Steve Liptrot Photography: Blog https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) Steve Liptrot Photography (Steve Liptrot Photography) Sun, 26 Sep 2021 20:33:00 GMT Sun, 26 Sep 2021 20:33:00 GMT https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-12/u738897921-o871607875-50.jpg Steve Liptrot Photography: Blog https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog 120 120 September https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/9/september Welcome to the September edition of my photographic exploits.

It was a very busy month with numerous visits to my local reserves of RSPB Otmoor and Farmoor reservoir trying to catch the various migrating birds that stop over on their way back South for the Winter. Also I made three visits to Santa Pod Raceway which were the final events of 2021 for me. Roll on 2022 when things hopefully will be back to normal!!

1968 Chevrolet Camaro - Jean Dulamon1968 Chevrolet Camaro - Jean Dulamon1968 Chevrolet Camaro - Jean Dulamon
STP National Finals 2021
Santa Pod Raceway
Drag racing at Santa Pod Raceway

Purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima)Purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima)Purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxon.
Purple sandpiper. A rare migrant which stopped off at Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.

During September we have witnessed some great sunsets here in Oxfordshire. I'm not a big fan of landscape photography so I try and find some willing wildlife that will pose for me at sunrise/sunset! The herons at Farmoor are ideal and their silhouette is easily recognisable.

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxon.

Sunset Heron

Once a month I like to visit the wetland centre at Slimbridge and the Hawk conservancy trust in Hampshire. Both great places for beginners and experts to practise their photography. You can also get up close and personal to the wildlife.

Pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens)Pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens)Pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens)
WWT Slimbridge.
Pink-backed pelican at Slimbridge wetland centre, Gloucestershire.

Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Hawk conservancy trust, Hants.
Peregrine falcon - The fastest animal on the planet at the Hawk conservancy, Hampshire.

Siberian eagle owl (Bubo bubo sibiricus)Siberian eagle owl (Bubo bubo sibiricus)Siberian eagle owl (Bubo bubo sibiricus)
Hawk conservancy trust, Hants.

Siberian eagle owl at the Hawk conservancy

Lately I've been researching new local places to visit for my nature photography. As I've only been in Oxfordshire for the last three years I'm still trying to find my way about. I've found a few which I'm hopefully going to visit soon. Next month the annual 'deer rut' will be under way. This year I wont be visiting the London parks as much but I will be trying a new location in Leicestershire. Bradgate Park is a public park in Charnwood Forest, in Leicestershire which I have wanted to visit for a few years. The plan was to do a 'recce' at the end of September but it meant queuing for petrol so I ended up local! 

October will be all about the 'deer rut', maybe some fungi photography and a car show!

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my Instagram gallery page.

Thanks

Steve 

 


 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds conservation nature nikon photography steve liptrot steve liptrot photography steveliptrotphotography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/9/september Sun, 26 Sep 2021 20:33:06 GMT
August https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/8/august I don't know about you but this year seems to flying by! It doesn't seem like 5 minutes ago when I was writing my July blog!!

Welcome to my latest update of what I've been getting up to during August. August is generally a warm month weather wise but it feels a lot like Autumn. Yesterday I was watching eagles fly at the Hawk conservancy trust and the leaves were already falling from the trees. 

This time of the year is when migratory birds will fly South for the Winter and birds from further North (Russia, Greenland & Northern Europe) will arrive in the UK. If you visit local reservoirs you may spot swallows and martins collecting 'en masse'  feeding up for the long trip back to South Africa. The reservoirs near me (Farmoor and Tring) are good stop off locations for the migratory birds.

Juvenile sand martin (Riparia riparia)Juvenile sand martin (Riparia riparia)Juvenile sand martin (Riparia riparia)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.
Juvenile sand martin ready for its long trip South, Farmoor reservoir, Oxon.

Other birds such as wading birds and migratory raptors like Hobbies and Osprey may drop in for a quick snack on their long journey.

Hobby (Falco subbuteo)Hobby (Falco subbuteo)Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
Standlake, Oxfordshire.
Hobby. A migratory raptor from Southern Europe/Africa that breeds in the UK.

On the topic of raptors and birds of prey, I visited the Cotswold falconry centre for the first time early in the month. They have a great variety of birds and I had a great time even though it rained!!

Juvenile mottled owl (Strix virgata)Juvenile mottled owl (Strix virgata)Juvenile mottled owl (Strix virgata)
Cotswold Falconry Centre, Gloucs.

Mottled owl on a typical British Summers day! Cotswold falconry.

The wetland centre at Slimbridge is one of my favourite places to visit. I have been going there for over ten years now and I always see something different to photograph. I go that often that the centre wrote an article about me in their magazine! It is a great place to witness the Spring and Autumn migration and to get close to thousands of wild birds that spend the Winter there.

Spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus)Spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus)Spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
Spotted redshank. A Summer visitor to Slimbridge.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
If you're lucky you may spot a Kingfisher at Slimbridge!

Bushy park is a place I visit mainly in the Autumn and Winter but occasionally I will call in for a couple of hours in the Summer. The Royal parks can get busy so I arrive very early and leave early. This is also the best time for photography. Not many people about, mist over the lakes and a glorious sunrise. It can be quite magical when conditions allow.  Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Bushy Park, London.

Fallow deer on a misty sunny Summer's morning in Bushy park.

After my visit to Bushy I headed to the British wildlife centre in Surrey. Another place I have been visiting for years. On these past visits I had never seen much of the grass snakes. I was beginning to think they didn't have any!! On this visit three snakes were showing well. I'm due to visit the centre early next month (September) and I bet they don't show themselves!!

Grass snake (Natrix natrix)Grass snake (Natrix natrix)Grass snake (Natrix natrix)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.
The elusive Grass snake at the British wildlife centre.

Last weekend I attended the Greenlight Nationals at Santa Pod Raceway for my motorsport fix. This was another event that was at the mercy of the good old British Summer! There was still some good racing in between the showers and it was a well attended event. During September I will be attending FOUR motorsport events so expect plenty of car photographs!

1932 Ford Coupe1932 Ford Coupe1932 Ford Coupe
27th Mopar Euro Nationals
Santa Pod Raceway, Bedfordshire.
Hot-rod under stormy skies. Santa Pod Raceway, Bedforshire.

I'm looking forward to September. As I mentioned earlier I will be attending a few motorsport events. Also towards the end of the month the annual deer rut should be kicking off. This year I'm hoping to visit new locations for the rut just for a change of scenery. Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, Petworth Park in Surrey, Lyme Park in Cheshire and Holkham Estate in Norfolk are a few locations I have in mind. September is a time when you may spot me grovelling about on the forest floor photographing fungi! So quite a lot to look forward to in the coming months.  

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my Instagram gallery page.

Thanks

Steve 


 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds conservation nature nikon photography steve liptrot steve liptrot photography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/8/august Mon, 30 Aug 2021 08:55:48 GMT
July https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/7/july Welcome to my latest literary masterpiece of what I got up in the month of July! 

July has been quiet for me with the wildlife photography considering I spent another four days at the brilliant Bempton Cliffs. More on that trip later. The weather has been very hot which is not the best for catching wildlife images. Wildlife tends to be most active at the start and finish of the day. During the day they will stay hidden away from the heat of the day and prying cameras!

At the start of the month I visited the wetland centre at Slimbridge in deepest Gloucestershire. During the last couple of years they have been constructing a large aviary and on my visit they had opened a section of it. The plan is to open it gradually so the birds can get used to people again.

Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
A curious Ringed plover in the new aviary at Slimbridge.

I'm looking forward to it fully opening in the near future.

A place I haven't visited since pre Covid is Warnham nature reserve in West Sussex. A well managed reserve with plenty of different wildlife from rare insects to Grey herons. Opening time is 10am so no need for an early alarm call! The hides had just re-opened which is a good way to get near and photograph wildlife. 

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Warnham, West Sussex.

Juvenile kingfisher which landed right front of the hide at Warnham. Lucky me!

The highlight for me during July was a long weekend at Bempton Cliffs. It was my third visit this year but on this trip I invited a good friend and keen nature photographer of mine along. Bempton Cliffs was on Jodie's bucket list of top wildlife places to visit and she wasn't disappointed. On this visit I had booked a boat trip which takes you to the bottom of the 400 foot chalk cliffs of Bempton. A lot of the birds spend quite a bit of time on the sea such as the puffins and gannets but the highlight of the boat trip was the feeding of the gannets. It started quite sedately with the odd gannet taking the fish then before you knew it there were hundreds of them diving in for the fish during the feeding frenzy! An experience not to be missed.

Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
Gannets 'wrestling' for fish.

Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
Gannets with the 400 foot cliffs of Bempton in the background.

During our four days a Black browed albatross had been seen in the area. It is still there at present as I write this. Looks like it's going to spend the Summer there. These birds are normally found in the Southern hemisphere around the Falklands or South Africa. This one is probably lost but will find it's way back home before long.

Black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris)Black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris)Black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
'Albie' has he has been affectionately named by visitors to Bempton.

A trip to Bempton is not complete without some images of the puffins. This is what most people visit Bempton for. They can be hard to spot as they are very small but with a bit of patience you will see quite a few. We both headed to the southern end of the reserve were I know some good quiet spots for seeing and photographing puffins or 'Sea clowns' as they are sometimes known as. 

Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
A pair of puffins. One of favourite images from our trip to Bempton.

That was my last visit to Bempton this year so I will have to wait till next May for my seabird fix!!

Like I said at the start of this article my wildlife photography had been quiet. July and the Summer months are not the best as most birds are resting and moulting after the breeding season. Now many of the Lockdown restrictions have been lifted there have been events such as car shows and racing starting back up. Yippee!! I've always been a bit of a 'petrolhead' and enjoy watching motorsport especially drag racing. I've been visiting Santa Pod Raceway since the mid 1980's and love the 'buzz' of these high powered vehicles blasting down the quarter-mile. 

Pro ModifiedPro ModifiedPro Modified
Santa Pod Raceway 2019.
Drag racing at Santa Pod, Bedforshire.

I haven't much planned during August for wildlife but at the end of the month bird migration will start and our Summer visitors will be heading back South for the Winter so something to look out for. I have a couple of car shows and Santa Pod visits booked so there may be a few more cars shots next month than usual!

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my Instagram gallery page.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds nature nikon photography steve liptrot steve liptrot photography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/7/july Wed, 28 Jul 2021 20:33:24 GMT
June https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/6/june June was a fantastic month for my photography with many miles covered up and down the country. More on that later. As the month began I had a long overdue visit to Slimbridge wetlands centre in Gloucestershire. This was my first visit for over six months so it was good to be back on my 'old stomping grounds'. There wasn't much about. If there was I couldn't see it! I like to visit Slimbridge in the Winter months as thousands of waterfowl migrate here. There were a few visiting wading birds such as avocet, ringed plovers and sandpipers.

Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius)Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius)Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
Little ringed plover at Slimbridge

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Rutland Nature Reserve, Oakham.
Oystercatcher with a stick!

From mid June many places re-opened due to lockdown restrictions being lifted. Hurray! Bicester heritage was one of those places which hosted the first Scramble of the year. The Scramble is a classic car show located on the ex-RAF base at Bicester in Oxfordshire. It was a great turn out and vehicles were still arriving as I was leaving!

1965 Ford Mustang1965 Ford Mustang1965 Ford Mustang
Weekend Scramble at Bicester Heritage, Oxfordshire.
A classic Ford Mustang at Bicester heritage, Oxfordshire

As a wildlife photographer I am forever watching the weather for ideal conditions. Around mid-June some high pressure was forecast so I headed up to Bempton Cliffs on the East Yorkshire coast. One of my favourite locations and should be on every nature photographers bucket list. I like to get there for sunrise so I had to set off at midnight plus the roads are nice and quiet then! I arrived just before 4am for one of the best sunrises I have witnessed and to welcome me were two Barn owls hunting over the meadows. If Carlsberg did heaven this was definitely it!

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.

Barn owl hunting before sunrise. Bempton Cliffs

Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
Gannet at Bempton

Another reason to visit wildlife locations early is wildlife is at its most active with less human disturbance. Also the lighting conditions are generally better at the start and end of the day. As the sun begins to climb higher during the day most wildlife will rest or be less active. On this particular visit with well over half a million seabirds the star attraction was the Barn owls. They were feeding at all hours during the day. A good sign they are feeding owlets. A friend and myself are revisiting Bempton early in July and hopefully we will see the young owls. Watch this space!

Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
Everyone's favourite the Puffin! 

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
The star attraction at Bempton - The Barn owl

During the month I managed to fit in a couple of visits to the Hawk conservancy trust in Hampshire. A fabulous bird of prey centre with three different flying displays each day.

African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)
Hawk conservancy trust, Hants.
African fish eagle at the Hawk conservancy, Hampshire

Towards the end of June a friend invited me for a couple of days nature photography in her native Devon. I enjoy visiting new locations especially with a knowledgeable host who knows their way around. Close to her home we visited a site were red foxes are regularly seen. After a short wait hiding behind a camo screen one of the cubs made an appearance. Young wildlife tend to be bolder as they are still naive to their surroundings and the dangers around them.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Ash Mill, North Devon.
A Devon Red fox

I don't tend to see many wild foxes around Oxfordshire so getting up close to this one was fantastic. We spent around 15-20 minutes watching the fox until the evening light faded.

The day after we headed to the North Devon coast where a grey seal had been seen over the last few days. I haven't photographed seals for a couple of years which was on my last visit to Norfolk. It was short steep climb and descent into the sheltered cove where the seal was basking on the beach.

I was getting to like Devon! The problem with living in Oxfordshire is I couldn't be any further from the sea!! 

Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus)Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus)Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus)
Lee Bay, North Devon.
Grey seal on the North Devon coast

After departing the coast we went for a drive over Exmoor. A beautiful place I would like to explore again especially during the annual 'deer rut' in the Autumn.

Our last visit was in South Devon were the Devon wildlife trust released European beavers a few years ago. Beavers used to be native to the UK but were made extinct over 400 years ago. Now there are over 15 families of beaver along the River Otter!

European beaver (Castor fiber)European beaver (Castor fiber)European beaver (Castor fiber)
Otterton, South Devon.
European beaver in South Devon

Well sadly that comes the end of this months thrilling photographic exploits.

As for July I'm looking forward to a three day trip to Bempton Cliffs, my third visit this year!

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my Instagram gallery page.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds conservation nature nikon photography steve liptrot steve liptrot photography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/6/june Tue, 29 Jun 2021 20:31:30 GMT
May https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/5/may Welcome to the latest account of my photographic exploits during May. May was a very busy month now with  'lockdown' restrictions being further relaxed. Hurray! I have visited quite a few locations during the month with many miles covered.

The month began with a flying visit to the the stunning RSPB reserve Bempton cliffs on the East Yorkshire coast. It was a literally a flying visit as I drove there and back (4 hours each way!) and spent 13 hours photographing the thousands of sea birds all within a day! Normally I stay over in a hotel nearby but we were still in lockdown so nothing was open! I plan on returning in June to spend 3 days there staying over in the same accommodation I use every year. Can't wait.

On my visit there was estimated to be about 1/2 a million birds, so plenty to photograph. At the start of May many birds were busy nest building and in courtship mode.

Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
Atlantic puffin collecting nesting material.

Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
Northern gannet at sunrise. Bempton cliffs.

Tree sparrow (Passer montanus)Tree sparrow (Passer montanus)Tree sparrow (Passer montanus)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs.
It's not just sea birds at Bempton. It is one of the few places in the UK were Tree sparrows can be found.

Now the evenings are becoming lighter I have been visiting the local reserves like Otmoor, Farmoor and Tring reservoirs which are only a short drive away. Plenty to see at these locations with quite a few cuckoo sightings and even managed some photographs of this shy and elusive bird. Due to the cold Northerly winds we had this put a hold on some species arriving in the UK but once the wind changed direction there was a large influx of cuckoos, warblers, swallows, swifts and hobby's. A wild cuckoo must be one of the hardest birds I have ever photographed but I persevered and eventually came up trumps. 

Common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)Common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)Common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.

Cuckoo (male) at Farmoor, Oxfordshire.

My favourites the Common terns have returned to my local reservoirs to breed so I'll be keeping an eye on them and try to get some diving shots.

On the subject of terns I recently visited family in my native Lancashire and called in to the old docklands in Preston were around 100 common terns return every year to breed. Rafts with nest boxes have been installed and you can get some great views of the birds sat on eggs and the young when they hatch.

Common terns (Sterna hirundo)Common terns (Sterna hirundo)Common terns (Sterna hirundo)
Preston Marina, Lancashire.

Common terns in dispute! Preston marina, Lancashire.

Also on my visit back North I spent the day at Chester zoo with my daughter. We were originally meant to go early in the year but Covid had other ideas. I'm not a lover of zoos but they do some great conservation work with critically endangered species.

Red panda (Ailurus fulgens)Red panda (Ailurus fulgens)Red panda (Ailurus fulgens)
Chester zoo.
Red panda at Chester zoo.

A local place I haven't visited for a couple of years is Standlake, West Oxfordshire. This is an area of disused gravel pits that have been left to nature and are now a great habitat for wildlife. A species I wanted to photograph is the Hobby. A Hobby is a bird of prey that migrates here from Africa and Southern Europe. They catch insects and eat 'on the wing'. They will also eat small birds and dragonflies.

Hobby (Falco subbuteo)Hobby (Falco subbuteo)Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
Standlake, Oxfordshire.
A Hobby hunting for flying insects and small birds.

Once in a while I set myself a photography challenge. As plenty of swifts have just arrived in the UK which are the fastest level flying bird in the world I thought I would attempt to photograph some in flight!! It took quite a few attempts but their flight pattern is so unpredictable and can be hard to get a 'focus lock'. The knack is to wait till they turn into the wind then they slow down hopefully enough to get some shots. Not always the case but I had quite a good success rate....eventually!

Common swift (Apus apus)Common swift (Apus apus)Common swift (Apus apus)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.
The Speedy Swift!!

Last weekend I had my first motorsport fix of the year at Santa Pod Raceway which is the home of European drag racing. It wasn't a well attended event due to the weather that was forecast. There was still plenty of racing in between the showers.

Fabulous Lightning McQueen Pro-modFabulous Lightning McQueen Pro-modFabulous Lightning McQueen Pro-mod
STP Springspeed Nationals 2021
Santa Pod Raceway.
Drag racing at Santa Pod Raceway, Bedfordshire.

