Monday, 29 December 2014

Recent Photos

Wildcat stare

Apologies for the lack of photos recently, work has been busy, but there will be a few more regular updates coming soon with a project I have been asked to help with for a couple of months. More announced soon.

Here are some of my recent photos taken over the last few weeks.


The above two trying something a little different with one of our wildcats Macavity.

Aluco in red light

Catching the lovely evening light with Aluco in one of our tawny owl perches for our owl days.

Highland Cow

We have three new Highland cows, which are being looked after by David (Centre owner). Had to take a simple portrait as they are such lovely looking animals, and then trying to see how friendly they are and how close I could get I of course brought out the fisheye lens.

Donalbain the highland cow

Looks like he is smiling in this one :-)

Malcom the highland cow

Trying the tail end

Member Gary K Mann kindly bought in some mirror carp for the otters for Christmas... Little Buster had a field day with his!

Buster with carp

Buster with carp


He is coming out a lot more frequently now, and really looking quite handsome.

Chasing on ice

This last one shows Emmy chasing Elwood, one on the ice one below it swimming. Always great fun to watch!

Thanks for looking.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Otters with Trout

Jake eating trout

Just a quick one today... A member to the Centre, Bob Matthews, very kindly brings us in trout occasionally to feed our otters. I wish I took a photograph of them in the tray now as they were the biggest trout I had ever seen! Thought we would treat the otters and see what they made of them.

They loved them of course, and they kept them going for a couple of days!

They all took them off and ate in private, and the light had gone, but I was pleased with these as record shots.

Above is Jake in the reeds, I nearly rolled into the water getting this one, but it worked out well. Got a series of these with him eating the trout.

Lilly eating trout

This is Lilly with hers above.

Emmy with trout

This is Emmy taking hers, jus tot show you how big they were!

Emmy taking trout

Thought she would struggle, but she took it with ease.

Emmy eating trout

And ate it happily on the island until Elwood came and stole it from her.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Otter Cub - Buster

Just a quick post to show off the best photograph I have of Buster so far... probably already seen it on the main blog, but it is all I have!

After being out at the weekend two weeks ago, he has not since made another appearance while people have been around. He is fine though, I have seen him poking his head out of his holt, and am sure it will only be a matter of days until he is seen out more frequently.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Otters Playing

Otters Playing

Franklin is over a year old now, and due to be separated from mum and dad. The middle pond is currently empty, and so hopefully over the next week we will be able to transfer him there.

It will be good to move him over, but sad to see an end to him playing with his dad Elwood. Ever since Franklin was a cub, Elwood has shown a keen interest in helping to look after him. Even helping with his swimming lessons, which is something I had not seen the father do before, but play was always op of their list.

They would often be seen out chasing each other around the banks, and playing in the water. Usually without fail after the morning otter keeper talk they would spend ten minutes chasing each other around in the water.

With last week being the last few days of nice weather to possibly see this, I took my camera down on Sunday morning after the talk, and sure enough they put on a show. Here are a few pics.






Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wildcat Snarl


It has been extremely busy over the past few weeks here, and I have had little time to take any photographs... but when I have, experimenting was what I was doing. I have a couple of photos in my head which I am very keen to get, and am just working out the best way to do it. One is of a wildcat snarl and strike.

Above is the closest I have got, but work is needed. The light was non-existent and finding a background that works in the pen is very difficult. I think it may have to be a snow shot if we get it this year. Two things I have learn't thought are... 1. Use the fisheye lens (as above). The wide angle just didn't give the effect I wanted, but this does make the background harder to get. 2. Wear a glove! :-)


While setting up I took a couple of simple portrait snarl shots.


And a simple one to get the settings right for the fisheye lens.

Pine Marten

Another thing I was experimenting with was the pine martens. They are looking really good at the moment in their longer coats. The tricky things with this are the pens are not too great for photography, and the light is on Bonnie's pen in the morning when they are more afternoon animals.

Pine Marten

We got somewhere though, and I think we found a nice area to work with...

Pine Marten

This spot has potential for something.

Pine Marten

But still needs a bit more work.

Running Weasel

Another experimentation was a running weasel, this had to be done in the run to get a straight head on shot, but is difficult... and I mean really difficult! Above was on f/2.8 and ISO 3200. Even then the shutter was not really fast enough and I will happily admit, that the above was a lot to do with luck! It was very dark though, so with some light I think it is possible.

