Thursday, 15 December 2011


Before I get started on the last bit of the trip, let me just apologise for taking so long to post this, exhibition work took over which is all I’ve been working on for the last month or so but more about that at the end of the post. This is the last part of our trip to Madagascar, it’s going to be a long one so grab a cup of tea and make yourself comfy. On leaving Ranomafana we made the journey up to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, stopping on the way at a lovely picnic spot next to the river where we found a rather cute little chameleon and a fuel stop where we picked up a bottle of J.C. Le Roux to celebrate our engagement. The two parks have so much to offer, but before we explored we made our way to our accommodation at Vakona Forest lodge, a beautiful lodge nestled in the forest. After settling in, selecting dinner and getting changed we headed off for our first night walk along the edge of Andasibe, it is not permitted to enter the National Parks at night.
The walk took us up the road past the main entrance to the park searching for frogs, chameleons and anything else we might be able to find! Our luck was in and we saw not only a couple of species of frog, couple of species of chameleon and a stick insect! So here is the first photo of this instalment, a rather cute little green frog with enormous eyes!
After our walk it was time to head back to the lodge and get some dinner and some sleep ready for an early start to head off into Andasibe to experience something that it not only a must do, but something that I was looking forward. After breakfast, off we went picking up our guide on the way and headed off into the park, time to find the indri, the largest living lemur resembling a teddy bear and the only lemur to sing. On the way to find the indri, we did come across a couple of Eastern grey bamboo lemurs munching away and while we were watching them we had our first, all be it at a distance, experience of the indri singing and it was amazing. We headed off into the forest to find the indri and it wasn’t long before we came across a small group high up in the trees, trust me trying to photograph them wasn’t easy as not only were they high up, it was also raining! But soon enough taking photos was not what I was after and when they started singing I switch to video mode to capture the beautiful singing that sounds a little bit like humpback whale song. One of the indri actually came down the tree and sat just above my head I could feel the song right through my body and yes I did indeed shed a tear, it is a very moving and incredible experience so here it is, the video of them singing.

I could have stayed with them all day but after an hour or so we had to move on, just before I move on here is one of the images I did manage to capture of the indri as it came down from the canopy.
Although we had to move on, we did see the indri a couple more times but high in the canopy eating! The next lemurs we came across were common brown lemurs, one of which was just above our heads eating away completely undisturbed by our presence. After watching them for a while we headed off hoping to find more lemurs but also a nightjar in its daytime roosting spot. Our guide, Maurice headed off into the forest to see if they were there and I can honestly say that I would never have seen them if he hadn’t pointed them out so here they are a pair of collared night jars showing their amazing camouflage.
We continued to make our way through the forest with the song of the indri ever present, eventually coming back out into the open and back to the visitor centre and the park entrance. But that wasn’t to be it for that trip as there was a young Parson’s chameleon next to the toilets, and I was quite surprised to see that it was bright orange and here it is:
Finally it was time for lunch so we headed back to the lodge and re-fuelled. The plan for after lunch was our choice; we could either head back into the forest to look for birds or stay behind at the lodge and visit the lemur island. Well, we decided to stay behind and after lunch headed over to the island where they have a small collection of lemurs that had been rescued from zoos and trust me they were very friendly jumping all over us, we must have been on the island for an hour or so and I’ve glade we stayed as it turned out this was the only time we would get to see the beautiful diademed sifaka and here he is:
It was a great chance for us to experience the lemurs close up and get some photos of us with our new friends. On leaving the island we headed off to see the crocodiles and a pair of fossas they had in captivity and then we slowly wondered back to the lodge enjoying time to ourselves which was followed by our chilled bottle of J.C. Le Roux sitting on the veranda. It was great to have that time to ourselves before we headed off out again for another night walk, but this time we headed into part of the park that they do permit night walks. But we had only made it a short distance before Claude spotted a Madagascan tree boa on the road, well it would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t jump out and grab a few shots but as this is me, I got very close to the snake but was rewarded by capturing a couple of images of it flickering its tongue and in this image you can see the shadow of where the tongue was!
So after the snake, we headed off into the forest and it was chameleons galore, images of which you can see on Flickr, but to our surprise we found something else, a praying mantis cunningly disguised as a leaf and here it is:
Continuing the walk we saw another mossy leaf tailed gecko and mouse lemurs moving around in the shadows, plenty of frogs and yet more chameleons! Finishing our night walk we headed back to the lodge for dinner and bed, ready for our last day in Madagascar. Up early we headed off to Mantadia which was about an hour away and nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to see. We could hear the indri again but we could also hear something else which definitely was not a lemur. Heading through the forest we came across.......... not one but three fossas high in the trees, but that wasn’t it as they were actually mating. To even see one fossa in the wild is incredible but to see them mating with a second male in the wings, well there are not words. Needless to say I have images and video so here they are the image of the mating fossas you need to look closely to see the top of the head of the female and underneath the video of them mating, enjoy!

