Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Looking back on 2013

2013 has been another good year for me. When I finished 2012 I wanted to continue my Bittern and Fox photography, but knew that I would get very little photography done between March and July due to my A levels, which had to take priority. This was hard for me, as my local Foxes had cubs, but hopefully I'll manage to see them next year. In the rest of this post I'm going to go through each month with an image or 3 describing what I did.


In January we had very cold weather in London, and a period of 3 days in the middle of the month when snow fell in the capital! Rather than run around trying to photograph everything, I was very keen to get out and photograph either Bitterns of Foxes. In the end I decided on the latter, and I think it proved to be a great choice! I spent pretty much 3 consecutive days from dawn till dusk out at the site.


During February I was keen to continue photographing Bitterns at my local reserve. During my half term I spent pretty much every day there, and was rewarded with some great shots. It can be very frustrating because you may only get 1 opportunity in a day (or none!) so if you miss it it's not a great feeling! I managed to get a few that I was pleased with though.


March was a very lean month for me photographically, I had quite a few mock exams so found very little time to get out shooting. This was my favourite shot, taken whilst waiting for Bitterns to appear! I cloned a bit of Tufted Duck out of the top right.


My only photography this month was a trip to the East Coast for 4 days for a revision break! The weather wasn't great, but I did get some shots I liked, such as this one of a Black-headed Gull near its nest site.


Again, a month where I only went out to take photos once! I managed to get out and so went to my fox site as I had seen them with cubs. When I was there without a camera I'd had fantastic views in lovely late evening light, but with a camera, this was the only time I saw them!


In June I didn't actually get out once! This was of course due to a lovely set of exams called A levels. I had to watch the nice weather through my window as I spent hours and hours revising biology, chemistry and maths! Thankfully it paid off when I received my results at the end of August.


During July I visited the Isle of May while I was on holiday in Scotland. This was my third visit to a seabird colony, after a visit to Bempton Cliffs several years previously and one to Skomer the previous July. I particularly enjoyed photographing the Arctic Terns as they were a new species for me, but it was also great to try and photograph Puffins as they hurtled past me!


In August I was on holiday in France, and one day while driving through the countryside near the Somme Estuary I spotted some White Storks by the side of the road. Out of the shots I took this one was my favourite as I felt it shows the environment better.


As part of my gap year I spent 3 months working between mid-September and mid-December, so I tried to fit as much photography as I could into the first half of this month. This was mainly in Richmond Park of the Red Deer rut. I particularly like this image because of the painterly feel I think it has and the colours in it.


In October I was on holiday with my family in Iceland. It's a spectacular country and I am sure I will return one day. Being quite late in the year, there weren't many birds around, especially inland, but one day while driving we encountered a family of Whooper Swans on a roadside pool. The light was gorgeous, and I love the blues in this image as the 3 immature birds flew past me.

This was also when Wildphotos was held at the RGS in London, only a 30 minute journey on the tube. I've been for the last 3 years now, and urge any wildlife photographer who hasn't been to try it. The quality of the speakers, and of course their images, is fantastic, and definitely inspires me! It was also great to meet some friends there, and make some new ones!


November saw me back at my local reserve trying to photograph the elusive Bittern again. I didn't have much luck due to a combination of factors, but while I was waiting there were plenty of other things to photograph, such as the mallards which would take off each evening and fly over the hide.


Again, most of my photography was at my local reserve, and again I didn't have any luck with Bitterns! I did enjoy photographing a Great-crested Grebe that fished in front of the hide regularly though, and the colour of the water in the evenings was amazing.


In 2013 I was very pleased to have my images awarded in two competitions. I had an image shortlisted in the British Wildlife Photography Awards, and was Runner-Up in 2 categories in the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards! Next year I'll be in adult categories for all competitions, so it's quite a daunting prospect!

What's Next?

Next year I've got a few exciting plans lined up. I've just bought a Nikon D800 and a wide-angle lens so am looking forward to getting to use them. I'm also hoping to do some more photography outside the UK, but more on that nearer the time. Hopefully I'll keep photographing Bitterns, and I'd love to be able to photograph Fox cubs, having been thwarted by exams last year!

