Ophrys Photography

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News 2012

Latest image updates
- Last updated 3rd November 2012





Coastal brown bear 1
Coastal brown bear 2
Kodiak bear


 

Archives :
Wildlife photography blog 2012
- Last updated 1st November 2012



Ophrys Photography images used as inspiration for woodprints.

I am often approached by artists to use my images as source material for paintings and drawings. One very novel artform using them currently is for woodprints of birds. You can purchase these amazing framed prints yourself from Woodprint Studio for the very reasonable sum of £36.99. They make great presents so why not take a look ?

Here is a kingfisher image and the woodprint it inspired for example -
   
Kingfisher
Kingfisher woodprint


Canon enable 1Dx and 5DIII to autofocus to f8

One of my beefs against the 1Dx and 5DIII (in my article on the 5DIII early impressions) was that they cannot autofocus when the lenses are used with extenders which take the widest aperture to f8. All previous 1 series cameras have had the ability to autofocus at f8 (centre point only). You will come across this issue if you add a 1.4x extender to an f5.6 lens such as the 400mm f5.6 as you loose a stop of light taking the lens to f8. Also a 2x converter used on an f4 lens will also retain Af.

The good news if you own a 1Dx is that you can now download a firmware upgrade that sorts the issue here. This firmware also fixes the issue where it was difficult to see the black autofocus points in dark situations : Displays the viewfinder information (such as the AF frames, grid, etc.) in red during autofocusing and AI Servo AF. Note: When shooting in dark environments during AI Servo AF, the AF points can be easily confirmed. During AI Servo AF, the viewfinder will be lit intermittently, not continuously.

Today Canon announced that they would also release firmware to enable the 5DmkIII to autofocus to f8. This is a first for a 5 series camera.We will have to wait until April 2013 for it unfortunately but beggars can't be choosers I suppose. To read more click here.


Alaska

My wife and I left for Kodiak in Alaska on the 18th August for just over two weeks - it was a long slog via Seattle and Anchorage (where we did an overnight stop). The 250 mile journey from Anchorage to Kodiak was with ERA airlines in a small propeller plane - after a brief altercation about the size and weight of my camera bag we were away.

We hired a car with Budget Rentals at Kodiak airport and stayed at a really great B&B called the Cranky Crow for a week. There are only 100 miles of road on Kodiak and the remainder of the island is wilderness and home to over 3000 bears - the main reason for our trip.
It has been a lifetime's ambition of mine to watch bears fishing for salmon in the rivers where they go to spawn each year.We did not fancy going to Brooks falls in Katmai as this has become rather commercial and you have to stay in one camp and be escorted to viewing platforms where you take (the same) shots of the bears fishing in the falls along with everyone else. Instead we were booked onto a boat with a small group and were to travel to various unspoilt bays along the southern Katmai coast between Hallo Bay and Geographic Harbour. But I am getting ahead of myself. Before we set off for Katmai we had a week on our own on Kodiak.

Kodiak is a very beautiful island. Scenery is conifers, water - lots of islands and sheltered bays, rivers, views of mountains - you get the picture, gorgeous North American/Canadian or Norwegian Fjords kind of stuff. Temperature was just on the cool side of nice, so a light coat was required all the time. In our week we had two days of solid sunshine and the rest of the time was a bit like April in the UK - Sunshine, cloud, some rain, all in a day.


Kodiak - view towards the airport from Pillar Mountain

Kodiak harbour is a great place to see Bald Eagles - they were nesting in the distant trees and would often fly down and land on a ship mast or on a lamppost. We also saw them on the unmade road to Anton Larson bay in more natural surroundings in the pine trees.


Bald Eagle at Anton Larson Bay


Approachable Bald Eagle on a lamp post in Kodiak harbour

We had some very pleasant walks along the trails at Fort Abercrombie and watched Horned Puffins, various Mures (Guillemots) and juvenile Harlequin Ducks from the shore. The forests must be very wet as they drip with moss - from every branch as well as the forest floor. A small image does them no justice I'm afraid - the original photo is quite stunning.