Continuing our walk after over an hour, we caught glimpses a couple of indri and a black and white ruffed lemur with a radio collar on as they are carrying out vital research in this less visited park and on the way back to the lodge we found an Eastern grey bamboo lemur next to the road and a Madagascan buzzard sitting in a tree. On arriving back at the lodge, that was it, time to head back to the airport and start making our way back to the UK. Visiting Madagascar was not only a dream come true, but an eye opening, passion filled experience so naturally I was sad to be leaving. However, it is not the end as I am fully intending to re-visit one day and head up north as well as revisiting the areas we visited on this adventure and hopefully my stories and images will highlight the incredible and amazing wildlife and country of Madagascar and maybe encourage a few of you to visit one day. So this is it from Madagascar but do keep checking my website, flickr and facebook pages as I am still sifting through images and adding more and of course it is not the end of my adventures I will post about my trip to Norfolk but for now I have some wedding planning to do when Chris gets home at the weekend and of course it is nearly Christmas so here is one last photo of me with my new friends. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year with family and friends, but don’t forget to get outside and enjoy the natural world at some point to.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Isalo & Ranomafana

The second instalment from our trip to Madagascar and on leaving Zombitse we continued on our journey heading for Isalo on a rather uneventful drive giving plenty of time to catch up on sleep! Finally we arrived at our hotel which was very, very nice but there would be time to enjoy it later, for now it was time to have lunch get changed and head off into Isalo National Park. Isalo is a strange place, it is a stunning landscape of eroded sandstone outcrops and canyons, although it may not have the density of wildlife of the other National Parks, it does still have some unique species such as the bizarre elephant's foot plant (Pachypodium rosulatum) and is actually one of the traditional burial sights for the Malagasy people. We did see several pairs of Madagascan kestrels flying in and out of the holes on the rock face and we even found a small reddish praying mantis! Although we didn't see any lemurs, our local guide told us that they use the holes in the rock to hide at night from the fossa. 
We didn't have long in Isalo due to changes in flights earlier in the tour but it was definitely worth visiting and on the way back to the hotel we stopped for a fiery sunset before having a wonderful meal and an early night. We had a very early start to get on the road to Ranomafana before the end of the day taking in a stop or two on the way. The first part of the journey saw us climbing up onto a barren plateaux, but then we encountered something we were not expecting, a huge several million strong locust swarm and it would have been rude not to stop and experience it from outside the comfort of the bus. So here is a link to the video and you can see a couple of images on my Flickr page. 

Locust swarm

Right, well after experiencing the swarm which I have to say was very noisy, we jumped back into the bus and headed for our next stop, which for me in one of the most important as it really highlights community based conservation. Anja is a community run ring tailed lemur reserve and one of the few places you can see the lemurs on rocks. Simply put, the community realised that by conserving a species that people would pay to see they could make a good living, so instead of hunting/killing the lemurs when they came down to raid the crops they just scared them off this is community based conservation in action and a real success story. On arrival we picked up four local guides and headed off to find us some lemurs and we were not to be disappointed coming across a family including a couple of adorable babies which were happily playing in the trees but being carefully watched by the mums! I could have stayed all day, but time was moving on so it was back to the bus, but not before I have shared this cute baby with you! 
Back on the bus it was off to watch paper making by hand, a picnic and then Ranomafana eventually arriving around dinner time, so there wasn't really much time to do much other than eat and sleep! So Ranomafana, the rainforest at last  it was time to go find some lemurs and we were after four species in particular, the golden bamboo lemur (the discovery of which led to the park being established for it's protection), the Milne Edward's sifaka, red-bellied lemur and the critically endangered greater bamboo lemur. After crossing the river to enter the park we saw a belted chameleon hiding very well in a tree and our first lemurs were the golden bamboo lemurs eating high up in the trees but they did venture down and in a fleeting glimpse of sunlight it was very easy to see where they get their name from! Next up were a family of red-bellied lemurs snuggled up but we did see the beautiful white tear drops of the male's eyes and it was then on to the Milne Edward's sifakas, the second largest living lemur and with beautiful big red eyes. To get to the lemurs was interesting with plenty of walking up and down hills and slippery slopes but it was well worth it as we had the chance to observe a family of these beautiful lemurs, including a baby, but it was clear from watching them that they have a bit of a fly problem and spent a lot of time scratching and grooming! As we were watching these lemurs we got the call that I was hoping for, they had found the greater bamboo lemur, that was enough for me and off we went through the rainforest. The greater bamboo lemur is critically endangered with only around 130 individuals left in the wild and only two in Ranomafana. I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to see this lemur in the wild it was a very humbling experience so here he is:
I could write for ever about the experiences and sightings but I will try to keep it short (ish), if you would like to know more about any of the places or wildlife please don't hesitate to drop me an email and I'd be more than happy to share them with you. For now it was time to move on and start heading out of the park to refuel our bodies not before we came across a couple of satanic leaf tailed geckos. After lunch we were off again to a different part of the park to see what else we could find, first up were the crazy giraffe necked weevils a truly odd creature but also weirdly beautiful, maybe not as strange as the next spotted which I actually found after everyone else had walked past it, including the guides! Here he is one of my favourite creatures the mossy leaf tailed gecko, do check out my Facebook page for more images of him/her including the camouflaged one! 
We spent a couple of days at Ranomafana and saw chameleons, frogs, geckos, birds and more lemurs which you can see images of on any of my other pages so I will leave you to take the adventure in your own time with a cup of time! Before I end this instalment though I will say that having the opportunity to see such amazing wildlife let alone photograph it was incredibly rewarding and humbling and has really stoked the fires to help conserve this wonderful biodiversity rich island. If you can help in anyway or can suggest ways in which my images could help please drop me a message. So for now, I'm off to pack for Norfolk ready to go find myself some seals, have a great weekend everyone. 

