Steve Liptrot Photography: Blog en-us (C) Steve Liptrot Photography (Steve Liptrot Photography) Fri, 29 Jun 2018 19:30:00 GMT Fri, 29 Jun 2018 19:30:00 GMT Steve Liptrot Photography: Blog 110 120 Glorious June... Welcome to my latest blog of my exploits in the month of June. In June I usually concentrate on the new wildlife that has appeared all around us but I decided to try something different! Don't get me wrong I love nature in all its forms but I also like mechanical things such as planes, trains & automobiles. A typical bloke! I've visited the usual haunts of SlimbridgeForest Farm and the Bird of prey centre at Newent. I also had four trips to the Mach loop in Mid-Wales to photograph the low flying military jets. A great spectacle with a great bunch of people. More on that later.

Slimbridge has seen the arrival of five newly hatched Common cranes! They are been well looked after by their doting parents and still going strong as I right this. Last year they only managed to rear two but one was predated and the other died of kidney disease. It takes 7 months for them to be able to fly but they are growing fast. Fingers crossed.

Common crane (Grus grus)Common crane (Grus grus)Common cranes from the Rushy hide, WWT Slimbridge.

Newly hatched common crane at WWT Slimbridge.

Due to Winter dragging on a bit longer than usual, Spring arrived a couple of weeks later with some glorious weather. The insects were out in force and the kingfishers at Forest farm had bred two youngsters who are now looking for territories of their own. They are a solitary bird until the breeding season. 


Banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)Banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)Forest farm nature reserve, Whitchurch. Banded demoiselle at Forest farm.

Four-spotted chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)Four-spotted chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)RSPB Hamwall, Somerset.

Four spotted chaser at RSPB Ham Wall, Somerset.

Juvenile common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Juvenile common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Forest Farm, Whitchurch. Kingfisher junior claiming territory at Forest farm

I also had a couple of visits to the International Centre for Birds of Prey  where I practise my bird-in-flight shots. Birds of prey from around the world can be seen here and they fly many different species with owls being my favourites.

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)The ICBP, Newent.
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Barn owl at the ICBP

Where I live in South Wales it is very scenic and on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. Also every now and again a steam train special will pass through the beautiful countryside on its way to Cardiff etc. I managed to catch one near Abergavenny but it was an overcast cool day which made for a lot of steam and smoke, but I'm quite pleased with the results.

The Welsh Marches ExpressThe Welsh Marches ExpressSR Rebuilt Light Pacific 4-6-2 no 34046 (as 34052 Lord Dowding) heading south towards Pontrilas 16th June 2018.
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The Welsh Marches Express near Abergavenny

My final part of the blog includes four visits to the Mach loop. The Mach loop is a designated Low fly Area (LFA) in the North West of Wales. It is famed for its all year round opportunities to photograph military aircraft at very low levels. On my first visit I arrived around 8AM. I waited....and waited....and waited! The first fly past was 3.30PM!! There is not a set timetable here, just turn up and hope for the best. If the come they come. It's always worth the wait to see these daredevils of the skies screaming up the valleys. It is mainly aircraft from the RAF that use the loop such as Hawks, Tornados, Hercules and Typhoons. Also the US Air Force fly their F15's and Osprey helicopters. Also in Spring and Summer when Air show season is in full swing you may get something different like the Red Arrows. Always great to see. Here are a selection of aircraft that I've seen through the Mach loop over my past four visits. 

RAF Panavia Tornado GR4 ZA614/076RAF Panavia Tornado GR4 ZA614/076Cad West, The Mach Loop. Panavia Tronado GR4 (Royal Air Force)

Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules C4 (ZH872)Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules C4 (ZH872)Cad West, The Mach Loop.
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Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules (Royal Air Force)

Bell MV-22B Osprey 0065Bell MV-22B Osprey 0065Cad East - The Mach Loop. Bell MV-22B Osprey (USAF)

Bae Systems Hawk-T.2 (ZK020)— Royal Air ForceBae Systems Hawk-T.2 (ZK020)— Royal Air ForceCad West, The Mach Loop. Bae System Hawk T2 (Royal Air Force)

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle C - 86-163 493rd  "The Grim Reapers"McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle C - 86-163 493rd "The Grim Reapers"Cad East - The Mach Loop. McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle of the 493rd Fighter Squadron The Grim Reapers (USAF)

Royal Air Force Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon F2  ZJ929Royal Air Force Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon F2 ZJ929Rhayader, Powys. Royal Air Force Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon

And there you have it. I've had quite a busy past month. There are quite a few WW2 re-enactment days happening which are always great fun to attend and photograph and there are a couple of Air shows I plan to visit. Long may this glorious weather continue.

