Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 - My Photography Highlights

For various reasons, 2017 was a year with minimal travel and holidays, so any photographic opportunities were never far from home, in Guildford, Surrey.  In fact, one of my most satisfying moments, was capturing lightning for the first time, taken from my house.  A few of the shots were picked-up in some of the online editions of UK newspapers, earning me a somewhat underwhelming £20 in commission!

Lightning Storm over Guildford, July 2017

Guildford Cathedral

My primary focus has always been on wildlife, and with minimal time on my hands, birds took a front seat this year.


Various interesting birds made appearances (clear highlight being the Red Footed Falcon), alongside some common species.  Here are some of my highlights:

Cuckoo, Thursley, April 2017
Kestrel, Titchfield Haven, May 2017
Buzzard, Guildford, August 2017
Redstart, Thursley, April 2017
Hawfinches, Dick Focks Pond, December 2017
Blue Tit, not looking its best, June 2017

Juv. Blue Tit, July 2017

Avocet, Titchfield Haven, May 2017

Red Footed Falcon, Frensham Common, June 2017
Little Egret, October 2017

Garganey, Shalford, March 2017
Peregrine Falcon, with prey, November 2017

Fallow Deer Rutting, Petworth Park, October 2017

Best of the Rest

Red Arrows, Wings and Wheels, Dunsfold, August 2017

Friday, 16 June 2017

Red Footed Falcon - Frensham Common

On Saturday 10th June, there were reports of a rare vagrant, a Red Footed Falcon (1st Summer male), being seen on Frensham Common, in Surrey, UK, a short distance from where I live.  Although I popped over for an hour or so on Sunday, my main opportunity to see it was on Monday evening (12th June), heading over there at around 6:30pm.  

Here's a map of the area (original source here), and I've added in red the approximate area I'd seen the Falcon spending time in.

Frensham Common, area in red was  the approx. area I saw the bird flying around

With a few others watching the Falcon (two of whom decided not to stay on the marked path), it didn't take long for me to spot the Falcon. The Falcon's usual behaviour seemed to be to wait towards the top branches of one of the dead trees, then suddenly swoop down to catch some prey, before returning to the same or other branch.  Realistically, most photographs are therefore were always going to be of the bird waiting on the branch.  With only a monopod, some wind, and a fair distance to the subject, I was never going to get a good shot, either.  But nice to get what is known as a 'record shot' (photographic evidence of the species, but certainly not going to win any awards!) - eating a dragonfly

Red Footed Falcon eating a dragonfly, Frensham, June 12th 2017

 Enjoying the view

We were treated to a Hobby mobbing the Falcon for a minute or two, but the Hobby soon left the area, with the Falcon holding its ground.  It all happened too fast for any photos, unfortunately.

After everyone else headed-off, and with the car park only due to shut at 9pm, I thought I'd wait for a while longer, and with the wind dying-down, I was treated to a spectacular show. The Falcon's behaviour changed markedly, climbing high above the tree-line, hovering at times, but also trying to catch insects on the wing (similar to what a Hobby does).  It also meant that as well as spending time over King's Ridge (the North-South path to the East of the red), it came South of the East-West path I was standing on, so was much nearer than had been seen previously.  See below for some of the shots I was able to get.

[As ever, depending on our device/browser, you should be able to click on the photos to see them in a better quality.]

Red Footed Falcon flying, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon flying, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon flying, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon angling to catch some prey on the wing, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon enjoying the sun starting to set, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon flying with prey, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Red Footed Falcon flying, eating prey, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Discarding some of its catch (bottom-left of photo)

Red Footed Falcon flying, Frensham, 12th June 2017

Saturday, 2 January 2016

2015 - My Photography Highlights

As usual, here's a summary of my photography highlights from the year.  2015 was the first year I haven't traveled overseas for many years, and with all sorts of other things happening to keep me occupied, photography has taken a back-seat.  The selection below hopefully shows that the UK has so much to offer, even for the time-poor!


In April, a very obliging fox visited our garden, and seemed happy enough to strike a pose for the camera:


...a baby rabbit was seen on the top of our local hill...


...and a Fallow Deer was photographed nearby in Sussex

Fallow Deer

The Moon

Having missed out on the eclipse last year courtesy of cloud cover and with my new 500mm lens bought second-hand, I was keen to get a photo of the 'Super Blood Moon'.  It meant getting up at 02:30, but was worthwhile:

Super Blood Moon

As it happened, I went out the previous evening to see which settings would work best.  I managed to get a shot with a small aeroplane flying in front of the moon, which has come out quite nicely:

Moon and aeroplane

And whilst we're on the subject of night-time, here's a shot of Guildford Cathedral, with an obliging firework nearby:

Guildford Cathedral

XH558 Vulcan

2015 was the last year which the iconic Vulcan was allowed to fly, so I was keen to get a few shots of it.  I tried a couple of times whilst it was flying in the South (living near Dunsfold helped my chances!), and managed to get a shot to remember her by

XH558 Vulcan


Here are some of the highlights from birds I've been able to photograph this year.  A return visit to Gigrin Farm in Wales meant I could get a Red Kite photo I was happy with, plus towards the end of the year, two separate Barn Owl viewings were very special.  Elsewhere, an OK shot of a Great Grey Shrike was good, but still not in good light.  Finally, my local swans gave birth to NINE cygnets, so an early walk along the canal treated me to some special moments.  And then there was the Buzzard 'caught in the act'...

Red Kite
Barn Owl (very low light)

Great Grey Shrike

Swan with two cygnets


I'm now on Instagram, and use it to showcase some of my favourite wildlife images from trips over the years.  You can follow me here.


Finally, I earn a little income from a back-catalogue of stock images, which are for sale on various microstock websites.  Earnings are way-down again this year (£126.91), partly as I haven't uploaded any fresh images, but also a symptom of the changing industry dynamics.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve

Only an hour away from my home in Guildford, is the wonderful national nature reserve, Titchfield Haven, run by Hampshire County Council.  

Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve
As their website states, "the Reserve covers 369 acres of the Meon Valley, encompassing a mosaic of natural habitats. River, fen, pools, reedbed and meadow are carefully managed, giving protection to a range of special wildlife".

Entry is only £4, and parking (on the edge of the Solent) is free.  There's an excellent cafe too.

I wasn't able to spend much time in any of the hides, but did try them all out.  Here's a few photos of what I was able to capture, either from a hide, between them, or outside the Visitor's Centre.

Common(?) Tern



Canada Goose



House Sparrow

Mute and Black Swans

Mute Swan


Black-headed Gull


Black-tailed Godwits?

Bar-tailed Godwit?

Avocet and Bar-tailed Godwit

Finally, only a short drive away, and with a very hidden entrance is Titchfield Abbey, which is a free English Heritage site.

Titchfield Abbey