Fort Abercrombie moss trail


A lake at Fort Abercrombie

Mid way through our first week, although we had witnessed the salmon run at Women's Bay (where we had heard reports of bears) we had still not seen a bear since our arrival. This is not unusual as the bears are very secretive and the majority live in the wilderness away from Kodiak town. Time for our first floatplane ride ! Organising this proved to be quite a task as the salmon ladder at one of the main viewing places at Faser Lake had been closed and there were no more bears there. At another location, you could not get out of the plane onto dry land without a special licence ! All the bear-viewing planes were now going to Katmai - but we didn't want to go there as a) we wanted to see the Kodiak bear and b) we were going to Katmai the next week anyway. Finally we struck gold and were treated to being one of the very first visitors to the newly opened Kodiak Brown Bear Centre based at Camp Island, Karluk Lake.

We were taken by our Island Airways pilot in a tiny four-seater floatplane to this remote part of the Karluk watershed. We flew for an hour over breathtaking mountain and lake scenery before touching down onto the water at Thumb River. From the plane we saw a bear and cub beneath us - game on.


Our tiny floatplane

The bears on Kodiak are brown bears. They are the same species as the European brown bear (Ursos arctos) and the same as the bears on Katmai that live around the coastal areas and also grizzly bears that live inland such as in Denali. All these bears have adapted to diets with differing amounts of protein and have evolved geographically to tend towards giantism on Kodiak (where they have been isolated for 12000 years), to be grizzled in appearance in some locations (grizzlies), to be small in Europe due to the lack of protein-rich salmon etc. Brown bears can vary in colour from pale golden through brown to black and black bears can be brown - confusing ? The one big give-away for a brown bear is the fact that it has a large hump on its shoulders that the black bear lacks.


Kodiak bear - note the hump behind the head


Arty backlit shot of a kodiak bear shaking water out like a dog. The trails amongst the water drops are slobber !

Our jovial pilot, Keller, was also our bear guide and he certainly got us up close and personal to the bears on our very first encounter.We sat very still and they came within a few feet of us as they carried on fishing for salmon.As you sit there with an enormous totally wild predator striding towards you through the water, every fibre of your being is saying arghh ! run! but this is the very last thing you should do. I'm not going to go into bear safety here, but we obeyed the bear etiquette of staying still and let them come to us if they wanted to. We had the experience of a lifetime as they walked past so close, in fact too close for my lens to focus. This was the time to put the camera down and just soak up what your eyes can barely comprehend is right in front of you.


Kodiak bear cub chasing a Sockeye Salmon

We had lots more wildlife experiences on Kodiak such as photographing Steller's Sea Lions in the harbour, Black Oystercatchers, Fox Sparrows, Yellow and Wilson's Warblers on Anton Larson Bay road, and we even found a couple species of orchid (both new to me). We did not see any whales from Kodiak although these are very possible if your luck is in.

But I must push on and tell you about our second week where we met up with the rest of our group flying over to Katmai.


Flight to Katmai

After another night on Kodiak in the Kodiak Best Western we were flown over to Katmai by Andrew Airways in renovated De Havilland floatplanes. The flight was very rough as it had become very windy and we were very lucky to get there on that day as the remainder of our group were unfortunately stranded on Kodiak for another day as it was too windy to fly. We were flown out to two boats moored in Kukak Bay - the Kittiwake and the Puk-uk. After lunch and an introductory talk on the Kittiwake, from our guides Steve and Dave, and we were transferred by our ever-jovial boatman Mike in a small metal skiff to our boat the Puk-uk which would be home for the rest of the week.


Puk-uk moored in Geographic Harbour

Each day we moved to a different bay and went ashore in the skiff, back to the boat for lunch and back to shore in the afternoon.Each location was different, some had mountainous backdrops, there was a beach, a river and a waterfall.We saw bears at each location, all trying to catch salmon with varying degrees of success.

