Thursday, 21 June 2012


Made my annual pilgrimage to Bempton a couple of days ago, when the sun was actually shining (on and off). I thought breeding might be delayed because of the bad weather, but many of the auk chicks had already baled out of the nest, so there weren't too many adults flying about, which, in combination of my ever deteriorating reflexes, meant no successful flight shots. I usually go in the afternoon so the sun is behind me, which is good for flight, but no good for the cliffs themselves. Hazy sun in the morning is best for birds on the cliffs, but contrast can still be a problem. It's a good place to practise flight photography, though.

Some chicks were still in the nest on the one bit of the cliff that remains sunny in the early afternoon.

Here are a couple of flight shots from last year. It's interesting to note that several Guillemots (Uria aalge) have holes in the webs of their feet - some with signs of fresh blood. I wonder if pecking your neighbour's feet is a means of keeping a respectable distance apart on the ledge.

When I first visited Bempton as a teenager, there were 6 pairs of Gannets. Now look at 'em..............!

Saturday, 16 June 2012


Weather still very variable, so an opportunity to do a bit of file sorting and cataloguing. I came across an image of Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) taken at Gruissan in the south of France (the French call it Gravelot a collier interrompu - typical!). It shows a nice reflection in the clear, clean, still water. Positioning the junction of legs and water somewhere near the middle of the picture balances the reflection and bird nicely creating a more or less symmetrical arrangement. You do need good light and still water for this type of reflection. The other type of reflection involves light from other objects reflecting colours off the water and occurs typically in harbours and marinas where coloured walls and boats are behind the bird. They can have some quite striking effects, and shouldn't be ignored. The water doesn't need to be flat calm for this effect, with ripples causing some interesting effects.

Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus): Gruissan, France. If only the North Sea was this blue!

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo): Scarborough Harbour. The brown reflection compliments the brown centres of the feathers.

Coot (Fulica atra): Scarborough Harbour. The yellow reflection brightens up the otherwise rather uninteresting bird.

Coot (Fulica atra): Scarborough Harbour. Or you can use the reflection from the blue sky (if there is one!).

All images taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mk111 and 500mm F4 lens.


The weather has been atrocious lately, and as it's breeding season, birds are struggling, so I generally leave them alone to get on with it without being "harassed" by a big lens. It's time to earn some "Brownie Points" on jobs such as re-tiling the front porch, painting the garden furniture and pressure-washing the patio. But there are some things you just can't ignore, like the stunning European Roller (Coracias garrulus) that turned up recently just south of Cowden (only a stones throw away from the famed Blue-cheeked Bee-eater {Merops supercilliosus} site). As I was invited to survey the local bombing range (no public access!), it was too good an opportunity to miss. The bird was distant, feeding on a bare field, but eventually settled on a post about 100 yards away. I got some half decent photos. I guess others a little more persistent would have done better - but I'm not a "twitch photographer". The bird was buzzed by a Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis).