It's April, it's Cold and it's too early. There is just one thought that stops me hitting the snooze button on the alarm. Dipper Fledglings. The key to getting out of bed early is pretty much the same as tackling a swim in the Atlantic; you have to jump in (or out) head first!
I drop out of bed, grab the nearest set of clothes (luckily they’re my own!) and step out. Without a millilitre of caffeine it feels a gargantuan effort. The river is shaded from the early morning sun and it’s cold but the sound of the river is soothing and the spears of light illuminating distant rocks promise warmth. Hopeful, I lie flat on the chilled, serrated and uncomprimising stoney floor.
“What am I doing here?!” A thought so hard felt that I’m not sure if I heard it in my head or from my lips. The light isn’t right, the stones beneath me are starting to bruise my skin and I’m convinced there’s a wildlife bonanza occurring just past that bend in the river. Yet, there are Dippers over here. Over there, just beyond the reach of my lens. It's a question that has been asked since we grew legs... "Wait? Or try and move closer?"
I try and shake out the aches in my bones and settle down. "Ten minutes and if nothing happens, I'll try and move closer". The three or four Dippers start rock hopping in my direction, I try not to breathe. To my wonder two fledglings land nearby and are promptly fed by a caring parent.
It could of been three minutes or three hours that passed as I photographed these slate grey hovering balls of fluff and they're attentive parents...
I'm on the bed playing a Sudoku app when I hear it. It’s early evening and it’s that delicate moment when the kids have just closed their eyes and I'm praying they make it to deep sleep without interruption. It's reassuringly quiet. That’s when I hear it. A high pitched shrill that pierces my soul and triples my heart rate. I leap off the bed and run up into the loft as fast as I can. Out of the loft window I lean as far as I dare. They're still here. The Swifts. The Swifts are here. Continue reading Up On The Roof
It's the weekend and it's warm, some would argue hot. It feels too soon to call it a Summer's day, but a little late to call it Spring. One thing beyond doubt is that this weekend is the hottest of the year so far.
Just like flying ant day, the sun has stirred the sleepy inhabitants of South West London's suburbs into a frenzy of activity. They come in their hundreds and thousands as they descend upon the carefully managed and tightly bordered Royal Parks of Richmond and Kingston. They come to feast on the sun's rays and breathe in the ancient green air.
It was the last couple of hours I had free before I had to head to London, and I knew exactly where I spending them. This was the last chance I'd get this year to photograph the toads gathering and mating up on Ilkley Moor.
I had already made two previous trips but the conditions were poor. I was hoping that this time it might be third time lucky and the conditions might just be right... for the next couple of hours at least. As I dreamed of the award winning photos awaiting me up on Ilkley Moor, I jumped in the car and turned the key in the ignition... Nothing. I tried turning the key again... and again... and again. The car was not going to start and I did not have enough time to walk.
Despite being a keen naturalist from an early age, I've always tried to avoid wildlife photography. I found the idea of it too time consuming, too expensive, too niche and too competitive. Over the years however, slowly but surely I've found my camera pointing more and more at the natural world.
When I finally succumbed to the idea and began to actively seek wildlife to photograph, I promised myself that the one species I wouldn't pursue with my lens was the Kingfisher. I felt that this was a bird that had already been photographed from every possible angle and it would be impossible to find a new way of photographing it. Fast forward a couple of years and here I am, racing through village with my camera, hoping to catch a glimpse, anticipating that exhilarating flash of royal blue!
Continue reading A Sweet But All Too Short Affair With Royalty
I'm standing in Ilkley Town centre on a Saturday afternoon. I have the train station to one side of me and the bus station on the other and I'm carrying a rather large and conspicuous lens around my neck. This is not the kind of situation I envisaged when I began my love affair with wildlife photography.
It seems at the age of thirty five I have finally relinquished any notion of being cool and have plummeted to the lowly ranks of looking like a train and/or bus spotter. But there’s something these passers by, with their quizzical, puzzled and slightly pitying expressions don’t know. They don't realise that the berry laden trees which divide the bus and train station are a prime location for spotting the David Bowie of the Bird World… The Waxwing!
September was hot. The hottest September since 1911 in fact. October has been pretty hot too but in the last week or so we've started to see those warm South Westerly breezes give way to the chillier North Easterlies. This development has sparked a change in more than just our wardrobe! Continue reading Winds of Change
A couple weeks CB and I along with a couple of good friends attended the British Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards at the Mall Galleries. It was a fab night and a stunning exhibition. To have a photo hung alongside such amazing images was a genuine honour and I was completely thrilled to receive a highly commended in the 'behaviour' category of the awards.
Continue reading Toads, caught in a web of lust