Sunday, 29 August 2010

FOR SALE: Canon 40d & BG-E2 Grip

We have a Canon 40d body & a Canon BG-E2 Grip for sale on ebay at the moment. This is a great 'prosumer' entry-level camera and this particular body has had less than 5k actuations! It is in near-mint condition. Click here for more information

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Risso's Dolphins - Sept 2010 Wallpaper

September wallpaper is a a mother and calf Risso's Dolphins, taken during our amazing encounter with them in August 2010 - read more here. To set the picture as your computer's desktop wallpaper background, double click on the image below to open it in full size then right-click the mouse while it's over the picture. Select the 'Set as Background' menu option, or the 'Set as Wallpaper' option, depending on your browser type. If you want to learn how to take images like this, click here and join us on an instructional pho-tour in 2011.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Spectacled Eiders in Alaska

We have just appointed the outfitters and made all the necessary early logistical arrangements for an exclusive two-week trip to photograph Spectacled Eiders in Alaska in June 2012. The trip will also concentrate on getting stunning images of other high Arctic tundra-breeding subjects such as White-billed Diver (Yellow-billed Loon), Sabine's Gull and a superb variety of shorebirds. Please call Hugh during office hours on +44 1950 422483 to register your interest and to receive further details. Note that the trip will be restricted to just 4 photographers.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Biscay - currently boiling with marine life!

This truly amazing trip with Shetland Wildlife owned and operated Company of Whales across the Bay of Biscay between 20 - 23 August 2010 produced a number of exciting encounters and an incredible range of wildlife. The many highlights included a single pod of 15+ Cuvier's Beaked Whales (the largest pod ever recorded in the Bay of Biscay) near the Northern Shelf Edge, 'fluking' Sperm Whales, a Leatherback Turtle, an adult Long-tailed Skua with 'full' tail streamers and a tally of six Shearwater species - including Macronesian. A summary of the key sightings is as follows:

9 species of cetaceans included a total of 19 Cuvier's Beaked Whales, including 1 which breached 5 times ahead of the ship, 20 Sperm Whales, 2 Fin Whales, 1 Large Rorqual (probable Fin Whale), 1 Minke Whale, 94 Pilot Whales, 85 Bottle-nosed Dolphins, 308 Common Dolphins, 55 Striped Dolphins, 15 unidentified Dolphins and 9 Harbour Porpoise. Other marine species seen were a Leatherback Turtle, 4 Ocean Sunfish and hundreds of Tuna including the Yellow-fin species. Birds at sea included 1 Macronesian (Little), 49 Cory's, 14 Great, 3 Sooty, 9 Manx and 1 Balearic Shearwater, 6 Great, 3 Arctic and 1 Long-tailed Skua, 18 Storm Petrels, 7 Black Terns and 2 migrating Swifts. Highlights of our walk in Spain included a Wryneck, 3 Firecrests, 6 Red-backed Shrikes, 9 Serin, 2 Cirl Bunting, 6 Melodious Warblers, 2 Nightingales, 1 Fan-tailed Warbler, 6 Cetti's Warblers, 5 Sardinian Warblers, 5 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, a Whinchat and 2 Ravens. Low cloud unfortunately precluded any raptors other than Kestrel. Butterflies included Scarce Swallowtail, Long-tailed Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue and Clouded Yellow. Praying Mantis, Wasp Spider and Long-winged Conehead were also seen.

Our sister business is running over 20 trips across the Bay in 2010 - keep up to date with sightings and see lots of great photos from the trips by clicking here

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Wood Sandpiper

A good assortment of migrant waders this weekend, the highlight being this vocal Wood Sandpiper:

Friday, 20 August 2010

Risso's Dolphins - with calves!

Right now, words cannot describe the magical experience fellow Shetland Wildlife guide Jon Dunn and I had this morning photographing a pod of around 20 Risso's Dolphins - with three incredibly young calves - in Mousa Sound. So I'll let the pictures do the talking...

A tiny calf surfaces...

Some images of the adult Risso's Dolphins; so variable!

Just think - if I had accepted the invite from British Birds and attended the official prize-giving ceremony for the 2010 Bird Photograph of the Year at the Rutland Bird Fair, I'd have missed this uniqie encounter!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Mousa Storm Petrel Recordings

A few 'fresh' recordings from one of our many visits to Mousa during the summer of 2010. What an amazing sound they make!

Storm Petrel Recording #1

Storm Petrel Recording #2

Those with sharp ears may pick out the singing Skylark in the background - the recording was made just after 0200hrs, which is pretty much sunrise here in Shetland in mid June!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

More Wood Warblers...

The Wood Warbler is still present and visited the garden several times today. With very little migration at the moment, it was time well spent!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Wood Warbler @ Shetland Wildlife HQ

Couldn't resist photographing this gorgeous Wood Warbler which has taken up residence in our garden for the last couple of days:

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Autumn Arrives: Greenish Warbler

A really early start for us this morning in order to get clean sound recordings of this Greenish Warbler at the Sumburgh Hotel gardens. The bird called frequently and amazingly, burst in to full song on several occasions - something I was not expecting! This individual was pretty elusive but a few hours in the afternoon provided some nice opportunities, albeit in very harsh light.

Greenish Warbler Call:

Greenish Warbler Song 1

Greenish Warbler Call & Song burst

Greenish Warbler Song 2

This interesting shot below shows the position of the 2nd primary which typically falls between p7 and p8 on Greenish Warbler. Arctic Warbler generally has p2 falling between p5 or p6:

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A summering Long-tailed Skua in Shetland

This stunning adult Long-tailed Skua took up residence in a small moorland valley here in Shetland between late May and the end of June. It appeared to be holding a small territory (which is the reason why I have delayed publishing this post) but contrary to many reports, it was certainly not paired with an Arctic Skua. I spent many days watching, photographing and sound recording this handsome bird, which meant some ridiculously early 4am starts and some extremely late finishes to make use of the best light! All of our visiting Shetland Wildlife groups between late May and late June were escorted to see this superb bird under our expert guidance. You can see more images and read more about the bird and its behaviour in the latest edition of Birding World - Europe's premier monthly birding magazine.