As for next month I'm looking forward to a return to Bempton Cliffs and I'm still trying to find time for a visit to Rutland to see the Ospreys which the returning pair have had 2 young.

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

 


 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds nature photography steve liptrot steve liptrot photography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/5/may Fri, 28 May 2021 21:32:35 GMT
April https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/4/april Welcome to my April edition of my recent photographic exploits. April was a strange month in that I had got used to staying local due to lockdown restrictions that I wasn't really bothered about travelling further than 'local'! This pandemic has affected us all in different ways and hopefully we never have to witness anything like it again. Now we have a bit more freedom I eventually got round to visiting some of my old haunts. More of that later.

The Spring migration is now in full swing with many birds arriving to breed and spend Spring/Summer here in the UK.

Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Barn swallow will spend the Summer in the UK after migrating form Africa.

I bet a few of the birds arriving in the UK had a bit of a shock with the very cold easterly winds and snow in places. April was a weird month weather wise with temperatures in the low 20's one minute then we had plenty of frosty mornings.

Roebuck (Capreolus capreolus)Roebuck (Capreolus capreolus)Roebuck (Capreolus capreolus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
A Roe buck in frosty conditions at RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.

Most evenings after work I like to visit the reservoirs near Tring in Hertfordshire. This are a good stop off point for migrating birds. This year there has been record numbers of common terns, little gulls, yellow wagtails and black terns and I even managed to get shots of them all. I was particularly glad I got some good shots of the yellow wagtails. They always brighten up a dull day.

Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava)Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava)Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Yellow wagtail at Tring reservoirs, Herts.

I tend to visit locations before sunrise when wildlife can be at its most active and there is less human disturbance. You never know what you will see and usually the light conditions are the best which in turn make for great photographs.

Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Great crested grebe at sunrise.

Mute swan in the SnowMute swan in the SnowMute swan in the Snow
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Snow in April!

Snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)Snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)Snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)
Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire.
Snake's head fritillary is now making a come back in managed sites.

Now more nature reserves and green spaces are opening up again I decided to visit a couple of places I missed during 'lockdown'. Like most places at the moment you still have to pre book your visit which I find a bit of a faff to be honest but that's the rules. My first trip was to the Hawk conservancy trust in Hampshire. I really enjoy the flying displays here and they fly a good variety of birds of prey and not just one at once! 

Great grey owl (Strix nebulosa)Great grey owl (Strix nebulosa)Great grey owl (Strix nebulosa)
Hawk conservancy trust, Hants.
Great grey owl at the Hawk conservancy.

Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Hawk conservancy trust, Hants.
Peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on the planet reaching speeds of up to 200mph in a dive!

During the last weekend of April I visited the wetland centre at Arundel, West Sussex. This was my first visit in over 2 years. On my last visit I got a speeding ticket which is another story!! I was keen to see the new aviary they had just recently opened. Even though the wildlife hides are still closed till mid May I still had a great time seeing the new display. I think I spent most of the day in the aviary.....and frequent visits to the cafe for coffee and cake! 

Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus)Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus)Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus)
WWT Arundel, West Sussex.
Feeding time for the Dalmatian pelicans in the new aviary at Arundel.

Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
WWT Arundel, West Sussex.
Black necked grebe at Arundel. Those eyes are amazing!

Most of the shots I took in April were with my new lens which is the Nikon 200-500mm f5.6ED. I normally use a 500mm f4 prime lens but they are big and heavy but the quality is amazing. I am very happy with the new lens. It's lightweight and sharp but my only gripe is the auto focusing speed which is a tad slower especially when the light levels drop. I am going to persevere with it. This weekend 1/2 May I am planning on visiting Bempton Cliffs on the Yorkshire coast for my annual seabird fix. This will be a real test for the new lens as fast focusing is vital here with so many birds flying above the cliffs. I will still take the prime lens just in case!

Also during May I'm making a visit to my native Lancashire to see family and visit a few wildlife locations. Hopefully during May I can also get to Rutland to see the Ospreys.

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments over this difficult period we are all experiencing.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds nature photography steve liptrot steve liptrot photography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/4/april Tue, 27 Apr 2021 21:00:26 GMT
March https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/3/march Welcome to the March edition of my photographic exploits. The first half of the month was mostly spent at the RSPB reserve at Otmoor east of Oxford. I was there most days trying to track down the not so mad March hares! I guess they are like us in a way that we prefer the warmer weather to the cold wind and rain!! I've also spent some evenings down at Tring reservoirs photographing the waterfowl, namely the Mandarin ducks which always look good whatever the weather.

Mandarin LoveMandarin LoveMandarin Love 💕
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Mr & Mrs Mandarin duck. I think she's playing hard to get!

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
Managed to find the Barn owl on an early morning trip to RSPB Otmoor

I also made a few trips to Farmoor reservoir which is great for cormorants. I find them quite entertaining to watch with their frequent squabbles and watching them fishing. They sometimes catch large fish and manage to swallow whole!

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.

Plenty of room in that mouth for a big fish! Cormorant at Farmoor reservoir.

Great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.

The Great crested grebes were also pairing up with their synchronised dance routine.

Wildfowl such as ducks and geese will spend the Winter at Farmoor. Snow and Barnacle geese are the highlight for me to photograph. 

Barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis)Barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis)Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxon.
Barnacle geese chilling out on Farmoor res.

Snow goose (Anser caerulescens)Snow goose (Anser caerulescens)Snow goose (Anser caerulescens)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.

Around 90 Snow geese spend the Winter months at Farmoor.

As March slowly begins to warm up I have been seeing more hares especially when I've been out cycling. Sadly I haven't taken many photos of them as they've been quite distant. Not an easy animal to get close to but I've not given up yet!

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
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Hares don't hang around long enough to get many shots!

In the last week of March I have witnessed signs of the Spring migration with wheatears, sand martins and skylarks to name just a few. During April we should start seeing a lot more such as swallows, warblers and wading birds. Something to watch or listen out for in the coming weeks are the cuckoo's all the way from Africa. Hoping to get some images this year. Last year many reserves were closed due to the outbreak of Covid. 

Sand martin (Riparia riparia)Sand martin (Riparia riparia)Sand martin (Riparia riparia)
Startop's End reservoir, Bucks.
Sand martin, one of the first Summer visitors to arrive back in the UK.

Pussy willow (Salix caprea)Pussy willow (Salix caprea)Pussy willow (Salix caprea)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.

Signs of Spring - Pussy Willow

April looks quite promising with more reserves and animal sanctuaries reopening. Pre-booking is still required at most places until lockdown starts to ease mid year. Also the Spring migration will be in full swing and hopefully the weather will be better!

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments over this difficult period we are all experiencing. It makes it all worth the while in the end.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds liptrot nature nikon photography steve steve liptrot photography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/3/march Sun, 28 Mar 2021 15:19:41 GMT
February https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/2/february Another month of staying local so I was spending most of my time at locations in South Oxfordshire/Bucks. Lockdown restrictions are to be slowly relaxed with normality being reached in June. Not sure which June though! LOL.

February was a very cold and wet month with all the rain and snow which then froze. Things were that bad at Otmoor I was considering buying a dinghy! It was a challenging time for the wildlife but they adapt in dire conditions. I tried to make the most of the snowy conditions photographing the birds foraging in the snow. The smaller birds are given a helping hand with seed being scattered 3 times a week.  Common reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)Common reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)Common reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.

Reed bunting at RSPB Otmoor.

European robin (Erithacus rubecula)European robin (Erithacus rubecula)European robin (Erithacus rubecula)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
Who can resist a snowy robin picture?

Common blackbird (Turdus merula)Common blackbird (Turdus merula)Common blackbird (Turdus merula)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
Mrs Blackbird not impressed with the falling snow.

I also paid a few visits to Tring reservoirs mainly for shots of the sunrise and frosty boatyard. There was plenty of wildfowl which are regularly fed by visitors.

  

Mute swan checking its reflection on a frozen Tring reservoir.

Bulborne Canal WorksBulborne Canal WorksBulborne Canal Works
Grand Union canal, Marsworth, Herts.
A frozen Bulborne Canal Works

Grand Union canal, Marsworth.

Over the past week the weather has warmed up considerably and the water levels have dropped. There is a hint of Spring in the air with buds on the trees, flowers in the hedgerows and birds singing for a mate. Also I can stop dressing up like an eskimo to brave the elements! 

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
Brown hares will become more active in the coming weeks

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
Grey heron collecting nesting material at RSPB Otmoor.

Female marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)Female marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)Female marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
Female Marsh harrier displaying. Once a rare bird in the UK. Thanks to conservation efforts their numbers are increasing.

As I'm writing this I had a notification from the Bird Photographer of the Year officials. One of my entries has made it to the final stage of judging!!

This is the first time I have entered this competition and I never expected to do this well never mind reach the final stages. There are thousands of entries from all over the world so fingers crossed I can go all the way!

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments over this difficult period we are all experiencing. It makes it all worth the while in the end.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 


 

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds conservation nature nikon photography steveliptrot steveliptrotphotography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/2/february Wed, 24 Feb 2021 20:20:16 GMT
January https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/1/january What is it about January that makes it seem longer than any other month? As I write this blog on the 37th January I haven't really been anywhere apart from staying local! There is still plenty to see on your daily exercise. I occasionally cycle round the South Oxfordshire countryside and see plenty of wildlife. The thing is my camera is too heavy to carry on my bike! Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
Grey squirrel foraging in the snow.

At this time of the year many birds are looking their best ready to mate and can be heard singing to establish territories or attract a mate. Kingfishers can be seen chasing each other down water courses to claim a territory. Soon they will hopefully pair up and seek a nesting site. 

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Beddington Park, Surrey.
Mrs Kingfisher looking her best for a potential mate.

While there are still berries in the hedgerows you will still see thrushes (Fieldfare, redwings & blackbirds). At this time of year wildlife will need an extra helping hand from us so please keep your bird feeders filled and also leave water out. They still need water to drink and bathe in during the Winter months.

Redwing (Turdus iliacus)Redwing (Turdus iliacus)Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
Beddington Park, Surrey.
Redwing with some tasty holly berries.

One of the few places I have visited is RSPB Otmoor which is only a few miles away. With all the recent stormy wet weather and sub zero temperatures the fields around the reserve are like skating rinks! There is still plenty of birdlife around but can be quite distant. My highlight species there at this time of the year are the Winter thrushes and finches/buntings. They always add a bit of colour to gloomy overcast days.

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
Male Yellowhammer dining on seed that is put out for them during Winter. RSPB Otmoor.

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.
Goldfinch feeding on teasel heads.

Great bustard (Otis tarda)Great bustard (Otis tarda)Great bustard (Otis tarda)
Letcombe Regis, Oxfordshire.
The Great Bustard can still be seen in South Oxfordshire

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
River Thames, Farmoor, Oxon.
Barn owls maybe seen hunting along the field edges at dawn/dusk in Winter.

Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover.
Kestrels will be making the most of the short daylight hours hunting for voles etc

As we are likely to be in lockdown for another month or two wildlife will carry on as normal. So when your out on your local daily exercise keep your eyes peeled as you never know what you might see! Nature has helped many of us get through the past ten months, myself included. I find nature is a great healer in times like this. Even just sitting out in the garden or going for a short local walk. Nature is always there for us all to enjoy.

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments over this difficult period we are all experiencing. It makes it all worth the while. 

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds nature photography steve liptrot steve liptrot photography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/1/january Thu, 28 Jan 2021 18:22:26 GMT
2020 in a Nutshell! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/12/2020-in-a-nutshell Welcome to another thrilling episode of my photography exploits.

This is a review of the past year. Not a good year for many of us.

Over the last twenty odd years I have worked in the automotive and aviation industries but this year with the onset of Covid-19 things took a drastic turn. As a result of this I was out of work. This in turn was the 'kick up the back-side' I needed to go full-time as a photographer. Something I had being pondering for a few years. I must admit things are difficult in the profession at the moment but it is something I've always wanted to do with a passion. I have been able to devote more time to photography and try and promote my business. Teaching photography to like minded people is my main aim but in the current situation it is not easy. I think with the discovery of vaccines there is 'light at the end of the tunnel'.

Traditionally I start the year off with a couple of Classic car shows. One at Bicester, Oxon and the other at the Brooklands museum in Surrey. Both well attended events with hundreds of cars to look around.

E-Type JaguarE-Type JaguarE-Type Jaguar
January Scramble 2020, Bicester Heritage, Oxon.
Classic E-type Jaguar at Bicester Heritage

The weather for the first couple of months was dire to say the least with rain and more rain which in turn caused flooding up and down the UK. I was in work during the week and rain at weekend. Typical!

PorthcawlPorthcawlPorthcawl
Porthcawl lighthouse taking a battering Jan 2013.
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Stormy seas at Porthcawl, S. Wales.

We did manage to have a few sub zero days which always make for some great landscape shots. I tend to head for Richmond Park to catch the frosty, misty sunrises that are so picturesque there.

Pen PondsPen PondsPen Ponds
Richmond park, London.
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Pen Ponds in Richmond Park, London.

Early March I spent quite a bit of time in Bushy Park photographing a hard to photograph bird the Green woodpecker. It was mating season. As they were going through their courtship display I was snapping away with my trusty Nikon's. While they are courting they are not bothered about anything else! Even prying photographers! In March the Red deer start to loose their antlers so new ones can grow more elaborate than the previous year. Something I'd never witnessed before.

Red deer minus his antlers!Red deer minus his antlers!Red deer minus his antlers!
Bushy park, London.

Red stag after shedding its antlers. Bushy Park.

'Displaying' green woodpecker'Displaying' green woodpecker'Displaying' green woodpecker
Bushy park, London.
Displaying Green woodpecker. Bushy Park, London.

The end of March was the start of Lockdown due to Covid-19. This meant photography was confined to the garden and local walks. I was surprised at what you could photograph in the garden and on local walks. I dusted off the macro lens and set about exploring. Thankfully the weather was very good during the lockdown period. 

Sempervivum 'Gold Nugget'Sempervivum 'Gold Nugget'Sempervivum 'Gold Nugget'
Chinnor, Oxfordshire.
Photographed in the garden using a macro lens.

House sparrow (Passer domesticus)House sparrow (Passer domesticus)House sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Chinnor, Oxfordshire.
House sparrow collecting nesting material in the garden.

May and June were spent locally with restrictions being lifted so I was able to venture further a field. A place I visit often are the reservoirs at Tring and Farmoor. Both great venues for wildlife. Common terns migrate and breed at Tring and my 'quest' for this Summer was to photograph them diving for fish. After countless expletives/attempts I managed a few decent shots! Farmoor reservoir West of Oxford attracts passing waders to rest during the Spring migration or maybe a passing Osprey will drop in for a fish supper.

Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.

Diving common tern at Tring reservoir, Herts.

Knot (Calidris canutus)Knot (Calidris canutus)Knot (Calidris canutus)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.
Knott (a small wading bird) at Farmoor reservoir, Oxon.

In July I made my annual pilgrimage to Bempton Cliffs on the Yorkshire coast. A fantastic place for seabirds with around 250K birds such as Gannets, Auks and Kittiwakes. You will need plenty of spare batteries and memory cards if you plan on visiting Bempton!

Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire.

Northern gannet stretching its wings. Bempton Cliffs.

During late Summer restrictions had lifted sufficiently for Santa Pod Raceway to organise low key drag racing events. Like most events during Covid you have to pre-book your tickets as attendance numbers were limited. Even at these events there was some great racing to watch/photograph.

Plymouth DusterPlymouth Duster32nd Hot Rod Drags
Santa Pod Raceway, Bedfordshire.
Drag racing at Santa Pod Raceway

Autumn was a great month for mycology (the study of fungi). I photographed a lot of species I'd never seen before at new locations that are excellent for fungus. Warburg nature reserve a few miles from me in South Bucks was one such place. I've only lived in this area for just over two years so I'm still trying to find my way around.

Magpie Inkcap (Coprinopsis picacea)Magpie Inkcap (Coprinopsis picacea)Magpie Inkcap (Coprinopsis picacea)
Warburg nature reserve, Bix, Bucks.

Magpie Inkcap at Warburg, South Bucks.

Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)
Burnham Beeches, Bucks.
Porcelain mushrooms at Burnham Beeches, Bucks.

The highlight for many wildlife photographers is the annual deer rut. This year I was able to devote more time photographing this spectacle in Bushy and Richmond Parks. Both in London. During these visits I met some old and made new friends and managed to get some great photographs. I visited these parks 3-4 times a week for around six weeks. On some visits I was giving 1-2-1 tuition to photographers of all abilities wishing to witness and photograph the 'rut'.

Fallow Buck RutFallow Buck RutFallow buck (Dama dama)
Bushy Park, London.
Fallow bucks 'rutting'. Bushy Park.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Bushy park, London.
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Red deer stag. Backlighting on a cold morning is a great way to show off the 'breath'.

Towards the end of 2020 more Lockdowns have been forced upon us. Staying local again we had some great misty/foggy days here in the Chiltern Hills during November and early December so I had a bash at landscapes. Something I don't do very often but am keen to learn.

An Ashridge SunriseAn Ashridge SunriseAn Ashridge Sunrise
Ivinghoe Hills, Herts.
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Above the mist. Ashridge Estate, Herts.

Bulborne Canal WorksBulborne Canal WorksBulborne Canal Works
Grand Union canal, Marsworth, Herts.
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Grand Union canal, Tring, Herts.

Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)
WWT Slimbridge.

Water rail from a visit to WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

End of Another Day of MemoriesEnd of Another Day of MemoriesEnd of Another Day of Memories
Sunset over Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.
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Sunset over Farmoor.

Considering the restrictive year we've had which is certainly going to take us into the next few months, I've had to adapt to the present situation with a positive attitude. I'll admit it's not been easy but I'm getting there...slowly!

I hope you have enjoyed reading my brief review of the past year and I hope for all our sakes we have a better 2021.

Happy New Year and All the Best

Steve 

*****************

If anybody is interested in learning how to take great photographs I run 1-2-1 photography tuition at various locations within an hours drive of South Oxfordshire. I find it very rewarding teaching people of all abilities photography. Not only from setting the camera up and taking the photo but to also editing the final image. You can use my CONTACT page for details and availability.

