Friday, 29 June 2012

Isle of Mull

I'm currently packing for a week on Mull, my last trip with the UOC Wildlife Photographer's society. We will be wild camping pretty much, so here's an image from last year for now.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Call of the Wild Project

This week myself and Phil have been helping out at Cramlington Learning Village, involved in the Call of the Wild Project being run by Darren Mead and Martin Said. 

Twenty-Four Year 7 & 8 students are busy creating an album of ambient music, inspired by the song of birds to raise awareness of wildlife conservation.

Its great to see young people getting involved and enjoying the natural world, I feel privileged to be part of it.

You can follow their learning progress HERE

Monday, 18 June 2012

A Nice Surprise...

It's been a while since I last walked through Red House Farm, last night I walked the dog through the area and was pleased to find it carpeted in wild flowers. One in particular caught my attention.

The Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera.

This was the first time I've seen this species, making it even more special that I found it on patch! I could only find two plants in the immediate area.

Instantly recognisable the Bee Orchid appears to have a bumble bee resting on its petals, this is in fact the lip of the flower, adapted with the purpose of attracting a male bee to pollinate the flower. The false bee resembles a female bee, which male bees are attracted to, and in turn try to mate with the false flower, which allows the transference and pollination of the plant. Although it is written that in British Bee Orchids the plants usually pollinate themselves.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Inner Farne

Spent yesterday afternoon on Inner Farne with Gary, Phil and Andrew, we'd planned for the full day but due to the wind didn't' get on until 13:00. Here's a few images from the visit.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

RSPB Troup Head

I've just came back from some time filming the Gannets of RSPB Troup Head, for the RSPB, to produce a short promotional film of the reserve. We'd planned for me to stay a week, but it soon turned into a two weeks, when I lost my car keys on the cliffs somewhere (most likely off the cliffs somewhere) and had to get a spare posted up.

The extra week allowed exploration of the base camp, RSPB Loch of Strathbeg, and I'm pleased I did, highlights of summer plumage Ruff, Cuckoo, numerous Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Badgers, Roe Deer, and unbelievable views of Otters, showing some new behaviours (for me) as they hunted the Black Headed Gull chicks from one of the islands.

Whilst filming at RSPB Troup Head the weather was surprisingly good! Too good at the start of the week, working wonders with my tan, but proved difficult when filming these big white birds.

I'd only visited this site from the land once before when I was residential volunteering last July, so I had a fair amount of exploring to do. My wandering wasn't a disappointment, finding a few good vantage points allowing me to get closer and eye level with the Gannets.

Being in the presence of such prehistoric and beautiful birds was a privilege, they had let me into their lives. 

Through this proximity and acceptance I gained some full frame footage of behavioural characteristics associated with the Gannet. I'll make sure to post a link once the final film has been produced. For the mean time HERE'S (listen from 1:15:25) a link to my first radio appearance on BBC Radio Scotland, where I describe my favourite habit of the Gannet.

Something that was lacking at the beginning of the week was wind, not even the slightest breeze. This kept the majority of the Gannets on the cliffs, the sea, or below the headland. Only two days of my time at RSPB Troup Head did the wind show its face, pushing the Gannets higher and higher, into my line of sight.

Its a pleasant 10-15 minute walk from the car park to the cliffs, through farmland, and grassland, the latter of which is full of flora. Even the cliffs tops are covered in plant life, with a number of different species, some extending right to the edge.

Thousands of Gannets circling in the air, trying to find their place on the cliffs is a mesmerising sight. I would have been perfectly happy sitting all day just watching them move across this dramatic landscape.

Whilst sitting on the edge of the cliffs, the Gannets would fly pretty close by, although not as close as the Fulmars, who seemed to enjoy getting closer and closer on each pass.

Although filming was my main aim of the stay, I did spend some time playing with ND Graduated filters, and slow shutter speeds. I feel the images below show the true essence of this North Sea environment and how the Gannets exist within it.

On my last day at RSPB Troup Head I went along with Emma Cuthbertson (the warden of the reserve), as we approached the headland it was clear it was going to be good day. Hundreds of Gannets were air born, hanging above the cliffs tops, congregating in areas higher than they had ever done before, the wind was to thank. 

It was this day that I both lost my car keys, and captured my favourite image from the trip. Maybe if I hadn't crawled along the cliff top, towards the edge, to gain this image I would still have my keys. But it was worth it !

You can follow RSPB Troup Head at their blog HERE, and RSPB Loch of Strathbeg HERE.

There also on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.