Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Cley Wildlife Reserve In Norfolk

Last weekend I spent a day at Cley Marshes which is located on the North Norfolk coast. The area consists of a number of different habitats including pools, reed beds, beaches and grazing fields. This makes an ideal place to find a variety of different bird species.

It is a great location for twitchers with a variety of unusual birds stopping off for a rest during their winter migration. Such reserves are not always best for photographers as they are normally focused towards twitchers, which can be very frustrating when you can see the species, but can't get close enough to get a decent photograph.  This isn't the case here, the hides get you close to the wildlife and there are areas where you can wander around and get closer to the wildlife which I prefer.

Here are a few images from the day that were taken whilst walking around the reserve.

Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) hunting over the reeds

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) drying its wings

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) foraging for food.

I prefer the free-roaming approach rather than being confined to the hides, because it allows you to get different angles and compose your photos better, so I spent the majority of the time doing this. But I did get a few shots from the hides, which are below:

Black-Tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) landing

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) on the grazing field
It was a fairly dull day and the images are not as vibrant and as colourful as I would have liked, but nonetheless it was a good experience and I managed to get a few decent shots out of it. However, for the first time ever, I forgot to check my shooting format and later realised I had been shooting on JPEG for the majority of the shoot which is extremely annoying but has taught me a lesson for the future. SO ALWAYS DO YOUR CAMERA CHECKS!!!!

How Hill

The next day I had a short visit to How Hill which is part of the Norfolk Broads. There wasn't a great deal of wildlife around but I did get to see a barn owl in the early morning which was a memorable experience even though I couldn't manage to get close enough for a decent shot. Having said this there were a few shots I took that morning of other birds which have turned out OK.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) taking off

Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) with their cygnets

  • Check your camera setting before every shoot!!
  • Research the reserves you will be visiting before the shoot day to establish whether they are created primarily for twitchers, or for photographers as well
  • Research recent sightings, so you can look out for the rarer species
Hope you all have a great Christmas and hopefully we will get a bit of snow soon, so I can create a more wintery post next time.

Camera used: Nikon D90
Lens used: 300mm F2.8 with a X2 Converter

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Kingfisher Sunrise Shoot

For my final year project I am studying the Carrick Roads, which is a large estuary in Falmouth, Cornwall. During one of my shoots, I came across a Kingfisher location. I had never properly seen a kingfisher before, except a few occasions when I have seen an electric blue flash fly by, so this was pretty exciting.

Over the next couple of days I visited the location three times, getting to know where the Kingfisher lands and where to position my hide. As it is a tidal estuary, I soon noticed that the Kingfisher only appears at certain times of the day depending on the tide. Personally I found the best time to photograph one is around three hours before high tide.

After waiting for the tides to coincide with sunrise, I set out to photograph the kingfisher. I made sure I arrived at the location at least 30 minutes before sunrise and set up my hide. I did this to prevent disturbing and scaring off the Kingfisher and to allow me adequate time to set up the shot I wanted.

After waiting 45 minutes without seeing anything, I looked out the back of my hide and saw these fantastic sunrise views.

 Redshanks (Tringa totanus) during sunrise

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) during sunrise

I suddenly had a difficult decision to make; either go out and photograph different species in the sunrise or wait for the Kingfisher, which I had set out to do?
In the end I decided to stay in the hide and, fortunately, within 10 minutes the Kingfisher had appeared,  landing on the perch I had intended to photograph it on.

The Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) on its perch, ready to fish

The sun was only hitting this perch and the background was in darkness creating this effect. It was all natural lighting without flash. This is the shot I was looking for - and the decision to stay in the hide had paid dividends on this occasion.

After just 15 minutes the golden light had gone, the sun disappearing behind the clouds. The Kingfisher was still around, but now on a different perch.


These photos aren't, in my view, as effective as the previous one, but do show more of its habitat. My next plan is to attempt a wide angle shot of the Kingfisher in its natural environment which I am hoping to attempt within the next four weeks when I return to Cornwall.

My main tips for photographing Kingfishers would be ;
  1. To be patient 
  2. Learn its behaviour
  3. Learn where it lands and fishes
  4. Use a hide
  5. Add your own perch - this way you can plan the shot and the background more
Camera used: Nikon D90
Lens used: 300mm F2.8 with a X2 Converter

    I hope you enjoyed this, my first blog. Many more to follow!!