I will put a gallery of images together, but here are a few Katmai bears to be going on with.


Bathtime bear


Bears in stunning Kuliak Bay


Splashing bear


Mother bear being defensive - her cubs were just out of shot


Family portrait


Successful catch

Close encounters

Let's get this straight, bears are dangerous animals and I wouldn't dream of recommending doing what the following images portray unless accompanied by a very experienced bear guide. Ours had drilled us thoroughly in bear etiquette. In the salmon run, bears are very preoccupied in stuffing themselves with fish. Sit still and the bears will often come to you, or to be more accurate, they will carry on doing what they were doing as if you were not there. This can be both exciting, and a bit scary, but for the wildlife fanatic, there are few experiences anywhere in the world that can match it. I have photographed lions and tigers in the wild - but from the safety of a Landrover - not right out in the open like this.


Do you want to come salmon fishing with me ?


Our boat's chef, Curt, has a close encounter. When the bear passed in front of him on that strip of sand it was about four or five feet away


Head shot taken with 24-105mm at the short end of the zoom !


Never get too close to cubs - but what can you do when they come right up to you ? Taken at at a focal length of 70mm.


Oh come on - don't get me into trouble with your mum !

In summary, this was an awesome trip that I will add to my list of best evers. I really loved Alaska and this has whetted my appetite for Canada and other wilderness parts of America to see more stunning wilderness scenery, orcas, moose and black bears !


Closest I got to a sea otter -taken with 500mm lens plus 2x converter (1000mm) I'd like to have a better photo shoot with these cuties.


Ophrys Photography Facebook Ophrys Photography is now on facebook

Hey - look who's gone all trendy ! John Devries is now on Facebook and he will be posting some images that you will not necessarily have seen on the website unless you dig deep within the galleries.

In addition to this, you will now find "Like buttons" on the Image of the Month page so you can now get involved and Like/Commenton an image. I have now worked out how to add a Send button too, so you will soon be able to send a link to an image or page to your friends. You may also start to see these buttons appearing on other pages such as Tutorials so I can better guage what people think about them. You will find the first at the bottom of the recent CS6 update tutorial page - cool or what ?


Tips and tutorials - new tutorial on carrying out RAW conversions in Photoshop CS6 using ACR 7. (Also relevant to users of Lightroom 4)



I have been using Adobe Camera RAW 7.1 since acquiring my new Canon 5DmkIII. It offers some good improvements over previous versions of ACR. However, there are new sliders that have to be used a little differently to before. The last update I did was for CS3 and there have been many changes between then and the current version so this is loing overdue.

In addtion to the actual RAW conversions I also cover using some of the new ACR tools such as the Targeted adjustment tool, Adjustment brush and graduated filter. All with my usual worked examples.

To view the tutorial click here: Carrying out raw conversions with ACR 7 for Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4.


Emperors and other butterflies


About ten years ago I took some friends to a wood in Surrey to see Silver-washed fritillaries, white admirals, wood whites and if we were lucky - purple emperor. After entering the wood and walking a short distance along the track, we came across a fabulous male purple emperor feeding on something unsavoury looking on the path (animal dung). We were shooting video at the time and the butterfly let us film it for ages and even allowed me to pick it up on my finger.

I have been trying annually ever since to get a repeat of this occasion so I could take stills. Unfortunately, the emperors are rare and elusive, preferring to spend their time in the tree tops where thy defend there territories avidly. This year's attempt has been the closest that I have come to a repeat. After a few hours in the same wood I came across someone who had a male sitting on his finger while the insect probed the ground for moisture and salts that it needs to mate later in the day. It was a little tatty but still flashed its wings a few time which gave a glimpse of the stunning purple-blue metallic sheen that makes this butterfly so popular. No upper wing photos this year though - next year perhaps.



We tried to prise the butterfly from his finger but it flew off and up into a tree where it perched a little high for my 100mm macro lens.



It didn't stay there long either and flew off down the track, this time coming to rest on a tree trunk.


