Monday, 31 December 2012

2012: a year in review

It's the end of another year, and so this is my review of 2012. 

This year has certainly been my most successful year photographically. It was year of the Bittern for me, as I spent a huge amount of time trying to photograph them, and as a result I was rewarded with a large number of images of them. In this blog post I'm going to go through it, month by month.


January was a fairly unproductive month for me, other than a trip to WWT Martin Mere early in the month. Luckily I had good weather, and was able to get some shots I was pleased with.

The latter image won one of the rounds in the WWT photo competition, which I was very pleased about!

I also visited WWT London a few times, mainly in the hope of photographing one of the Bitterns that had taken up residence in the reedbed there for the winter. In this I wasn't successful, but still captured some shots of some of the other wildlife that frequents the centre.
 This image was highly commended in the British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA).


February was when we had a lot of cold weather in the UK, and large parts of WWT London were frozen over. This led to two of my most memorable Bittern encounters, both within a few days of each other.  One afternoon a Bittern flew in, and landed in the reeds no more than 20m from me. It then proceeded to creep through the reeds, getting nearer and nearer to me, before it clambered up a few stems, having gathered them together in its feet, and then flew off again.

On the second occasion, I didn't see it fly in, but was there when it emerged from the reeds in front of me, before doing the same as the previous time.


In March most of my photography was done either at WWT London or Kensington Gardens. A dawn start meant that I was able to get these silhouettes.

At the end of March I visited Minsmere for 4 days, which was where I took another set of Bittern encounters, and had probably my best encounter with them. I was able to photograph them from ground level, and at close quarters.

 While at Minsmere I also had a chance to photograph some of the other species, including Marsh Harriers. 3 of the above Bittern images featured in my portfolio which won the portfolio category of the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards, something which really pleased me. I also had a portfolio of my Bittern images featured on the BBC Wildlife website here.


April saw the onset of AS level revision for me, and so meant a quiet month photographically speaking. I still managed to get out to use my camera a couple of times though.


May meant the start of the AS level exams, so there was very little time for photography. Almost all of it was at my local park, but I was pleased to get a couple of images of Mistle Thrushes, a new bird for the camera.

 I also started photographing at my local golf club, capturing this Pheasant.


My exams were for the most part finished by June, so I was able to get out more. However, in June, sunrises are early, and I confess I did not once get up at 4am for it! I did do a lot of macro in June however, which is something I've always done a bit of, but never made much of an effort.

I was very pleased when the second image (the Soldier Beetle), having won one of the heats in the WW T Photo Competition 2012, was selected as runner-up in the youth category. Just one off now! The last image was also in a competition; highly commended in the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards.


In July I visited Skomer for the first time, and absolutely loved it. I stayed on the island for two nights with my dad, and we really made the most of it, despite some challenging weather! It's a place I certainly hope to return to soon.

As well as Puffins, there were several other seabird species I was able to photograph.

In July I also went on a family holiday to Sicily, of course accompanied by my camera, just in case! Well I'm glad I did take it as I took one of my favourite images of the year while I was there. One afternoon we visited a beach which had a nature reserve adjacent to it. While my family was relaxing on the beach, I went to have a look at the nature reserve, where I got this picture of a Zitting Cisticola. This image was then highly commended in the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards.
At the end of July I forced myself up to get to Richmond Park for dawn. The early start was well worth it though as the light was superb.


I spent another couple of mornings at Richmond Park in August, again with some fantastic early morning light.


In September I spent a lot of time at Richmond Park photographing the deer rut. Every weekend day where the forecast was for a clear dawn, I'd be down at the park!


My main highlight in October was undoubtedly attending the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of Year awards ceremony at the Natural History Museum as one of my images had been commended. The whole experience was unforgettable, and I really hope I will make it back soon!

October was another month where I spent a lot of time photographing the deer in the great weather we had.

 October also marked the start of my Red Fox project at a local site in London. I have had a huge amount of enjoyment from watching and photographing two fairly young animals, and hope to return in the new year to continue.

Also in October I took a trip up to the North Norfolk coast for some bird photography. Unfortunately we were greeted with thick fog from dawn till dusk on two of the three days. However, this, paired with the NE winds, meant that there was a massive fall of birds on the coast, the likes of which has not been seen there for over 10 years. Thousands and thousands of thrushes were dropping out of the sky, and the beach was lined with hundreds of Robins and many Goldcrests. To think that the latter, weighing only 5-6g, migrates across the North sea is incredible. As well as these birds, hundreds of Brambling also turned up, along with Willow Warblers, Ring Ouzels, and other rarer birds such as a Red-flanked Bluetail and Olive-backed Pipit (didn't see the latter). On the non-foggy day I did manage to get some images I was pleased with.


November saw me continue with my fox project. I visited the site many times, and each time was able to get new images.

In November I also purchased a new lens, a Nikon 600mm f4 AFS-II. The extra reach has been extremely useful for bird photography, and its performance with a 1.4x TC is also very handy. I haven't had too much of a chance to use it yet, but am looking forward to using it in the new year.

I also spent some time at my local park trying to get some autumnal images.


December has been a good month for me, mainly because in the last few days I've managed to photograph Waxwings! I'll post the images at the end. At the start of the month I spent some time at WWT London photographing Siskins.
On Boxing Day I spent a couple of hours out with my camera in Richmond Park, and was pleased to get this photo of a Wigeon as I don't have any in my collection.
The Waxwings were the last images I took all year, and are some of my favourites. I really hope I'll get another opportunity to photograph them this winter.

If you made it this far, well done! I never intended for this post to have so many images, but I hope you've got all the way through to the end. I've met some fantastic photographers and great people this year, and hope that will continue into next year. Now all that remains is for me to wish you all a photography-filled 2013.

Happy New Year!