New Courses for 2009

Dates are now being finalised for courses I will be running through Orangepebble in 2009. Check out the Courses page on the site.

More will follow shortly so keep an eye open. Last year the courses filled up quickly so it is advisable to book early.

Filed under: NewsTagged with:

Bearded Tit

I was down at Cosmeston yesterday to try and photograph the Bearded Tit that has been around for a couple of weeks. It’s a bird that has eluded me over the years and I have only managed glimpses of it at Leighton Moss before today. Met some folks down there looking for the same and spent an enjoyable few hours on the boardwalk hoping for lots of elements to come together.

Continue reading

Filed under: Diary EntriesTagged with:

Lamp Post 386

There’s a lamp post in the middle of the central reservation of the M4 motorway, just past Port Talbot, that is eagerly anticipated by all the family when we travel west. It’s number 386 and more times than not ‘our’ Cormorant is sitting on the top of it. A gentle fist clenching and a slight punch of the air, with a somewhat muted cheer is given in response.

Continue reading

Filed under: ArticlesTagged with:

Female Back In!

Typically, after questioning the whereabouts of the female Great-spotted Woodpecker, she arrived over the weekend! Again, not as frequently as the male, but she was in. In fact on one occasion three  ‘peckers’ were down in the feeding station all together, two males and the female. One of the males spent a good deal of time chasing the female around. I have smeared some feed on one of the trees that they have been using as a staging post before coming on to the feeders, with the idea of holding them there for a little while, giving a longer time to photograph them. I would focus on one of the birds if they landed on that particular tree and hope that the other may come in and begin the chase from there. As soon as any movement occurred I would press the shutter and hope! Lots of nothing but if you stick at it you may be lucky.

Continue reading

Filed under: Diary EntriesTagged with: ,

Around Every Corner – A New Publication

This week ‘Around Every Corner’ is published. It’s very much a visual book and looks at the landscape and wildlife of the County Borough of Caerphilly in a slightly different way than most of traditional landscape books might do. It’s a publication that very much celebrates the landscape and wildlife of an area that is often overlooked in favour of its near neighbour, the Brecon Beacons. It also shows what the Landscape Services within Caerphilly County Council are protecting and promoting, often via the grant system available through the European Community.

Continue reading

Filed under: NewsTagged with:

Creating a Set


I have recently been preparing a couple of logs that I had found around the ponds, for feeding. I chiseled out about an inch deep trench in the log at three separate places, so that I could stuff food into the crevices in such a way that they would not be visible when birds landed on them.

Continue reading

Filed under: ArticlesTagged with: , ,

Laggan

Laggan had broken his wing, possibly by flying into a telegraph wire, and is now being looked after at Wings Over Mull, a bird of prey conservation centre that we visit on the Orangepebble Photography tours. To get this close to such a magnificent bird is something unlikely to happen in the wild. These are birds of vast spaces, occupying the high mountains and crags of Scotland. We have seen them often in the wild, had wonderful encounters in Sutherland, Argyle and Mull and occasionally photographed them. The Golden Eagle remains, for me, the ultimate bird.

Continue reading

Filed under: Articles, Birds Eloquent ProjectTagged with:

What’s in a Bag?

It’s not a good moment when you arrive at a photographic job without a camera! I managed to blag my way out of it – another story – but your legs go weak and you are just hoping your in some kind of bad, really bad, dream. I was working as a very young medical photographer at the time and the department had ten ‘primed’ and ready to go camera bags so you could respond to any incident or request instantly. The bags were placed in reception and you would rush out picking one up on your way.

Continue reading

Filed under: ArticlesTagged with: ,

Getting Up Close

Again a very drab day and a persistent drizzle. Two male Great-spotted Woodpeckers were chasing each other round the higher branches and the Treecreeper was in a fair amount today. Looking through the Home Farm files it’s interesting to note that out of 40 or so images filed under Great-spotted Woodpecker, only one of those is a female! Where then are the they?

Continue reading

Filed under: ArticlesTagged with: ,

A Bit of Luck

I was at the feeding station today and all the regulars were present. On the way to the hide a Peregrine flew over, the fourth record for the Farm. The water level has dropped allowing the route through the river to be taken. Over the last few weeks the only way to the hide has been over the railway. The cows are all in for the winter now, so no chance of an unpleasant encounter! Last year Richard was unceremoniously dumped into the river as he tried to pass them under the bridge. They were a little frisky early on in the year but had settled down latterly.

Continue reading

Filed under: Diary EntriesTagged with: ,

Another Place

Introduction – Nov 2008

The piece below was written in 2005 before Gormley’s Another Place’ had been purchased outright. It will now stay forever on this part of the Lancashire coast and has altered the way I feel about it. The space has changed, and until time eventually takes its toll on these sculptures, as it will do one day in the far off future, it will no longer be what it once was. I can no longer enjoy the wildness of this windswept beach, but then I couldn’t anyway as a large part of vista from the beach is interrupted by an invasion of coastal wind farms. I suppose nothing ever remains as it was, but when Art changes a space on such a huge scale I wonder if we have got something wrong. The title of the work itself, ‘Another Place’, perhaps suggests the need for it to move and grace another shore line somewhere else in the world and remain in the memory alone.

