Lanner falcon

32nd day of lockdown. In Kenya last year my wife and I rented a Toyoto Landcruiser and did our own self driving African safari. I know that self driving we have less chance of photographing Lions, Leopards and Cheetahs than if we had a guide. The locals know where they are more likely to be found and talk to each other in the camps each night. During the day they have radio contact and when they find something worthwhile they alert the other guides. We were out of the loop.

So we concentrated on the birds. When we saw this Lanner falcon on the floor from a distance it was an advantage to be at the wheel. I did not have to give instructions as to which side I wanted to go and how close to get. It is very frustrating telling someone exactly where to pull up when photographing and you change your mind every second as you approach because you are judging if the bird is going to tolerate the vehicle.

Lanner falcon, Falco biarmicus, Single bird on kill, Kenya, September 2019. Olympus M1x. 300mm lens with 1.4 extender. 800 iso. 1/5000th at f5.6


30th day of lockdown. Belize zoo is quite unique. It was initially built to make a film on the wildlife of Belize and when finished it was turned into a zoo. Consequently many of the enclosures are good for photography. They also have accommodation on site and we booked in for a few days in the year 2005. To get the best from the situation we paid extra for a guide and to enter the enclosures.

It was very worthwhile and we ended up with images of many species we would never have got in the wild.

Margay or tiger cat or little tiger, Leopardus wiedii, single cat In Belize. December 2005. Canon EOS 1ds Mk2. 400 iso. 1/250th at f5.6

Collared pratincole

29th day of lockdown. Collared pratincoles are beautiful birds that I always want to photograph when I see one. There was a colony in a large field in Southern Spain. A typical Spanish situation with endless dirt tracks to drive on with piles of dumped rubbish, old ruins and the odd herd of goats with attendant goat herd. I edged across the grass in my car trying to get closer to the birds and hoping the ground was firm. It wasn’t.

I am very used to getting my car stuck. Happens several times a year and I am well equipped with large rubber mats, wooden planks, spade and a long tow rope with a hand winch. The hand winch is great so long as the rope reaches something strong enough to attach it. Here there was nothing. An hour later, covered in sweat and mud with darkness looming I was still there.

I walked to the nearest road carrying the rope. It was a small road, but lead to an industrial area so cars were coming past. I ignored the small cars, but tried to wave down the pickups and four wheel drives. I was ignored. It was dusk and I was muddy with the effort of getting unstuck. I would have ignored me too.

Then a large four wheel pulled up. I pointed at the rope, pointed to the field and said “auto kaput”. He grinned indicated I should jump in and headed down the track to my car. He pulled me out with ease gave me a big hug and drove off.

I did get a few images before getting stuck, but I have so many of this bird I wish I had left them be.

Collared pratincole, Glareola pratincola, single bird launching into flight, Southern Spain, April 2010. Canon EOS 1d Mk4. 600mm lens. 800 iso 1/4000th at f6.3

Green woodpecker

27th day of lockdown. At least the sun has stopped shining this morning. Being in lockdown during the best spring weather ever has been doubly frustrating.

Green woodpeckers were frequent visitors to this meadow, but attempts to bait them to one spot with mealworms failed. I tried a different approach. I used a petrol strimmer and cut the long grass down in a 2 sq metre patch and then turned over the soil.

Just like Robins coming down to people digging in their gardens Green and Great-spotted woodpeckers came down within the first hour as well as a few other species. The Green woodpecker was in its summer moult so could have been better.

Green woodpecker, Picus viridis, single bird on ant nest, Warwickshire, July 2012. Canon EOS 1d Mk4. 800mm lens. 800 iso. 1/200th at f5.6

Brown hares

25th day of lockdown. A couple of my favourite backlit hares. The field goes up and over a long ridge so I try and photograph the hares on the top of the ridge, either with front lighting or back. It is my favourite field to do the hares and they are usually present. Why they never fight and box like hares are supposed to I do not know. I wish they would.

European brown hare, Lepus europaeus, single hare running, Warwickshire, June 2017. Canon Eos 1dx. 800mm lens. 800 iso. 1/1250th at f14.
European Brown hare, Lepus europaeus, single hare backlit on field, Warwickshire, September 2017. Olympus E-M1 Mk2. 300mm lens f4. 800 iso. 1/8000th at f7.1

Olympus OMD E-M1x Procapture

24th day of lockdown. Another video, this time on setting procapture on the M1x, which is exactly the same as the Em1 Mk2.
Procapture is wonderful and I am always looking for the opportunity to make use of it. It works by taking pictures at up to 60 fps in silent mode, but not writing the images to the memory card. It keeps up to 35 of the last images in a buffer and when the shutter button is finally fully depressed writes images from the buffer to the card as well as pictures after the button is pressed.