Lands End Starlings
Of all the amazing wildlife to be found in this part of Cornwall it was the Starlings that proved to be the best models. Learning to take advantage of messy-eating humans has led to them becoming extremely confident, or at least bold when around people. Even the young birds would eventually (after a fair bit of hesitation) take pieces of fallen food from the feet of the day-trippers. This may not be the most natural way of teaching their young to find food, but it is opportunistic and is in tune with their scavenging instincts. So far, it works well for them, which in turn - works well for me and my camera.
Greater Black Backed Gull
I have been lucky in my time at Falmouth to gain access to the docks for various reasons. This time RFA Lyme Bay - an auxiliary landing ship - had an open day, and members of the public were transported to this part of the dock for free via Ferry.
Greater Black Backed Gulls are extremely different to their relative the Herring Gull; they are powerful sea birds that are rarely seen on land. Being in the docks gave me the unexpected opportunity to take these photographs. I have never been so close to one of these gulls, so it was hard not to marvel at its size. The feature that really stood out to me though, was the gulls striking dark blue eye which you cannot appreciate until you see one at close range!
These two images have just been published here: http://www.cornwallwhaleanddolphinwatching.co.uk/
They were taken on a boat trip on the Free Spirit that was run by AK Wildlife Cruises, a team I am soon to become a part of as a voluntary crew member. I look forward to sharing the stories and photographs that are to follow!!
This morning I rescued this Cockchafer (otherwise know as a may bug) from my flats kitchen sink. It was slightly wet so I left it on some kitchen roll for a while to dry off. Placing it by an open window, I thought it would fly away but it didn’t move. However it became very active when on my hand!
I read that they feed on oak leaves, so that’s where I released it. Though many people find them gross or scary I find their furry belly and intricate antennas absolutely perfect.
This weekend I took part in a Bioblitz that recorded all the species possible at Tremough Campus and the nearby Reservoirs. I photographed the species found and the people taking part to raise awareness of the amazing biodiversity that can be found in these locations.
This Buzzard (Buteo Buteo) was one of many that gave us a show!
Fantastic Fulmers on the Isle of Portland, Dorset
Wings straighter than a Herring Gull, they glide through the air effortlessly along smooth, invisible curves. They seem to follow a route which they repeat every few minutes and yet they are devilishly tricky to photograph, always flying past at the one moment you’ve relaxed or started looking at something else.
Couples lounge effortlessly on the sides of cliffs. Every so often they raise their heads to squawk and shout at each other. This squabbling is their way of reinforcing their bonds
Here’s a little something I took in the Cairngorms a couple of weeks ago. My first experience watching and photographing Ptarmigan. It was just fantastic. More can be seen here http://cairngorms-13.tumblr.com/
I also wanted to say that I absolutely love life, the friends and family I have, the course I’m doing, and the people I’m meeting who are all as passionate as I am about that wonderful thing that everyone can see outside their window, all around them, all the time. Nature - Life.
‘I often wondered how wildlife photographers managed to photograph animals in remote locations with such huge and heavy equipment. Now I know – with strength that only the adrenaline from getting closer and closer to the animal you’re stalking can bring you. During the Ptarmigan and Mountain Hare sessions it didn’t matter how heavy your lens felt, how tired you were from walking to find them or how stiff your fingers were from the cold; all that got pushed out of our minds and only the task in hand was thought about. The excitement of photographing in these conditions is what I think has made the images from this trip so fantastic!
The stand out highlight for me was seeing my first Ptarmigan. Through my binoculars I could see it bustling along the edge of the mountain with such a character and its plumage was absolutely beautiful – especially the pointed mark around its eye. I was completely taken by it, and after a few more encounters I knew that this was my new favourite bird! On closer inspection I was fascinated by the colour in their darker feathers which have flecks of brown in them. Their feet were also unexpectedly fluffy! As well as photographing them I really enjoyed watching their behaviour. From a few meters away they knew we were there but they didn’t mind. We didn’t want to be so close that we made them feel uncomfortable. At one point a pair seemed to approach us. The Female was intrigued to see who was on her patch and the Male followed her abidingly. Hearing their thrilling noise and watching them manically flap their wings as they landed was a bonus and something I plan to go back to Ben Rinnes to witness again.
Oscar-winner-style thank yous:
I have to say thank you to David Chapman for his help finding and stalking the wildlife we’ve photographed, for all his over the top organising and for eating all the custard that no one else wanted. Thank you also to Mark Wallwork for the painting with light sessions, being such a laugh and generally just having a great accent. Thank you both for putting up with all my stuff being accidentally left everywhere and for not driving off without out me when I dawdled. Finally, thank you to David Newland, a fantastic guide who seems to have endless knowledge of everything! I wonder where he learnt it all. The amazing Black Grouse hide was completely down to him.
Though the Cairngorm trip is over the photographs we have taken and memories we have made will always be with us (and there’s always next year!). I have become closer to people on this trip especially as we all have a drive, patience and good humour in common.’
Check out and follow our Cairngorm blog! It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. And I love Ptarmigan. As you can tell.
So apparently spring is on it’s way! Here’s two views of the same classic spring flower - Daffodil.