The fritillaries and white admirals that are usually so numerous in this wood were being remarkably scarce and uncooperative on this day, partly due to the bizarre cold and wet weather this year , but also because we were a little late in the month I suspect. However, the wood whites were on the wing. These are small weak-flying butterflies that never land with their wings open.The challenge is trying to make them look something in a photo as they are essentially plain white with a few subtle grey markings. This is the type of shot that many people end up with if they are lucky..



But I wanted something better than that. I noticed that when the butterfly was backlit, the sun shining through the wings revealed the spots on the upper surface of the forewings.Here is my second attempt that I think you will agree is far more satisfying and demonstrates how a simple change in position can make a huge difference to an image.

Wood white
Please click on the image to see a larger 1100 pixel version
Press F11 to see full screen (and F11 to exit again)


Canon 40mm f2.8 STM pancake lens
 
Canon 40mm f2.* stm pancake lens

A couple of my friends have just bought the new 40mm f2.8 pancake lens and to be honest at first I wondered why. That is, until I tried one on my new 5D mark III.
To cut to the chase, this lens is quite shockingly sharp at the centre and is very good right into the corners if stopped down a bit. It is so flat (as the proverbial pancake, hence the name) and light in weight - it is about as big as a 25mm extension tube and it is such good value - I paid £160 from Digital Rev.
If you go to the lens comparisons on the Digital Picture and put this little beauty up against pretty well anything else that you can think of, it comes out astonishingly well. It is really the bargain of the century and every camera bag or coat pocket shoud have one !

Here is a quick test pic of my cat Monty, taken with the pancake lens on the Canon 5DmkIII camera. Click on the images below for larger 1100 pixel versions:

40mm f2.8 pancake lens sample image - monty
Monty - click image for larger version


MOnty - 100% crop
100% Crop of same image - Click image for larger version

The lens also has a beautiful background blur (bokeh) and the STM motor is very quiet albeit a bit slow and the build quality looks great. Is there anything that I woud put as a minus against it ? Well, it does vignette (darken in the corners) a bit on a full frame camera but this is easily fixed in post process. This lens is as close as you can get to the proverbial no-brainer and as such I highly recommend it. There is another, more detailed review of the lens here. And another one here.


Canon EOS 5DmkIII firmware update

You can download the latest firmware here. Amongst other things it updates support for he new 40mm f2.8 pancake lens with step motor.


Canon EOS 5DmkIII first impressions
 
Canon 5d mkIII front
Canon EOS 5DmkIII

I have recently upgraded my 5D mark to to the 5D mark 3. I frequently find that when new cameras are released, the manufacturers marketing departments have done a good job of talking up the new product's abilities and this is often bouyed up by purchasers who are still on a wave of excitement at getting a new toy and want to mentally justify their new purchase. Claims for noise performance particularly I find are often exagerated, and customer feedback is often based on gut feeling rather than any challenging scientific comparisons. I recently read the blog of a well-known American bird photographer who admitted that he never did comparative testing and relied on using the equipment in the field. Although real world use is of course the ultimate decider, claims should be challenged scientifically if they are to have true merit.

I have carried out some basic side-by-side tests of the new 5Dkm III against the previous model at all Isos and have formulated my own opinions and have reported back on this and the other changes to the new camera in an article : Canon EOS 5DmkIII first impressions . Hopefully you will find it useful if you are thinking of upgrading.


Photographing plants with long lenses.

The usual way of photographing small plants (such as my favourites - wild orchids) is by using a macro lens of 50mm to 180mm focal length. The 100mm f2.8L IS macro is my usual choice as it gives excellent image quality, is quite light to carry and has an image stabiliser which enables handholding when not going in too close. Unfortunately, some orchids such as the military orchid below, often grow in a tangle of vegetation which shows up in the background as ugly diagonal criss-cross lines.