My ONLINE SHOP is now up and running with regular uploads of new images.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds nature photography steve liptrot steve liptrot photography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/12/2020-in-a-nutshell Thu, 24 Dec 2020 19:16:51 GMT
November https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/11/november November brought about Lockdown 2.0 which meant no non-essential travel. As photography is now my only source of income since I made the step up to professional. Going out with the camera and taking photographs and leading tuition days is my job which in my eyes is essential. I decided to stay in the local area (Bucks, Oxon & Herts) and visit a handful of locations more regularly with some great results. The Autumn colours are starting to fade being replaced by frosty/misty mornings which I am trying to make the most of. You may have noticed more landscape images lately on my gallery and social media pages!

Marsworth ReservoirMarsworth ReservoirMarsworth Reservoir
Marsworth, Herts.
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A Glorious Sunrise over Marsworth Reservoir

A place I spent a lot of time in the Summer was Tring reservoirs. There are five reservoirs in the area but I generally see more wildlife on Marsworth plus it's right next to the Grand Union canal. The local water authority has been maintaining the reservoir which meant lowering the water levels. This makes it is easier for birds like herons, egrets, grebes & bitterns to catch fish. I've photographed the grey herons catching up to four pike in an hour and smaller species like perch. The kingfisher and water rails have been making the most of the low water levels with regular sightings of these seldom seen birds.

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) with a pikeGrey heron (Ardea cinerea) with a pikeGrey heron (Ardea cinerea) with a pike
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Grey heron with a Pike

Bulborne Canal WorksBulborne Canal WorksBulborne Canal Works
Grand Union canal, Marsworth, Herts.
A Misty Morning on the Grand Union Canal

Some of the Winter migrants have arrived in the UK from Scandinavia and Iceland such as Redwings and Fieldfares (both members of the thrush family). They visit the UK to feast on the abundance of berries. You'll often see them along the hedgerows in large numbers 'chattering' away as they strip the berry trees. Lots of waterfowl (ducks, geese & swans) also visit the UK over Winter as their breeding grounds are now frozen.

Redwing (Turdus iliacus)Redwing (Turdus iliacus)Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
Wendover Arm canal, Tring.
Redwing with a Hawthorn berry

The reservoirs around here attract some rare visitors over Winter. Some spend a few days resting on their migration, others will stay all Winter. At Farmoor reservoir West of Oxford there are a number of rarities still there as of 29th Nov. The Great Northern diver is attracting photographers and visitors as are the Greater scaup and Red-crested pochards (both breeds of duck).

Great northern diver (Gavia immer)Great northern diver (Gavia immer)Great northern diver (Gavia immer)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.
Great Northern diver on Farmoor reservoir

Greater scaup (Aythya marila)Greater scaup (Aythya marila)Greater scaup (Aythya marila)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.
Greater scaup on Farmoor reservoir

There have been some great sunsets lately so I've been trying some silhouette images with the local captive Red deer on the Chiltern hills. I'm quite pleased with some of the results but I know I can do better. I am my own worst critic at times!

The Red Kite & the DeerThe Red Kite & the DeerThe Red Kite & the Deer
Great Kimble, Buckinghamshire.
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Deer and the Red kite. I love this shot as the Kites are now apart of the Chiltern Hills.

I made a couple of visits to Bushy Park towards the end of November. Now the 'rutting season' is over it's good to see the deer chilling out and feeding up after their annual ordeal. There is a park adjacent to Bushy called Home Park which is part of Hampton Court Palace. It was a nice surprise on my first ever visit. The Fallow deer here are more relaxed as the visitor numbers are usually a lot lower than Bushy. I find this makes for more natural looking shots. I shall be making more visits there when the temperatures fall below zero. After a pleasant morning in Home Park, it was a bit of shock when we walked back into Bushy and saw how busy it was!

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) & black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) & black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) & black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Home Park, Hampton Court, London.
Heron and gull in Home Park with Hampton Court Palace in the background.

An Ashridge SunriseAn Ashridge SunriseAn Ashridge Sunrise
Ivinghoe Hills, Herts.
BUY from Redbubble
Above the Fog at Ashridge, Hertfordshire.

If anybody is interested in learning how to take great photographs I've started my 1-2-1 photography tuition again. I find it very rewarding teaching people of all abilities photography. Not only from setting the camera up and taking the photo but to also editing the final image. You can use my CONTACT page for details and availability.

My ONLINE SHOP is now up and running with regular uploads of new images. There are also some great Christmas ideas!

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments. I find nature is a great healer in difficult times. Even just sitting out in the garden or going for a short local walk. Nature is all around us.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds nature photography steve steve liptrot photography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/11/november Sun, 29 Nov 2020 18:20:20 GMT
October https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/10/october Well what a busy month October was, not just for me but the deer I have spent photographing over the last three weeks. I have never witnessed so much activity during the annual deer rut as I have this year and managed to get some great images. I've probably walked quite a few miles tracking them down so now is time to wind down a bit. There is still plenty to photograph during Autumn with some stunning Autumnal colours when the sun decides to show! I have also been busy leading several photography tuition days with clients wanting to witness the deer rut. I've also spent many an hour in the local forests on 'fungi forays'. Great fun with so many varieties around this Autumn.

Battle woundsBattle woundsRed deer (Cervus elaphus)
Bushy park, London.
A casualty of the rut. He was back guarding his harem shortly after the fight.

Fallow buck (Dama dama)Fallow buck (Dama dama)Fallow buck (Dama dama)
Bushy Park, London.

White hart. Of all the deer, Fallow are my favourite.

It's not just deer I've been in pursuit of but the magical world of fungi. I've tried a few locations locally for the first time such as Warburg nature reserve, Burnham Beeches, Wytham wood & Bernwood Forest. All great locations and worth visiting especially during Autumn.

Magpie Inkcap (Coprinopsis picacea)Magpie Inkcap (Coprinopsis picacea)Magpie Inkcap (Coprinopsis picacea)
Warburg nature reserve, Bix, Bucks.
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Magpie Inkcap, Warburg nature reserve near Henley.

Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)
Burnham Beeches, Bucks.
Porcelain mushroom, Burnham Beeches, Bucks.

Mid October I took a break from the deer and fungi and headed to the Hawk conservancy trust in Hampshire. The birds of prey displays there are second to none. Three displays a day in various locations with many different species from vultures, eagles, falcons, kites & owls.

White-headed vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis)White-headed vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis)White-headed vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis)
Hawk conservancy trust, Hampshire.
White-headed vulture over Reg's meadow, Hawk conservancy trust.

Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Hawk conservancy trust, Hampshire.
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Saxon the Golden eagle

I also made a visit to the wetlands centre at Slimbridge for the 'high tide weekend'. The big tides on the River Severn tend to push the birds closer to the reserve and the wildlife hides so in theory you get a better view. It was a grey overcast day which didn't make for many good photos opportunities.

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

The grey heron was posing well at Slimbridge despite dire conditions for photography!

Dunnock (Prunella modularis)Dunnock (Prunella modularis)Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
RSPB Leighton Moss, Lancashire.
Dunnock or hedge sparrow. Such an underrated garden bird. RSPB Leighton Moss, Lancashire

If anybody is interested in learning how to take great photographs I've started my 1-2-1 photography tuition again. I find it very rewarding teaching people of all abilities new photography skills. Not only from setting the camera up but to also editing the final image. You can use my CONTACT page for details and availability.

Also many of my images are available to purchase in my ONLINE SHOP in various formats such as prints, canvases, clothing, phone cases and even face masks!

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments. I find nature is a great healer in difficult times. Even just sitting out in the garden or going for a short local walk. Nature is all around us.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

 


 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) animals birds liptrot nature photography steve steve liptrot photography wildlife https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/10/october Sat, 31 Oct 2020 18:21:07 GMT
September https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/9/september Welcome to another exciting installment of my photography exploits during September. Summer seems to be hanging on with plenty of of warm bright days and Autumn seems to be a bit later this year. Twice I've been to photograph the annual deer rut over the last ten days with not much action. We really need some very cold days to bring the deer on. I'm concentrating more on Richmond park this year as opposed to Bushy. I got fed up last year with groups of people chasing the stags round the park with mobile phones etc. At least with Richmond there is a lot more room for them.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Richmond park, London.

Red deer stag & friend, Richmond Park.

The Autumn bird migration is now in full swing with plenty of birds stopping off in local reserves. They tend to take their time flying back as opposed to Spring when they are in a rush to breed. 

I managed to get good shots of kingfishers, egrets and waders at Slimbridge wetland centre. In my opinion this is one of the best places to watch the migration. Even more so in Winter when there are hundreds of Wintering ducks, geese & swans.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
WWT Slimbridge.
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Juvenile kingfisher

Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis)Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis)Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis)
WWT Slimbridge.
Cattle egret

I've lived in Oxfordshire now for two years and only just found out there was a falconry centre only a few miles away! So I booked a ticket online which is the norm these days and paid a visit. Plenty of birds and managed to get some great close up shots of my favourite bird of prey, the Red kite. I'll never forget the first time I saw a wild kite nearly twenty years ago which was on bike ride around the Chiltern hills on the Bucks/Oxon border. As I was busy looking up at it in awe I nearly collided with a tree! 

Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)
Millets Falconry Centre, Oxfordshire.
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Red kite at Millets Falconry, Oxfordshire.

I recently made a visit to Lancashire to see family and visit a couple of great nature reserves there namely Leighton Moss on the Lancs/Cumbria border and Martin mere wetlands. This time of year is good to see the elusive Bearded reedlings. A stunning seldom seen bird which prefers to stay in the reed beds. As their diet of insects changes to seeds they have to collect grit which helps break down the seeds in their stomachs. At Leighton Moss they put out grit on bird tables but most of the time they will use the grit off the pathways. I was lucky enough to see around 12-15 birds flitting between the reeds and paths for around twenty minutes. 

Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)
RSPB Leighton Moss, Lancashire.
Female bearded reedling

Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)
RSPB Leighton Moss, Lancashire.
Bearded reedling at RSPB Leighton Moss, Lancashire.

Juvenile greenfinch (Chloris chloris)Juvenile greenfinch (Chloris chloris)Juvenile greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
WWT Martin mere, Lancashire.
Juvenile greenfinch at Martin Mere wetlands centre, Lancashire.

To round off the month I made my final visit to Santa Pod Raceway of 2020 for my motorsport fix! It's been a short season this year due to the ongoing situation. To be honest I didn't think there would be any racing this year. I hope next year will be better for all our sakes.

Slingshot DragsterSlingshot Dragster32nd Hot Rod Drags
Santa Pod Raceway, Bedfordshire.
Slingshot dragster warming the rear tyres. Santa Pod.

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)
Harcourt Arboretum, Oxon.
The classic Fairytale mushroom, the Fly agaric

 Hopefully October will start to cool down so I can get some moody misty Autumnal shots. I've started to see plenty of fungi popping up. They like warm damp habitat and make good photographs especially if you find one with a Pixie on!!

If anyone is interested I've started my 1-2-1 photography tuition again. I find this very rewarding, teaching people of all abilities new photography skills. Not only from setting the camera up but to also editing the final image. You can use my CONTACT page for details and availability.

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments. I find nature is a great healer in difficult times. Even just sitting out in the garden or going for a short local walk. Nature is all around us.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

]]>
(Steve Liptrot Photography) steve liptrot steve liptrot photography https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/9/september Tue, 29 Sep 2020 18:57:21 GMT
August https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/8/august Another busy month with the camera during August and now the Autumn migration is underway another busy month is forecast for September. Autumn is my favourite of the four seasons for photography. The Summer visitors head South to warmer climates and the Arctic/Russian/Scandinavian birds also head South and many will Winter in the UK. Our resident wildlife will be caching and feeding up to see them through the Winter months. 

In August I visited Slimbridge, Otmoor and Farmoor which are good places to witness the Autumn migration. These are wetland areas which are a magnet for migrating birds to stop off on their journey. I got lucky towards the end of the month at Farmoor reservoir when an Osprey spent a few hours there. It caught a fish and sat on a pylon to eat it!

Western osprey (Pandion haliaetus)Western osprey (Pandion haliaetus)Western osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Rutland.
Western Osprey

The Slimbridge wetland centre is excellent for migrating birds due to its close proximity to the River Severn. Many birds follow these landmarks such as rivers and even roads. The Ospreys actually follow the A1 motorway on their journey North to Scotland etc and back on their way back to West Africa! 

Wood sandpiper (Tringa glareola)Wood sandpiper (Tringa glareola)Wood sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
Wood sandpiper. A rare Summer visitor to Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)Dunlin (Calidris alpina)Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxon.
Dunlin. A small wading bird at Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.

During the month I made several visits to the British wildlife centre. I'll be paying rent if I make anymore visits! A great place to get up close and personal to British wildlife.

Male European adder (Vipera berus)Male European adder (Vipera berus)Male European adder (Vipera berus)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.
Male Adder at the British wildlife centre.

European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.

Rowan the Roe deer buck at the BWC.

Now Santa Pod Raceway is allowed to host motorsport events again I made a couple of visits to the home of European drag racing. There weren't as many cars as usual but there was still some great racing as always and even the weather was OK for a change!

Ford Capri Mk1Ford Capri Mk1Ford Capri Mk1
STP Green Light Nationals
22-23 August 2020
Santa Pod Raceway, Bedfordshire.
Ford Capri MK1 at Santa Pod Raceway, Bedfordshire.

Robin Read's Daimler powered dragsterRobin Read's Daimler powered dragsterRobin Read's Daimler Powered Dragster
STP Green Light Nationals
22-23 August 2020
Santa Pod Raceway, Bedfordshire.
Dragster at Santa Pod Raceway.

Towards the end of August I visited the Hawk conservancy near Andover, Hampshire. A great place to learn about and watch birds of prey fly. From the kestrel to huge vultures and of course everbody's favourites...the owls. They have three flying displays every day in different arenas with different birds.

African white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus)African white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus)African white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus)
Hawk conservancy trust, Weyhill, Hampshire.
African white backed vulture

Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Hawk conservancy trust, Weyhill, Hampshire.
Snowy owl at the Hawk conservancy.

I spent a few days in my native Lancashire in the middle of the month. I always make a pilgrimage to Martin mere wetlands centre on my return. This is is where wildlife photography first started for me when I was 9 years old! I had a great visit even though it rained. It wouldn't be the North if it didn't rain!!

I didn't get many shots but found a snoozing hare and the kingfishers hangout.

Hovering...Hovering...Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Forest farm, Coryton.
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Hovering kingfisher

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
WWT Martin Mere, Lancashire.
Brown hare

As for next month I will be spending the first week of September in Lancashire visiting family etc. The deer rut should be starting mid to late of the next month which I am looking forward to. I'm going to try some new ideas out this year which hopefully will produce some different deer images than I normally take. I'm also looking forward to the colours of Autumn and hope to photograph the change in the seasons. Autumn also means misty early mornings and stunning sunrises/sunsets so dig your cameras out and get snapping!

Now 'lockdown' is easing I am starting my 1-2-1 photography tuition again. I find this very rewarding, teaching people of all abilities new photography skills. Not only from setting the camera up but to also editing the final image. You can use my CONTACT page for details and availability.

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments. I find nature is a great healer in difficult times. Even just sitting out in the garden or going for a short local walk. Nature is all around us.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

 

 

]]>
(Steve Liptrot Photography) steve liptrot steve liptrot photography https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/8/august Sun, 30 Aug 2020 19:28:04 GMT
July https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/7/july July has been very busy for my photography. Out of the 31 days in July I have used the camera on 27 of those days! I think I'm making up for lost time when were in 'full lockdown'!! A few more wildlife places are opening up now but pre-booking is essential at zoos and reserves that charge for entry. It can be a bit of a pain but it helps keep the numbers of people visiting in check.

This month I've visited the British wildlife centre (5 times!), Slimbridge wetland centre (twice) and my local haunts of Farmoor reservoir, RSPB Otmoor and Tring reservoirs on numerous occasions. I also made a 2 day visit to the fantastic RSPB reserve of Bempton Cliffs on the Yorkshire coast and a couple of reserves in my native Lancashire. So on the whole very busy!

At the start of the month I made a visit to the British wildlife centre (BWC). It re-opened on the 4th for members only. It was great seeing all the keepers again but some of the animals were a bit elusive. With three months of 'lockdown' the animals had got used to no visitors so when the first visitors arrived the animals that did show looked a little startled. Things now are slowly getting back to normal which can only be expected.

Least weasel (Mustela nivalis)Least weasel (Mustela nivalis)Least weasel (Mustela nivalis)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.

A Least weasel wondering who all the people are! BWC

Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia) & kittensScottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia) & kittensScottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia) & kittens
British wildlife centre, Surrey.
Scottish wildcat with kittens at the British wildlife centre.

Usually when I plan on visiting the BWC I call in at Bushy park at sunrise to see whats about. At the moment there are a few deer fawns and plenty of juvenile green woodpeckers. With the recent spell of hot weather the deer can sometimes be seen cooling down in the small lakes there.

Juvenile green woodpecker (Picus viridis)Juvenile green woodpecker (Picus viridis)Juvenile green woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Bushy park, London.
Juvenile green woodpecker searching for ants in Bushy park.

Red deer fawnRed deer fawnRed deer fawn
Bushy park, London.

Red deer fawn. Bushy park.

Tring reservoirs have been great this Summer with plenty of juvenile birds. The common terns have had their young and will shortly be heading back to the Southern hemisphere. The young great crested grebes are very active now with their parents being kept busy catching fish for them. 

Great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus)
Yarrow Valley Park, Chorley, Lancashire.
Great crested grebe with a large fish for breakfast

Juvenile common tern (Sterna hirundo)Juvenile common tern (Sterna hirundo)Juvenile common tern (Sterna hirundo)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Juvenile common tern 

My highlight of July was a two day visit to Bempton Cliffs on the stunning Yorkshire coast. It is sited between Filey and Flamborough and in Spring & Summer plays host to over 250,000 seabirds. Gannets, gulls, razorbills, guillemots and everybodies favourite the puffins! Definitely worth putting on your bucket list!

Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire.
Puffins on Bempton Cliffs.

Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire.

My favourite shot from Bempton Cliffs. A Kittiwake with some backlighting which shows off its wing feathers against the cliffs.

It's not just wildlife I've been photographing this month but aircraft. The RAF base at Brize Norton is not too far away and is good for watching military aircraft. The planes are large and get quite close so no big lenses are needed. I like the aircraft with propellors so a steady hand and slow shutter speed are required to get 'prop blur'. I use a shutter speed of around 1/125th of a second which is usually about right. Some photographers will go lower but I'm not that steady and my cameras are heavy. That's my excuse anyway!!

