Sunday, 23 August 2015

From The Vault: ....Within The Hawthorn

Yes ladies & gents, another Little Owl photograph.
I couldn't resist a dip back into the Nature North East vaults to retrieve another Athene Noctua photograph, of which I have numerous I assure you.
This particular individual, who lurked within a Hawthorn tree, was actually the first Little Owl I photographed with my SLR. Previously any attempt was made using a telescope and my iPhone, which was adequate but now has been deemed obsolete.
This shot was also taken during the winter, which is one of the best times of year for shooting certain Owls and during the winter months a few hot pockets open up in the North East. This is due mostly to large roosts of Asio Owls we get here in the North East, Asio referring to the genus of two of our Owl species. These being both Short-Eared and Long-Eared Owls; Asio Flammeus and Asio Otus respectively.
These roosts are one of the many reasons I eagerly await the return of Jack Frost and his Winter cronies; don't get me wrong I have spent a lot of time with all of our Owl species this year so far, the highlight being a distant Eagle Owl in Lancashire - that was an amazing experience I had waited two months for, as brief as it was - but these large roosts are a sight indeed.

Nature North East

Friday, 21 August 2015

Hollywell Dene Waterfall

After an early finish from work yesterday I headed to the coastal woodland of Hollywell Dene to take some long exposure shots of the mini waterfall situated half way along the woodland trail.
Unfortunately as I was exiting the dene, whilst attempting to photograph a Shield Bug, my SLR came up with 'Shutter release ERROR!' and as I took the lens off the mirror fell off!
There are however, two upsides. Firstly its still under warranty so fingers crossed I can get it fixed painlessly, and secondly I have a brand new Nikon SLR arriving on Monday which luckily I ordered on Tuesday. I'd been wanting to upgrade for a while.
Was this fate? Who knows, either way its great timing and I can't wait to get to grips with my new camera body.

North North East

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Winters Gibbet - Monument To Murder

Ominous, lonely, bleak, eerie, historic and somewhat atmospheric; Winter's Gibbet is situated near the small village of Elsdon, along the edge of Harwood Forest and is a reminder of a murderously dark deed dating back to the 17th Century.
This afternoon I took a drive up to Winter's Gibbet for a spot of photography, the weather was overcast and not brilliant but if anything it adds to the murderous vibe of the site and I attempted to grab some shots that encapsulated the remoteness of the location.
Unfortunately the Gibbet has been completely replaced, so its not original but it does still serve as a reminder of what once was.
I'm looking forward to getting back up here one evening and trying some dusk and even astrophotography, I only hope the ghost of William Winter doesn't decide to keep me company.

Nature North East

Sericomyia Silentis; One of many insect species amongst the moorland vegetation.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Dusk Photography At Seaton Sluice

As has been apparent in my previous blog post, I've been frequenting St Mary's at dusk to try and work on some coastal landscape photography; on Thursday night I turned my attention North towards Seaton Sluice and Rocky Island.
The weather was fantastic, however a few more clouds in the sky would have really increased the drama I wanted in the shots. Overall I couldn't find the shots I was after, I attempted to salvage what scenes I could and was relatively happy with what I achieved.
I have ordered a few ND filters to help with the brightness of the sun so until they arrive I have to make do with what I can.
I'm really enjoying my foray into coastal landscape photography; it really makes a change from wildlife photography, which I still do but have put on the back burner for now as I try to hone my camera craft towards landscape scenes in the North East as oppose to amateur wildlife shots.
- David
Nature North East

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Sundown At St Marys

It may be one of the most overly photographed and cliched sights of the North East, along with Sycamore Gap, Holy Island & Bamburgh Castle but St Marys Lighthouse is a true icon of the glorious north.
I can't resist driving five minutes from home to the iconic lighthouse on an evening and taking a few shots. I'm really trying to improve my knowledge and practical experience with landscape photography at the moment and while I still have a tremendous amount to learn I'm finding this a stunning location to do so.
Oh and the local wildlife is always a bonus.
Nature North East

Monday, 3 August 2015

A Shortie & A Sunset

Short-Eared Owl; F5.3, Shutter Speed: 1/2,  280mm, EXP: +2.3
I decided to end a night of job interview prep with a chilled hour of photography on the coast. A beautiful evening with stunning light and a surprise encounter with a Short-Eared Owl; absolute magic!

Nature North East

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Brilliant Brampton Breeding Bucket List Bee-Eaters

On Friday morning I read the fantastic and surprising news that two pairs of Bee-Eater had bred in Cumbria, with a total of six birds present in and around Low Gelt Quarry, just off the A69 and not far from Brampton.
I remember having a conversation about twitching with a colleague in the RSPB and I said that I wouldn't consider myself a big twitcher, its just something I don't really do. That being said I told him a few species I would twitch; species such as the Roller, Hoopoe and Bee-Eater. 
So when I got wind of Bee-Eaters in my neighbouring county and the fact they were breeding, I had to do it! They are after all a bucket list bird for me they're beauties!
Managed to get my Bee-Eater hungry face in the local paper; hint: Look for the beanie! ;)

Upon my arrival the twitch remained quiet for a good while, the weather was a bit chilly and overcast. Not what I expected, to be honest I expected the six birds to be very active upon arrival, this wasn't the case and it was a good hour and twenty minutes before I got my first glimpse.
Very distant Bee-Eater; shot on a 300mm lens. The result was clearly less than adequate.
It was a disappointingly distant lone Bee-Eater, it showed briefly perching on a fence post and flying above the nesting Sand Martins on the far side of the quarry. 
Another long wait ensued and with more and more twitchers arriving it was beginning to look a tad grim, then suddenly another lone Bee-Eater; probably the same one, appeared again in the same area, perching on the fence posts and dropping into the nest burrow a couple of times.
Only one of the six birds was showing whilst I was there and the individual never came closer than a few hundred metres, a bit of an anti climax but I suppose thats twitching and with this being an organised twitch by the RSPB  for breeding birds the viewpoint was always going to be very distant.

That aside it was such a buzz to finally see my first Bee-Eater, however distant, and brilliant to have two pairs breeding up here in Northern England! 
Hopefully a sign of more to come! Bee-Eaters would inject a nice oomph of colour into British bird life along with the Kingfisher and a few others.
I may make another trip across in the coming weeks on a warm afternoon and try my luck again; its to good of a bird to refuse after all!

Nature North East

Digi-scoped Bee-Eater, using my iPhone and another birders scope.

Twilight At Thrunton Woods

Thrunton Woods at twilight.
Is there any better place to be than up in the dark heart of Northumberland, as the sun sets and the veil of darkness closes in.

Nature North East