Thanks for reading my latest installment.

More of my images can be viewed on my flickr page.






]]> (Steve Liptrot Photography) Fri, 29 Jun 2018 19:16:08 GMT
What! Another blog... I know it's only been a couple of weeks since my last blog. But the last few weeks have been chaos with more re-visits to favourite haunts. Also Spring is a brilliant time to get out with your camera and capture all the new life out there. So go grab a brew and I'll tell you all about them!!

As I'm originally from Lancashire and still have family up there I thought I'd pay a visit to my old stomping grounds for a few days. My first visit was the WWT Martin mere reserve in Lancashire. This is where my love of wildlife photography began for me over 40 years ago. Normally Winter is the best time to visit with the migratory birds but disappointingly there wasn't much about today within reach of getting a decent photo. Things weren't looking good, so after dinner I visited Preston marina. This is a great place to watch visiting Common terns which breed here. More disappointment! There was only 3 birds. Now what. A swift visit to Yarrow valley park in Chorley. Things were looking up as there were some birds here! The Great crested grebes were about and a Grey heron and grey wagtails were on the river.

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Yarrow valley park, Chorley. Grey heron with fish. Yarrow valley.

The following two days were spent at RSPB Leighton moss. A fantastic reserve in North Lancashire. I must admit this is the best two days I have ever spent here. There was wildlife everywhere. It was a case of where to point the camera lens! The Marsh harriers were busy nest building and mating. I spotted three pairs of these magnificent birds who were flying close to the Grisedale hide. Also there were Little egrets, greater scaup, great crested grebes, gulls, waders, grey herons, teal, gadwall, mute swans and the warblers could be heard in the vast reedbeds.

Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)RSPB Leighton moss, Lancashire. Marsh harrier (male) at Leighton moss.

Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)RSPB Leighton moss, Lancashire.

Marsh harrier (female) at Leighton moss.

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)RSPB Leighton moss, Lancashire. Grey heron fish flipping! Leighton moss.

Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)RSPB Leighton moss, Lancashire. Pied avocet checking the eggs. Allen hide, Leighton moss.

After those two hectic days I spent an afternoon at RSPB Marshside near Southport. There were a few Avocets, black headed gulls and a distant Great egret. Walking back along the shoreline I managed to get shots of the Northern wheatear and Meadow pipits. 

Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)RSPB Marshside, Lancashire. Meadow pipit. Marshside.

I called in at Preston marina to see if the Common terns had increased in numbers. I couldn't believe it! The three birds had increased to around 60!! They must have heard I was back up North! lol. At the marina there are concrete rafts with purpose built wooden boxes which the terns use to nest in. You can get some great shots of the terns returning from fishing trips.

Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Preston marina, Lancashire. Common tern at Preston marina.

The next day was my final day there so on the way home I called in at RSPB Burton mere. This reserve is on the Dee estuary near Chester. A well looked after reserve with various habitats for wildlife. I managed to photograph Common whitethroat and a close up of a Little grebe with a stickleback. I will probably pay another visit to Burton mere in the winter and see the many waders that visit there.

Little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)Little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)RSPB Burton mere.

Little grebe at Burton mere.

Common whitethroat (Sylvia communis)Common whitethroat (Sylvia communis)RSPB Burton mere, Wirral. Common whitethroat at Burton mere.

This week I actually managed to visit Skomer Island off the west coast of Pembrokeshire, South Wales. A brilliant place for thousands of visiting seabirds. It's famous for the Atlantic puffin which is why most people visit the island. Other species there are various gulls, Manx shearwaters, Razorbills, Guillemot, Short-eared owls, Linnet, Whitethroat, Seals & rabbits! There are many more but I didn't see them.

Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire.
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Atlantic puffin, Skomer Island.

Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus)Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus)Skomer Island.

Lesser black backed gull amongst the bluebells. Skomer Island.

Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)Skomer Island. Short-eared owl on Skomer Island.

That concludes a hectic few days of wildlife photography and now to try and catch up on some editing. I took nearly 1500 images on my visit to Skomer! Just goes to show how much wildlife is on the island.