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas ZM402RAF Airbus A400M Atlas ZM402RAF Airbus A400M Atlas ZM402
RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.
Airbus A400M 'Atlas' taken using a slow shutter speed of 1/125sec to show movement in the props. Brize Norton

I made a couple of visits to the wetland centre at Slimbridge. Summer is a good time to see the wading birds and there were plenty about and will come very close to the hides.

Spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus)Spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus)Spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
Spotted redshank. A bird I seldom see. Slimbridge wetland centre, Gloucestershire.

Juvenile coots (Fulica atra)Juvenile coots (Fulica atra)Juvenile coots (Fulica atra)
Farmoor res., Oxon.
Juvenile coots. I think one isn't potty trained yet!

Roesel's Bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)Roesel's Bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)Roesel's Bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.
A bush cricket at RSPB Otmoor.

Summer is a great time to visit RSPB Otmoor for the insects. I usually get bitten by more than I manage to photograph! The bush cricket (above) I photographed is only about an inch long in real life but a dedicated macro (close up) lens is essential to get detailed shots like this. 

As I'm writing this I can hear the 'screeching' swifts outside which are feeding up ready for their long journey back to Africa. The last few days have felt a bit Autumnal. As I was walking round Bushy park I noticed some of the leaves on the trees were starting to change colour and some had already fallen. 

As for next month I will be making my first visit to Santa Pod Raceway. Hurray! They have been given the go ahead to host some motorsport (drag racing) events but with the latest government guidelines in place. I'm looking forward to this and there is some good weather forecast!

Now 'lockdown' is easing I am starting my 1-2-1 photography tuition again. I find this very rewarding teaching people of all abilities new photography skills. Not only from setting the camera up but to also editing the final image. You can use my CONTACT page for details and availability.

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments over this difficult period we are all experiencing. It makes it all worth the while. I find nature is a great healer in times like this. Even just sitting out in the garden or going for a short local walk. Nature is all around us.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 


 


 

]]>
(Steve Liptrot Photography) steve liptrot steve liptrot photography https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/7/july Tue, 28 Jul 2020 20:11:29 GMT
June https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/6/june Has anyone noticed it is a great year for wild flowers? Most councils in the UK have postponed cutting road side verges and let them grow wild with some spectacular results which not only looks good but helps the wildlife. In rural areas some farmers are planting wild flower meadows along side their fields of crops to give nature a helping hand. I live on the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border where fields of red poppies, cornflowers and ox-eye daises can be found. I've never taken so many flower photographs!

Poppies & CornflowersPoppies & CornflowersPoppies & Cornflowers
Frieth, Buckinghamshire.
Red poppies & Cornflower in Buckinghamshire

Of course with the abundance of wild flowers the insects are thriving to with plenty of bees, butterflies etc.

Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)
Pinkhill Meadow, Oxfordshire.
Small tortoiseshell butterfly

Normally when I go out photographing wildlife I like to photograph it in a natural environment which can involve waiting for hours and when you finally get a good shot it makes it all worth the while. It doesn't always pay off but it's fun trying! Early June I visited a private hide in West Sussex. It is the first time I've been to one of these so wasn't too sure what to expect. There are a number of hides with 'reflection pools' and some interesting feeding setups. I was there for around six hours and took nearly 1300 images!! It took me a week to edit all the photographs. I'm looking forward to visiting again, maybe at the end of Summer/Autumn. It makes a change to sit in a comfortable hide as opposed to lying still for ages in long grass or in a forest dressed in camouflage!!

Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
Miller's Wood, Handcross, West Sussex.

Great spotted woodpecker in West Sussex

As some of you might know especially the people who follow my photography page on Facebook I have spent quite a bit of time photographing the Common terns at Tring reservoirs. One of my favourite birds and can be quite a challenge to photograph them diving for fish. I like to take 'action' shots as opposed to 'bird on a stick' shots. My object was to catch them diving and photographing them just before they entered the water. Great fun but I deleted many images to get anything I was happy with. My camera takes 11 frames a second but these birds are so quick.

Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.

 

Diving Common tern. Looks like an arrow but faster!!

During June some of the wildlife reserves were opening back up to the public but with restricted numbers. So if you want to visit any of these you have to book online so the numbers of visitors can be controlled as set out by government guidelines. I paid a long overdue visit to Slimbridge wetlands reserve in Gloucestershire in mid-June. This used to one of my regular haunts a couple of years ago when I was living just across the border in South Wales. On my visit there were lots of juvenile birds and the Summer visitors were already feeding their young. A lot has happened during 'Lockdown' but we have sadly missed most of it. 

Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
Reed warbler with a tasty snack for its fledglings. WWT Slimbridge.

Juvenile moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)Juvenile moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)Juvenile moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
Young moorhens exploring at Slimbridge wetlands centre.

During June I've been enjoying and learning macro (close-up) photography. It can be quite challenging getting good insect shots. It usually involves lying in the long grass getiing eaten by other insects and as you go to take the shot....it flies off! You have to learn a bit of 'field craft' on how to best approach them and wait and wait some more. It's surprising how much varied wildlife there is in one small area. Great fun but it is best to use specialist macro lenses for the best results.

Roesel's bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)Roesel's bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)Roesel's bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)
Whitecross Green Wood, Oxfordshire.

Roesel's bush-crickets can be found lurking in the grass. Only about an inch long.

Marbled white (Melanargia galathea)Marbled white (Melanargia galathea)Marbled white (Melanargia galathea)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.
Marbled white butterfly

It is not only insects that make good macro subjects but close ups of flowers etc. If your lucky you can photograph both together. I do like a challenge!

Bee orchid (Ophrys apifera)Bee orchid (Ophrys apifera)Bee orchid (Ophrys apifera)
Chinnor, Oxfordshire.

Bee-orchid 

As for July I'm looking forward to visiting the British wildlife centre again. I've booked my visit online so just need the weather to be ok. I'm still going if it rains! Within the next couple of days I am going to see the Ospreys at Rutland water. The parents have had four young which are starting to fledge now but they will all hang around the nest site till August.

Now 'lockdown' is easing I'm looking forward to starting the one-to-one photography tuition again. I find this very rewarding teaching people of all abilities new photography skills. Not only from setting the camera up but to also editing the final image. You can use my CONTACT page for details and availability.

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments over this difficult period we are all experiencing. It makes it all worth the while. I find nature is a great healer in times like this. Even just sitting out in the garden or going for a short local walk. Nature is all around us.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 


 

]]>
(Steve Liptrot Photography) steve liptrot steve liptrot photography https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/6/june Mon, 29 Jun 2020 19:57:39 GMT
Spring https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/5/spring Now the current 'lockdown' is being eased in parts of the UK, I have been able to venture out with the camera to some local regular haunts such as Otmoor, Farmoor and Tring reservoirs all within half an hour of my home. It is amazing how much has changed in the past two months with nature getting on with 'business as usual'. In fact nature this Spring has took advantage of the lack of human activity. Looking at all the new birdlife visiting the garden I would say it has been a boom year for them. 

Mute swan familyMute swan familyMute swan family
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Lots of newlife around at the moment.

My first outing was a late afternoon visit to Farmoor reservoir West of Oxford. It can be a bit of a 'hit & miss' location with not much wildlife about or just hiding! Walking on the River Thames close by the visiting warblers were warbling away with their random tunes, occasionally revealing themselves from the reed bed. There was a few waders on the causeway looking for a tasty snack, mainly Mayflies which have been in abundance this year.

Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Warnham local nature reserve, West Sussex.
Reed warbler skulking in the reeds

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)Dunlin (Calidris alpina)Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Farmoor, Oxfordshire.
 Dunlin at Farmoor reservoir

Tring reservoirs are a good wildlife venue. In mid May I visited just before sunrise around 5am. Conditions were perfect with a glorious sunrise with light mist on the water. Ideal conditions for photography. These conditions only last a few minutes. As the Sun climbs higher the mist will burn off and the 'golden light' will be gone. It always pays to get there before the sun has risen and to witness the 'Dawn chorus'. Always worth the sacrifice of a few hours sleep just to hear it.

Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
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Common tern at Tring reservoirs.

Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Marsworth reservoir, Tring, Herts.
Great crested grebe on a misty Marsworth reservoir, Tring.

Tring reservoirs are a great location to watch swifts, swallows and martins skimming the surface for insects. 

Sand martin (Riparia riparia)Sand martin (Riparia riparia)Sand martin (Riparia riparia)
Startop's End reservoir, Bucks.
Sand martin

Last weekend I payed another daybreak visit, this time to RSPB Otmoor East of Oxford. Again I was rewarded with a glorious misty sunrise. Spring is a great time to visit Otmoor. Soon as I parked the car up I heard the distinctive sound of a Cuckoo. According to local visitors there are six cuckoos on site. I definitely saw 3 different birds. The bitterns have successfully breeded this year with the parents flying off for food at regular intervals. 

Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.
Bittern at RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.

Evenings are great time to explore around the Oxfordshire village I live in. It is only a short walk to the footpaths around the fields at the base of the Chiltern hills. I usually just take the macro set up and look for insects settling down to roost. The poppies are starting to appear and hopefully next month we will have a few fields full of them. A spectactular sight.

Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)
Chinnor, Oxfordshire.
BUY from Redbubble

Common blue butterfly settling down for the night.

Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)
Bernwood meadow, Oxon.
Common blue butterfly

Thank you all for reading my latest blog and thank you all for your support and kind comments over this difficult period we are all experiencing. It makes it all worth the while. I find nature is a great healer in times like this. Even just sitting out in the garden or going for a short local walk. Nature is all around us.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/5/spring Sat, 30 May 2020 08:50:10 GMT
Spring has Sprung! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/4/spring-has-sprung Welcome to my latest account of my lack of photographic exploits!

I hope everyone is well and keeping safe during these unprecedented times.

 
In these times of the virus which is affecting the whole World, I have put my photography on hold. Only venturing out occasionally to do a bit of macro (close-up) photography in the garden or on local exercise walks. Just sitting in the garden for an hour can be rewarding. Birds are busy collecting nesting material and the local red kites are doing their aerobatic mating displays above. It makes a change to watch nature go about its business without a camera. Many times on my walks I would take a camera with me but never take it out of my bag! This is one of the best times of year with the Summer visitors arriving and new life all around us. 

House sparrow (Passer domesticus)House sparrow (Passer domesticus)House sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Chinnor, Oxfordshire.

House sparrow collecting nesting material

This year I had plans to visit new areas. I have a few days booked on the Isle of Mull mid June which I very much doubt that will happen. I maybe able to reschedule for later in the year but nobody knows what will happen.

With all this spare time it has given me an opportunity to tidy up my hard drives. I have over 30K images in my archives, many of them are unedited! So expect to see some more unseen work! A lot of it is stuff I had forgotten about. I must make a point of processing all my photos after a trip in the future instead of leaving them to collect dust!!

Dark-edged bee-fly (Bombylius major)Dark-edged bee-fly (Bombylius major)Dark-edged bee-fly (Bombylius major)
Chinnor, Oxfordshire.
Dark-edged bee-fly (a first for me!)

Snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)Snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)Snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)
Oxfordshire's iconic flower.
Chinnor, Oxfordshire.

Snake's-head fritillary, Oxfordshire iconic flower.

Forget-me-notsForget-me-notsForget-me-nots
Chinnor, Oxfordshire.

Forget-me-nots in the garden.

I've never photographed so many flowers as I have in the last month! A subject I am enjoying learning about. The problem is it takes me ages to identify what I've photographed!

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
WWT Slimbridge.
Red Admiral

I apologise for the shortness of this blog. I just hope next months episode will be more productive. We should start seeing more juvenile birds and more visitors from the Southern hemisphere such as swallows, warblers or even cuckoo. Just hope I can see them from my window!

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 


 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/4/spring-has-sprung Wed, 29 Apr 2020 20:12:45 GMT
Mad March!! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/3/mad-march Well what a month March has turned out to be. Everything was leading up to a glorious Spring then bang. Corvid-19 had other plans! I managed to get out a few times prior to the 'lockdown'.

I think April's blog will be a bit short though with lots of garden photos!

At the start of the month I went down Warnham for a long overdue visit. It is a great reserve, I just wish it was a bit nearer.

Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
Warnham local nature reserve, Horsham, West Sussex.

Great spotted woodpecker at Warnham, West Sussex.

The following week I headed up to Lancashire to visit family. On the way up I usually call in at Martin mere wetland centre. There had been reports of Barn owl sightings but whenever I turn up they play hide-and-seek! Not this time. I had the privilege of watching an owl hunt in the afternoon for an hour. Which is very unusual as they usually only hunt at dusk or early morning unless they are very hungry.

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
WWT Martin mere, Lancashire.

Barn owl with its eye on the prey. WWT Martin mere, Lancashire.

Red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa)Red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa)Red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa)
WWT Martin mere, Lancashire.

Red-legged partridge at Martin mere

As most of you may of guessed I spend a lot of time in Bushy park. It is one of my favourite places for wildlife even when its full of visitors. I can be there in less than an hour. When I do visit I usually leave before 9AM (when all the running events take place!). This time I decided to stay for a full day. I'm glad I did as the woodpeckers were showing very well. Normally a very shy bird they are very hard to photograph of. There were a few red deer shedding their antlers in readiness for the new ones to grow, which they do at the rate of around 25mm a day!! They become more elaborate with more points the older the stag gets.

Green woodpecker (Picus viridis)Green woodpecker (Picus viridis)Green woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Bushy park, London.

Green woodpecker. You have to be very patient to photograph one of these birds!

Also around the park the Egyptian geese were showing off their goslings. Geese do tend to raise their young quite early in the season.

The Egyptian geese familyThe Egyptian geese familyEgyptian geese (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Bushy park, London.
Egyptian goose family in Bushy park, London.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Bushy park, London.
Red deer stag with new antler growth. Bushy park.

March is the breeding time for the hares so I popped down to my local reserve of Otmoor and try my luck. There were a few about but mostly asleep or eating! With all the recent rain it is still very wet in places but there is always something to see. The heron's were nest building and the Marsh harriers were hunting over the reedbeds.

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.

Brown hare at RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.

Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
WWT Slimbridge.

Female Marsh harrier hunting over the reed beds.

'The King''The King''The King'
Bushy park, London.
'The King' at Bushy park.

Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)
Red kite feeding station, Llandeusant.
The Red kite

As for April, who knows!! Depending on how long we are in 'lockdown' it will only be garden photography or images from my archive. Just spending a few minutes in your garden can reap rewards and it is surprising what will turn up. As I am writing this there are majestic red kites floating past the window. You can normally see me hanging out the window trying to photograph these stunning birds!!

Thank you all for reading my latest blog it is very much appreciated.

Stay safe everybody

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/3/mad-march Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:48:03 GMT
Flooded out February! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/2/flooded-out-february Well what a damp and miserable month that was! I can count the dry/sunny days we had in February on one hand. It doesn't help with wildlife photography either so visits to local zoos are the few places guaranteed to get some half decent shots. Most places I visit were flooded, even the Royal parks in London were closed some weekends due to some storm or another. I feel sorry for the people who lost everything due to flooding which seems to be a happening more and more up and down the country.

Porthcawl lighthousePorthcawl lighthousePorthcawl lighthouse
BUY from Photo4Me
Stormy seas at Porthcawl, South Wales.

At the start of the month I visited the wetland centre at Slimbridge to try out a new camera body. I've just taken delivery of a Nikon D850 which is a fantastic bit of kit. It has a 45 mega pixel full frame sensor which is nearly 3 times bigger than my other full frame D4 body! It records so much more detail and it is touted to be the best wildlife/sports camera body so far. The only problem with this larger sensor size is that it requires larger capacity memory cards which cost an arm and a leg! I wouldn't mind some decent weather to test it out!

Back to my Slimbridge visit. There was quite a lot of birdlife there as usual. Most of it was hunkered down away from the storms. Lots of wildlife will drop in here and shelter for a few days. Some of the Bewick's swans which Winter here all the way from Russia are already on their way back! Even this weather is confusing the wildlife. There were reports of ducklings around the site which I hope will survive the snowy conditions which are forecast. It's a tough life for wildlife but most of them cope and adapt to the conditions.

Pied oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)Pied oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)Pied oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)
WWT Slimbridge.
Oystercatcher off to wash his worm! They always wash their food before they eat it. Slimbridge. 

A place I visited in February was London zoo. I last went there about 5 years ago so decided to risk the London traffic and pay a visit. Disappointing is the only polite word I can think of to describe this place considering what they charge to get in! I enjoyed my last visit and there was plenty to see. This time half the enclosures were empty and the place seemed run down. I managed a couple of shots of the Tiger and a penguin then came home. Never again.

Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica)Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica)Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica)
ZSL London zoo.

Sumatran tiger. London zoo

Next was a visit to my all favourite place, the British wildlife centre. You can't go wrong with this place. Always something to see and photograph and the keepers are friendly and very knowledgeable. A great place to chill out and see some great British wildlife. In Winter stoats turn colour from their usual reddy brown to all white (ermine) and this was my aim of the visit and also get used to my new camera body. I managed a quick glimpse of the white stoat before she shot back in her hole!

Stoat (Mustela erminea)Stoat (Mustela erminea)Stoat (Mustela erminea)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.
'Susie' the stoat in Winter colours at the British wildlife centre.

'Basil''Basil'Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.
'Basil' posing for the camera! BWC

I went in search for owls at my local reserves (Otmoor & Farmmor) in Oxfordshire. Both these places were flooded in places, which was covering most of the owls hunting grounds. Lots of other wildlife there but it was too windy/rainy for the owls. On a different note I see owls (Barn & Tawny) on my drive to work in the mornings but it is a bit too dark for photography! 

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.

Barn owl at RSPB Otmoor (last year!)

Of all the different kinds of birds, it is the birds of prey which interest me the most. A place I visit every couple of months is the Hawk conservancy trust near Andover in Wiltshire. They were shut over January to carry out their annual maintenance. A few days ago I paid a visit and had an enjoyable day as always. They have three different flying sessions during the day with different birds. The first session is the woodland setting where different owls can be seen. If the conditions are right with a bit of decent sunlight you can get some great flying and posing shots here. Definitely worth a visit here anytime of the year. They fly and rest certain birds at different times of the year so you will always see something different.

Tawny owl (Strix aluco)Tawny owl (Strix aluco)Tawny owl (Strix aluco)
Hawk conservancy trust, Weyhill, Wiltshire.

Tawny owl at the Woodland flying session. Hawk conservancy trust, Wiltshire.

White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus)White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus)White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus)
Hawk conservancy trust, Weyhill, Wiltshire.
White-backed vulture portrait at the Hawk conservancy trust. Note the extra detail my new camera body has captured!

As for next month I'm hoping we will have some Spring like conditions. Fingers crossed! I haven't much planned for March yet but I'm hoping for some images of the hares which are usually courting then. A shot I would like is when they start boxing. This usually happens when the male hare gets a bit too amorous with the female and she starts a boxing bout with him!

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/2/flooded-out-february Tue, 25 Feb 2020 20:43:22 GMT
Doesn't January drag! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/1/doesnt-january-drag As I write this on the 39th January! It must be the Winter blues that makes January seem so long. This dark and dismal weather doesn't help either.

I started the year like I always do with a couple of Classic car shows, both at my favourite venues. Brooklands museum in Surrey and Bicester Heritage in Oxfordshire. There was a great selection of cars at both events which kept me busy filling memory cards on both cameras. I use two set ups at car shows. A mid zoom lens of 70-200mm which is great for distant shots (saves walking!) and a 24-120mm lens for close-up wide angle shots. 

1940 Ford1940 Ford1940 Ford
Brooklands New Years Day Classic Gathering 2020.
1940's Ford at Brooklands museum taken with the 70-200mm mid zoom lens.

Mini ClubmanMini ClubmanMini Clubman
January Scramble 2020, Bicester Heritage, Oxon.
Mini Clubman at Bicester heritage. Lens used was the 24-120mm wide angle. Getting low down with this lens makes the car fill the frame.

Wildlife photography is my main topic of interest and it can get frustrating when the weather is lowsy. But in mid January we had a few bright chilly mornings which I made the most of. Richmond Park in London is a great place for photography even more so when the temperatures drop below zero.

You can get great shots of the deer with steam coming off them as they warm up and thaw the ice on their backs. I did manage to catch the red deer taking an early morning dip in -2°C temperatures. Very hardy animals. 

Steaming Red deer in Richmond Park.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Richmond Park, London.
Early morning tustle for these young stags.

I managed a trip to the British wildlife centre in Surrey for the sole purpose of seeing the young otter kits. I managed to see one and nearly filled one of my memory cards photographing these stunning animals! There is always something else to photograph here. The red squirrels are quite active in Winter which are always entertaining.

Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.

Red squirrel.

Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra)Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra)Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.
Mum and one of her 2 month old kits. British wildlife centre.

The last weekend of the month I called in at Bushy Park to find a Nosy Old Deer peering through somebodies window. I've seen some sights in 40+ years in photography but nothing like this! Very amusing. The stag was there for around 10 minutes but wasn't too happy when he turned round and walked away.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Bushy park, London.

Not a happy stag! Bushy Park.

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading my latest photographic exploits.

As for next month I'm playing it by ear, relying on the good old British weather. Hopefully a few more chilly starts. I may go an see the Ragged Victorians at the end of February. They are on the SS Great Britain in Bristol if you are out that way. 

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/1/doesnt-january-drag Thu, 30 Jan 2020 20:04:22 GMT
A look back on 2019 https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/a-look-back-on-2019 Well that was another year that has just flashed by! It has been quite a hectic year with long working hours and trying to squeeze some photography time in. I've decided to do a review of what I think were my highlights of 2019 and add a few of my favourite images.

I always start the year off with a couple of classic car shows (I'm a bit of a petrol-head!). One of the shows I was particularly interested in was at Bicester Heritage centre. It is on the site of an old RAF base were they still fly gliders and vintage planes such as Tiger Moths etc. The site is basically how it was then with old style buildings which make great backdrops for classic cars.

1958 Cadillac1958 Cadillac1958 Cadillac
Bicester Heritage, Oxon.
1959 Cadillac at Bicester Heritage, Oxfordshire.

During the first couple of months we had some chilly days which made for some atmospheric wildlife shots. As some of you may have guessed I spend quite some time around London especially Bushy & Richmond Parks. Great photographic locations all year round.

Fallow deer (Dama dama)Fallow deer (Dama dama)Fallow deer (Dama dama)
Bushy Park, London.

Fallow deer in Bushy Park, London.

My local reserves of RSPB Otmoor & Farmoor reservoir were frequented several times over the year. These places can be a bit hit and miss so I tend to watch out for wildlife sightings before I visit.

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.
Hares are quite common at RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Shrike Meadows, Farmoor, Oxon.
Mrs Kingfisher at Shrike Meadow, Farmoor, Oxon.

Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)
Turville, Buckinghamshire.
Red Kite. I never tire of seeing these birds float about in the Oxfordshire skies.

I've always had an interest in motorsport and I have been visiting Santa Pod Raceway since the mid 1980's. This is the home of quarter mile drag racing were the top cars can reach over 300 mph in less than 4 seconds!! During 2019 I visited the venue seven times! In 2020 I am hoping to obtain a track-side pass so I can get closer to these machines. I'm really looking forward to this. Fingers crossed.

Pontiac Firebird Apache Funny CarPontiac Firebird Apache Funny CarPontiac Firebird Apache Funny Car
Springspeed Nationals 4-5th May 2019.
Santa Pod Raceway, Beds.
BUY from Redbubble
Top Fuel cars at Santa Pod Raceway

Hot RodHot RodHot Rod
Santa Pod Raceway, England.
BUY from Redbubble
Classic hot rod at Santa Pod Raceway, Bedfordshire.

For a few years now I had been planning to visit RSPB Bempton Cliffs on the Yorkshire coast. It is worth keeping an eye on the weather when visiting Bempton as sea mist can be a nightmare. Thousands of seabirds breed here in Spring/Summer such as gannets, gulls and Atlantic puffins. You never know where to point your lens! I had a great time there and hope to visit in 2020 but this time incorporate a boat trip to watch the gannets feeding and diving into the sea. Can't wait.

Northern gannets (Morus bassanus)Northern gannets (Morus bassanus)Northern gannets (Morus bassanus)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire.
Gannets at Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire.

Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire.
BUY from Redbubble

Atlantic Puffin. RSPB Bempton Cliffs.

A mecca for wildlife is the Norfolk coast especially during the Spring and Autumn migrations. I made a visit at the end of October during the Autumn migration. My main reason was to see the Grey seals along the coast line. I spent a day at Horsey Gap on the East Norfolk coast and I couldn't believe how many seals there were. I arrived early in the seal breeding season but I was informed that there will be thousands more arriving on the beaches to give birth to seal pups! Well worth a visit.

SEAL-ed with a kissSEAL-ed with a kissSEAL-ed with a kiss
Horsey Gap, Norfolk.
Grey seal newborn with mum. Horsey Gap, Norfolk.

The last couple of months were very dismal weather wise. Rain and more rain. It was a struggle to get motivated to go out sometimes. Sometimes it does pay off to venture out in dire weather conditions. It doesn't have much effect on wildlife, they are used to it unlike us wimpy humans!

The deer rut wasn't as good as expected and a lot more people are visiting do to social media sites etc. This time of year the deer are all full of testosterone and if you get in their way you better be able to run fast! I've witnessed people in 'their face' with mobile phones and chasing the deer round the parks. I'm looking to try new wilder venues next season.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Bushy park, London.
Bellowing Red deer stag during the annual deer rut, Bushy Park.

During 2019 I didn't do much people photography. Only one outing to the Didcot railway centre to see the Ragged Victorians. An award winning team of re-enactors who dress up like they did in 1850's England.

Ragged VictorianRagged VictorianRagged Victorian
'A Victorian weekend' at Didcot railway, Oxfordshire.

'Street Urchin' from the Ragged Victorians, Didcot Railway, Oxon.

That comes to the end of my brief review of the past year. As for 2020 I have plans to visit the West coast of Scotland to see the Sea eagles, otters and other Scottish wildlife that cares to jump in front of my lens! Hopefully a visit (Feb/March) to Norfolk/Suffolk. Bempton Cliffs is another definite.

My 2020 photography starts off on the 1st Jan with a car show at Brooklands museum, Surrey and another one on the 5th at Bicester. If you happen to see me about come over and say hello. I don't bite unless your stood in front of the car I'm photographing!

That leaves me to say Happy New Year and all the best for 2020. Thank you all for your support over the past year. Your comments and feed back are much appreciated.

Thanks again

Steve

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/a-look-back-on-2019 Mon, 30 Dec 2019 18:17:34 GMT
November https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/11/november That's another month that's hurtled past. Is it me or has this year flown along? November was a great month for the Autumn colours albeit a bit soggy at times but I spent quite a bit of time foraging for fungi. You may have spotted me knelt on the floor with my backside in the air photographing the fruits of Autumn! Ha ha ha! 

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)
Harcourt Arboretum, Oxon.
Fly agaric. I didn't find any elves or goblins sat on them! Harcourt arboretum, Oxon.

I found a few places locally which were full of Autumn colour. Burnham beeches in Bucks and Harcourt arboretum near Oxford are great spots for fungi and varying colours of turning leaves. Trouble is it poured down on both these visits!

Burnham BeechesBurnham BeechesBurnham Beeches
Burnham, Bucks.

Burnham beeches, Bucks.

At the moment my go to place is Bushy park near London. Now the deer rut is over some great shots of the deer relaxing and feeding can be had. I've been visiting less frequent areas of the park and have managed to get some great wildlife images. Most visitors tend to hang round the main lakes for the early morning misty sunrise but I head away from the crowds and the masses of runners that use the park at weekends.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Bushy park, London.
A misty morning at Bushy park in my 'quiet corner'.

During late Autumn and Winter I make regular visits to the London wetland centre which is only up the road from Bushy park. It's a good place for visiting wildfowl and the elusive Bittern. There is so much wildlife in and around our capital city. The red foxes are used to people and will walk right past you and not flinch! Also there are noisy parakeets everywhere. Some of the parks in London such as Regent's and Hyde are places I've yet to visit are full of wildlife that will eat from your hand. Herons and the parakeets are such birds which will do this! I'll get there one day.

Rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri)Rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri)Rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
London Wetland Centre.

Ring necked parakeet at London wetlands.

In mid November I went on a photography day at the School of falconry near Bedford. I had previously visited this place in Summer for an evening shoot which was great. This time I was struggling to get decent shots. The event was meant to include Autumnal backdrops which I struggled to find. I think a few other photographers felt the same but never complained (the British way!). I'll probably not bother with a return visit in the future.

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
Herrings Green Farm, Bedfordshire.

Barn owl at the School of falconry, Bedford.

A place I don't visit as often as I used to is the Slimbridge wetlands centre in Gloucestershire due to my relocation last year.

Over the last few months they have been revamping the place with funding from the National Lottery. They have replaced the tower hide overlooking the River Severn and they are in the process of building an walk-round aviary (opening Easter 2020). Such much wildfowl spends the Winter there including Bewick's swans from Russia and many ducks and geese from Greenland/Iceland. The bitterns like to Winter here and attract photographers from allover hoping to catch a glimpse of this elusive and shy bird. Last weekend one of the three birds spotted on site was showing very well. When they first arrive they are usually tired and hungry and will spend a lot of time looking for fish, frogs or voles.

Great bittern (Botaurus stellaris)Great bittern (Botaurus stellaris)Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
The not so shy Bittern at Slimbridge.

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.

Yellowhammer at RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.

Next month I'm looking forward to some chilly or misty early mornings which can add a bit of atmosphere to your photography. I'll probably make a few local visits to RSPB Otmoor which can be quite good in Winter. Can be a bit hit and miss sometimes. Many a time I've visited, walking several miles carrying all my gear (my backpack weighs around 12kgs!) and not taken a single shot. That's what it can be like in wildlife photography. Over the Christmas period I will be staying with family in my native Lancashire and hope to visit some of my old haunts. Looking forward to a rest!

I hope you have enjoyed reading my latest photographic exploits.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

Many more of my images can be viewed on my flickr page and Instagram.

Thanks

Steve

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/11/november Fri, 29 Nov 2019 18:00:00 GMT
Don't forget to turn your clocks back! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/10/dont-forget-to-turn-your-clocks-back As the end of British Summer Time draws to an end it looks like Autumn has arrived with a bang. Wet and windy in parts of the UK but the temperatures are quite mild. Ideal conditions for fungi foraging with plenty of different species popping up everywhere. More on that later. During October I've mainly concentrated on the Annual deer rut in the Royal parks of London. Great places to witness this spectacular event if you haven't already done so. Due to the power of social media etc, it has become a bit of a circus now. Next season I will probably look for new wilder venues.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Bushy Park, London.
Young stags with a bit of gentle sparring, Bushy Park.

A the start of the month I managed to visit a couple of car shows at two great venues. Bicester Heritage and Brooklands museum. They both make great backdrops to classic and modern car photography. Bicester was once a RAF base where they still fly vintage aircraft. This is also home to many classic car restoration workshops. Great for any 'Petrol heads'.

1959 Oldsmobile Coupe Dynamic 881959 Oldsmobile Coupe Dynamic 881959 Oldsmobile Coupe Dynamic 88
Sunday Scramble 6th Oct 2019
Bicester Heritage, Oxon.
Classic American Olsmobile at Bicester Heritage, Oxon.

F1 BenettonF1 BenettonF1 Benetton
Autumn Motorsport Day, Brooklands Museum, Surrey.
Benetton Formula 1 racing in the rain at Brooklands museum, Surrey

A location I used to visit quite regular when I was based in Surrey is Virginia Water Lake. It is park of Great Windsor Park where the Queen lives! It is a beautiful location with waterfalls, woodland walks and the stunning Savill gardens. This is also one of my favourite places for 'fungi foraging' if you venture off the main paths. I've spent many an hour on hands and knees photographing the many varieties that can be found there!

Common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)Common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)Common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)
Virginia Water Lake, Surrey.
Common stinkhorn.....and yes they do stink!

The CascadesThe CascadesThe Cascades
Virginia Water Lake, Surrey.
The Cascades at Virginia Water Lake, Surrey.

Parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)Parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)Parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)
Bushy park, London.
Parasol mushroom found in abundance in Richmond & Bushy parks.

Also managed a visit to my favourite 'chill-out' venue. The British wildlife centre in Surrey. The trouble with this place is I take so many photographs it can take a few days to scan through them! I take two camera set ups here. One for close up and the other for small distant shots. When I'm visiting I have a rough idea of what species or shot I would like but it never goes to plan! Some species spend most of the time sleeping so it usually pays to visit them at feeding times to guarantee a few images.

Least weasel (Mustela nivalis)Least weasel (Mustela nivalis)British wildlife centre, Surrey.

Least weasel posing for the cameras. She's very quick though!

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
'Ted' the red fox at the British wildlife centre, Surrey.
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This is my most popular image I sell on my Redbubble page. Ted the red fox keeping an eye on me!

Marsh frog (Pelophylax ridibundus)Marsh frog (Pelophylax ridibundus)Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.
Marsh frog at the British wildlife centre, Surrey.

Stag party!Stag party!Red deer stags (Cervus elaphus)
Bushy park, London.
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Majestic red deer stags taking a well earned rest after the 'rutting season'

For next month I have taken a well earned rest off from work. I will be heading to my native Lancashire to visit family then hopefully spend a few days on the East side of the country ending up somewhere near The Wash in Norfolk. I've never been there and it is a mecca for wildlife especially during the Autumn migration. I am hoping to visit Blakeney National Nature Reserve where thousands of grey seals can be seen on the beaches. A first for me. Also I have a day booked at the English School of Falconry near Bedford where I will be photographing different birds of prey with Autumnal backdrops.

That's about it for now folks. I hope you have enjoyed reading my latest photographic exploits.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

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

Steve

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) steve liptrot steve liptrot photography https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/10/dont-forget-to-turn-your-clocks-back Sat, 26 Oct 2019 17:00:00 GMT
A Soggy end to September!! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/9/a-soggy-end-to-september Considering we've had all weathers this past month I've managed to be very busy with the photography. It's not just the wildlife but quite a few motorsport events and a Victorian weekend were I managed to photograph real life people which I thoroughly enjoyed. Portraiture is not my strong point but I'm learning. The people I were photographing were the Ragged Victorians who are used to having cameras pointed at them and knew all the poses. They visit various places and re-enact the Victorian era. Great fun!

Ragged VictorianRagged VictorianRagged Victorian
'A Victorian weekend' at Didcot railway, Oxfordshire.
'Ragged Victorian' at Didcot Railway, Oxon.

I managed to visit Santa Pod Raceway on two consecutive weekends for the Euro Finals & Hot Rod drags. This is my final visit to 'The Pod' this year but looking forward to next season when I'm hoping to me on the media team enabling me to be at the trackside. Fingers crossed.

Jndia Erbacher - Top Fuel DragsterJndia Erbacher - Top Fuel DragsterJndia Erbacher - Top Fuel Dragster
FIA/FIM Euro Finals 2019
Santa Pod Raceway.
Top Fuel Dragster approaching 300mph +!! Santa Pod.

The above shot of the dragster shows what 10000 horsepower does to the car. The wings at the front and back keep the wheels down. Note the tyre distortion and bow in the chassis as the car approaches 300mph in less than 4 seconds. The flames from the exhaust is burnt nitromethane which they can use around 25 gallons a minute on full throttle!! Awesome machines.

1930 Ford Model A1930 Ford Model A1930 Ford Model A
31st Hot Rod Drags at Santa Pod, England.

1930 Ford Model A

The above car belongs to a friend of mine who I work with. He drove it to Santa Pod, raced it down the dragstrip then drove home! A stunning looking hotrod.

September was a quiet month on the wildlife front. It's a case of calm before the storm. October is when birds will arrive from the North to warmer climates such as the UK and Europe. The deer should be getting ready to 'rut' when the temperatures drop. I visited Bushy and Richmond Parks to see some of the stags practising their 'bellowing' and sparring then they led down for a nap! I'll try again Mid-October. At quite times like this zoo's and animal sanctuaries are great to visit for a wildlife fix. The British wildlife centre is one of my favourite places as you may have guessed with such a varied range of species in 'natural' surroundings. 

Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.

Red squirrels are always obliging at the British wildlife centre.

Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia)Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia)Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.

...the Scottish wildcats are not very friendly though!

On the last weekend of September I made a flying visit to my native Lancashire and visited Pennington Flash and Martin mere wetlands reserve with my father. The last time I visited Martin mere with my dad was around 1972! This was what got me interested in photography and wildlife. My dad loved his photography and I spent many an hour watching him develop his black and white films in a darkened kitchen where we used to live! 

Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis)Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis)Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis)
WWT Martin mere, Lancashire.

Flamingo from a soggy visit to Martin mere, Lancashire.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Pennington flash, Leigh, Lancashire.