Military orchid with ugly background

There are things that you can do to minimise this problem such as getting the camera really low so it is seeing a more distant piece of background or even sky, rather than the vegetation immediately beneath the plant. Also a wide aperture may be selected to blur the background more, but frequently there will then be parts of the plant that will appear out of focus that you would rather were in focus. You can also do a bit of subtle "gardening" to remove some background distractions, but the welfare of the plant must not be put in jeopardy by exposing it too much.

The most powerful means of blurring the background to a beautiful smooth pastel effect is by using a lens of long focal length. I often use a 300mm f2.8 for this purpose as it can give a very nice background. A 300mm f4 will also work very well.The working distance of course, will be much greater, so at this distance, it is not difficult to get all of the plant in focus at wide apertures and still maintain a good background blur.

The only problem is that long lenses can not focus very close, but a work around for this is to add an extension tube (a tube with no glass elements) between the lens and the camera body. I frequently add one or two 25mm extension tubes. The magnification then increases and you can work closer, but you will still be much further away from the subject than you would be with a 100mm macro. Camera shake and subject motion blur (wind) becomes critical at high magnification , so it is imperative to work off of a sturdy tripod and to use a cable release. I now use liveview exclusively and focus manually on my subject with liveview zoomed to 10x. With the Canon 5DmkII, silent mode 1 (set in the camera custom functions) enables very smooth shutter releases without the camera mirror bouncing up and down causing vibration. In 1 series cameras it is necessary to use mirror lock up as well. I now use MLU or Liveview silent mode 1 for all work at shutterspeeds less than 1/250th sec. Modern cameras appear to create a lot of internal vibration which must be controlled if you want sharp images.


Bee orchid with long lens technique

You can also add tele converters (extenders) to many L series lenses to increase their focal length, but even non L lenses can be forced to accept an extender if a short extension tube is placed between the converter and the camera body.
Another favourite combination of mine is the 180mm f3.5L macro lens combined with a 1.4x converter as this gives 252mm of focal length in a reasonably light package that will focus extremely close for high magnifications. I find that adding a 2x converter also works very well but robs a further stop of light so maintaining high shutterspeeds can become an issue. There are more images taken with the long lens technique in this month's image of the month.

Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II saga continued

One of my favourite zoom lenses is the Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II. It is astonishingly sharp even when used wide open at f2.8. When f2.8 is combined with the 4 stop image stabiliser it provides a brilliant low-light tool than can usually be handheld without resorting to a tripod.

Unfortunately as reported previously, the image stabiliser (IS) gave up on my lens and I returned it to CPS (Canon Professional Services) via Jacobs Digital in London. The lens seemed to be taking forever to come back, so I chased Jacobs, who informed me that they had sadly gone into liquidation. This is a great pity as Jacobs have been established for 70 years and I have always found them to be very helpful. Thanks to Graeme who has fortunately just landed a job at Calumet, I was provided with everything I needed to deal with CPS direct. Eventually I got my lens back with the IS fixed and a very pleasant surprise - The parts had been provided free of charge under "goodwill", presumably as the lens was only just outside warranty. I was just charged labour which still amounted to £207.

Next step was to carry out the lens micro adjustments using my usual "tethered technique". However, the lens looked unusually soft and lacking contrast despite my best efforts to get it adjusted. Thinking I was going nuts, I set up my 180mm macro by way of comparison and it looked much better. On further investigation I discovered that the 70-200 was very soft until stopped down to f8 after which it became fine ! So I printed off my findings and back to CPS it went again. UPS wanted to charge me £50 to collect the 3Kg box valued at £1890 (shocked to find that the current price of the lens had increased from £1300 I paid to this amount). I sent it by Royal mail fully insured Special Delivery in the end for £24. Interestingly UPS charged Canon just £8 to return the lens to me !

Five days later I had the lens back once more (Free of charge as it was now guaranteed for 6mths for the repair) and this time it looked stellar when set to 200mm at any aperture and regardless of whether I had a 1.4x or 2x extender fitted. Hoorah.