All that's left is for me to thank all of you for reading my blog for the past year. I know I haven't updated it regularly, especially compared to 2012, but I'll be making a big effort to improve on that now that I've got some more time next year! I've seen some wonderful animals this year, and met some equally wonderful people, so hopefully that will carry on in 2014.

Thanks again, and see you out there!

Cheers, Oscar

Monday, 9 December 2013

Bitterns (more like lack of!)

My winter photography has so far been concentrated on photographing my local wintering bitterns. I was hoping by this stage to have some images to show you. I say hoping, because this was the plan. Unfortunately I have no decent photos to show you, due to a combination of circumstances such as me not being able to get down there as much as I'd like, and the fact the conditions haven't been favourable for them coming near the hides. While I've been waiting, however, there's been plenty of other birds to photograph. One such bird is the sparrowhawk. Both the male and female often fly across in front of the hide whilst hunting for snipe, and I managed to capture a couple of shots in the rain one morning.

On the same morning I also spent some time photographing the mallards.
On another afternoon, when as usual the bitterns weren't showing, I focused on capturing the mallards as they took off.

 I couldn't leave it without showing any bittern photos, so this is about as good as it gets so far I'm afraid. Oh well, still a long time before they fly back to Europe!
Hopefully next time I'll have something more promising to show you!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 30 November 2013


I've haven't posted on here for a while now, so just thought I'd let you all know what I've been up to.

I'm coming towards the end of my temporary job, which finishes in mid-December, so that's one of the reasons I haven't been able to do much photography recently. After that I have some exciting plans for next year but nothing is concrete yet, so watch this space! Other than that, Bitterns are back at my local reserve so I will hopefully be photographing them this winter as well.

The only time I really did any photography was a family holiday to Iceland in October. We were there for a week, mainly in the southwest of the country, starting in Keflavik before travelling north to the south side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It was a fantastic place with wonderful landscapes and light. From here we came back down to the south, before returning to Keflavik to fly home. Birds were scarce at the time of year: most of the ducks were on the sea by now, almost all the waders had returned south for the winter, and there are very few passerines there. There were still plenty of Whooper Swans around though, as well as quite a few Ptarmigan.

These first images were taken while driving north from Keflavik. While driving from our first hotel to the second we passed a large lake by the side of the road. Fortunately there was a small car park so we pulled over to have a look. There were plenty of birds on it; over 100 Eiders, as well as a couple of Great Northern Divers, some Long-tailed Ducks, several groups of Wigeon, and around the edge of the lake, Oystercatchers and Golden Plovers. For this shot of the plover I wish I could have taken it from a lower angle, but I wouldn't have been able to do that without sitting in the water!

The colour of the water was a fantastic blue, so as the Eiders were mostly out in the middle of the lake, I had to photography them small in the frame.

Later on during the same journey, we came across a group of 6 Whooper Swans standing on a frozen pool by the side of the road. Despite being nearly 11am, the light was fantastic. Iceland's population is only 320,000, and sometimes we wouldn't pass another car on the roads for an hour. While watching these swans all I could hear was their calls and a Raven croaking in the distance, nothing else; certainly a contrast to living in London. After a while the Whooper Swans took off, and I managed to get these images of them.

The next day the weather was very different, with low cloud and persistent drizzle for most of it. While driving back from a walk I spotted some more Whooper Swans by the side of the road. By now the rain had turned to snow (perfect timing!) so I was able to photograph the swans in the snow. They were on the other side of the car to me, however, so my brother had to open his window so I could photograph them. Unfortunately for him, this mean he got very wet!

I had been told that Ptarmigan were fairly common in Iceland, but so far hadn't seen any. Every time we drove anywhere I had my eyes glued to the windows looking out for a white blob in the otherwise fairly grey landscape. Later that evening, while we were just getting to our hotel my brother spotted one sitting right by the side of the road!
While staying in Iceland there was one bird I was particularly keen to see: the Harlequin Duck. In Europe Iceland is the only reliable place to see them, so I was hopeful I'd be successful. During one of our walks we were going between two villages, along the coastline, and I was delighted to find a small group of them! Unfortunately no photos as they were too far away, but still great to see. I also managed to find a female King Eider, not a common bird in Iceland, and a small group of Purple Sandpipers.