Kingfisher at Pennington Flash, Lancashire.

Black tern (Chlidonias niger)Black tern (Chlidonias niger)Black tern (Chlidonias niger)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

Black tern at WWT Slimbridge. A first for me photographing this rarebird.

Sunrise in Bushy ParkSunrise in Bushy ParkSunrise in Bushy Park
Bushy Park in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames is the second largest of London's Royal Parks.
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Sunrise in Bushy Park, London.

As for October I'm still waiting for Autumn to kick in so I can do some 'Fungi foraging' and photograph some Autumn colours and landscapes, and of course the annual deer rut. A spectacle well worth witnessing. Look up on Google for any local parks etc which have herds of deer. There are a few dotted up and down the UK.

That's about it for now folks. I hope you have enjoyed reading my latest photographic exploits.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

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

Steve

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) steve liptrot steve liptrot photography https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/9/a-soggy-end-to-september Sun, 29 Sep 2019 18:37:34 GMT
Summers End https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/8/summers-end Welcome to my latest riveting account of my photographic exploits during August!

The wildlife lately has become very quiet, not much to be heard or seen. On the run up to Autumn some birds especially the Summer visitors will be feeding up and getting ready for their migration South to warmer climates. Also birds North of the UK will be starting their journey South with many wintering here in the UK. Autumn is a great time of the year for photography with misty mornings and Autumnal colours which I am looking forward to.

Sand martin (Riparia riparia)Sand martin (Riparia riparia)Sand martin (Riparia riparia)
Startop's End reservoir, Bucks.
Sand martins will be headed South soon for some Winter sun.

As the wildlife was a bit thin on the ground during August I spent sometime at the British wildlife centre, the hawk conservancy trust and a photographic evening at Herrings Farm, Bedfordshire. The photographic evening was something new for me. It gave the photographers a chance to get up close to birds of prey not normally accessible to the general public. Also photograph the birds in flight at sunset. A highly recommended way to get some great shots.

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
Herrings Green Farm, Bedfordshire.

Barn owl at Herring's Farm School of Falconry.

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Herrings Green Farm, Bedfordshire.

Up close and personal to a Bald eagle, Herring's Farm.

As many of you know I can't resist a visit to the British wildlife centre (BWC) in deepest darkest Surrey. My main purpose for this visit was to see the Water voles. A very rare animal to see in the wild and thanks to places like the BWC who run breeding programmes we could start to see them more often.

Water vole (Arvicola amphibius)Water vole (Arvicola amphibius)Water vole (Arvicola amphibius)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.

Water vole at the British wildlife centre, Surrey.

During my visit it absolutely poured down but I was cowering under a leaking umbrella and managed to get some great shots of the juvenile voles. Success! I always get some decent shots when the weather is bad. It doesn't bother the wildlife or me to be honest.

Water vole (Arvicola amphibius)Water vole (Arvicola amphibius)Water vole (Arvicola amphibius)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.
Water vole at the BWC.

At the start of the month I had my monthly motorsport fix at the 26th Mopar Nationals at Santa Pod Raceway. This event mainly focuses on Mopar cars (Plymouth, Dodge & Chrysler). Some great racing as always and the weather was on its best behaviour this time!

Voodoo HemiVoodoo HemiPro Modified Plymouth Superbird 'Voodoo Hemi'
Santa Pod Raceway 2019.
Plymouth Superbird at the Mopar Nationals, Santa Pod Raceway.

 

Bank holiday Monday saw me at the hawk conservancy trust near Andover. It has some great bird of prey displays and also a great day out. Also they sell great cake in the cafe! At times they will fly several birds at once. Its a case of where do I point my lens!

Long-eared owl (Asio otus)Long-eared owl (Asio otus)Long-eared owl (Asio otus)
Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover.
Long eared owl at the Hawk conservancy, Wiltshire.

Over the August Bank holiday weekend I made a flying visit to see family and called at Pennington Flash on the way up. Didn't manage to get stuck in Bank holiday traffic either! The usual suspects were there but I was after the kingfishers but all I saw was the 'back ends' as they flew off into the distance. Very frustrating! Never mind the grey herons were showing their balancing skills off on the fence posts!!

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
Pennington flash, Leigh, Lancashire.

Grey heron trying to balance! Pennington Flash, Leigh, Lancashire.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Warnham local nature reserve, West Sussex.

Back end of a kingfisher!

As Autumn is just around the corner there will be hopefully some new things to photograph. Now I have a macro lens I hope to shoot some fungi and try some landscape photography of misty sunrises from some high vantage points in the Chiltern hills close to where I live. At the end of September I will be making several visits to Bushy and Richmond parks near London for the annual deer rut.

That's about it for now folks. I hope you have enjoyed reading my latest photographic exploits.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

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

Steve

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) steve liptrot steve liptrot photography https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/8/summers-end Sat, 31 Aug 2019 20:12:03 GMT
Summer https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/7/summer Welcome to my latest blog for the month of July. Another busy month for photography trying out new locations. Whenever I'm out and about with the camera you get to speak to likewise individuals who recommend places they've visited so I've got an ever growing list of places to visit!

A place I normally visit in late Autumn and Winter is Bushy park on the outskirts of West London. I paid a couple of early morning visits there in July to see if anything was about. The red/fallow deer had produced young deer (fawns) which are great to see. Normally when I visit during the deer rut (Sept-Oct) is it packed with togs trying to get shots of the deer. This time I had the place virtually to myself!

Feeding time....Feeding time....Red deer.
Bushy park, London.
Red deer with suckling fawn, Bushy park.

It's not only the deer that roam the park but the birdlife is plentiful with some Summer visitors such as Common terns and the swifts,swallows & house/sand martins. There were Egyptian goslings and other wildfowl fledglings. It is definitely a place worth visiting all year round.

Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
Bushy park, London.
A lucky shot of a Common tern fishing, Bushy park.

A place I'd heard about a few times over the years is Warnham nature reserve in West Sussex. It is basically an old mill pond which has been turned into a great nature reserve....and it's only £2 per visit! I got a yearly membership which was only £12 to visit as many times as you like within the year. Bargain! Beside the mill pond there are meadows, woodland and a feeding station. A brilliant well managed reserve.

Juvenile common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Juvenile common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Juvenile common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Warnham local nature reserve, West Sussex.

Juvenile kingfisher at Warnham, West Sussex.

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)
Warnham local nature reserve, West Sussex.
Ringlet butterfly at Warnham, West Sussex.

Quite a few reserves were I live in the Oxfordshire area have nature reserves/bird hides that need a key to access. Due to the increasing amount of vandalism which I have witnessed at various places I've visited, personally I think this is a great idea. You apply and pay for the key (only around £15) and that's it. You can visit whenever you like knowing that it wont have been trashed! On such place West of Oxford is Standlake in the Lower Windrush valley. I visit quite regular now and see some great wildlife in peaceful surroundings. The same key will access other hides that are located in the valley.

Three's a crowd!Three's a crowd!Grey heron, great egret & little egret.
Standlake, Pit 60, Oxfordshire.
Grey heron, great egret & little egret at Standlake. Another lucky shot!!

I actually spotted my first badger in broad daylight (normally nocturnal) at Standlake and the wily old fox is a regular visitor.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Standlake, Pit 60, Oxfordshire.
Red fox which spotted me at Standlake, Oxfordshire.

I also visited my regular haunts of Otmoor and Farmoor but there isn't much birdlife around at the moment. Perhaps they are on holiday!

There are plenty of insects at these places which have taken a liking to my legs. I must put insect repellent on my shopping list! 

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)
Standlake, Pit 60, Oxfordshire.
Gatekeeper butterfly at RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.

I spent a day at Santa pod raceway watching/photographing the drag racing. The weather was a typical British Summer's day with rain first thing that temporarily halted racing then the sun eventually came out. It's not ideal to race using large slick tyres in the wet! Pontiac Firebird Apache Funny CarPontiac Firebird Apache Funny CarPontiac Firebird Apache Funny Car
Springspeed Nationals 4-5th May 2019.
Santa Pod Raceway, Beds.
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Nostalgia nitro funny car warming up the rear tyres at Santa pod, Bedfordshire.

One of my favourite places is the Hawk conservancy trust in Wiltshire. You can get up close and personal to various birds of prey and watch three very different flying displays. They fly several birds at once of different species which is a great spectacle. Of all the birds in the world, the birds of prey are my favourite. This coming weekend (Aug 3rd) I am visiting a School of falconry not far from were I live. The visit which will be a first for me is an after hours event when the general public have gone home. This enables shots of the birds in natural surroundings without jesses (leather straps) on their feet. I'm looking forward to this and just hope the weather plays ball!

African hawk-eagle (Aquila spilogaster)African hawk-eagle (Aquila spilogaster)African hawk-eagle (Aquila spilogaster)
Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover.
'Warrior' the African hawk eagle at the Hawk conservancy, Wiltshire.

Since moving to Oxfordshire I don't get to visit Slimbridge wetlands centre in Gloucestershire as often as I'd like. So last Sunday (28th July) I made a point of visiting. I arrived at 8AM when WWT members can access the grounds (normally 9.30AM). I managed to get some good shots of some visiting Summer migrants such as the wading birds and there were plenty of fledglings about. The trouble with this time of year is the plant-life grows so quick obscuring the wildlife. You can hear the birds twittering away but you can't see them! If you wait long enough they may show themselves!

Juvenile robin (Erithacus rubecula)Juvenile robin (Erithacus rubecula)Juvenile robin (Erithacus rubecula)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
Juvenile robin

That's about it for now folks. I hope you have enjoyed reading my latest photographic exploits. I'm still trying to get to grips with the technical aspects of macro photography which can be quite frustrating at times. Hopefully I'll have some close up photography to show you all next month.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

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

Steve


 

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) steve liptrot steve liptrot photography https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/7/summer Tue, 30 Jul 2019 19:56:54 GMT
Hectic June!! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/6/june Welcome to my written account of what I have been up to during the month of June. It has been a hectic month with quite a few miles covered and some fantastic locations visited. I've spent the first couple of weeks local and having a try at macro (close-up) photography with the insects that have eaten me alive! I've also been keeping my eye on the great-crested grebe family at Tring reservoir. I managed a visit to Santa Pod...again! Also spent a week up North visiting family and visiting some paces on my 'bucket list'. More on that later.

Macro photography is something new to me so went out with my trusty macro lens to photograph the local insects. There are quite a few meadows around Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire which are great for butterflies and other bitey creatures.

Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)
Bernwood meadow, Oxon.
Common blue butterfly

Roesel's bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)Roesel's bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)Roesel's bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)
Whitecross Green Wood, Oxfordshire.

Roesel's bush-cricket at Whitecross Green Wood, Oxfordshire

Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Tringford reservoir, Bucks.
Great-crested grebe with junior shouting to the World! Tring reservoir

The great-crested grebe family is still at one youngster and two unhatched eggs.

A place I haven't visited for a while is the Hawk conservancy trust near Andover, Wiltshire. It has some of the best Bird of prey displays I have ever seen and fly up to half a dozen birds at once from eagles, vultures, kites and my favourites the owls. Another place well worth visiting.

Hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)Hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)Hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)
Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover.
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Hooded vulture at the Hawk conservancy trust, Andover.

Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover.
Common kestrel

I know most people who read my blog prefer the wildlife photography to my love of motorsport but I'm going to sneak a car shot in! LOL!!

Outlaw AngliaOutlaw AngliaOutlaw Anglia
STP Summernationals, Santa Pod Raceway.
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Outlaw Anglia racing at Santa Pod Raceway, Bedfordshire.

Now to my recent few days spent in the North of England. The best till last!

Just off the M6 motorway in South Lancashire I visited Pennington Flash. It can get rather busy with visitors but there is a quiet corner which the wildlife thrives. When I was living in Lancashire I never visited this place for some strange reason. I wish I had.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Pennington Flash, Leigh, Lancashire.

Juvenile kingfisher preening at Pennington Flash

Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
Pennington Flash, Leigh, Lancashire.
Common bullfinches (junior watching dad in the background!), Pennington Flash

Another place to visit in May and June is Preston Marina. It was the old Preston docks which have been redeveloped and an area has been made for the migrating common terns which breed there every year. There were around a hundred birds with quite a lot of young birds on my visit. The birds are quite used to people and will land a short distance from you.

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

One of my main reasons for visiting the North was to meet up with my family. My dad loves the Yorkshire Dales so we arranged a trip there on a steam train. A brilliant day out with the family. I didn't take many pics but I took one of the engine.

The DalesmanThe DalesmanThe Dalesman
Carlisle station.

The Dalesman ready to travel the Settle-Carlisle Railway line

A place I have not visited for many years is the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs on the East Yorkshie coast. It is home to one of the UK's top wildlife spectacles. Around half a million seabirds gather here between March and October to raise a family on towering chalk cliffs which overlook the North Sea. It was a case of where do I point my lens! I spent two days there. Next year I will stay for a few more days and book a boat trip to watch the gannets diving into the sea for fish. 

Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire.
Northern gannet, Bempton Cliffs.

Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire.

Atlantic puffins, Bempton Cliffs
Northern gannets (Morus bassanus)Northern gannets (Morus bassanus)Northern gannets (Morus bassanus)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire.
Northern gannets

Northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)Northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)Northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire.

Northern fulmar, a relative of the albatross

Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire.
Kittiwake

Juvenile tree sparrow (Passer montanus)Juvenile tree sparrow (Passer montanus)Juvenile tree sparrow (Passer montanus)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire.
Juvenile tree sparrow

Bempton CliffsBempton CliffsBempton Cliffs
RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire.
Bempton Cliffs. On every rock ledge there is a seabird of some species

That's about it for now folks. I hope you have enjoyed reading my latest photographic exploits. Not sure what I'm photographing in July but I do know there are a couple of drag racing events at Santa Pod for any motorsport fans. Wildlife tends to quieten up during Summer. There is still plenty around but everything grows so quick so is usually hidden!

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

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

Steve

 

 

 



 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) steve liptrot steve liptrot photography https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/6/june Sat, 29 Jun 2019 13:59:40 GMT
Cuckoos have driven ME Cuckoo!! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/5/cuckoos-have-driven-me-cuckoo The one bird in particular I've wanted to photograph has been the Cuckoo. Often heard but not seen. I've made several visits to the RSPB reserve Otmoor in Oxfordshire. It is a mecca for visiting cuckoos that migrate from Africa to breed over in the UK and Europe. I have seen at least 3 different birds that spend all day winding photographers up with their cuckoo call then flying off as you get close to them!! The trouble with Otmoor is that it is a large reserve which the birds will explore every part of. My best sighting was a bird around a 100 feet away and we just stared at each other. I knew if I lifted my camera up it would take flight. Like most wildlife does!

Common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)Common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)Common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
My best shot of a Cuckoo to date. RSPB Otmoor.

I've never visiting the Oxfordshire reserves I visit at this time of year and every visit is part of the learning curve. A lot can be learnt just speaking to the locals who will gladly point you in the right direction. One problem with this time of year is everything is growing so fast so wildlife have a lot more cover so you get to hear lots of different stuff but rarely see it!! You need patience for this hobby!!

European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur)European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur)European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.

Turtle dove. A very rare bird which can sometimes be seen at Otmoor.

There are plenty of animals and insects at Otmoor. I've been lucky to see muntjac deer and hares there which I have seldom seen in the past. The deer are descendants from escapees from Woburn Park, Bedfordshire and have slowly increased in numbers and are slowly spreading across neighbouring counties.

Reeves's muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)Reeves's muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)Reeves's muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.
Female Muntjac deer.

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.
European Hare ar Otmoor, Oxon.

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

Another local place I visit is Tring Lakes near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. I have been watching a pair of great-crested grebes who are incubating eggs at present. Hopefully soon I can get some shots of the youngsters who sometime ride on their parents back. Swans (cygnets) sometimes do the same. 

Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Tringford reservoir, Bucks.
Great crested grebe on the nest at Tring.

During May I made my monthly visit to the British Wildlife centre in Surrey. A great place to visit and see and learn all about wildlife that can be found in Britain. From the smallest mouse to foxes, badgers and birds of prey.

Tawny owls (Strix aluco)Tawny owls (Strix aluco)Tawny owl (Strix aluco)
The British Wildlife Centre, Surrey.

Tawny owls at the British Wildlife Centre

Mute swans (Cygnus olor)Mute swans (Cygnus olor)Mute swans (Cygnus olor)
WWT Slimbridge.
Mute swans at WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

Last weekend I made a long overdue visit to the Wildfowl & wetlands centre at Slimbridge. Another place well worth a visit. It has just won the Visit England Gold Award so it can't be that bad! There is always something to see whatever the weather. I was lucky enough to see one of the kingfishers that are currently breeding at the moment and a spoonbill that got a bit too close for my lens so I had to change to a shorter one!

Eurasian spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)Eurasian spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)Eurasian spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
WWT Slimbridge.

Common spoonbill that got too close! Slimbridge

Ruff (Calidris pugnax)Ruff (Calidris pugnax)Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
WWT Slimbridge.
Ruff in breeding plumage at WWT Slimbridge.

The racing season is well under way at Santa Pod raceway. I visited two events in May with some great grass roots drag racing. Some of the competing cars are actually street legal and were driven to the track. One of these cars raced down the quarter mile reaching 160 mph!! Mad!!

56 Chevy 'Ugly'56 Chevy 'Ugly'56 Chevy 'Ugly'
Springspeed Nationals 4-5th May 2019.
Santa Pod Raceway, Beds.
Street legal Chevrolet that reached 160+mph in 8 seconds!! Santa pod

Puma V Twin Surprise AttackPuma V Twin Surprise AttackPuma V Twin Surprise Attack
Springspeed Nationals 4-5th May 2019.
Santa Pod Raceway, Beds.
Top Fuel motorcycle which can reach 200mph. Santa pod

As I am writing this I am mourning the loss of one of my camera bodies. I knocked the tripod over it was supported on which ripped the lens off the camera. It can be repaired and I am luckily insured but it all depends on the repair quote and if it is worth repairing. I did this a few years ago and the repair quote was around £1K so I wrote the camera off. :-(

That's about it for now folks. I hope you've enjoyed my latest photographic exploits. I have booked some time off work at the end of June so hopefully I can visit Bempton cliffs on Yorkshire's east coast for the seabirds.

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

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

Steve

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/5/cuckoos-have-driven-me-cuckoo Fri, 31 May 2019 19:28:54 GMT
April's Antics!! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/aprils-antics Welcome to my latest account of photographic antics from April!