Finally, I thought I had better check the lens at another focal length, so I tried 100mm. The results on the tethered laptop looked a bit dissapointing soI substituted the 70-200 set to 100mm for a 24-105mm f4 set to 100mm and tried again. It looked much the same, so I concluded that I was just expecting too much of the lens at this distance and it is probably fine. I still suspect that the lens has been optimised for use at 200mm and I am planning to do a further side-by-side comparison with a friend's lens some time in the near future. It just goes to show that you should always check your lenses, even if they have just been returned from the manufacturer !

 


Orchids

The last week in May is a great time to go orchid hunting in the Southeast. I visited three sites this week and photographed burnt tip, fly, lady, birds nest and monkey. As the weather has been wet followed by sun, the plants have done very well this year.

My first site in Sussex was for the rare Burnt tip orchid (Orchis ustulata). Site access has changed since my last visit and it took me several hours of slogging around steep slopes to locate the plants that I hadn't seen since about 1994. I was eventually rewarded with the wonderful sight of several hundred burnt tips in full bloom.

The habitat



A nice group of three plants together in the same plane so minimal
depth of field was required.


Close up of the flowering spike

The next day I visited a site in Kent for what used to be the best location for lady orchids(Orchis purpurea) in the country. These are only to be found in Kent and at one location in Oxfordshire. Unfortunately the Kent site has become ravaged by deer in recent times and I have failed to find a single flowering spike for the past few years. I was pleased to see that 12 plants were managing to flower this year and one was a white form (var alba).

A search of the site turned up some more orchids - Twayblades (a green and rather boring looking species) were literally everywhere and there were a couple of fly orchids (Ophrys insectifera) and a dozen really tall birds nest orchids (Neottia nidus avis).


Birds nest orchid

Birds nest orchids grow in deep shade and are saprophytes on the roots of trees, mainly beech. The plant above was just being hit by a shaft of filtered sunlight so made a nice shot without having to resort to using flash.

My last site was a well-known Kent Trust nature reserve in the heart of the Kent countryside. In the 1950's the site was sown with seed of the monkey orchid (Orchis simia). The seed came from one of only two remaining sites for this species, the other one being in Oxfordshire. The Oxford plants are very different to the Kent ones being smaller, paler and having far fewer florets. The other Kent site is kept very secret but is not doing well due to rabbit activity.


Monkey orchid

The monkey orchids at the seeded site are doing fantastically well and their numbers have increased dramatically over the years. This year they are the best I have ever seen them and I counted 75 plants in one patch alone and many were around 9"-10" tall which is very impressive for this species.

The next day I returned to the site to try to take some different images of the monkeys using a long telephoto lens and an extension tube rather than a macro lens. Here is a sneaky peak at what will be explained in next months "Image of the month."



Goldcrests



Just now and again you get a subject handed to you on a plate. I have a couple of big fir trees at the end of my garden which sometimes attracts Britain's smallest bird - the goldcrest.

When a couple of males started singing to attract females I ran indoors to get my camera and thought I'd try to get some shots. I had a recording of the goldcrest song on my mobile phone and I played it to hopefully attract a bird's attention. This worked almost too well - one male came to investigate and got within a couple of feet of me. I started off using my 500mm lens on a tripod but abandoned that for my 70-200f2.8L IS II plus 1.4x converter which focuses much closer and is far less cumbersome. You can see my results in the goldcrest gallery.



Common fault on Canon 1 series ? and 70-200mkf2.8 L IS II IS failure.

I usually find that my Canon gear is pretty robust but I'm not having a lot of luck with reliability of equipment this month. Chances are, if something is going to go wrong it will happen at the most inconvenient time - usually I find, when I am abroad. This time it was in Texel in Holland while I was photographing avocets at close range.

As I went to change lenses on my 1DmkIV I found that I could not get the lens to click into place and lock onto the camera. The reason for this was because the little spring-loaded pin that comes out from the lens mounting ring on the front of the camera was staying inside the ring. I had this same problem on my previous 1DmkIII and I had to send it back to Canon to be fixed. So is this a common fault or have I been unlucky ?

