Sunday, 2 December 2012

Morning Otter


In the past few months I have herd a few rumours about an otter on a local river, where I photograph regularly. After speaking to around 15 different people and visiting the site a number of times, I narrowed down the most likely area I would see it. But after reports that an otter had been killed on the road last week, my hopes weren't to high.

Two days ago I was luckily enough to see 2 otters briefly swimming down the river before disappearing, which was great news. This meant that there must be a family or a good number of otters in the area considering one was killed the other day and I had still seen 2.

This morning I got up in the frost and went in search once again. After about an hour of nothing but dog walkers, I decided to move to a different part of the river. This was a hard choice as the lighting in the other part of the river was extremely bad. None the less I decided to try.

Straight away I saw some bubbles moving around on the water surface. This is a key sign of an otter swimming under the surface. I followed it and moments later an otter popped its head up. I decided to watch it for 5 minutes and see where it was likely to go and its current behaviour. I found that it was hunting in a specific spot. So when it went underwater again I quickly ran to the waters edge and got as low as possible, to prevent being spotted and getting a low photography angle.

For the next 15 minutes it stayed in the area and I got the following shots.

Josh Jaggard
Floating Otter
Josh Jaggard
Intrigued Otter
Josh Jaggard
Otter playing with some weed
Josh Jaggard
Otter swimming towards me
Josh Jaggard
Otter chewing on a small fish
Josh Jaggard
Head shot of the Otter
Josh Jaggard
Otter chewing some weeds

Josh Jaggard
Curious Otter

This was a great experience and only my third ever encounter with an Otter. I am hoping to photograph them more in the coming weeks. The shot below was taken only half a meter away from me, Amazing experience.
Otter in hands reach
  • Speak to as many locals as possible. They know more then anyone, especially dog walkers!
  • Take a flask of tea, to keep warm on these cold morning. You will last longer in the field.
  • Good field-craft = Better shots and closer encounters. Study the behaviour.
  • Patience and perseverance.
  • With otters, look for signs of otter spraint (excrement) and also look for bubbles on the surface.
Hope you enjoyed the blog, hopefully more otters to come. Keep an eye on my facebook page for more:

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Little Surprise

New website is up and running, so take a look and let me know what you think.

Last month I took the dogs for a walk along the beach and came across a Little Tern breeding area. Since then I have been busy with my graduation and going to Morocco, so apologies for the extremely late post.

These Little Terns were spread out all over the beach. There was a large section cornered off where they were breeding but the chicks had just fledged and started wondering around. Everywhere you looked you could see a little camouflaged tern hiding in the sand. Below is one of them running towards me, its mum was hovering above me with a fish.

Happy Little Tern chick

The adult Little Terns could be seen fishing in large quantities, diving into the water and catching sand eels.

Adult Little Tern
Below are a series of images showing the process of the adult terns feeding their young.

Little Tern calling for food

Adult Little Tern returning to its chick with a fish

Little Tern calling for food
Little Tern calling for food

Little Tern watching adults with fish
Little Tern chick receiving a Sand Eel

Little Tern chick trying to eat a Sand Eel

It was a great experience and Norfolk is a key location for the future of these birds, as it holds one of the last colonies of breeding birds. The Little Tern is currently on the Amber List, so it's important to protect their habitat and their breeding grounds around the Norfolk coast.

Sadly when I was photographing here, a couple walking their dogs didn't listen to all the signs saying 'Keep dogs on their leads, due to breeding area.' Consequently their dogs attacked and killed a chick, which was trying to hide in the sand, waiting for its mother. Needless to say I went mental and shouted continuously at them for a awhile, until they put their dogs on the leads and left. So please listen to the signs people, they are there for a reason.

Little Tern fishing at sunrise.
  • Always take your camera, wherever you go. You never know what you will see.
  • Be patient and let the birds get use to your presence. You will be able to get a lot closer.
  • Try and concentrate on one bird, when photographing a large flock it's easy to get distracted by others and miss the shot you have been waiting for. This happened a number of times.

Also I have created a Facebook page, would be grateful if you like the page.

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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Norfolk Broads - An Owl's Heaven

I have made a recent update to my website, check it out:

Recently I have been trying to photograph Barn Owls. A month ago, I was told of a local location where one had been spotted daily. After spending a week and a half, most mornings and evenings, the Owl never turned up. It still hasn't been spotted and it has been 3 weeks now, so I feel something might have happened to it or hopefully it had just relocated.

During a visit to a wildlife reserve I met Norman Tottle, who is a Norfolk-based photographer who specialises in the landscape and wildlife of the Norfolk Broads. He told me to check out a number of different areas where he regularly finds Barn Owls.

So for the past few days I have been traveling to the Broads to photograph the Owls, early morning and evening. I knew the Norfolk Broads was well known for its wildlife, but didn't realise how bio-diverse it is. Currently, at one location you can spot daily: a Barn Owl, Short Eared Owl, Little Owls, Cranes, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Cettis Warblers, Great Crested Grebes, Herons and the elusive pigeon. Also Otters are sighted occasionally, so I am always on the lookout.

I felt as if I had won the lottery finally getting to see the owls and all the other species. For the last few days though, I have just been concentrating on the Barn Owl and Short Eared Owl. Here are a few of my pictures so far:

Barn Owl in flight - Norfolk

Barn Owl hovering - Norfolk

Short Eared Owl watching me - Norfolk

Random Heron - Norfolk

Barn Owl flying over the reeds - Norfolk

Barn Owl roaming - Norfolk

Short Eared Owl Flying low - Norfolk

  • Wear camouflage if you want a closer view.
  • Speak to locals, they can guide you to the best areas.
  • Best time to see Owls, is after a few days of rain, as they are out during the day to find food. They can't hunt very well in the rain, so they are normally hungry.
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Thursday, 29 March 2012

RSPB Minsmere

Done a small update to my website check it out:

After signing up to be a member of the RSPB, I decided to go to one of their well known reserves that I hadn't been to yet, Minsmere. I wanted to spend most of the day there, so I set off at 5am because it takes a hour and 10 from mine.