You normally associate April with storms and showery weather but we've had a bit of everything from record temperatures at Easter to icy cold blast from the East and Storm Hannah which didn't really affect Oxfordshire. A couple of fallen branches and a wheelie bin on its side was all the damage I came across! I visited a couple of new locations such as Rutland water in search of Ospreys and found a location near to me for the red kites. They actually spend most of the day eating worms in a field!

Red kite looking for worms!Red kite looking for worms!Red kite (Milvus milvus)
Turville, Buckinghamshire.
Red kite 'hunting' for worms!

At the start of April I decided to visit Rutland Water nature reserve in search of Ospreys. I had never seen a wild one only captive. Arriving at the visitor centre I was informed by the very helpful staff that 21 birds had recently returned from West Africa and a pair were incubating eggs. I managed a few distant shots of six different birds. Apparently the eggs are due to hatch shortly so a return visit is on the cards. Both parents will be kept busy fishing (fish is their staple diet) for their off-spring. It's a great reserve spread over a large area with plenty of small pools and lagoons.

Western osprey (Pandion haliaetus)Western osprey (Pandion haliaetus)Western osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Rutland.

Osprey at Manton Bay, Rutland Water.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Rutland.
Cormorant drying its wings at Rutland Water.

April marks the return of lots of Summer migrants such as swallows, warblers and the elusive Cuckoo. Sometimes heard but rarely seen. I visited RSPB Otmoor to see what had turned up and as I set off from the car park a Cuckoo flew over head. Of course I missed the shot but got some shots of other visitors. All morning I could hear the cuckoo mocking me from afar knowing I'd missed the shot!

Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.

Reed warbler at RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.

Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.
Arctic tern at Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.
Hare at RSPB Otmoor. A great place for hares.

At Easter I spent a couple of days in my native Lancashire visiting RSPB Leighton Moss, RSPB Marshside & Pennington Flash. all great havens for wildlife. 

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Pennington Flash, Leigh, Lancashire.

Mr Kingfisher showing off with a fish at Pennington Flash, Lancashire.

Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
RSPB Marshside, Lancashire.
Pied avocet at RSPB Marshside, Southport.

The British wildlife centre is a place I try to visit every month. Probably the best place to see British wildlife up close in natural enclosures which make for great photographs. Well worth a visit at any time of the year.

Tawny owls (Strix aluco)Tawny owls (Strix aluco)Tawny owl (Strix aluco)
The British Wildlife Centre, Surrey.

Tawny owls at the British wildlife centre, Surrey.

'Flo''Flo'Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
The British Wildlife Centre, Surrey.
'Flo' the red fox vixen at the British wildlife centre, Surrey.

Below are a couple of photographs taken only a few miles from where I live. 

GWR 5700 Class 0-6-0PT L92 (5786)GWR 5700 Class 0-6-0PT L92 (5786)GWR 5700 Class 0-6-0PT L92 (5786)
Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway, Oxfordshire.

Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway, Oxfordshire.

Pitstone windmillPitstone windmillPitstone windmill
Ivinghoe, Bucks.
Pitstone windmill, Buckinghamshire.

That's about it for now folks. I hope you've enjoyed my latest photographic exploits. For next month I'm planning a return trip to Rutland. Hopefully a visit to Bempton cliffs on Yorkshire's east coast for the seabirds and a visit to Santa Pod Raceway for my motorsport fix!

Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

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

Steve



 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/aprils-antics Mon, 29 Apr 2019 21:06:21 GMT
Don't forget to put the clocks forward.......it's Spring at last! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/3/dont-forget-to-put-the-clocks-forward-it-s-spring-at-last Why does Winter seem to drag on more than any other season. It still hanging on in parts of the UK as we are about to enter British Summertime.

Plenty of signs of Spring out there at the moment. Lots of butterflies which I am going to spend time photographing this year following a purchase of a macro (close-up) lens. I was at Arundel wetlands centre in West Sussex last weekend and saw my first ducklings. Ducks and geese tend to start early than the rest of the birds. I still haven't seen many hares about in courtship yet. Fingers crossed.

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.
Hare at RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.

Mallard ducklingsMallard ducklingsMallard ducklings
WWT Slimbridge.
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Mallard ducklings

I managed to get a couple of short visits in at Slimbridge wetlands centre, a few visits to the local reserves at Otmoor & Farmoor in Oxfordshire and a visit to the British wildlife centre. The local red kites are very active around here at the moment. Most of them are soaring high and displaying for potential mates and seeing off unsuitable admirers! One of them spends a lot of time calling from a tree in front of my home. Especially when I've just finished a night shift!!

Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
Shrike Meadows, Farmoor, Oxon.

Great spotted woodpecker at Farmoor, Oxfordshire.

Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula)Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula)Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
Jackdaw at WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

European adder (Vipera berus)European adder (Vipera berus)European adder (Vipera berus)
The British Wildlife Centre, Surrey.

Adder at the British wildlife centre, Surrey.

In the next month or two I am looking to visit Bempton Cliifs near Scarborough. A great place for sea birds especially gannets who breed here every year. Just need to keep an eye on the weather. I friend of mine visited there last year and didn't see anything for 2 days due to thick fog. It's a long drive to take pictures of fog! Fingers crossed. 

That's about it for now folks. I hope you've enjoyed my latest photographic exploits. Please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

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

Steve

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/3/dont-forget-to-put-the-clocks-forward-it-s-spring-at-last Fri, 29 Mar 2019 21:29:18 GMT
Are we having an early Spring?? https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/are-we-having-an-early-spring I don't know about you but I'm enjoying this bout of warm weather we are having in the UK. It's hard to believe snow and ice were causing havoc at the start of February and now we are experiencing nearly 20°C temperatures! The wildlife all around us are adapting to. I've seen a few Brimstone butterflies fluttering about but there aren't a lot of flowers producing pollen for them. The birds are very vocal singing for a mate. I've seen plenty of hares in courtship displays in the Oxfordshire fields (an animal I want to photograph at this time of year). 

At the start of February I was in Bushy Park (one of my favourite places) photographing the deer in sub zero temperature. I love this time of year when it is cold and frosty. It makes for some great photographs and great sunrises.

Winter in Bushy parkWinter in Bushy parkWinter in Bushy Park
Bushy park, London.
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Sunrise in Bushy Park, London.

Fallow deer (Dama dama)Fallow deer (Dama dama)Fallow deer (Dama dama)
Bushy Park, London.
Fallow deer in Bushy park on a chilly morning.

I paid a long overdue visit to the wildlife and wetlands centre at Slimbridge. It was great to catch up with the regular photographers/birders. This is a great venue all year round for photographers with Winter being the most popular due to the large numbers of wildfowl and waders that stop off here year after year.

Bewick's swan (Cygnus bewickii)Bewick's swan (Cygnus bewickii)Bewick's swan (Cygnus bewickii)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
Bewick's swan at Slimbridge. A Winter visitor from Russia!

Winter is a good time to watch owls especially Barn owls. I've been very lucky since I moved to Oxfordshire as I've never seen so many owls. Photographing them is a bit trickier as they prefer dusk and very early morning when the light is not the best. Sometimes you can get lucky and spot one mid afternoon. 

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.

Barn owl at RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.

The two reserves in Oxfordshire I visit the most are RSPB Otmoor and Farmoor reservoirs which are great places to spot owls. Not just Barn owls but Short-eared owls frequently turn up.

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

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Shrike Meadows, Farmoor, Oxon.
Mrs Kingfisher at Shrike Meadow, Farmoor.

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.
Yellowhammer at RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.

A couple of weeks back I took a trip to deepest Surrey to the British Wildlife Centre ......via Bushy Park of course! The BWC is a great place to watch British wildlife in natural looking surroundings which also make for great photographs. On my visit the otter cubs were very playful with their parents and the foxes were doing a spot of sun-bathing.

Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra)Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra)Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra)
The British Wildlife Centre, Surrey.
European otter cub at the British Wildlife Centre, Surrey.

'Basil''Basil'Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
The British Wildlife Centre, Surrey.
'Basil' catching some rays! BWC

That's about it for now folks. I hope you've enjoyed my latest photographic exploits. I just hope this un-seasonal weather continues and please continue to upload your photographs to my Photo's Page. There are some great photographs being posted.

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

Steve

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
RSPB Otmoor, Oxfordshire.
Hare at RSPB Otmoor, Oxon.

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/are-we-having-an-early-spring Mon, 25 Feb 2019 19:52:27 GMT
Photographer's Block?? https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/1/photographers-block You may have heard of the expression Writer's block. A condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown. Is there such a thing as Photographer's Block? I think I am witnessing the same lack of creativeness in my photography at the moment. This can happen sometimes. Normally Winter is my favourite and busiest time for photography. The wildlife can be easier to see due to lack of natural cover and they will spend most of the day feeding. Lots of birds will migrate to the UK especially those from colder climates. So why the lack of creativeness? I think partly it is due to my recent relocation from South Wales to Oxfordshire and the dismal weather can be a big factor. Lately the best of the weather is mid-week when I'm busy at work. You look forward to the weekend then the clouds roll in! Never mind I'm sure this a short term lull. Either that or I may have to find a new pastime!! Lol

I've only managed to get out a couple of times to photograph wildlife and I attended a couple of car shows at the start of the year.

Farmoor reservoir which is west of Oxford can be quite productive when the wind is not blowing. Wildlife will tend to shelter if the wind picks up but there are a few sheltered spots close to the River Thames which are worth a visit.

Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Pinkhill meadows, Farmoor, Oxfordshire.
Water rail beneath the feeders at Farmoor.

The water rails which are normally very shy and elusive will show themselves due to hunger and will normally be found beneath the feeders catching any fallen seeds etc. Presently there is a small flock of Snow geese at Farmoor which is the first time I've seen these in the wild. It always pays to venture out in all conditions. You never know what will turn up.

Snow goose (Anser caerulescens)Snow goose (Anser caerulescens)Snow goose (Anser caerulescens)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxon.
Snow geese at Farmoor reservoir, Oxfordshire.

I'm waiting for a calm-ish chilly day so I can try and find the Barn owls again. They will often feed most of the time when conditions are like this so fingers crossed.

On New years day I attended a classic car meeting at Brooklands museum in Surrey. A great place to visit for both cars, motorbikes, old buses and aeroplanes. Concorde is on display here. Well worth a visit.

Ford FalconFord FalconFord Falcon
Brooklands Museum, Surrey.
Ford Falcon with part of the old banked racetrack in the background. Brooklands museum.

The following weekend was an event I had been looking forward to. It was another classic car meeting but taking place on what was RAF Bicester now known as Bicester Heritage. A fantastic place with old buildings which make great backdrops for old and new cars alike. If you get fed up with the cars you can watch the vintage aircraft flying and if your brave enough, have a flight in one!  1958 Cadillac1958 Cadillac1958 Cadillac
Bicester Heritage, Oxon.
1958 Cadillac Coupe de Ville at Bicester Heritage, Oxfordshire.

De Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth II (DE971)De Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth II (DE971)De Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth II (DE971)
Bicester Heritage, Oxon.
Tiger Moth, Bicester Heritage.

 

Whilst driving back from Bicester I called in to the village of Brill which is located on top of a small hill which has a windmill. It would have been rude not to have taken a few shots!

Brill WindmillBrill WindmillBrill Windmill
Brill, Bucks.

Brill Windmill, Bucks.

That's about it for this month and I do hope this weather picks up so I get some decent shots again. I believe snow is forecast down here next week so I might have to sneak out of work and try and photograph the abundance of red kites round here with snow on the ground!

Thanks for reading my latest instalment.

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

Steve

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/1/photographers-block Sun, 27 Jan 2019 19:51:08 GMT
Merry Christmas! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/12/merry-christmas Well here is my final blog of 2018. It has been a great year from a photography point of view. I even took the first six months of the year off from work and dedicated some time to projects I had planned. I've covered a lot of miles and taken thousands of images and wrecked a couple of lenses in the process!

McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle (LN 91-334) 494th FS 'Black Panthers'McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle (LN 91-334) 494th FS 'Black Panthers'McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle (LN 91-334) 494th FS 'Black Panthers'
The Mach Loop, Cad East.
F-15 Pilots checking out the photographers in the Mach loop

I paid around 10 visits to the low flying area in North Wales known as the 'Mach loop'. A 250 mile round trip on each occasion but it is always worth it. I only had one 'blank' day which was my own stupid fault for driving up in misty conditions! The day wasn't wasted as I visited the red kite feeding centre at Bwlch nant yr Arian. It always pays to have a back up plan!! A lot of time was spent at the wildfowl & wetlands centre at Slimbridge. One of my favourite reserves. This year was very special as the Common cranes successfully reared 3 youngsters which are still visiting the reserve from time to time.

Common crane (Grus grus)Common crane (Grus grus)Common crane (Grus grus)
Common cranes from the Rushy hide, WWT Slimbridge.
 A great year for the Common cranes at WWT Slimbridge

This year I tried my hand at photographing people. Yes real live people. This is totally out of my 'comfort zone' but I enjoyed the challenge. I liked attending the re-enactment events that take place up and down the country and are becoming increasingly popular with photographers.

HeadmasterHeadmasterHeadmaster
Severn Valley Railway 1940's Weekend 25th June 2016.

Had a great year photographing PEOPLE!

As for 2019 I would like to visit parts of Scotland particularly the West coast and maybe the Cairngorms or Shetland. I have never seen a wild eagle and this is the place to go to see them and other wildlife. I am still researching suitable locations so if any of you know of any places I should try it would be much appreciated.

White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
The British bird of prey centre, Carmarthen.
Captive white-tailed sea eagle. A bird I hope to see wild if I visit Bonnie Scotland in 2019!

Well that's all for now folks.

I hope you all have a great Christmas and All the Best for 2019. I hope you all get cameras off Santa then you can show off your work on my Photos page. Thanks for your support over the last year. It always makes it worthwhile when people appreciate and give brilliant feedback on your photography.

Thanks again

Steve

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/12/merry-christmas Thu, 20 Dec 2018 19:00:32 GMT
November https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/11/november Welcome to my latest account of my photographic exploits.....or lack of! November has been a quiet month for me. What with the shorter days and working six days a week, I've stayed quite local to where I am based in Oxfordshire. My favourite haunts of Bushy/Richmond park and the WWT London wetland centre are about an hour away and there is always plenty to see there. Even when the deer have finishing with the rutting season there is still plenty of other wildlife to see and photograph. You wouldn't associate London with wildlife but you'd be surprised. Just visit any green space or public parkland.

The Wildfowl & wetland centre at Barnes West London is a brilliant place especially in winter. Lots of waterbirds migrate here from colder countries especially the secretive Bittern. This is a well camouflaged bird who hides in the reed beds but will occasionally show themselves.

Great bittern (Botaurus stellaris)Great bittern (Botaurus stellaris)Great bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
WWT London Wetlands.

The secretive Bittern hiding in the reed beds at the WWT London wetland centre

Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) & Pike (Esox lucius)Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) & Pike (Esox lucius)Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
London Wetland Centre.
A cormorant with a Pike for breakfast at the WWT London wetland centre

Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius)Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius)Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius)
London Wetland Centre.
European Jay trying to remember where the acorns are he previously buried!!

In Oxfordshire there are plenty of Red kites soaring above the towns and villages but I wanted a shot of them where they were initially released in the Chiltern hills near Stokenchurch. In 1989 five birds were released and now there are reckoned to be a 1000 pairs! If you ever drive along the M40 you are sure to see several of these majestic birds of prey.

Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)
Chinnor, Oxon.

Red kite in the Chiltern hills, Chinnor.

Last weekend I did a one-to-one photographic half day tutorial for a client who wanted to get some decent wildlife shots. I do most of my tutorials at WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire which is a great place to get close to wildlife. The only problem with our visit was the good old British weather! Conditions were overcast and almost very dark at times. Fingers crossed we checked out the many hides at Slimbridge and found a very obliging Water rail. Normally a shy bird but hunger will bring them out of hiding and search for food. One of the hides has bird feeders which the water rails will catch any fallen food. My client had never seen one of these so we managed a few OK shots. The water rail saved the day! There were plenty of ducks, geese & swans about but conditions were horrendous. I not only teach my clients how to take better photographs but teach them what signs to look for when photographing wildlife and how best to take interesting shots. I find wildlife that is doing something (as opposed to sitting on a perch) will always make a much better photograph. I can also advise on photo editing techniques I use to get the best out of your digital file. Personally I do very little editing as I tend to get as much correct in camera as possible but with wildlife photography it is not always possible. I also find it very rewarding passing on my knowledge to clients who want to learn how to approach and photograph wildlife.

Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)Water rail (Rallus aquaticus)
WWT Slimbridge.

The shy water rail under the feeders at WWT Slimbridge

 

Thanks for reading my latest instalment.

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

Steve

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/11/november Wed, 28 Nov 2018 19:34:24 GMT
Winter's on its way https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/10/winters-on-its-way The temperatures have certainly plummeted these last couple of weeks but that's not an excuse to put the camera gear into hibernation. Winter is my favourite time for photography. I tend to get my best wildlife shots when the weather takes a turn for the worse. The wildlife don't mind and just get on with their daily business. There are also less leaves and cover for the birds and animals to hide unlike Summer when you can here them in the undergrowth but not see them!

During October I've visited new locations such as Tring reservoirs in Hertfordshire, the National finals at Santa Pod and a short trip to my native North of England.

At Santa pod it can be difficult to get the low angle shots of the cars and bikes I've been after but I found a spot which had me using the 500mm lens. At these minor events it's not as busy so ended up getting some great shots.

Erik Jennes - Suzuki HayabusaErik Jennes - Suzuki HayabusaErik Jennes - Suzuki Hayabusa
National Finals 2018, Santa Pod Raceway.
Woops!

The Dutch rider of the motorbike whose chain snapped above actually contacted me through my Facebook page and ordered a couple of prints. Which was nice.

Mike Lacey - 67 CamaroMike Lacey - 67 CamaroMike Lacey - 67 Camaro
National Finals 2018, Santa Pod Raceway.
Wheelstand! Santa Pod Raceway

These cars develop so much horsepower some of them actually pull a wheelie! Great to watch....must be terrifying for the drivers!!

After scouring the web for local wildlife locations I came across Tring reservoirs in Hertfordshire. They are a group of four reservoirs so I took a trip there one afternoon. Within 5 minutes of leaving the car a flash of blue lightning shot past. A kingfisher, could this be a good omen? I saw it again but I couldn't spot where it was landing. They don't tend to fly long distances. There was quite a few dog walkers etc so I headed to the other quieter reservoir of Tringford. From the viewing hide there was a Great egret with smaller little egrets, herons, swans, ducks and a little grebe. This made up for the lack of kingfisher shots!

Little egret (Egretta garzetta) & great egret (Ardea alba)Little egret (Egretta garzetta) & great egret (Ardea alba)Little egret (Egretta garzetta) & great egret (Ardea alba)
Tringford reservoir, Bucks.

Great egret and little egret at Tringford res.

Little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollisLittle grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollisLittle grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis
Farmoor reservoir, Oxon.
Little grebe

I'd been reading the local bird sightings for Oxfordshire and there were reports of a Barn owl feeding at Farmoor. In all my years of photography I had never photographed a wild barn owl so off I headed there and walked over the reservoir causeway to where it hunts close to the River Thames. Within five minutes the unmistakable sight of the owl was spotted hunting for voles over the fields. Talk about right place at the right time. I took plenty of shots to make sure there I got some 'keepers'. Normally when I have a target species such as this owl I tend to see more of them. I hope so. Oxfordshire is a a very rural part of the UK with ideal territory for owls.

Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
River Thames, Farmoor, Oxon.
Barn owl hunting at Farmoor, Oxon.

Mid October I had a trip to the North of England to visit family which was spent in the Lake District. This part of the world is stunning in the Autumn and managed a few landscape shots. A subject I don't tend to do as much.

Moody skies over BorrowdaleMoody skies over BorrowdaleMoody skies over Borrowdale
Borrowdale is a valley and civil parish in the English Lake District in the Borough of Allerdale in Cumbria, England.
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Moody skies over Borrowdale, Cumbria.

Whilst up North I visited the RSPB reserve Leighton moss. One of my favourite reserves. I arrived in the dark and made my way to the hides hoping to spot the red deers. Whilst walking there you walk through a large reedbed. I could here the stags calling, owls hooting and wildlife stirring in the reeds. Kind of spooky but a great experience to witness. As I entered the hide a barn owl flew towards the building and sat on the window sill! It was still dark so we just sat and stared at each other for a few seconds. Magical! Told you I would see more barn owls!!!

Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)
RSPB Leighton moss, Lancashire.
Bearded reedling at RSPB Leighton moss, Lancashire.

Towards the end of this month (October) I called in at Bushy park, London. The red deer were all chilling out recovering after several weeks of the deer rut but the Fallow deer were still active. It's not just the deer you can spot in Bushy. There is an abundance of bird life such as ducks, Egyptian geese, swans, parakeets, woodpeckers etc. The herons here are used to people and you can get some great close ups of these birds. 

Rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri)Rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri)Rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
Bushy park, London.
Rose ringed parakeet in Bushy park.

Stag party!Stag party!Red deer stags (Cervus elaphus)
Bushy park, London.
BUY from Redbubble
Red deer stags chilling out, Bushy park.

Another location I visited in Oxfordshire is RSPB Otmoor. I didn't have much luck on my last visit so decided to try again. It's quite a hike from the car park carrying a lens/camera combination of around 12lbs and backpack. I thinks it's a 3 mile round trip. Certainly felt like more!!

There are two viewing screens over the lakes here so I headed for those. On the way I saw kestrels hovering for small mammals and a few hares.

Once at the screen there were a few other photographers there. Do they know something I don't know?? Ten minutes later a Great bittern flew in front of the reedbed. A great start. Then 15 minutes later I spotted another feeding in the reeds. These are normally shy and elusive birds, but not today!

As the sun began to set I stayed to witness the starling murmuration. There were thousands of these birds diving into the reeds and taking off again. This sort of behaviour usually alarms the birds of prey who will join in for an easy meal.

Great bittern (Botaurus stellaris)Great bittern (Botaurus stellaris)Great bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
Forest farm, Cardiff.

Great bittern.

 

Thanks for reading my latest instalment.

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

Steve


 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/10/winters-on-its-way Tue, 30 Oct 2018 20:32:01 GMT
Out and about in Oxfordshire https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/9/out-and-about-in-oxfordshire I've now spent two months down in Oxfordshire due to work commitments and have managed to spend a few days exploring new locations mainly for my love of wildlife photography. Farmoor reservoirs are on the west of Oxford and are a magnet for wildlife. Also the River Thames is close by which is also used to top up the reservoirs if they get too low. It's a great place for Great crested grebes, cormorants, various wagtails, ducks, coots and a few waders which stop over to recover during their migration.

Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxon.
Juvenile ringed plover at Farmoor reservoir.

Other sightings here are barn owls, hobby and red kites. 

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Pinkhill lock, River Thames, Oxon.

Male kingfisher regurgitating a pellet, Pinkhill lock, River Thames, Oxon.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Farmoor reservoir, Oxon.
Cormorant at Farmoor reservoir.

I'm still on the look out for new locations in the Oxfordshire area if any of you know of any!

Not far from were I  stay is Santa Pod Raceway, the home of European drag racing. I've been visiting 'The Pod' for over 30 years now and the cars are getting faster and faster. The beauty of drag racing is you see all the race which covers only a 1/4 of a mile. But in that distance the top cars can reach speeds of over 300mph in under 4 seconds!! I managed two visits during September, the Euro finals and the Hot rod drags. Both great events. If you've never witnessed drag racing this is the place to go. 

Top Fuel DragsterTop Fuel DragsterTop Fuel Dragster
FIA European Finals 2018, Santa Pod Raceway.
Top fuel dragster Euro finals winner 2018. Anita Mäkelä on her way to 310mph in 3.87 seconds!

s Slingshot dragster burnoutSlingshot dragster burnoutSlingshot dragster burnout
30th NSRA Hot Rod Drags at Santa Pod Raceway.
Sling-shot dragster burn out at the Hot rod drags, Santa pod.

 In mid September I managed a long overdue visit to WWT Slimbridge. It had been 2 months since my last visit. Even the wardens wanted to know were I'd been! It was a dull and showery day but this doesn't affect the wildlife. On my visit a family of common spoonbills called in for a couple of days. Usually when birds are on migration and the weather takes a turn for the worst birds will shelter here and recover and feed up. 

Common spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia)Common spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia)Common spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia)
WWT Slimbridge.
Common spoonbill family. Two adults and three juveniles at Slimbridge.

I haven't managed to photograph the deer rut yet but I am planning a visit during the first half of October. Autumn is an excellent time to get out with a camera. You don't need a pro spec camera set up. You can get great shots with most new smart phones.

Autumn coloursAutumn coloursAutumn colours
St. Fagans, Cardiff.
Autumn leaves photographed using a mobile phone.

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)
Virginia Water, Surrey.

Fly agaric (poisonous!!)

Also watch out for fungi but DON'T eat these. Please upload your autumnal shots to my photography page, there are been some great shots recently so keep up the good work.

Thanks for reading my latest instalment.

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

Steve

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/9/out-and-about-in-oxfordshire Sat, 29 Sep 2018 19:15:09 GMT
Back to the grindstone!! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/8/back-to-the-grindstone Welcome to my monthly account of my photographic adventures. The month of August has quietened down a bit as I am now spending more of my time in Oxfordshire with work commitments. I work in the aviation sector making new and repairing aircraft components. It takes me all over the UK and Europe so I get to explore new areas with my cameras. 

Pitstone windmillPitstone windmillPitstone windmill
Ivinghoe, Bucks.
Pitstone windmill, Buckinghamshire.

I managed to fit in one more trip to the Mach loop in Mid-Wales to photograph the low flying jets. I probably wont visit there till next year so I was treated to some great passes mainly from aircraft based at the USAF (US Air Force) bases.

F-16 Fighting Falcon AF 89018F-16 Fighting Falcon AF 89018F-16 Fighting Falcon AF 89018
Cad West, The Mach Loop.
F16 Fighting Falcon flying through the Cads in the Mach loop, Mid-Wales.

I paid a visit to Spetchley house in Worcestershire where there was a re-enactment event. People were dressed up in period costume from the Roman Empire up to the 2nd World War. It was a great event which was is held every year in August when the weather is supposed to be better! It wasn't bad on the Saturday but it lashed down on the Sunday!

Ragged VictoriansRagged VictoriansRagged Victorians
'M5 Living history show', Spetchley Park, Worcester.

The Ragged Victorians at Spetchley house, Worcestershire.

Being based in Oxfordshire means I'm closer to one of my favourite haunts which is the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey. I haven't visited here since January 2017 so a visit was long overdue. It was great to see the keepers and some new additions to the centre. The animals enclosures are set out as natural as possible which makes for some great photography. 

Fallow deer (Dama dama)Fallow deer (Dama dama)Fallow deer (Dama dama)
The British Wildlife Centre, Surrey.
Fallow deer with an itch! British wildlife centre, Surrey.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
British wildlife centre, Surrey.
Flo the red fox not impressed with the British Summer!

Not too far from where I am based is Whipsnade zoo. Zoos are great places to practice your animal photography. The beauty about Whipsnade is that their enclosures are very large which gives them plenty of space to roam. A challenge with some zoos is you spend a lot of time waiting for the animal to move away from fences etc so you can get that almost 'natural' shot.

White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)
ZSL Whipsnade zoo.
White rhinos with not a fence or cage in site. Could almost be in Africa!  Whipsnade zoo.

Next month (September) I hope to visit Santa Pod Raceway which is the home of British drag racing. Drag racing is motor racing in a straight line over a 1/4 of a mile to determine the quickest in each class of vehicle. The fastest cars which are the Top fuel dragsters cover the quarter mile in 3.9 seconds at speeds of over 300 mph!! Amazing to watch. I just hope the weather will be kind!

Drag racingDrag racingDrag racing
Santa pod raceway, Bedfordshire.
Drag racing at Santa Pod, Bedfordshire.

Usually from mid-September till the end of October sees the start of the deer rut. This is were the deer stags are in their mating season with plenty of action from the stags who defend their harem of females. I've never actually witnessed a full on battle between two stags. Hopefully this year. I will be watching them in the London parks of Bushy and Richmond. A couple of new venues I may visit is Woburn Abbey which has a good head of different deer species and Stonnor Park not far from Oxford which has a wild herd of Fallow deer.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Photographed during the 2015 deer rut in Bushy park, London.
BUY from Redbubble
Red deer stag in Bushy park, London.

OK folks that is all for this month. Sorry it has been a bit shorter than usual due to work getting in the way but that's life and I have bills to pay! Lol!!

Thanks for reading my latest instalment.

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

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/8/back-to-the-grindstone Fri, 31 Aug 2018 20:08:54 GMT
July blogtime... https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/7/july-blogtime As this scorcher of a Summer rolls on, sometimes unbearably hot I've been photographing less and less wildlife. It's even too hot for them and they tend to be more active at the start and end of the day. The insects and butterflies are in their element.

Green-veined white (Pieris napi)Green-veined white (Pieris napi)Green-veined white (Pieris napi)
Goytre Wharf, Monmouthshire.

A green-veined white butterfly

At my usual haunt of WWT Slimbridge there have been a few young cuckoos spotted round the reserve. Not easy to photograph as they hide among the tree tops calling for food.

Juvenile common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)Juvenile common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)Juvenile common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
WWT Slimbridge.

Juvenile cuckoo being fed by a reed warbler

This species is a widespread summer migrant to Europe and Asia, and winters in Africa. It is a brood parasite, which means it lays eggs in the nests of other bird species, particularly of dunnocks, meadow pipits, and reed warblers. Although its eggs are larger than those of its hosts, the eggs in each type of host nest resemble the host's eggs. The adult too is a mimic, in its case of the sparrowhawk; since that species is a predator, the mimicry gives the female time to lay her eggs without being seen to do so. Also on the South lake at Slimbridge the juvenile common cranes are growing rapidly and are nearly as tall as their parents. Young kingfishers have been seen darting round the site establishing their own territories. 

Juvenile common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Juvenile common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Juvenile common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
WWT Slimbridge.
Juvenile common kingfisher

A favourite place of mine to visit is the Black Country Living Museum near Birmingham. It's based around the canal network as it was over 100 years ago with plenty to photograph. There are many re-enactment events going on during the year and the site was the location for the TV series Peaky Blinders.

The Canal WharfThe Canal WharfThe Canal Wharf
Black Country Living Museum, Dudley.
The Canal Wharf at the Black Country Living Museum

During July I managed to photograph lots of various aircraft at The Royal International Air Tattoo and several visits to the Mach loop in Mid-Wales.

Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc - LF363Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc - LF363Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc - LF363
The Royal International Air Tattoo 2018.
Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc - LF363 at RIAT 2018.

McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet (RCAF)McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet (RCAF)McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet (RCAF)
The Royal International Air Tattoo 2018.
 McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet (RCAF) at RIAT 2018

McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle (86-166) 493rd  FS 'The Grim Reapers'McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle (86-166) 493rd FS 'The Grim Reapers'McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle (86-166) 493rd FS 'The Grim Reapers'
The Mach Loop, Cad East.
BUY from Redbubble
McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle (86-166) 493rd  FS 'The Grim Reapers' in the Mach loop, Mid-Wales.

I paid a visit to my native Lancashire to visit family and check out some of my old haunts. The Common terns were still bringing up their young and will be heading back to the Southern hemisphere to their wintering grounds such as South Africa or South America.

Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
Preston marina, Lancashire.
Common tern with a fish breakfast at Preston Marina, Lancashire.

A new place I visited was Bwlch Nant Yr Arian near Aberystwyth. It is a visitor centre with paths and mountain bike trails. My reason for visiting is it is also a red kite feeding station. They feed the kites on the edge of a small lake and its a great place to photograph the kites swooping down for food from the lake. Around 150 birds can be seen here and even more in the Winter months. Also the cafe sells cake!

 

Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)Red kite (Milvus milvus)
Bwlch Nant Yr Arian, Mid-Wales.
Swooping red kite at Bwlch Nant Yr Arian

This month I actually photographed some more people. Not something I normally do but I'm enjoying the challenge. In Blaenavon there was a Steampunk event on over a weekend at the Ironworks museum. A great setting for this event. I don't really understand what Steampunk is but the characters they dress up make a great photography subject.

The South Wales Steampunk Extraordinarium! 2018The South Wales Steampunk Extraordinarium! 2018The South Wales Steampunk Extraordinarium! 2018
Blaenavon Ironworks 14-15th July 2018.

Steampunk at the Blaenavon Ironworks, South Wales.

Play-timePlay-timePlay-time
Black Country Living Museum, Dudley.

Playtime at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley.

 

As July ends and some much needed rain is cooling the country down, that is the end of another thrilling account of my photographic exploits.

Thanks for reading my latest instalment.

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

Steve

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/7/july-blogtime Sat, 28 Jul 2018 19:53:37 GMT
Glorious June... https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/6/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 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)Banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)
Forest farm nature reserve, Whitchurch.
Banded demoiselle at Forest farm.

Four-spotted chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)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)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)Barn owl (Tyto alba)
The ICBP, Newent.
BUY from Redbubble
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 ExpressThe Welsh Marches Express
SR Rebuilt Light Pacific 4-6-2 no 34046 (as 34052 Lord Dowding) heading south towards Pontrilas 16th June 2018.
BUY from Redbubble
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 ZA614/076RAF Panavia Tornado GR4 ZA614/076
Cad 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)Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules C4 (ZH872)
Cad West, The Mach Loop.
BUY from Redbubble
Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules (Royal Air Force)

Bell MV-22B Osprey 0065Bell MV-22B Osprey 0065Bell MV-22B Osprey 0065
Cad 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 ForceBae Systems Hawk-T.2 (ZK020)— Royal Air Force
Cad West, The Mach Loop.
Bae System Hawk T2 (Royal Air Force)

McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle of the 493rd Fighter Squadron The Grim Reapers (USAF)

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

 

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/6/glorious-june Fri, 29 Jun 2018 19:16:08 GMT
What! Another blog... https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/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)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)Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
RSPB Leighton moss, Lancashire.
Marsh harrier (male) at Leighton moss.

Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)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)Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
RSPB Leighton moss, Lancashire.
Grey heron fish flipping! Leighton moss.

Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)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)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)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)Little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
RSPB Burton mere.

Little grebe at Burton mere.

Common whitethroat (Sylvia communis)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)Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)
Skomer Island.
BUY from Redbubble
Atlantic puffin, Skomer Island.

Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus)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)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

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/what-another-blog Sun, 13 May 2018 11:47:06 GMT
Where is Spring? https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/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)Little tern (Sternula albifrons)
WWT Slimbridge.

Little tern 17th April 2018

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

Glossy ibis 26th April 2018

Common sandpiper 13th April 2018

Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)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)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?''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)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)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)Fallow deer (Dama dama)
RSPB Nagshead, Parkend.

Fallow deer from the Campbell hide, RSPB Nagshead.

Common treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)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)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)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)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)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)European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)
Male pied flycatcher at Gilfach farm, Rhayader.

Male pied flycatcher at Gilfach farm.

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)Brown 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

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/where-is-spring Sun, 29 Apr 2018 12:48:52 GMT
How much weather can we have in just a few weeks? https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/how-much-weather-can-we-have-in-one-month 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 (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 CountryRed Kite Country
The 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)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)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)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)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)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)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)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)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)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 (Podiceps cristatus)
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

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/how-much-weather-can-we-have-in-one-month Sat, 17 Mar 2018 11:52:26 GMT
My Typical Day at WWT Slimbridge https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/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 hideFirst light from the Rushy hide
WWT Slimbridge
First light from the Rushy hide

Bewick's swan (Cygnus bewickii)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)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)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)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)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 snipeA walk of snipe
Apparently 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)Pied oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.
Oystercatcher from the Discovery hide.
 
Green sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)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

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/my-typical-day-at-wwt-slimbridge Sun, 04 Feb 2018 20:39:54 GMT
January so far.... https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/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)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)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! Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Forest farm near Cardiff.
'One shot' kingfisher taken at Forest farm.

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
Caban coch dam, Elan Valley.
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Caban Coch Dam, Elan Valley.

Thanks for reading my latest installment.

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

Steve

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/january-so-far Fri, 12 Jan 2018 22:15:22 GMT
My first blog!! https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/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)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)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)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)Great egret (Ardea alba)
RSPB Hamwall, 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

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 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)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

 

 

 

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(Steve Liptrot Photography) https://steveliptrot.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/my-first-blog Sun, 17 Dec 2017 21:12:01 GMT