Sunday, 30 November 2008

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Black Red

I managed to escape from the office at lunchtime and spent an hour or so photographing a very confiding Black Redstart at West Voe. The sky was dark grey, the light was awful and the bird was feeding in big clumps of brown and black kelp. Not ideal! But...with the help of some fill-flash, this setting actually helped to bring out both the subtle tones and feather detail of what could easily have been 'washed out' on a nice sunny day.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Ebony and .....

Ivory. Sadly not. I spent all weekend searching the Lerwick area for a first winter Ivory Gull seen by one lucky observer at dusk on Friday afternoon. Despite extensive searching by five people (yes, just five people) there was sadly no sign of what would have been a stunning bird. As always, the harbour offered lots of good photo opps so here are a few from the weekend...

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

H is for Hume's

After nice views in terrible light late yesterday afternoon, I spent the morning on Bressay and enjoyed some stunning views of the Hume's Warbler at Gardie. Sincere thanks to the Scott family for allowing us in to their incredible oasis of a garden to enjoy this super little bird.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

One space available on Finland & Arctic Norway: 14 - 21 March 2009

STOP PRESS - due to a cancellation, I now have one vacancy on this trip. I am also offering an extension to photograph Golden Eagles for 2 full days and Dippers / Siberian Jays for one day. Further details are available here . As a taster, here is a summary from the March 2008 trip along with a few pictures:

"Our annual week-long photography trip guided by Hugh Harrop to Lapland and Arctic Norway was another huge success. Our feeding station in Lapland provided us with outstanding opportunities with the normally secretive Pine Grosbeak - at least fifteen birds were coming to the station along with Siberian Jays, Siberian Tits, Willow Tits, Mealy and Arctic Redpolls plus Red Squirrels. Continuing into northern Norway and basing ourselves in the Varanger region we concentrated primarily on seabirds and sea duck, with an emphasis on capturing the 'rarer' Eiders. Gloriously calm and sunny days allowed us to take full advantage of the weather and we managed no less than three boat trips to get in amongst the birds. Opportunities from land were also outstanding and the group pretty much all secured stunning shots of King, Steller's and Common Eiders, Long-tailed Ducks, Black, Common and Brunnich's Guillemots, Shags, Cormorant, Kittiwakes, Purple Sandpipers and both Iceland and Glaucous Gull. Lady luck was certainly on our side as we also found two Hawk Owls in the Varanger region and on our last evening, we were treated to a great display of the Aurora Borealis in Lapland. What an experience! "

You can see more pictures here

Friday, 7 November 2008

Flight 'n' Flash

Fewer Waxwings in the garden today, but a raging south easterly gale meant that the birds were hovering before landing, thus offering some awesome opportunities - which I duly took advantage of. Like yesterday, it was incredibly dull and overcast so the job required some serious flash. Here are a few fresh off the memory card...

Thursday, 6 November 2008

The Waxwing Saga Continues...

I returned back home at lunch time after an aborted trip to Whalsay for the Hume's and a quick look for the OBP, and was blown away to find a flock of 30+ Waxwings in the garden! The light was horrendously poor so it was flash and high ISOs all the way...

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


After a fair bit of searching, this Olive-backed Pipit at Toab finally gave good views in the late afternoon murk. ISO 1250 @ f4 just about sums up the light available really - but hey - its ISO 1250 with a 1D Mark III.

Postscript: on another photography blog, I read that the photographer used ISO 1250 as standard - I would openly question this and the advice I would give is only use high ISOs when you really have to. If you are serious about getting pin sharp, usable images then stop down a couple of ISOs and use a tripod - or high speed fill flash.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

More Waxwings...

We woke up to find 2 new Waxwings in the garden which were later joined by an additional party of four. I spent all morning concentrating on getting flight and action shots as they gorged on the apples we hastily put out to keep them with us.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Last days of Autumn

The Waxwings in the garden increased to three birds so it was a nice leisurely morning of sipping coffee and nailing more images. On Friday I headed to Fladdabister to see my first Blue Tit in Shetland since 1996. I also had a Great Tit in the same place which means that I have managed to see four species of tit in a fortnight - now that doesn't happen very often in Shetland!