I decided to spend the whole day in one hide, as I am yet to do this. This meant that I didn't see much of the reserve but allowed me to document and record the same area all day. It ended up being a 10 hour shoot with no breaks and in 1 hide. This was a test of my patience as there were long periods with no activity.

View from the hide, 2 deer in the water and 1 on the path.

The key species I wanted to photograph were Bittern and Otters but both are elusive species.

I didn't see any otters but did end up seeing 4 bitterns. 2 flew straight past the hide and another one walked down a path next to the hide for about a minute, but was quiet a distance away from me. It wasn't until 3:30pm, 9 hours into my shoot that one flew into the reed beds but the lighting wasn't great for photography.

Other species I photographed and documented were:

4 Bitterns, 4 Marsh Harriers collecting reeds for nest material, 4 Red Deer, 2 Water Rail, 2 Cetti's Warblers, a Kingfisher, 2 Monkjack's, Mating Greylag Geese, Mating Coots, Reed Bunting, Squirrel and the rare Blue Tit.

So it wasn't a bad day really and I met some nice people as well. One being Norman Tottle who gave me a few locations and local knowledge around the area, which was good.

Here are a few of the images from the day.

Bittern flying over the water.
Water Rail flying into the reeds.
Marsh Harrier collecting reeds for its nest.
Red deer in the reeds.

Bittern flying over the reeds.
Cetti's Warbler displaying for mate.
Cetti's Warbler hiding in the reeds.
Bittern wading through the water.
Marsh Harrier soaring.
Red deer.

Red deer in the water.

Red Deer grazing.

During the day, 4 Red deer came into the water to cool down. It was a great experience even though it annoyed some twitchers who stormed off in angry. They then came and slept in front of the hide for the next hour. They were too close to photograph 90% of the time, but great to watch.

  • Patience pays off.
  • Wear suncream in hides (My hands got burnt)
  • Speak to people and you will pick up local knowledge and tips.
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Thanks for looking

Thursday, 22 March 2012

RSPB Norfolk

After returning home from Cornwall,  I decided to go on a shoot in North Norfolk as the weather was great. I wanted to find Black Throated Divers and Black Necked Grebes, so I did a little research on recent sightings and came to the conclusion that I should head to Snettisham and Titchwell, which are both RSPB Reserves.  They had both had sightings in the past few weeks, so it was a long shot but was better then nothing.

I ended up not finding either of the birds I wanted to, which is normally the case with wildlife photography, but still had a great day and photographed a number of different species.

Key Species:
Great Egret, Avocets, Skylark, Bar-Tailed Godwits, Shovelers, Barnacle Geese, Goldeneyes and a Common Lizard

Here are a few shots from today:

Barnacle Goose

Avocets Mating

Avocet Feeding


Flock of around 1000 geese

Bar-Tailed Godwit wading

Shoveler Preening


  • Research locations to have more luck finding specific species (even though I didn't find them on this occasion)
  • Make the most of locations and photograph all of the species
  • Patience in the hides pay off for behaviour shots ie. Avocets mating
Follow me on Twitter: @Josh_Jaggard

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Carrick Roads - Floating Hide

For my final year project at Falmouth University, I am looking at the Carrick Roads, which is a flooded valley on the south coast of Cornwall. Last week I decided to create a floating hide, which enables me to photograph the species at water level.

I wasn't sure if the floating hide was actually going to float, let alone how close I was going to be able to get to the species. So I decided to give it a test run on a Little Grebe. They are known to be fairly skittish, so it was an ideal bird to try it out on.

Little Grebe.
Little Grebe Portrait.

As you can see, the hide has worked really well and got me much closer to the subject and allowed a very low angle which has created a very shallow depth of field.

After this success I was eager to try it out again but the weather had been too windy until today. So today I went to a familiar part of the Carrick Roads allowing me to give the hide a proper try out. My first sighting was of a Cormorant drying off on a buoy. I ended up hovering around the cormorant for about 10 minutes getting so close that my lens couldn't focus at times. As this was a test run I wanted to get close up profile shots of species. Here are a few of the Cormorant.

Cormorant drying off.
Full frame of a cormorants head.

After about 10 minutes a local fishing boat came up behind me, with some very confused people on board. I heard them approaching and questioning what on earth the contraption in front of them was. They thought I was some type of rubbish that had been thrown over board from a boat until they got within 5m of me and realised that I was a person dressed in camouflage inside a floating hide. They were still very confused.

Anyway I carried on with my shoot but sadly the boat had scared off the Cormorant. I moved on looking for the next subject to photograph but was struggling to find anything, until I saw a flash of blue in the distance on the other side. I quickly paddled across and sure enough it was a Kingfisher. These birds too are very skittish when it comes to people, so it was a real test of how well my hide would disguise me . To my amazement I got closer then I have ever been to one of these stunning birds. All of the images shown here are full frame.

Kingfisher sitting on it's perch.
Kingfisher sitting on a pile of seaweed fishing.
Me testing out how close I could get to it.

I followed the Kingfisher around for about 30 minutes, until it suddenly dived about a metre in front of me, caught a fish but then was immediately chased off by another Kingfisher that appeared out of nowhere. Fantastic to witness.

  • Make a floating hide, they can work so well.
  • Don't be scared to try something new.
  • Stay with your subject for as long as possible.
Follow me on twitter at: @Josh_Jaggard

Also don't forget to check out are Graduation Show in Bristol in June. Check it out and follow: Website: