New season, new adventures

Goodbye Winter! We’ve had some good (mostly cold) times, see you again next year. To say goodbye, here are some of the last winter shots.

starling
blue jay
Finch
cranes
This was quite fun! Almost 2500 Crane’s that spend the night at National Park the Meinweg and I was there when they woke up and took to the skies :).

And since Spring is upon us:
snowdrop

While looking back, I can’t help but wonder what the next seasons will bring me. Most of the times, opportunities find you instead of the other way around. While exploring new grounds, I often stumble upon something to turn into a new project. I also wonder what new opportunities (and challenges..) my new, yet to be bought :p, camera will bring me. 36MP is a lot of fun but it has its drawbacks of course.. I’ll hate the small AF area coverage (compared to DX) and the massive file sizes, but I’ll love the additional cropping, detail, better noise handling, dynamic range, and AF performance…. O well, nothing is perfect in life.

And now, time to go after that Pheasant that just walked into my garden. Good to know he survived the killing spree of the local hunters.

Until next time!

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Hen Harriers – revisited

This will be the first of two winter posts. This first one will cover my latest Hen Harrier adventures whereas the second post will show some other more common birds in a winter setting. For the first time in many years I haven’t had the feeling of spending the winter in hibernation. I actually went out into the blistering cold and got great results! I focussed all my efforts on capturing birds in the snow that I didn’t have any time to go out and shoot some landscape shots. Yes, the winter of 2012/2013 was great but I’m glad that it’s over and I’m ready for Spring now. I already have a few small colorful projects in mind but more on that in a few weeks. I will also be buying a new camera as I’ve set April 1st as a deadline to buy one. I’m afraid Nikon won’t release a D400 any time soon so I’ll be buying a D800 and 24-70mm lens (full frame instead of APS-C (crop)). I will still be using my D300 for when I need the additional reach and speed but the D800 will be great for more controllable projects such as macro, light rays, and king fishers. I’m a bit worried though about storage space on my computer so I’m going to have to increase that as well. Luckily my 2008 Mac Pro seems to handle large D800 RAW files very well. Anyways.. enough blabla and time for the pictures:

Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier

I do wonder what adventures 2013 will bring. Where do the kingfishers decide to nest? Will we see any new rare birds? How about the beaver? And will I see Roe Deer fawns again? I can’t wait!

Until next time!

The rise and fall of Fall..

Time for my yearly Fall post! I have seven images to show you that basically represent what I’ve been up to in the past 2 months. Due to bad weather, shortening days, and travels I haven’t been able to do what I initially planned to do. This colorful season went by too quickly for me this year. No reason to complain though as I’m still very satisfied with the images below. I’ve come up with an awesome new idea that, if successful, should take my work to the proverbial ‘next level’. I won’t give out any details as I don’t want anyone else to try it before I do and I need to wait either for Spring or Fall 2013… and I need a new camera for that as well but more on that at the end of this post.
Anyways, enough blabla and time for the latest photo’s.

This was a magical morning. Dense fog and clear skies above..
sun rays
sun rays
sun rays
I have to start finding new locations for these sun ray shots as most of the ones taken thus far have been in the usual spot.

Time for the Fall shots:
mushroom
Fall color
Forest colors
Forest lane

Furthermore, I’m thinking about buying a new camera. If Nikon won’t announce a D400 before April 2013, I will switch to either a D800 or a D4. This means going FX and losing the crop factor which I still find essential for wildlife and small birds. I would however gain unsurpassed speed, low light capabilities, and dynamic range etc…. we’ll see what 2013 brings us. My D300 has a 5 year old sensor and AF system which, I believe, are starting to limit my ‘development’ as a photographer.

Until next time!

It’s good to be the King!

As already mentioned in my previous post, I still have some new deer fawn photo’s to share with you. Again such an amazing moment! I went back to the usual location and already saw two young deer fawns playing along the creek bed. I slowly moved closer, playing red light – green light with them (freeze when they looked, walk when they didn’t). I came within 40 meters or so when I positioned myself behind some long grass and underneath a bush. After a while one of the fawns started running towards me trying to find a gap in the fence through which to enter the field with the high grass. It was completely focussed on finding that opening and didn’t seem to notice the guy making these clicking noises. Even though the light was pretty bad, I was able to get some nice action shots. I was very much wondering how close the fawn was going to come near me. After a few attempts to enter the meadow it kept searching for a decent opening, which happened to be around 10 meters from where I was standing. So basically that’s where the fawn went! She (I guess it’s a she because of her good looks and all) stopped no more than 10 meters from me, stared at me for 30 seconds or so (in the meantime I was shooting away, anxiously wondering for how long she was going to stand there). After nicely posing for me she disappeared through the opening and started playing in the tall grass, leaving me shaking with adrenaline and 50 good shots in the pocket.

Here she is:
Roe deer fawn
Roe deer fawn

Later that morning I went back to my Kingfisher spot where I was greeted by a Kingfisher cleaning session within a few minutes of waiting. Was able to take some action shots and left a good 3 hours later. All in all, some pretty decent weekends lately. Now I’m waiting for the grass to grow higher again as the farmers just mowed it all down down causing the deer to leave for the corn fields much earlier in the morning when there is hardly any light. Lets hope the deer fawns don’t loose their playful behavior in the next few weeks.