American Mink

A couple of photos from a few I took of one of our mink. I have never really photographed them before, but Mindy, our female, was out a week ago in the morning so I took the opportunity to get a few snaps.

American Mink

Thanks for looking.

Friday, 17 October 2014

BWC Photographic Day

Red Squirrel

I joined in on one of our photographic days a few weeks a go, and after having rain on the open days I did and dark skies on the owl day I had... both! for the BWC photographic day. It seems my luck was against me, but I still had a great day, got a couple of photos I am very pleased with and for two brief spells we did get a bit off light piercing through.

As always, we started with our red squirrels. The rain was light, and the skies were dark hence the low aperture and high iso obviously visible in the photo above, but I have to confess I really like this one. Also goes to show, push the iso up if you have too! Better to have a slightly noisy photo which is sharp than a blurry photo with no noise.


We tried the foxes next, but they were having none of it so we had to move on to the wildcats. But since we usual do the foxes second I thought I would show those photos second here too.

This is where the real advantage of a photo day comes to. Having the keeper with you for the squirrels is great, as we can even move them to a certain extent on to logs and branches for natural photos, but with the foxes, wildcats and otters you get to enter the pens with them and not only have a keeper but also avoid the barriers/mesh fencing.


This gives you the chance to get some nice portraits, looking straight at you with a little help from a keeper, or off to one side.

Red Fox

The other advantage is being able to get close enough for something a little more abstract.

Fox Running

And if they are up for it, we can always get the animals moving a bit too for some action shots.


Next up is the wildcats. Once again, close up portraits is the obvious advantage, but we can get the cats running and even jumping for some great action shots. I didn't do too much with them during our session, but at the end of the day went back in of the last few minutes and with a brief spell of sunshine to take the photo above... one of my favourites from the day.

Wildcat Yawn

And who can resist a yawn shot when it shows itself!

Harvest Mouse

After the cats and before lunch, we bring out the hedgehogs and harvest mice for some more natural looking photographs on little sets. The mice are usually on teasel or corn and the hedgehog can be placed on the grass, bark or even leaves during the early autumn days.

Tawny Owl

We don't do too much with our owls, so as not to take away from our owl photographic days, but we do perch a tawny owl and barn owl for those who are interested and don't wish to come on one of our owl days. Ironically, this was my favourite photo of a tawny owl our of both our normal day and owl day I joined in on last month.

Blue Skies!

After lunch we start with the deer, and to be honest this is the one animal where there is not much difference to if you attended the keeper talk on an open day, but next is what I think is the best part of the day... going in with the otters. Once again it was very dull, but with a ten minute spell of beautiful blue sky! I just had to put on the wide angle to prove we actually did get a bit of light during this day.

Otter Swimming

With the otters we can get them on the bank, in the water and if they are up for it even a little bit of running. The big advantage here is you can get very low on the ground to get more intimate photos of them.


And as with the foxes and cats, it really shows the advantage of a photographic day over an open day. The low angle, inside the enclosure, and with a keeper keeping them interested and varying where they are.


At the end of the day we finish up with our stoats, weasels, polecats, mink and badgers. You have no extra access with these than you would on an open day, but having the keeper there does help. They can help position the animals a little bit, and make sure they are out for you to photograph. A little bit of food of course helps keep them interested.

Thanks for looking.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Cobwebs in the Dew

Dew drops on a cobweb

I love cobwebs at this time of year, especially early morning when they hold on to the dew droplets. I have never photographed them before, and have never really used my macro lens in this way before, so thought I would give it a go the other morning for ten minutes.


What I learnt... this type of macro photography is a very different ball game to wildlife photography. Hand holding is difficult, I don't like using a tripod for wildlife... too restricting, but I can see why many people of for macro. The depths of field are so shallow! Can lead to some brilliant effects though.


I've used macro for wildlife before, and a lot of the dancing adders from this year were taken with  my macro lens, but more practice and experience is needed for this real closeup stuff me thinks.


Thing is, although I appreciate good macro photography, I am not a huge fan of it myself. So although I would like to give it another/better go at some point, I will still mainly be putting on a larger lens for some nice mammal shots.




I got carried away with the macro and went for something really arty in the end, and with more colour.

Autumn Leaf

Thanks for looking.