Thanks for reading my latest instalment.

More of my images can be viewed on my flickr page.


]]> (Steve Liptrot Photography) Sun, 13 May 2018 11:47:06 GMT
Where is Spring? A good question. Where is Spring? We've managed a couple of bright sunny days (I even got sun burnt!) but the weather has cooled considerably and it is now the usual overcast grey weather we are all used to. Never mind there are signs of new growth all around us and the spring migration is slowly happening with new visitors appearing in dribs and drabs.

I've spent the last few weeks trying new locations and re-visiting old haunts. I felt that my photography was getting a bit stale. I've still visited the regular places such as WWT Slimbridge and the Forest of Dean. I've re-visited Gilfach farm and been to a new location for me, Upton Warren. More about these later.

During the last month I have managed to photograph a few rare visitors to WWT Slimbridge such as Little tern, Glossy ibis, Arctic tern and common sandpiper. 

Little tern (Sternula albifrons)Little tern (Sternula albifrons)WWT Slimbridge.

Little tern 17th April 2018

Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)WWT Slimbridge.

Glossy ibis 26th April 2018

Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)WWT Slimbridge. Common sandpiper 13th April 2018

Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)WWT Slimbridge. Arctic tern 28th April 2018

It's not just the rarities I have photographed but the birds that stay most of the year. The great-crested grebes put on a great courtship display several times. A great spectacle to witness. Also the greylag geese and mallards are all on parenting duties. There are quite a few mute swan nests dotted around the reserve so expect to see plenty of cygnets later this spring. Some of the birds are in summer plumage now such as the black-tailed godwits which look stunning with their orange plumage.

Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa)Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa)WWT Slimbridge. Black-tailed godwit in summer plumage

'Is there any room for me?''Is there any room for me?'A gosling looking for shelter under mum's wing. There was already four goslings in there!
Photographed at WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
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Greylag gosling looking for cover under mum's wing

Great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus)WWT Slimbridge.

A pair of great crested grebes from the Discovery hide, Slimbridge.

I've managed to visit Forest farm nature reserve once in the past month with the sole intention of photographing the Fantastic Mr. Fox! The kingfishers are busy on breeding duties and probably won't be seen till the summer, hopefully with their fledglings. Whilst waiting for the Red fox the small birds and Jays kept us entertained. Around a hour later Mr Fox eventually appeared from behind the reeds (likes a lie in apparently!). It's always great to see wild animals especially Red foxes, how people can hunt these beautiful animals is beyond me.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)Forest farm, Whitchurch. Fantastic Mr. Fox

His tail has a piece missing, probably snagged on a fence or lost it in a fight.

The Forest of Dean is a great place for wildlife. I visited the RSPB reserve of Nagshead where there are a couple of hides to view any passing wildlife. It is a place where you have to put the hours in and be very patient. I tried the Lower hide first to try and catch glimpses of the visiting Pied flycatchers and Redstarts. They were about but very distant so didn't manage any photos. After an hour I went for a walk to the Campbell hide which is situated in front of a small pool. A lot of the birds use the pool for bathing. I spent around 5 hours here. In that time I saw treecreepers, blackcaps, nuthatches and the usual robins  blue tits. A small group of Fallow deer slowly made their way through.

Fallow deer (Dama dama)Fallow deer (Dama dama)RSPB Nagshead, Parkend.

Fallow deer from the Campbell hide, RSPB Nagshead.

Common treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)Common treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)RSPB Nagshead, Forest of Dean.

European treecreeper from the Campbell hide, RSPB Nagshead.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)RSPB Nagshead, Forest of Dean. Blackcap about to take a bath! RSPB Nagshead.

Last week I headed up the M5 to Upton Warren nature reserve near Droitwich. A place I have heard so much about but had never previously visited. I had spoken to a few people of the best places to visit here which helps a lot when visiting new locations. There are three hides on the 'Flashes' lake so I settled into the 3rd hide. There were plenty of noisy black-headed gullsavocetslapwing little ringed plover that walk round like clockwork toys! I also spotted a whimbrel which was quite distant, and asleep!!

Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius)Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius)Upton Warren, Worcestershire.

