Newsletter - March 15th 2017
So far the 2017 weather has been a bit of a wash out and not conducive to much photography. However spring has well and truly sprung down here in Sussex and already the snowdrops in my garden are fading to be replaced by daffodils. Adders have been out sunning themselves at every opportunity since the middle of February and the number of birds coming to my feeders is truly amazing. With Bluebells and Orchids and a plethora of Butterflies just around the corner this is a busy time for the dedicated wildlife photographer.
However as a professional photographer my working year really begins on the 1st of January and goes on for 12 months weather permitting. You can get a real insight into what I get up to if you can get to the talk I am giving entitled “The Four Seasons” at The Steyning Centre on Wednesday 29th of this month. The talk is on behalf of the charity “The Steyning Downland Scheme” and all the proceeds are going specifically for adder conservation at a local Downland site that I am involved in. This is a talk for anyone with a love for nature or who aspire to improve their wildlife photography skills. Tickets are £5 and £2 for children under 16 and can be obtained online here.
Click here for The Steyning Downland Scheme. (http://steyningdownland.org)
Incidentally if you have a digital projector or access to one and would be prepared to bring it along on the night I would be most grateful. I have my own, of course, and that is what I will be using but I always have a fear that it could break down. It has never happened yet but “Sods Law” sometimes prevails and it would be a disaster for it to happen on this charity night. Remember it will not be used except in an emergency and, as a thank you, you will receive a free cup of tea, a piece of cake and get in for free! Please let me know ASAP if you can help as we could have twenty people turn up with projectors under their arms and the cake isn’t that big!
The Steyning Fox
Buzzards are now a common sight these days as they glide above us on their pre-nuptial flights seeking out the thermals and often calling constantly. There are several pairs nesting in the woodlands around us but I was taken completely by surprise last week when one had landed on the lawn close to my pond which is about 250 metres from the house. I assume it had gone there to drink or possibly bathe. This was a garden first for me so naturally I quickly grabbed my gear, a tripod with 1Dmk4 & a 500mm attached, and keeping various bushes and trees between me and the bird made my way surreptitiously towards it.
As I was doing so it flew up and landed in a small tree next to the pond and was now, in perfect light, it looked stunning and I was determined to get the shot. I was doing well and reached the end of my greenhouse. I was probably less than 100 metres away - the buzzard totally oblivious to my presence. But then, disaster! On my next move I disturbed a wood pigeon in a tree above me that I had not noticed. It flew off in noisy protest which caused the buzzard to take off as well and both disappeared from view. Such is life! I am now taking steps to “invite” the buzzard and any of his friends back for lunch.
Buzzard on Rabbit
Among my garden birds I do get Great-Spotted Woodpeckers coming in virtually every day to feed and very occasionally Green Woodpeckers. The GSW’s go on the feeders whilst the Greens hunt for ants and other invertebrates in the lawn. When I spotted this bird in pristine condition a couple of weeks ago I decided to go for it. I added 1.4 extender to the combo above and replaced the tripod with a beanbag because this time I was not going out in the garden to get the picture I was shooting out of a ground floor bedroom window!
Well I was successful as you can see. In this image I purposely included the daffodils to add an extra bit of pictorial colour and also give the viewer the time of year it was taken. Both male and female have black moustarchial stripes but only the male has the red insert.
Apart from my bird photography workshops down at Arundel I have also been quietly working on Gt. Crested Grebes to try and improve my stock images. At the time of writing I am quite pleased with the results but there is still much more to be done with these beautiful water birds.
Great Crested Grebes Displaying
Finally this year I am being forced by Angie to take a break in April for my birthday. So, very, very reluctantly I am going over to Ireland to savour the delights of the mussels, the music and all the craic at the Connemara Mussel Festival in Galway not to mention having to drink pints of Guinness for several days in a row!
A TESTIMONIAL RECEIVED OUT OF THE BLUE
Good friend and long-time client recently sent me some of his Little Owl photographs and I thought they were stunning and said so. Phil is a superb naturalist specialising in photographing British birds. He replied with this message and some more images detailing how he achieved the shots. This is what he said.
George - I’ve sent a couple of images of the Little Owl set-up. Actually, you were largely responsible for it. I don’t know if you remember, but several years ago I told you of a pair of Little Owls that had taken over a box I had fixed to an oak tree next to my house. You said, “Your images will be limited only by your imagination”. This has always stuck in my mind and it is an approach I apply to all my photography.
What a super testimonial to receive out of the blue – Thanks Phil.
If you want to photograph Phil’s Little Owls, and remember these are wild birds, you can contact Phil Winter at firstname.lastname@example.org. He lives near Lewes in East Sussex. He will also be attending my talk at Steyning so an opportunity to meet him.
Various Locations in Sussex and Surrey
These workshops are currently available as a 1/1 or 2/1 basis on a day of your choice, weekends excluded. These workshops will be tailored to you personally and to your level of skill. The costs are £150 for a 1/1 and £250 for a 2/1.
There are also Group workshops with a maximum of 5 participants. The cost for a place on the group workshop is £85. The first available date will be decided following my recces to the adder sites.
Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone who you think might be interested.
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