I also managed to take some photos right outside our last hotel! Other than the main hotel which we were staying in, it had some cottages further down the hill. While looking out of the window soon after we'd arrived I saw a ptarmigan flying behind one of the cottages, so grabbed my camera and set off. After searching through the scrub for a good hour and finding nothing I was turning to head back to the hotel when I suddenly saw it, sitting on the ground floor balcony of one of the cottages! Over the next hour I got closer and closer, until I was so near that I could photograph it with a wide angle!
My last photos of the trip were taken one evening just as the sun was setting. We were driving back to our hotel, and I was looking out for something to photograph in the amazing light. I couldn't see any birds, but then saw a group of horses so we pulled over and I got out to photograph them.

Oh, and on our very last night before flying back at 7am the next day, having had no luck with them all week, we saw the northern lights! Fairly faint more the most part, but it was more intense for brief periods! Here's a very average photo!
That's it from me. Iceland is a fantastic place, and I'm sure I'll be back one day.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Red Deer

I haven't taken many pictures for ages, so on seeing that the forecast a couple of weekends ago was for clear skies, I headed down to Richmond Park for dawn to photograph the Red Deer rut. Living so close, I end up going every year, but it does get very busy. One morning this year I counted 36 photographers all photographing the same stag, so then it can get quite difficult making sure there are no people in your backgrounds!

Anyway, when I arrived there was a fairly thick layer of mist over the ground, so I positioned myself to photograph into the sun as it came up. Unfortunately it didn't work out how I'd hoped, so I didn't really get anything. I then moved so I was photographing with the light, but noticed this stag bellowing from the shade. The painterly colours appealed to me, so I took a few shots of it.
When the sun did hit it, it was lovely warm light.

I'm off to Iceland on holiday within the next 6 weeks, so will be taking my camera kit there. Hopefully I'll be able to get some nice shots while I'm there.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

British Wildlife Photography Awards 2013

Just a quick post today to say that one of my images has been shortlisted in the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2013, and therefore will appear in the book and on the website. It's a Bittern (surprise surprise!) taken during the winter in London,and I'm delighted to have made it through. This is now the third year running that I've had an image in the book and on the website, so I'm hoping to do ever better next year!
Congratulations to all the other winners and finalists, there are some fantastic shots in there this year. If you want to see the other winners, head to this site where there is an online gallery of them: BWPA Gallery


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Scottish Seabirds

Whilst away on holiday in Scotland last month, I managed to squeeze in a couple of trips to the Isle of May for some seabird photography. I particularly wanted to see the Arctic terns, having never seen or photographed them before, so was pleased to see a cloud-covered sky as we bombed along the water towards the island. After getting off the boat, the colony of terns is just in front of you, so I walked through the the very far end and photographed from there.

I then walked to the other ends of the island to try and photograph some puffins, on the way stopping off to photograph a couple of gulls.

And now for some puffins.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Catching up

Wow it's been a long time since I've updated this. A combination of A levels in June and then being away for most of July has meant that I haven't posted anything on here since March! I suppose it's also partly due to a lack of photos to post as I haven't been doing much photography. I short trip to the east coast in April, an early morning session in Richmond Park also in April, and a couple of day trips to the Isle of May whilst I was in Scotland are pretty much the only photographic opportunities I've had since April. Oh and there was my quest for fox cubs at my local site for them. Naturally when I didn't have a camera I had fantastic views, and other than that saw bugger all, meaning I only got this this distant image of one of them. Something to work on next year...
My trip to the east coast wasn't particularly productive, but it's such a great place, and sitting in a hide listening to the chorus as the sun rises is something I don't get much of in London! I did get some shots though.

And  my trip to Richmond Park was because I was hoping to find some spring migrants, so I was very pleased when I discovered a flock of about 15 wheatears in the grass. They proved difficult to get close to, but in the end I got some I liked.

Next time I'll bring you some pictures of when I was on the Isle of May.

Thanks for reading.