Little ringed plover at Upton Warren

On the walk back to the car passing the sailing lake I noticed the swallows, sand martins house martins were all feeding up on flies that had landed on the water's surface. I spent an hour trying to photograph them in flight. It can be very frustrating when you eventually lock focus onto one then they change direction at the last second!! Grrrr!! Managed a couple of shots but they wont win any competitons!

Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)Upton Warren, Worcestershire.

Barn swallow in flight, Upton Warren.

Last Wednesday I had a trip to Rhayader in Mid-Wales to visit Gilfach farm. A great reserve set in the Mid Wales valleys with moorland and woodland habitats. It is a regular haunt of visiting Pied flycatchers, Redstarts, Cuckoos, Wood & willow warblers. It's a great place to walk around even if you don't see very much, just enjoying the solitude. As I arrived I heard the cuckoo calling which was a good omen. Most of my visit was spent in the Oak wood with a camouflaged bag hide over me. This is a great way to get closer to the wildlife you are trying to photograph. I saw the Pied flycatchers checking out the many nesting boxes in the wood and the greatest surprise was a Hare that casually strolled through! This is only the second one I have photographed in the last 10 years.

European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)Female pied flycatcher at Gilfach farm, Rhayader. Female pied flycatcher at Gilfach farm.

European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)Male pied flycatcher at Gilfach farm, Rhayader.

Male pied flycatcher at Gilfach farm.

European hare (Lepus europaeus)European hare (Lepus europaeus)Gilfach farm, Rhayader. European hare at Gilfach farm.

Thanks for reading my latest instalment.

More of my images can be viewed on my flickr page.





]]> (Steve Liptrot Photography) Sun, 29 Apr 2018 12:48:52 GMT
How much weather can we have in just a few weeks? We are only half way through the month of March and we've had so much varied weather. Only this week I was up at WWT Martin mere, Lancashire where I was watching blue tits and tree sparrows checking out nest boxes in Spring like weather. This morning I woke up to a few inches of snow! It must be confusing for the wildlife. Over the last month I took advantage of the 'Beast from the East' formerly known as winter and visited the red kite feeding stations of Gigrin farm and Llandeusant several times. I've always wanted to photograph the stunning red kites in snowy conditions. I visited Gigrin as the first snows arrived and managed a few shots of kites feeding on the wing in the snow.

Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite in the snow at Gigrin farm.
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Red kite feeding on the wing at Gigrin farm, Rhayader.

Didn't have much luck with the snow at Llandeusant red kite feeding station but got an arty shot showing the birds natural surroundings.

Red Kite CountryRed Kite CountryThe Red Kite Feeding Station, Llandeusant, Carmarthenshire.
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Red kite above the Black mountain, Llandeusant.

At least once a week I pay a visit to WWT Slimbridge to see what has called in but in this case most of the wildfowl had migrated back including all of the Bewick's swans. Luckily the resident birds made up for that. Three water rails were active under the feeders from the Willow hide and another two spotted from the Knott hide.

Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)WWT Slimbridge.
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Water rail 'Dancing on ice' from the Willow hide.

Other waterfowl, snipe, oystercatchers and little grebes were all quite active. That's what I like about Slimbridge, there is always something to photograph whatever time of the year.

Female common teal (Anas crecca)Female common teal (Anas crecca)WWT Slimbridge. Mrs Teal wrestling with a worm from the Knott hide, Slimbridge.

I visited Parkend in the Forest of Dean which is known for its good numbers of Hawfinch. This winter has seen a large influx of these migratory birds to the UK. At Parkend you can photograph the birds from the luxury of your car! Other birds to watch for are chaffinch, greenfinch, nuthatch, song thrush & redwing. This is the best way to see these elusive birds as they are very 'flighty'. Now and again you get some people who still insist on walking round disturbing the birds but that's another story!.

Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)Parkend, Gloucestershire. Female hawfinch at Parkend, Forest of Dean.

Paid a visit to my 'local patch' of Forest farm. Normally at the end of February the kingfishers start to pair up so I wasn't expecting many sightings. A few snipe were seen from the hides and the usual small birds. Went for a walk down the Glamorgan Canal on the reserve and there she was. Mrs Kingfisher fishing from the trees in the glorious Spring sunshine.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Glamorgan Canal Nature Reserve, Whitchurch.
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Mrs Kingfisher on the Glamorgan Canal, Forest farm nature reserve.

