I haven’t been out for a few weeks, so do not have much to write about. But, I was told about this video today and thought I would share it on this blog.
Sir David Attenborough narrates “What a Wonderful World” to a collection of clips from the BBC Wildlife department, which is based in my home town of Bristol.
… I thought it might be a nice idea to put some of my favourite images into a little slideshow. This is the first one I have made and it incorporates 2010 and 2011.
EDIT: I have now revamped the original, pixelated version and although I lost the music I think that this one has a much better image quality to it. If you want to view with a soundtrack simply find a track in your music collection that is 5 minutes and 8 seconds long and listen as you watch! It should open in a separate window and display a little animation to show it is opening. Happy 2012 everyone!!
This week I was determined to get to The Riparian Preserve at Gilbert. It is a long drive and requires a really early start, but it is the best place I know for my type of photography. It is particularly special at this time of year because the migrant birds start to appear. Every year at this time I struggle to maintain a consistent number of successful shots – during the summer my photography is tailored for the intense heat and so I avoid being outdoors – as the autumn starts I find that my stealth, rather than my photographic technique, needs to be relearned. I watch the warblers in the hedgerow, I see glimpses of yellows, golds and oranges but when I try to approach I only succeed in scaring the birds away! At this time I return to the old faithfuls: The Art of Bird Photography – by Arthur Morris, The Guide to Wildlife Photography – by B. Moose Peterson, Photographing Wild Birds – by Chris Gomersall. These classic books help to cement the methods of approach in my mind. Of course, it does not help that The Riparian Preserve has gravel paths, so skittish birds are never easy to approach if you are carrying the kit that I carry. However the tips that these books provide are invaluable.
Here are some of the shots from today – including a shot of a yellow warbler (often seen but never photographed) from a large crop and a Black Phoebe who was only happy to throw me an over-the-shoulder look!
On Wednesday I headed to the Gilbert Riparian Preserve after waking at 3am for baby-feeding duties. It was quite nice to be up so early as I had time to have a cuppa, read some emails and take my time getting ready. I arrived at the preserve at about 6am and as it was still a little dark I thought I would wander around for a while to scout out any new locations. It is surprising how the vegetation has grown since I was last there in March!
As soon as I entered the preserve I could see and hear a warbler in the very first tree – quite an elusive bugger – lots of flashes of yellow, but he always seemed to allude the camera and so no pics. This seemed to set the theme for the day – apart from a couple of Verdin I saw very few hedgerow birds or warblers that I was expecting.
The sunlight never really did come out and the few photographers that I spoke to were very glum, a couple even abandoning their cameras for binoculars. So for 4 hours I wandered around the ponds and hedges feeling happy to be outdoors on this cool morning, but peeved at the poor light!
I had a couple of really nice surprises… the first came when I was sat taking some shots of the Black-necked Stilts and I suddenly noticed a coyote crossing the pond towards the central island. It got about half way to the safety of the island when it stopped and realised that I was there. It took a few moments to decide whether I was a threat and then continued to plod across the shallow pond.
The second surprise came near the end of the four hours. I was trying to find a good spot to shoot a couple of frames of the White-faced Ibis that were in pond #2, but they were way too far out of range, when all of a sudden a female American Avocet startled in the shallows in front of me and proceeded to herd her chicks to distant safety. I am not one for traumatising my models, so I took a couple of steps back, crouched down and let her get far enough away before I re-emerged. When I did I could hear her mate sounding an alarm, then he took off and circled before flying towards me. I sat down behind some reeds so that I would not be perceived as a threat and watched him for a few minutes. He must have made 5 or 6 fly-bys before being satisfied that I was not going to harm his chicks, so he landed about 20 feet from my spot and posed for a couple of shots before I crept away and left him to join his family. The whole event probably lasted 2 minutes.
These 2 encounters are what made the outing a success. Overcast skies meant that the ISO was cranked way up – and even using noise reduction software in my post editing could not get rid of the grain without losing some of the image quality. I guess I have it too easy shooting in the (normally) fabulous Arizona light!
There are more shots from this trip which I will post as soon as I have reviewed them and chosen the shots I think would look good on the blog.
I took a trip out to Gilbert on Thursday of this week to see what birds are about. I wanted to scope out some areas of interest for a visiting photographer that I am meeting up with on Monday. Surprisingly I saw fewer Hummingbirds than I have ever seen before, but the Yellow-rumped Warblers seemed to occupy every hedgerow along the paths. It was nice to see that the Avocets, which returned recently, are getting used to a human presence. This allowed me to get some reasonably close shots. The Dowitchers and Least Sandpipers are doing their usual thing – head dipping along the shallows. They don’t seem bothered by humans at all! Lastly, it must be getting closer to Easter because all the Cottontails were hopping around the preserve. If I get my hands on one I’ll make a rabbit stew – just kidding. The fellow below posed for a good 20 shots before he hopped off.
We have been waiting for Christmas for so long… we have had plans to go home and visit family for most of 2010. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas and decided that most of Europe needed to be closed down! We did get home, but it took us 4 days to get there!
While we were home I took a couple of days to go to Phoenix Park, North Bull Island and Ashton Court. It was a very different experience to my normal photography – thermal underwear, waterproof outerwear and heavy gloves – all of which made it difficult to manipulate camera controls or to be stealthy. It was also very difficult working in very overcast conditions and I had to struggle for every shot I made, often incurring lots of noise.
Despite these challenges, I had lots of fun and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Here is a selection from the trip:
With family visiting who are also interested in wildlife and photography I have been able to get out quite a bit in the last few weeks. Normally I would update my blog after each trip, but I have been unable to this week – so here is a selection of the more memorable shots for me from the last 3 outings:
Desert Spiny Lizard (Click to enlarge)
White-faced Ibis – 1st Fall Plumage (Click to enlarge)
Snowy Egret (Click to Enlarge)
Cactus Wren (Click to enlarge)
Anna’s Hummingbird (Click to enlarge)
Monarch Butterfly (Click to enlarge)
This last image is not the best example of wildlife photography. We happened to see this fellow in the distance – I managed to get 4 handheld shots in burst mode – this was the only one where he was facing us, the others showed him running for cover. This image is included only as a record of sighting. This was taken in Buckeye, about 3 miles from my house.
Bobcat (Click to enlarge)