Another day in Finland

29th March 2015

On our second day we returned to view the Dippers – it was interesting to see them gathering their nesting material to place inside the boxes that were situated under the bridges – I do not know who installed the boxes but they were being well used – as you can see they must have been just starting the next building process as the amount of material that they were collecting was huge.I count these situations as a privilege being able to view nature at such close quarters.

Black-bellied Dipper with nesting material
Black-bellied Dipper with nesting material

Later we returned to a site where I had visited on my last trip here to photograph the Siberian Jays – these stunning birds were attracted in by the many seed feeders on the outer edge of a forest – a bit of patience (and a snowstorm) and they came within range –

Siberian Jay
Siberian Jay

 

Finland………..again!

28th March 2015

Black-bellied Dipper
Black-bellied Dipper

Must be mad – I returned to Finland just three weeks after my previous trip – reason being was that I wanted to photograph the Great-grey owl without using 52600 iso What a difference awaited me – it was warmer than before but still there was plenty of snow on the ground but little on the trees however as there was usually fresh snowfall overnight, an early morning usually found a little snow on the trees. The Great-grey owl which was the reason for my return were not so active and those that we found were not interested in anything other than hunting for their own food – they were usually found sitting in high trees with little movement until later in the day – this did not bode well for what I wanted to photograph.

Great-grey owl
Great-grey owl
Great-grey owl
Great-grey owl

As you can see we also encountered some Black-bellied Dippers, these were busy nest building along one of the many water-ways – it was interesting to see the difference between these and the Dippers that we see here in the UK.

Visits to Camera Clubs in Yorkshire

24th March 2015

I have just returned from an enjoyable trip to parts of  Yorkshire whereupon I visited three camera clubs – Two of the clubs selected my talk  “Behind the Image” and the other decided on  “Around the World  in 120 minutes”. I would like to thank York Photographic Society. Stokesley Camera Club and Ilkley Camera Club for asking me to present to their respective clubs – I very much enjoyed myself talking and engaging with like minded photographers. Below I have added a few images to remind those present of some of the images that were on show (and also to show those that could not attend what they missed !!!!!)

Golden Plover
Golden Plover
Martial Eagle with prey
Martial Eagle with prey
Snow Bunting
Snow Bunting

Finland – Great Grey Owl

5th March 2015

Although we could see these birds from a distance at various times of the day (on most days) it was proving difficult to photograph them during the day. The times where we were able to view them at close quarters was well after 4pm – this was proving quite a problem due to light levels – whatever did we do before digital – no way would I have been able to photograph these birds on film – I started by using 12800 iso and then 25600 – on another occasion I used 51200 and then in near darkness I increased to 102400 – this proved not to work. The images below were taken using 51,200

Great Grey Owl
Great Grey Owl
Great Grey Owl
Great Grey Owl
Great Grey Owl
Great Grey Owl

 

Finland – Golden Eagle

4th March 2015

This was indeed a treat for me as I have not previously photographed Golden Eagle’s before in snowy conditions – the snow was perfect, deep and virgin. We arrived and waited patiently in a timber hide (with a heater – such luxury!) for the birds to hopefully arrive – bait was set out – after 3 hours the first eagle arrived followed by a second some 20 minutes later. We then watched and photographed these wonderful birds for another 30 minutes before the first one flew off with a squirrel and the second one firstly flew to a branch and cleaned his beak before finally flying off. Before their arrival we were able to photograph the many small woodland birds that visited our feeders.

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Crested Tit
Crested Tit

Finland – Small birds

3rd March 2015

In another area we began looking for Waxwing and other smaller birds – we managed to locate Siberian Tit. Pine Grosbeak and Siberian Jay to name but a few – the mixture of small and large birds kept the creative juices flowing and I did not have to trudge thigh deep in snow to photograph these species which was a treat indeed.

Female Pine Grosbeak
Female Pine Grosbeak
Male Pine Grosbeak
Male Pine Grosbeak
Waxwing
Waxwing

Finland

2nd March 2015

No Great Grey Owls in Ottawa so I travelled to Finland in the hope of seeing and photographing these magnificent birds – arrived with a balmy temperature of -1 although it felt cooler. The temperature during my stay was warmer than normal for this time of year and it was certainly warmer that than the -45 that I had in Canada – this was not all good as many of the trees were showing green and I was hoping for white trees as a backdrop.

The roads were covered in snow and ice but having studs in your tyres helps – we found a Hawk Owl first – stunning bird and the first time that I had seen one – getting in a good position for a photo though proved challenging. With snow on the fields one never knows a} how deep the snow is or b} how frozen the snow is so that when you walk over it, you only then find out how far your leg is going to sink into the snow !!. We had great time (I think that this is what you call it?)treading through the deep snow – fortunately there was a great guy in our group, Johan, he was over 6ft tall and had size 14 boots – I followed him and the going was still tough – often sinking thigh deep.

Hawk Owl
Hawk Owl
Hawk Owl
Hawk Owl

 

Snowy Owl not!!

25th January 2015

Whilst on the Snowy Owl trip we managed to find a Saw-whet Owl – they are not the easiest thing to find in a wooded area but again, this is the purpose of having a guide. Although we were all looking for owls, it was Chris  (our guide) that found this diminutive owl.

Saw-whet Owl
Saw-whet Owl

Snowy Owl

20th January 2015

Many thanks to Brad, Ian and Denis for being such good photo buddies on a fantastic trip to photograph the Snowy Owls of Quebec. Photographing Snowy Owl’s has long been on my to-do list. I had originally planned to visit Quebec independently and checked the area extensively three years ago. It was relatively easy on the internet to find the areas with the most Owl’s but it was one of those plans that did not get off the ground. I finally decided to visit Quebec and wow, what a spectacle? I arrived in Montreal to a balmy -8 degrees – I made the decision to have a guide and this turned out to be the best decision of the trip. When planning my own trip I had not factored in the effects of the extreme cold and other logistical issues but by the third day I was very thankful that I had enlisted the help of my guide, Chris Dodds. (www.chrisdoddsphotos.com) The weather became progressively cooler with a -15 and then a -32. On the final day is was -45 with windchill!!!!!! It took me two days to get acclimatised to the extreme cold – I quickly found that my hand/eye co-ordination was being effected by the “chill” as frozen hands do not operate camera’s effectively.!! I also had difficulty in seeing as my glasses misted up and then froze which is not conducive to tracking birds in flight.!!!! The other main reasons why to go with an experienced guide is that they have extensive knowledge of the area, they know the local landowners, they are used to the conditions and, most importantly, they have the permits (yes, permits are now required to photograph the owls). Chris was first rate on all these issues and I reckon that by using him I will not need to return for additional images.

Snowy Owl, wing markings
Snowy Owl, wing markings
Snowy Owl in flight
Snowy Owl in flight
Snowy Owl - early morning light
Snowy Owl – early morning light

 

 

Greylake via Westhay Moor

19th December 2014

Decided to get out onto the Levels this morning — Thought that I would take a look at Westhay Moor as I had not been over there for far too long. The hides here are excellent but unfortunately there was little or no activity in front of them today. Apart from two Marsh Harriers quartering over the reed beds there was little to see. I then thought to call in at Greylake on my way home – I was not too expectant as last week there was little to see but wow, what a surprise – there must have been at least 2000 ducks along with snipe and lapwing to name a few. There was even a (single) Pintail close to the hide and it was very enjoyable two hours watching the Wigeon feeding close by – well worth calling in.

Pintail
Pintail
Pintail
Pintail
Wigeon feeding
Wigeon feeding