February sees the opening of The International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newent, Gloucestershire. A place I have visited over the last few years. It is a great place to get up close to various birds of prey and practise your 'bird in flight' shots. My favourites are the owls and kites. It is not just the flying of birds the centre does. They are heavily involved with the conservation of these magnificent birds. They are also have long term experience with captive breeding around the world.

Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia)Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia)The ICBP, Newent.
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Burrowing owl at The International Centre for Birds of Prey.


Ural owl (Strix uralensis)Ural owl (Strix uralensis)The ICBP, Newent. Ural owl 'Bramley' in the snow at the ICBP.

On the theme of birds of prey and especially owls I went to photograph the Short-eared owls at Aust Warf. Aust is between the two Severn bridge on the England side of the river. I've been half a dozen times but the owls were quite distant. On my last visit the owls were very active mid-afternoon and came very close. I was initially using the 500mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter (700mm focal length) but the converter soon came off! Had some great shots until a dog walker let his hound chase the owls off!! What is wrong with some people?

Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)Aust Warf.
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Short-eared owl hunting for voles at Aust Warf.

Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)Aust Warf.

Short-eared owl at Aust Warf.

During the past week I paid a visit to my native Lancashire to visit family. I always make a point of visiting WWT Martin mere as this is where my love of wildlife photography started over 40 years ago. It is a great reserve where thousands of pink-footed geese, whooper swans, various ducks and waders visit during the winter months. From the hides great views of the raptors such as kestrel, Marsh harrier, Peregrines, Buzzards and even Barn owls. The latest hide is the Discovery hide where the daily feeds take place. Here you can get very close to the wildlfowl and waders who don't seem to mind lenses of all sizes pointing at them! As long as there is food around the birds will be there. Martin mere is the only place I now see tree sparrows in good numbers. They were house hunting when I visited so I guess Spring is just around the corner. I hope!

Tree sparrow (Passer montanus)Tree sparrow (Passer montanus)WWT Martin mere, Lancashire. Tree sparrow at WWT Martin mere, Lancashire.

'Fancy a dance luv?''Fancy a dance luv?'Great crested grebes.
Cosmeston Lakes, Penarth.
A pair of great crested grebes at Cosmeston lakes, Penarth.


Thanks for reading my latest instalment.

More of my images can be viewed on my flickr page.


]]> (Steve Liptrot Photography) Sat, 17 Mar 2018 11:52:26 GMT
My Typical Day at WWT Slimbridge As you probably guessed I spend quite some time at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) reserve Slimbridge in Gloucestershire. It is a brilliant place to photograph wildlife especially during the winter months. As I spend a lot of time there I'd thought I tell you what I get up to on a typical day!

As a WWT member this entitles you to visit several of the hides from 08-15. Normal opening is 09-30. This is a great time to visit as you get the first rays of sunshine if the sun bothers to show! Also wildlife tends to be more active at the start and the end of the day. My first visit is the Rushy hide to watch the morning feed. There maybe hundreds of ducks, geese and of course the visiting Bewick's swans. Usually around a 100 visit the reserve in winter.

First light from the Rushy hideFirst light from the Rushy hideWWT Slimbridge First light from the Rushy hide

Bewick's swan (Cygnus bewickii)Bewick's swan (Cygnus bewickii)WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. Bewick's swan coming in to land

This is a great spectacle to witness which only happens in the winter months. My next port of call is down to the Holden tower (3 storeys high) which gives great views across the reserve especially to the River Severn and the fields which the wildfowl use for grazing. You sometimes get the odd rarity flying up the river but they are usually out of reach for the 500mm lens and a teleconverter! From here the wiley red fox maybe seen searching for a meal or the many raptors such as Peregrine falcon, Marsh harrier or Buzzards looking for breakfast. When the tide is on its way in the birds feeding on the mud will move further inland making them slightly easier to photograph. Between the Holden tower and the Rushy there are another four more hides to visit. Next stop is the Knott hide. The Widgeon duck are usually grazing here and sometimes a Song thrush can be spotted searching for worms.

Song thrush (Turdus philomelos)Song thrush (Turdus philomelos)WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

Song thrush

Directly opposite The Knott hide is the Stephen Kirk hide where you can spot various ducks, geese & swans and sometimes the waders such as Redshank, Ruff and Curlews. I have photographed kingfishers here in the past which tend to sit on the barbed wire fence. Not the best perch for a decent photograph but who can resist a kingfisher!

