British Birds front cover!


It’s always a great feeling when you see your images in print but even better when they are used as a front cover! The British Birds journal has used my Stonechat image for their May issue.  This is such a great informative journal on all things avian and is a must read for any one with an interest.  For more information on the contents of this issue click here: http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/article/british-birds-may-2015/

Please click on the image to view a larger version.

May-2015-cover1

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Article: How to photograph Black Redstart


I have just finished an article on how I photographed a pair of Black Redstarts in a Hungarian garden in June.  Lots of information and details included for those who are interesting in setting something like this up from start to finish.

The pdf can be downloaded by following this link to my website:

How to photograph Black Redstart

Black Redstart

178/365 Hovering Stonechat


I’ve just returned from an interesting trip to the centre of Hungary co-leading a group over there. Setting up a hide for a Marsh Harrier we noticed that there was a pair of Stonechat feeding young within 15m of the hide. It was great to watch both the male and female Stonechats flying in with all manner of food including this Silver Y moth. Hovering before plunging into the grass to feed the young, it certainly put my camera techniques to the test trying to lock on to these fast moving birds.

Stonechat, Saxicola torquata, Hungary, May, 2013.
Canon 5D3 with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS with 1.4x III converter. 1/1600sec @ f/5.6 at ISO1600.

180/365 Stonechat

173/365 Black-headed Gull feeding


Whilst down at the coast yesterday I decided to have a short mini project on Black headed Gulls.  I learnt a lot about their feeding behaviour and how to utilise this to gain better photographs.  It was putting the autofocus system of the 5D mk3 to the test and I can honestly say it coped extremely well.  It is certainly a project that I will be continuing. Here is one of the best from the day.  Not perfect but I like the way the water is trickling down from the bird as it rises from the water.

Black-headed Gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus, Glamorgan, Wales, February, 2013.
Canon 5D mk3 with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens.

173/365 Black headed Gull

142/365 Tree Sparrow


As mentioned in the previous post, Tree Sparrows breed under the tiles in the roof of the visitor centre at Bempton Cliffs RSPB.  This image shows a male with a beak full of spiders and other insects ready to feed those wide open gapes of the hungry chicks.

Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus, Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire, June, 2012.
Canon 1d MkIV with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens.

059/365 Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe


Heres yesterdays image. 
Image 059 is a migrant Northern Wheatear with a rather large dragonfly! I found it like this so dont know whether the dragonfly was dead already or whether the Wheatear caught it.  With a few head flicks the dragonfly broke up easily allowing the wheatear to continue its journey north on a very full stomach.

Northern Wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe, Red Sea, Egypt, April, 2009.
Canon 40D with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens.

Plight of UK birds! They need our help!!


Can I urge people to keep all their feeders and bird tables topped up regularly with food please.  After nearly two weeks of heavy snow cover on the ground it is not surprising that many birds are struggling to survive.   Most garden birds are doing ok, even though numbers are slowly diminising due to the weather.  ‘Non garden’ birds are starting to come into gardens such as Snipe, Woodock and Meadow Pipits to name a few as feeding becomes desparate in their usual haunts. 
After the snow last night, I have cleared all the paths and edges of my garden in order for birds to feed on uncovered areas and put supplementary food down.  Redwings, Blackbirds and Song thrushes are already making the most of this.  On the local common this morning,  I have uncovered areas under trees to give the wildlife that extra lifeline to be able to find something under the leaf litter that is present under the snow.  This is a desperate time for birds and other wildlife so please be mindful when feeding them or going for walks and just keep the feeders topped up, the water running, and if possible, just clear some small areas if you go for a walk.  Even the smallest area can be helpful.
Heres a link to what the RSPB is doing to combat the decline of UK birds this harsh winter:
http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/details.asp?id=tcm:9-238578
http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/details.asp?id=tcm:9-238241

If you are new to feeding birds and want to start then read this article from the RSPB:
 http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpingbirds/feeding/index.aspx

Other things you can do:
Clear the snow from around the edges of gardens so birds can continue foraging.
Clear a section of the garden from snow where you can provide apples and other fruit and food so birds can feed (this can be done in your local park/ wood/ common area aswell).
Keep dense trees free from snow as birds will roost overnight in these but will not be able to if they are covered in snow.
Keep bird baths free from ice and snow.  Birds still need to wash and keep clean every day to keep their feathers in pristine condition.  It is important that regularly used water supplies are kept free from ice.
Even if you dont have any seeds to put out, kitchen scraps are useful aswell such as cheese, porridge oats, left overs from cakes and biscuits, pastries etc.   All of these have a high calorie content and are all edible by birds.

Not only will you be helping birds to survive this weather, providing extra food or shelter will give you the advantage and satisfaction of seeing the birds up close as they feed in your garden.  Do you know why a Redwing is so called, or a Blackcap for that matter?!  These are some birds that will venture into your garden following in other birds in for food.

Please feel free to contact me if you need any more information.

Thank you in advance

Ian