Adding to the landscape – Gormley’s ‘Another Place’

It is, by rights, something that I shouldn’t like. Gormley’s iron men break an otherwise expansive view across to the hills of North Wales. They occupy a space that has, since the Mersey has flown out into the Irish Sea, been people less. I have known this part of the coast all my life; bird watched in all weathers. The massive flocks of Knots and roosting Pink-footed Geese have inspired me to seek out wild places in Wales and Scotland. I go to such places to avoid crowds, to get away from a feeling of claustrophobia that so often grips me in places where people mass. The open spaces along this part of the West Lancashire coast has offered me solace and although close to a large urban populace, a sanction, where it is just possible to connect with the more natural processes that make us who we are.
Continue reading

Filed under: ArticlesTagged with:

Building a Hide (part 1)

The feeding station hide, at Home Farm, was started in March of this year with a view to serious feeding in the autumn and winter. Before any thought went into how we were going to build it and what materials we were going to use we had to give a lot of consideration about where we would site it. The location for any fixed hide is crucial, as it is not a movable fixture, and once up, you are committed to its position. You will need to consider  a number of factors and spend some time around the general area before committing to anything permanent.

Continue reading

Filed under: ArticlesTagged with: ,

A Sobering Thought

It’s a sobering thought when you realise that some of your photographs are moving into the realm of becoming historical. It’s inevitable, I know, when you have been taking photographs for over 30 years but somehow you always see your own images as being contemporary.

Continue reading

Filed under: ArticlesTagged with: , ,

Under Pressure

I am often asked if there is any occasion when I have felt under pressure when taking photographs of birds. On the whole I am fairly sanguine over what you get and what you miss, it’s part of the deal with this sort of photography, but there is a particular moment that comes to mind when I felt if I didn’t manage to secure a decent shot from this then I might as well give up.

Continue reading

Filed under: Diary EntriesTagged with: ,

Losing the Label

I am currently reading Mark Cocker’s beautifully written book ‘Crow Country’ in which he goes in search of the Rooks and Jackdaws that he first encounters in the Yare Valley in Norfolk. There is a small paragraph towards the beginning of chapter six that should be read and digested by anyone who wants to look a little harder to find the extraordinary in the everyday. Although he is concerned with nature watching what he says can be applied to all aspects of looking.

‘… every time you pin a label on a living creature it reaffirms a sense of mastery over it. The naming of the thing gives you the wonderfully reassuring illusion that you know it. You don’t. Sometimes all you have is a single datum. The name. In a bizarre way, the process of recognition can actually be a barrier rather than a doorway to genuine appreciation’

Continue reading

Filed under: ArticlesTagged with: ,

Entering the Personal Space

We all have a personal space. It’s the area immediately around us and other than those very close to us, we let no-one in. Good environmental portraiture and documentary photography demands that we enter this space and this is only possible if a standard or wide-angle lens is used.  It requires that the photographer communicates with the subject and gains their confidence.

Continue reading

Filed under: ArticlesTagged with:

The Hallmark of a Bird

The Kingfisher is exotic. I remember seeing my first one around the Cob at Porthmadog. It was a long while ago now. It was only a glimpse but something you don’t forget. The words glimpse and Kingfisher seem to marry together frequently, so it was then….”did you see it?… just a glimpse – but that electric blue…..” That blue is its hallmark and I use the word in its literal meaning…’an official mark or stamp indicating a standard of purity’……’any mark or special indication of genuineness, good quality’……and perhaps even more telling….’any distinguishing feature or characteristic’ Only one other bird, in my opinion, has this hallmark, exhibiting such a vivid contrast in its plumage, when seen against the habitat it frequents and that’s the Gannet.

Continue reading

Filed under: Diary EntriesTagged with:

The Herons Have It

It was interesting recently, when sorting out some images for a talk, to see that the bird I have photographed most since taking up bird photography a couple of years ago, is the Grey Heron. I began to think why this might be and if it reflected anything about myself or the bird or perhaps a little of both.

Continue reading

Filed under: Diary EntriesTagged with:

Elusive Green Sandpiper

The feed is moving very quickly at the moment with the Nuthatches devouring the sunflower seeds and the tits ever present. Interestingly the Marsh Tit appears to have the least discerning diet of all our visitors! It will have a bit of everything – sunflower, mixed seed, niger seed, fat balls, nuts and cake. Today the species seen at the feeding station hide were as follows:

Continue reading

Filed under: Diary EntriesTagged with: ,

Roll on Winter

Down to the farm today mainly to fill up the feeders but also spent about 3 hours in the feeding station hide. The light was good, bright but not full sun, which can cause difficulties with regard to exposure as the light is broken by the foliage and some unwanted shadows are created. The leaves are falling fast at the moment and each visit opens up more branches and extends the areas that you are able photograph. Also the backgrounds are becoming less cluttered – so roll on the winter!

Continue reading

Filed under: Diary EntriesTagged with: ,