From here it is a short walk to the Willow hide. I always check the purpose made slots in the fence for anything. Winter is a good time to spot the elusive Water rail. In Spring & Summer you may spot various visiting warblers. The Willow hide is a great hide which was only made a few years ago. This is the best place to see the Water rail and the various small birds visiting the feeders. If you stay a while the Great spotted woodpecker may pay a visit.

Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)WWT Slimbridge. The elusive Water rail from the Willow hide

In the hide there is a small purpose built hole just big enough to get the lens in and get some great low down shots of the Water rail such as the one above.

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)WWT Slimbridge. Long-tailed tit from the Willow hide

Opposite the Willow hide is the Robbie Garnett hide. A great place to photograph birds in flight and landing on the pools. This hide is where most of the photographers hang out. Also from here in winter there is the stunning spectacle of hundreds of Lapwing, Golden plover, Curlew, Northern pintail, Widgeon, Teal, Shovelor, geese & swans. It is even more of a spectacle when the birds of prey join the party causing panic and mayhem sending thousands of birds into the air. One of the reserves great spectacles. After all this excitement it is usually 09-30. The rest of the reserve is now open so I make the long trek down to the Kingfisher hide. On the approach to the hide walking down the South Finger watch for the Treecreepers, Long-tailed tits & Goldcrest in the trees. From the hide you may see the visiting Great Bittern (not been spotted this winter). On the pool Little grebe and Gadwall are usually around. In Feb-Apr the Kingfishers have been spotted pairing up and digging a nest in the far bank on many occasions. At this time the windows are locked to prevent any disturbance. The feeders attract a variety of small birds such as Blue tits & the finches. Siskin and Brambling have been spotted here. Usually the sparrowhawk will make an unwelcome visit. Otters have also been spotted from here and the South Finger.

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)WWT Slimbridge.

Goldfinch from the Kingfisher hide

From here I head back towards the reserve calling in briefly to the Van de Bovenkamp hide. If the Bittern is around it is a good place to get some flight shots. From here I grab a coffee from the kiosk and visit the Zeiss hide. I never see much close I can photograph here but you get some great views towards the sea wall watching the many distant wildfowl & waders. A good place to watch the noisy Rooks feeding and gathering nesting material.

Next stop is the Hogarth hide which is on the South Lake. This winter has seen great numbers of Common snipe and Lapwing visit here. It's best to photograph here later in the day when the sun has moved round. On an overcast day (like most times when I visit!) good shots of the Snipe can be had and they will come close to the hide. Also watch out for the the small waders amongst the lapwing such as Dunlin and Little Stint.

A walk of snipeA walk of snipeApparently a 'walk' is the collective noun for a group of snipe.
WWT Slimbridge.
 Common snipe in front of the Hogarth hide

From here a quick call into the Discovery hide. When the sun is shining it's worth making a return visit later on when the sun has moved. From here you'll see swans, geese, ducks, Cormorants, gulls and many waders such as Redshank, Black-tailed godwit, Oystercatcher & Redshank.
Usually around this time its lunchtime. In the afternoon I tend to spend most of my time between the Rushy and Robbie Garnett hides catching the various birds in flight. If the sun has been shining I'll often return to the Hogarth hide for the Snipe and other waders etc. At this time of year many of the birds in the collection part of the reserve will be pairing up putting on mating displays which are great to photograph. I like to watch the Eider ducks and Goldeneye were they will throw their head back and make an amusing call! There is always something to photograph at Slimbridge and you can see why it is such an attraction for many photographers and visitors.
Pied oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)Pied oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. Oystercatcher from the Discovery hide.
Green sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)Green sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)WWT Slimbridge. Green sandpiper. A summer visitor to Slimbridge

I am now offering one to one tuition for beginners or experienced photographers at Slimbridge. I will be teaching you the ideal camera settings which I use and composition techniques to get the best out of your wildlife photography. Also teaching you things to watch out for whilst photographing wildlife and other tips and techniques I have used over the years to great success.

For more information regarding these day courses please contact me to let me know your requirements and check for availability.

The full day course (9.30 till 16.30) is £110 per person or the half day course (09.30 till 12.30) is £65 per person.

These prices do not include admission to the centre.

Thanks for reading my latest installment.

More of my images can be viewed on my flickr page.




