagle

Last year I spent three long days in a hide in Finland trying to get some shots of golden eagles in the snow, but I had no luck. This year was different, and I got some great shots of these magnificent birds on two separate days. This one is feeding on a hare. There are more images of the eagles in the eagles gallery.

Image of the month - Crested tit

This month's second image is of a crested tit on an old tree stump with a bracket fungus attached to it. The shot was also taken in Finland. This is one of my favourite birds, it is a shame that we don't get them in England, they are restricted to Scotland. I love the colours in this image, the blur of falling snow, and the striking aggressive posture that the bird is adopting against a rival tit just out of the frame.

January 2008 - Kestrel and Green bee-eater

Image of the month -  Kestrel

This kestrel has recently posed on various fence posts up a track that leads to a nature reserve. despite being quite obliging when shooting from the car, things had not really gone my way, in that it often perched on something unsightly or on one occasion it frustratingly sat in great light right behind the reserve sign. One evening I could see that there was going to be a sunset, so I dashed over to the reserve and thankfully found the kestrel sitting on a post while the sun went down - casting this beautiful golden evening light.

Image of the month -  Little bee eater

This exquisite little bee-eater was photographed in Kenya. Is is related to the European bee-eater.which is considerably bigger.


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