This time I thought I would hook out the locking pin with a needle and use some emery paper to rub it down a bit to make it a looser fit. This seemed to work but I made the mistake of flicking the main black lens removal button a few times to test it and - whoops, disaster - the button flew off, a spring flew out somewhere and something dropped down inside the camera. Thanks to Graham at Jacobs Professional in New Oxford Street, London, the camera was soon back with Canon Professional Services for a £206 repair. Thanks goodness I had a spare 5DmkII body with me (as I always do) otherwise my trip could have become a disaster.

Before the camera was back with me, I used my 70-200 f2.8L IS II lens on the 5DII to photograph some obliging goldcrests in my garden. While using it I became aware of the fact that I could not hear the image-stabiliser spinning up as I pressed the shutter. After some further testing it was apparent that the IS had failed. Another trip to Jacobs !

I was really upset about this failure as the 70-200mk f2.8 L II is my favourite zoom lens, and is only just over a year old so barely out of warranty. It is also very sharp and takes an extender superbly well and the 4 stop IS is usually a star feature as it enables hand-holding under most conditions. When the IS on my my previous 100-400 lens failed it cost me £350 for the repair so I am expecting something like that again unless the fault is just electrical. I should have rejected this lens when I first purchased it as the stabiliser make a small squeal as it started from new. I have read that others have also experienced this noise so I wonder if early failure of IS is a common problem on this lens.


Texel island in the Netherlands


Windmill on Texel (pronounced Tessel.)

At the end of April I was kindly invited by a friend - John Gooday, to accompany him to Texel island in the Netherlands to photograph birds. I was very pleased to accept as Texel has been on my wish list of destinations for some time as it has a reputation for being great for photographing avocets at close quarters.

We travelled across to France by Eurotunnel and then by car to Texel via the Den Helder Ferry 100km north of Amsterdam. The ferry runs once an hour (twice-hourly in busy periods) and the crossing takes about 20 minutes. The ferry is great for getting close shots of lesser-black backed gulls in flight if you take some bread with you to throw for them.
If you are planning a trip to Texel I would recommend reading Sebastian Erras's article on Texel here: Nature Photography in the Netherlands pt 1 - Texel.

The island is pretty small and from our hotel in the middle of the island we could get almost anywhere in less than 30minutes. We allowed ourselves a day travelling at each end and this gave us 3 whole days photography which was about right. The weather was not that kind (I will almost add - as usual) but gave us a couple of breaks with decent light.


John in camo photographing avocets at Wagejot. You can just see one on the shingle bank.

Our favourite place was probably Wagejot. You could park the car, get out and sit down and photograph the birds on the shingle or in the water as they splashed around and skimmed for food with their upturned beaks.



Every now and again we witnessed matings. The female would wait with her head down and her tail in the air which was the prompt for the male to start preening feverishly and ultimately hop up onto her back.



We also spotted that one female had laid a clutch of three eggs






We were able to photograph hares from the car (although they were very spooky) and we saw several nice bulbfields which were great for arty shots...



There were plenty of other photographable birds such as willow warbler, spoonbill, black-tailed godwit, brent geese, turnstones, ringed plover, oystercatcher and marsh and hen harriers. We also had reports of 15 bluethroats in the south of the island the evening before we arrived !


Female hen harrier


Pheasant in a flap

Texel is a nice island. We enjoyed many good photo-opportunities and the food at the hotel was really good. I would happily return to get some pictures of the avocets with their chicks.



Badger cull High Court challenge granted


It is always nice to have images used by such high prestige customers as the BBC. This one of badgers was doubly rewarding because it was used in an article on a subject that is very close to my heart - conservation of badgers.

Thanks to action taken by the Badgers Trust the cull will be challenged in the High Court. Let's hope it is successful in defeating the senseless slaughter of one of our favourite British mammals.



I don't know if the BBC article link will remain active, but if it does you can read the rest of the article here... Badger cull

Here is the original image...





 



 





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