]]> (Steve Liptrot Photography) Sun, 04 Feb 2018 20:39:54 GMT
January so far.... Is it me or is everybody naffed off with this weather? Here in South Wales, it's either overcast or misty. Not the best conditions for photography.

I haven't ventured far these last few weeks, just visiting the usual haunts of Slimbridge wetland centre and Forest farm nature reserve near Cardiff. Last Wednesday I arrived at Slimbridge with good intentions and a good forecast predicted (which never happened!). Whilst waiting for the fog to lift I had propped my camera and lens on its monopod up against the hide, the next thing I heard was crunch! On the floor was a cracked camera body and the lens attachment was ripped off. ££££££ The air was blue as I cursed my stupidity. The lens was ok thank god and worked ok on my spare camera body. The next thing I did was order a Nikon D810 body! Damaging my camera was probably an omen. A rather expensive one! I was meaning to do this for a while since the introduction of the D850 the D810 prices have decreased slightly. Don't get me wrong the D500 is a good camera with amazing auto-focus and shutter speed but the D810 has amazing quality and resolution and the shutter is soooo quiet. So when my D500 returns from the Nikon hospital it will be relegated to the back-up body!

In all this unplanned extra expense I managed to photograph an elusive hawfinch at Forest farm nature reserve near Cardiff. There has been a big influx of these birds to the UK this year and are always great to see. They are probably making up for the lack of waxwings this winter. Last year was a 'bumper' year but not many have migrated over this year. Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)Forest farm, Whitchurch.

Hawfinch near the warden's office at Forest farm nature reserve.

This was probably the last photograph I took with my D500 before it was sent back to Nikon! In pieces!!

At the start of the week I was talking to a regular birder at Slimbridge of a sighting of a Great Northern diver just up the road at Sharpness marina, Gloucestershire. As I wasn't getting any worthwhile shots here I called in on the way home. Sure enough the bird was bobbing about on the marina lake battling the waves. It wasn't easy to get close to at first but then it started to dive for food. Whilst under the water I was able to get closer by moving a bit quicker than I normally do (a bit of a feeble attempt at jogging!) and dropping down low when it resurfaced. It worked-ish and got I some half decent record shots. I call my not-so-good photographs 'record shots'.). I'm my own worst critic! Lol. Great northern diver (Gavia immer)Great northern diver (Gavia immer)Sharpness marina, Gloucestershire. Great Northern diver on Sharpness marina lake.

Today I called at Forest farm for a couple of hours to try out the Nikon D810. The lakes were frozen so the kingfishers wouldn't be playing but the jays were helping themselves to the peanuts I had brought. The grass was white with frost which made a great back drop for the jay shots. I'm really impressed with the 810. The quality of the shots are fantastic and there is plenty of resolution available if a shot is to be cropped. The big plus factor is how quiet the shutter is on this camera as opposed to the 'clunk' of the D500. I also tried it in QC (quiet continuous). Impressive stuff. I wish I'd bought this body ages ago. The 810 has a 5 fps which is plenty. I'm not one of these 'trigger happy' togs. One of of my best kingfisher flight shots was taken with 1 shot when I used to have a D800 which was even slower! Gotcha!Gotcha!Mr Kingfisher after a successful fishing trip.
Forest farm near Cardiff.
'One shot' kingfisher taken at Forest farm.

Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius)Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius)First shot with the Nikon D810.
Forest farm, Whitchurch.
Eurasian jay in Arctic conditions using the D810.

After a couple of hours at Forest farm I drove up to Gigrin farm in Mid-Wales. Gigrin is famous for being a red kite feeding station for the last 23 years! An amazing place I love visiting but today it was CLOSED!! More obscenities filled the air, I should have checked their website as they have limited opening times in winter. Whilst I was in the area I had a drive up Elan valley. A stunning place to visit especially in the Autumn. I took a few long exposure shots of the water flowing over the reservoir dams. An impressive sight. After nearly freezing to death I retreated to the visitor centre cafe for coffee and cake! 

Caban CochCaban CochCaban coch dam, Elan Valley.
BUY from Redbubble
Caban Coch Dam, Elan Valley.

Thanks for reading my latest installment.

More of my images can be viewed on my flickr page.