Kingfisher
Kingfisher

Until next time!

The Deer Whisperer

I’ve figured it all out and I’m not going to share my secrets with you ;-). I found the right location, right time, and the best way to photograph Roe deer fawns. It all started two weeks ago when I entered a specific area that seemed to meet all the requirements for a Roe Deer meet. I slowly walked towards a meadow with tall grass and suddenly saw two Roe deer fawns jumping up from the ground, startled by my presence. Both looked at me and apparently saw no danger as they both just kept standing at the place where they landed after their jump. One of them just kept staring at me. I immediately brought up my camera and started shooting away, trying not to make any sudden movements, and anxiously wondering how long this moment was going to last. What happened next was awesome… both fawns accepted my presence and started to eat, groom, run, and play. I was able to closely follow them for about half an hour. Unfortunately the tall grass prevented me from taking any clear shots and also made the focusing quite difficult, especially when you have to hand hold a 500mm and manually focus at the same time. But that’s when those 50 daily push-ups come in handy! What an amazing moment that was. Little did I know that this was going to repeat itself 2 weeks later. More about that encounter in my next blog. Here are the shots:

Roe deer fawn
Wonderful moment!

Mom:
Roe deer
Just look at how graceful these creatures are. I’m sure I’ll go ballistic if I ever saw a hunter kill one. If you ever read in the newspaper that a nature photographer attacked a hunter, it’ll most likely be me :p. Please come and bail me out then by the way ;).

Next up is a Common Sandpiper. These birds are not very common in the Netherlands and it’s not at all common that one lands on your Kingfisher branch. Amazing moment once again.
Common Sandpiper

Next up are some macro’s I took in the meadow where the deer were playing.
grass macro

grasshopper
I could have sworn it was saluting me!

Last one for this post. This young Buzzard flew over my head while I was taking shots of the 2 Roe deer fawns. Had to act quickly to change exposure settings and fire away.
Buzzard in flight

Next post will probably be sometime later this week to describe my adventures of this weekend. As said before, I met the roe deer fawns again and one got close, really close :D.

Until next time!

The Kingfisher diaries

Time for my yearly Kingfisher post! I seem to be getting better at photographing these birds every year. You need to find the nests (the hard part), find some nice looking branches, put them into the river bed, think about where the sun is going to be relative to the stick, and get out of bed early for nice and warm morning sunlight. At least, that’s what I thought until it started to rain a lot in these past weeks. After some time I realized that rain can also add some drama to the pictures and it pretty much worked out ok I’d say. The first picture of this blog must be one of my best Kingfisher shots so far. Gorgeous pose, action shot, an ice catch, all that’s missing is full frontal warm sunlight. Still, I’m very satisfied:

Kingfisher action shot

Next up is the rain shot:
Kingfisher in the rain
Really adds something special to the shot I think.

Another action shot:
Kingfisher action shot

Besides the Kingfishers, I’ve also spend a lot of my time on beavers. I was successful on quite some occasions but was never fully satisfied with the results. I have some new ideas for the coming few weeks when (or maybe I should say ‘if’) the weather clears up a bit. I want to get close, really close… but beavers seem to have quite a good sense of smell so I have to pay more attention to the direction the wind is facing. During one of my agonizingly long sessions of lying down on a hard and wet river bed (for the beaver), I was able to take a few shots of these cute little explorers who happened to be investigating their new and interesting world while I was lying flat on the ground (camouflaged of course). They must have been only a few days old! The kept biting on everything they could find to see if it was edible.
ducklings
Moments after this shot, the mother duck decided to head off in the opposite direction after hearing my loud shutter noises. I really need a new camera. Nikon, where’s my D400 with silent shutter, 16-24MP, 8fps, 1080p video at 60fps.. etc.??

Last but not least: A great spotted woodpecker. Three of these bold birds are now living in my garden and they regularly visit my bird feeding station. This one posed very nicely in the warm evening light:

woodpecker

That’s it for this post. Hope to have some nice beaver shots soon.

Until next time!

Feeding time

It’s feeding time! The new families that were formed this Spring are now all coming to my bird feeding setup to feed their young newborns. Very nice to see this all happening not more than 4 meters away from me. We finally have some Great Spotted Woodpeckers in our garden, but unfortunately only with one little one. It still makes for a nice seen though, especially after a long exhausting day of being fed by the parents:
woodpecker
I’ve taken over 100 photo’s of these gorgeous birds.

And now for the Blue Tit fur balls. I attached a metal ball to a white cord hanging from one of the bird feeding branches to try and prevent the Magpies from flying off with the bird food. The little Blue Tits use this cord to hang from and to wait until their parents come by with a peanut. Just look at how cute these little fur balls are:
Blue tits

Next up is a Honey Buzzard. These are gorgeous birds of prey with beautiful markings underneath their wings:
honey buzzard

And finally a colorful one:
colorful

That’s it for this post. Next projects are the beaver (again), and Little Owls.

Until next time!