Honey buzzard

23rd day of lockdown. Not a bird you get to photograph every day. This was close to Tariffa in southern Spain. Early in May I looked up into the sky and could not believe how many Honey buzzards there were slowly drifting upwards and over the small mountain behind me. Thousands of them. I jumped in the car and went up the winding steep road trying to get level with the birds, but wherever I pulled up they were always too distance. At the top of the mountain I scanned with my binoculars and could see a few stragglers coming in low over the sea from Morocco. At such a long distance it was hard to judge how high they were, but as they came across the shoreline they were clearly lower than the small lighthouse on the rocks. I had wasted to much time going up hill. I should have gone down to the shoreline and it would take another hour to get there that day.

The following morning I was down by the lighthouse. Only a few birds came across that day and they were below me at times and very close. Nothing like the same numbers as yesterday though.

Honey buzzard, Pernis apivorus, flight, spring, Spain. Canon EOS 1ds Mk2. 600mm lens plus 1.4 extender. 400 iso. 1/1250th at f6.

Olympus OMD E-M1x camera settings for wildlife photography

22nd day of lockdown. Not a picture today, but a video on the settings for my Olympus camera. It has a few flaws. The sound could be better, maybe I need a better mic.
Its main weakness is it is too long. With hindsight I should have done video settings and save custom settings separately. That would shave 5 minutes off it.





Grey heron with nest material

21st day of lockdown. Regents Park in London is one of my favourite parks for wildlife photography. The Grey herons are especially tame.  They start nest building very early in the year and I watched this bird coming back to the same bank many times to pick up sticks. Eventually I created a small pile of sticks on an open park of the bank where photography was better. It took the hint and flew back and forth with large mouthfuls.

Grey heron, Ardea cinerea, single bird in flight with nesting stick, London, February 2013. Canon EOS 1dx. 400mm f4.5 lens. 1600 iso. 1/1600th at f6.3

Captive Barn owl

20th day of lockdown. I have always enjoyed photographing captive wildlife and find it very enjoyable seeking out the perfect location. I admired this window covered in ivy for several years and felt a barn owl would suit it very well. I used to organise falconry shoots at this ocation. It was another way of making money from my photography. The only rule is if its captive say so. It is a slide scan so I have no details on how it was shot.

Barn owl


19th day of lockdown. I like Chamois and have seen them at a distance in several countries, but they usually seem shy creatures. I came across some in France around a ski resort that were much tamer and spent a few days with them. This picture was taken during the last few minutes of photography before I had to leave and was my favourite image.

Chamois, Rupicapra rupicapra, France. Canon Eos 1ds Mk2. 500mm lens plus 1.4 extender. 400 iso. 1/125th at f6.

Grey heron

18th day of lockdown. This grey heron became quite tame after weeks of feeding it. Mostly we bought fish from the markets and it did not matter what they were, but on the days we photographed it had to be a native species and as large as possible. The bird is standing on a scaffolding plank we have suspended just under the water. Otherwise the lake is about 4 feet deep.

Grey heron, Ardea cinerea, single bird in water with large fish, Midlands, July 2011. Canon EOS 1d mk3. 800mm lens. 400 iso. 1/640th at f9.

Black-necked grebe

17th day of lockdown. This was taken in a small man made harbour in the Carmargue, France. I had seen a few of these birds inside the harbour the previous day and went back at dawn. I got as low down as possible on the concrete blocks and waited for a bird to swim close enough. The important part was to pick a spot where the colours in the water were looking their best. The grebes spent more time at the opposite end, but the water was too dull there.

Black-necked grebe, Podiceps nigricollis, single bird on water, winter plumage, France. Canon EOS 1ds mk2. 600mm lens plus 1.4 extender. 200 iso. 1/1000th at f8

European bee-eater

16th day of lockdown. This is an old picture and another slide scan (an expensive drum scan). It was taken in about 1994 and the bird is sitting on a Tobacco tree in Spain. The tree was about 100 metres from a small breeding colony and the birds did not land on it often. I sat in a canvas hide for three very hot afternoons in just my underpants with the sweat running off me hoping the bird would land on this isolated branch. I liked the way the yellow flowers and green leaves matched the bird. It did eventually oblige, but as I was in Spain for 5 months I had to wait a long time to see the results.

European bee-eater, Merops apiaster, Spain

Stock dove

15th day of lockdown. Stock doves are a bird I used to ignore. Somehow they have grown on me over the years and I have put time into photographing them on occasions. I watched them come down to drink at the edge of a large shallow scrape one summer. I placed a lie down wooden hide at a spot that looked the most attractive and waited. So long as I empty my bladder before getting in I can lie on my stomach for two hours before the aches and pains get too much. In a solid wooden hide however it is possible to turn onto your back for a while and rest so I can manage a little longer.

Their drinking behaviour is different to Wood pigeons who when they drink stay for a while and consume a lot of water. Stock doves usually come down in pairs take two sips and launch into the air. It would be an easier shot to get today with the Olympus pro-capture.

I used a lie down hide, shown below, because I like the low angle shots and it does not intimidate the birds so much. They will accept it and come closer because it is low.

Stock dove, Columba oenas, single bird taking off from water, Warwickshire, July 2013. Canon EOS 1dx. 800mm lens. 800 iso. 1/3200th at f5.6,

Red-legged partridge mating

14th day of lockdown. This pair of Red-legged partridge came in front of my main wooden hide at a feeding station every day in May 2014 and were obviously going to nest nearby. They mated several times, but only once in a good spot for photography. I have always enjoyed hide work. You get to see and photograph things you never would walking around in the countryside.

Red-legged partridge, Alectoris rufa, two birds mating, Warwickshire, May 2014. Canon EOS 1dx. 400mm f5.6 lens. 1600 iso. 1/2500th at f5.6