]]> (Steve Liptrot Photography) Fri, 12 Jan 2018 22:15:22 GMT
My first blog!! At last I’ve finally got round to writing a blog! I never know what to write in these so I’ll tell you about my latest exploits at RSPB Ham wall in Somerset over the last couple of weeks. I have visited the reserve a few times over the years which only ends up being once a year. So last week I had a quiet period at work and spent 3 consecutive days there and a day the following week. I find this is a better way to get to know a place and was rewarded with some great images. My main goal was the elusive Great bittern preferably in-flight (image below). The problem with these birds is you never know where they are going to spring from but I had a friend on my side. The Weed Cutter! The cutters were busy tidying the place up a bit which spooked the birds as they went along the reed beds. I don’t think the birds were too impressed but I got the shots I was after!

Great bittern (Botaurus stellaris)Great bittern (Botaurus stellaris)RSPB Ham wall, Somerset.

Great bittern 'spooked' from the reed beds.

Walking round the reserve the little birds such as the long-tailed tits, bearded reedlings, reed buntings, cetti’s warblers and goldcrests were busy calling and feeding up for winter. Just stop for 5 minutes and they will soon appear. While I was walking around Loxton’s marsh, I heard a thrashing in the reeds and a roe deer appeared, she jumped in the water and swam to the next island. I watched this activity for around 10 minutes and she never spotted me. It’s amazing what you can see at this place.

European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)RSPB Ham wall, Somerset.

Roe deer hind swimming between the islands on Loxton's marsh.

On one of my first visits a regular visitor advised me to sit at one of the screens dotted around the reserve for a couple of hours because you never know what is going to fly in or out of the reeds. So with a full flask of coffee and a bite to eat I found a screen and waited and waited! The little birds were everywhere and the ‘Blue Lightning’ kingfishers were darting about ‘pipping’ as they zip past. I also heard the distinctive ‘ping ping’ of the bearded reedlings but they were not coming out today. I did manage to catch up with them on my fourth visit.

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)RSPB Ham wall, Somerset.

Common goldcrest. The UK's smallest bird.

 The marsh harriers were out in force hunting for small birds usually teal (small ducks). After a couple of hours I went for a walk to the Avalon hide which is quite a walk. I’ve never had much luck with this hide, maybe things will be better this time. There were plenty of ducks such as mallard, widgeon, gadwall and teal and a preening great egret. These birds remind me of a white pterodactyl when they are flying!

Great egret (Ardea alba)Great egret (Ardea alba)RSPB Ham wall, Somerset.

Great egret flying over Walton's marsh.

On my 2nd & 3rd visits the weed cutters were still doing their job so I spent quite some time in the Tor view hide (great views of Glastonbury Tor). I got some good shots of the stonechats (male and female), Cetti’s warbler, little egrets, marsh harriers and reed buntings. I could still hear the ‘ping ping’ from the bearded reedlings but they were deep in the reeds. I managed get another shot of the great bittern and a couple of great egrets chasing each other around the lake. The day was coming to an end so I watched the starling murmeration. Well worth visiting Ham wall for this alone. An amazing spectacle.

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)RSPB Ham wall, Somerset.

Grey heron

My final visit was 5 days later and it was bitterly cold (-3C!) and everything was frozen. The start of the day was very quiet but as the sun rose things started to wake up. The great egrets were still chasing each other and the kingfisher was looking for unfrozen areas on the pools. A walk over to the Avalon hide and I hear the distinctive sound of a ‘squealing pig!), a water rail. A shy bird but when things are frozen they will appear on the hunt for food. Managed to get a couple of shots but it was too close for the 500mm lens I could only photograph its head! Nice shot though.

Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)RSPB Ham wall, Somerset.

Water rail close-up on Avalon marsh.

Whist walking back to the main reserve I heard that ‘ping pinging’ again. I thought that’s it, I’m not going until I at least see a bearded reedling. After only a couple of minutes they appeared. Six of them (3 pairs). That was the ‘icing on the cake’. My visits all within a week or so had paid dividends and more. The bittern was my main aim, but with the egrets, goldcrests and the reedlings I was made up. I would have liked to have seen the Glossy ibis and the reported sightings of a rare Firecrest but there is always another day.

Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)RSPB Ham wall, Somerset.

Male bearded reedling on Avalon marsh.


I hope you enjoyed my first written account of what I get up to when I’m not maintaining aircraft. Please feel free to leave any comments or ask questions regarding any aspect of my photography.

More of my images can be viewed on my flickr page.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018.





]]> (Steve Liptrot Photography) Sun, 17 Dec 2017 21:12:01 GMT