Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Otters

I had always wanted to go to the Isle of Mull in Winter to photograph the Otters but in the back of my mind there was always the doubts of shorter days, the weather will the ferries be running. Luckily for us none of this became a problem yes we had a mixture of weather but for the main it was sunny, dry albeit a little windy and the Otters were about, although not playing for the camera all the time.

We stayed for a week this time usually it would be for a fortnight as I have always said "a week is too short a time on this fantastic island".

Sightings of Otters was good a total of 32 sightings from 13 individuals over the week long period and this was one of the  best weeks I have had for them on Mull.

We met some very like minded people and again it was very nice to be able to share our finds and help other people out, some getting their first close encounters with the Otters.



You could very easily drive past and not see them as they were camouflaged against the sea weed!



Even when you knew that you were looking in an Otters territory they always seemed to do the opposite to what you would think! Most of the time finding them away from the shore feeding was just the start!



People will tell you that the best time to see an Otter is on a 'turning tide', partly true; but in the week we were there we saw Otters at all times of the day irrespective of what the tide was doing, perhaps it is better to visit when the days are shorter!!








We watched Otters every time they dived they caught something, we also saw mothers feeding their cub(s) but one thing for certain all that energy used there was always time for a quick nap!


A great week had with great company

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Derbyshire Dippers

We are lucky in the fact that in Derbyshire we have our fair share of streams/rivers that are doing very well for Dippers.

One or two of the more common known spots do tend to get heavily used by photographers and have caused problems for the birds themselves.

I fortunately have found a few areas out of the reach of 'joe public' lets say by meeting up and getting on with a Head River Keeper, who has helped me along the way so that I can observe and photograph the birds without causing any problems. This has taken a lot longer and will continue to do so, as they say "a little at a time"!

So here are a few shots to be getting along with and we will see how we get on throughout the year.







Thanks for looking

Friday, 3 February 2017

Harvest Mice workshops

I am now taking bookings for the Harvest Mice Workshops if interested please email me on

alan.heeley1@btinternet.com

 











Thanks for looking

Thursday, 12 January 2017

New Year 'Hares'

Not really as it was the second day of the New Year. Decided that a trip onto the high tops of the Derbyshire moorlands was called for, and with two good friends in tow off we set.

As an added bonus a fresh few inches of snow had fallen on the very highest parts of the moors making a bigger challenge in picking out the Mountain Hares than it would have been, but once you had got your eye in we all started to find them.

Days up here with the Hares are never the same but within say 30 minutes you can usually judge what the Hares are going to be like and today was no exception, today we just could not get near,150 metres and they were off!!

We carried on regardless because we just knew that there would be the one that would sit, and with the right fieldcraft would allow us to get into position and get some shots.

Two hours in and I struck lucky this certain Hare was tucked up and I only caught it out of the corner of my eye but for twenty minutes we managed to get some rather decent shots.




We came away that day rather tired and exhausted but pleased with the results. Two days later and we decided to go up again and what a difference the snow had ALL gone and the Hares stuck out like sore thumbs!



This was one of around twenty plus individuals that we saw.


Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Grey Seals

Yes it has been some time from my last post and I can remember saying that I would not get into the same routine as a lot of other people do when starting a Blog, but believe you me a LOT has been happening and there is a LOT more to happen!!!!!!!

Anyway role on 2017 that's all I can say.

Decided to have a trip to the East coast, for two reasons really one to see and photograph with a good friend of mine the second to be able to photograph Grey Seals and their pups.

Bags packed and the B and B sorted, Anne home from work fed, watered and changed; off we set. A good steady three hours later we were shown our room in this very nice country pub and enjoying our evening meal. A sign of things to come was the gritting lorry that passed the pub that night!

After a good wholesome breakfast we set off for the beach, not a cloud in the sky and a very hard frost but the sun shone and did we feel the chill when we had parked up and stared out to the North sea.

The walk was not as bad as I had expected and my friend had been before a few days before hand so knew just were to go.

There was a good number of Seals on the beach with young some just a matter of hours old , and also the obligatory Bull Seal patrolling an area of beach just waiting his chance to mate with a female if he could catch her!







Thanks for looking.



Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Waxwing

This year looks like being a 'Waxwing' year if the numbers of birds arriving on the East coast is anything to go by.

I had heard reports of a few birds being seen/heard in Derbyshire but mostly were birds that were flying through, that was until about a week ago when four birds turned up in a pub car park in Chesterfield.

By the time I could get myself out the four had gone down to a single bird, a first winter male, and perhaps with it being such a young bird it had no fear of people and was the tamest Waxwing that I have ever been lucky enough to photograph.









Thanks for looking

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Isle of Mull .....Otters

It has been 5 years since I last visited the Isle of Mull but I hall not leave it that long again. This time myself and Anne stayed just outside Salen on a working farm for two weeks.

The last two weeks in September you don't exactly come for the sunshine!! We had sunshine, rain and high winds thrown at us but more than anything it did not stop us from going out everyday and locating the elusive European Otter.

It always amazes me when on Mull the amount of people that come up to you and say something like "this is our fifth visit and we haven't seen one yet"!!!!! Well' perhaps if you stayed in one position longer than five minutes then you may stand a better chance.

Myself and Anne saw Otters everyday, but not always photographable, that is where the luck, patience and a bit of field craft comes into play.

My first location was one I was very familiar with and in the past I had seen and photographed there before, this time what made it better was that I met a fellow photographer Robin Stansbridge and his wife Bridgette, so that meant some of the time there was four sets of eyes but mostly there was just the two.

We came good with our first session with this Otter and after watching it for several days we got used to it's traits and could forward guess the rocks it would come onto when bringing in a larger fish or to mark out it's territory.

Not everything is smooth sailing I must have put an average of six hours watching getting into position etc. for just a couple of minutes photography time, but this is what it takes when dealing with something that you can be watching one minute the next it has dived and you do not relocate it for another twenty minutes or more  because it is no longer heading the way it was but has turned back and gone to where it started!!!! So frustrating at times.

The second week I met a guy called Carl Gray another great wildlife photographer and after meeting Carl on his first day on the island I told him about this certain Otter what it was up to etc. And hopefully Carl would get some decent shots as I was going to look for other Otters in different locations. It was very nice to here from Carl at the end of the week that he had had some luck with the Otter and he thanked me for the info.

I eventually saw eight individuals at different locations but only spent time with three of them over the two weeks.


This is two typical views of an Otter, just imagine looking at the first one if the water was a little choppy!! Second one typical distant view of Otter cleaning itself and caring for its coat.



They can also blend in very well especially in the Bladderwrack seaweed


Even when asleep they can be difficult!


But then sometimes they can stick out like sore thumbs!!!


Or they can swim right past you!!


But then sometimes it all comes together



Thanks for looking