Long-tailed Skua Calls:

Monday, 9 August 2010

Having a Whale of a Time!

Things are really hotting up on our famous Bay of Biscay pelagics with excellent numbers of whales & dolphins being recorded! Here are the last three sightings summaries and encounter maps:

5 - 8 Aug 2010: 1 Fin Whale (plus two probables), an amazing total of 13 Sperm Whales, 2 Cuvier's Beaked Whales, 15 Risso's Dolphins, 40 Bottle-nosed Dolphins, 614 Common Dolphins, 42 Striped Dolphins, 25 Long-finned Pilot Whales, 8 Harbour Porpoise, 180 Unidentified Dolphins, 3 Ocean Sunfish and 1 Flying Fish

2 - 5 Aug 2010: 2 Cuvier's Beaked Whales, 1 probable Sperm Whale, 4 Bottle-nosed Dolphins, 532 Common Dolphins, 44 Striped Dolphins, 8 Long-finned Pilot Whales, 8 Unidentified Dolphins and 9 Ocean Sunfish

30 July - 2 Aug 2010: 4 Fin Whales, 1 unidentified 'large rorqual', 9 Cuvier's Beaked Whales (plus 2 more probables), 3 Sperm Whales, 2 Minke Whales, 31 Bottle-nosed Dolphins, 486 Common Dolphins, 70 Striped Dolphins, 28 Long-finned Pilot Whales, 30 Harbour Porpoise, 129 Unidentified Dolphins and 1 Ocean Sunfish

To find our more about The Company of Whales - owned and operated by Shetland Wildlife - click here

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Mousa Storm Petrel Feature

Check out the special Summer 2010 edition of Bird Watching magazine for my two page photo-feature on Mousa Storm Petrels. A night-time visit to Mousa to witness Storm Petrels returning ashore is a 'must-do' for anybody visiting Shetland and we include it on all of our Shetland-based holidays between mid May and the end of July.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Finland & Norway Winter Pho-tour 2011

All the arrangements for the annual winter pho-tour to Finland and Arctic Norway are now in place and the trip will run from Saturday 12 - Saturday 19 March 2011. We have just five spaces left as of today, so if you are interested in joining this unique trip, please refer to the itinerary by clicking here. To gauge what photo-prospects this superb trip offers, click here

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Dotterel Doting...

Just opened the August 2010 edition of Bird Watching magazine and great to see a title doing justice to a beautiful bird with a beautiful reproduction size! This Dotterel image is from Baltasound, Unst and was found on our Focus on Shetland holiday. This bird - and a superb summering Long-tailed Skua (more on that very soon) - were probably my ornithological highlights of the Spring. More images of this beautiful bird can be seen here

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Bird Photograph of the Year 2010

Delighted to see the results of the 2010 Bird Photograph of the Year competition published in the August edition of British Birds. I'm pleased to say that once again I managed to get two images in the final shortlist of entries: 8th place with a Gannet and 12th place with a Long-tailed Duck. This is the 6th consecutive year that I have been short listed in the final standings - I came third in 2006 and fifth in 2007. With so many top photographers now entering this competition, it's getting harder and harder to impress the judges every year!

The BPY judges published the following appraisal in BB:

"Hugh Harrop is now one of the regular entrants to this competition and he can be relied upon to submit at least one outstanding photograph. This year was no exception, with his superb action portrait of a Northern Gannet placed eighth".

Gannet: Canon EOS-1D Mark III with EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM +1.4x converter. Hand Held.1/1000 sec at f7.1. Evaluative metering reading under exposed by 2 stops.I was sailing around Noss Nature Reserve on a pretty grey day and noticed that many of the Gannets were congregating at the base of the cliff collecting nest material from the rank vegetation that had fallen in to the water from the towering cliffs above. Keen to capture the birds as they took off with material, the water in the shadow of the cliff was effectively black which offered good reflection opportunities. By under exposing it meant I could highlight the whites and yellows of the birds and create some interesting patterns as a reflection.

Long-tailed Duck / Oldsquaw: Canon EOS-1D Mark III with EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM +1.4x converter. Hand Held. 1/2000 second at f8. Evaluative metering reading under exposed by 1/3 stop.17 March 2009 offered some superb opportunities for seaduck photography in Batsfjord, Norway with beautiful sunny skies. As we edged our R.I.B. around the pier in to one of the bays, a flock of Long-tailed Ducks were close and immediately took flight. With the wind behind us, it meant some dramatic opportunities to capture them as they took off flying directly towards us. I locked on to this drake as it effectively ‘ran’ across the water at to get airborne and fortunately managed to get it running through some reflections from the yellow buildings above us and also capture the elongated tail feathers to its rear.

Hearty congratulations to Shetland-based Lee Mott for his podium 3rd place as well as an 11th place - it's great to see that us local photographers accounted for 20% of the final listings!

The next competition I'm involved in will be slightly easier for me as it's one that I'm judging - click here for further information.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Basking Shark

This huge Basking Shark, estimated to be between 20 - 25 ft in length got our week off to a great start! We watched it for a couple of hours early this morning as it fed in the waters between St Ninian's Isle and Maywick. Basking Sharks are still fairly scarce critters here in Shetland. The dorsal and caudal fins both had some distinctive scars and notches so we'll send the images off to the Basking Shark Project photo-ID library.

Basking Shark: St Ninian's, Shetland from Hugh Harrop on Vimeo.