Friday, 28 October 2011

Madagascar - Part 1 Berenty and Zombitse

I have been home for two weeks now and have not stopped, but had the most amazing time and it really was a dream come true, plus Chris proposed so we have come home engaged! It was the most romantic proposal with an audience of Verreaux's sifakas including a 2 month old baby that all watched intently, needless to say we are very happy.

So, on to the wildlife and the country........

Madagascar is a truly beautiful and interesting country with so many different ecosystems, driving around it was hard to believe that the whole island was once covered in rainforest but now so little of this actually remains and in the south it is very much a spiny forest that is very dry. In terms of the country there are influences from both India (east of the country) and Africa (west of the country) and these influences were obvious as we drove through both the capital city of Tana and also through the countryside. One thing that become very apparent ( although we were already aware when we booked the trip) is that the best sites for wildlife are spread out across the island, and our first stop of Berenty was a flight to Fort Dauphin followed by a four hour drive but it was definitely worth it. It was the one place I have always wanted to go and the only place we could wonder around by ourselves and it world famous for two species of lemur in particular, the ring-tailed lemur and the Verreaux's sifaka so only right to include a photo of each!

Although these species are very charismatic and very endearing, there is a lot more to the area including geckos, chameleons, owls, snakes and of course other lemurs. Whilst at Berenty, we spent as much time as possible outside taking walks and finding what we could but this wasn't just at Berenty Reserve, we were lucky enough to be able to visit a couple of other reserves in the spiny forest which proved to be very fruitful both during the day and also at night which included this large headed gecko:

We encountered a grass snake, scorpion and several white-footed sportive lemurs which although restricted to the spiny forests of the south are not listed on the IUCN Redlist as there is currently insufficient data on this species to allow classification and unfortunately this is the case for many of the less well known species. Needless to say there are many, many photos and videos which can be seen on my website, Flickr and Facebook pages so please do visit and have a browse and maybe even leave a comment. 

Eventually it was time to leave Berenty and following a couple of days of travelling our next real wildlife hotspot was Zombitse National Park, not only on the the newest parks but is also of huge biological significance as it forms one of the last remnants of transitional forest between the western and southern regions. It is home to a re-classified lemur, the Zombitse sportive lemur which is thought to be found nowhere else on the island and we were very lucky to see one sitting right out in the open, so here it is:

To finish off this instalment we have some flatid leaf bugs in their larval stage which are very strange indeed they look all fluffy and this is actually a predator defence mechanism. The next blog instalment will included stories and images from Isalo and Ranomafana National Parks and will appear in the coming weeks and then the last instalment from Madagascar will be based on Andasibe-Mantadia and will include some links to videos including mating fossas! In the meantime, I have wedding venues to visit and a trip to Norfolk to plan, so until then happy snapping and if you do have any questions or there is a species you would like me to include in the next post just drop me an email! 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A Dream Come True

Well, it has been a long time coming but the time has now arrived for us to pack and head off to Madagascar tomorrow.
Since I first visited Jersey Zoo as a young girl I have wanted to go to Madagascar to see lemurs in the wild, this is a dream that has grown with phenomenal passion and even resulted in studying the behavioural responses of captive ring tailed lemurs to visitor numbers and noise levels in relation to their enclosure design for my MSc thesis. Finally last year we went ahead and booked this trip which will take us to four reserves around the island during what promised to be two of the most exciting weeks of my life. I cannot express how excited, lucky and privileged I feel to be able to be making this trip and I look forward to sharing the experience, stories and of course images and videos from the trip. If there is internet access I will try to post an update, but if not see you all in two weeks.

Monday, 5 September 2011

A brief update and images from work!

Well, the summer seems to be drawing to a close if the weather is anything to go by, definitely a good catch-up day today, with the schools have gone back so I am finally getting some time to get on top of all my work. Over the last month or so I have been busy re-vamping my website, although it has to be said not without some problems along the way, but I am almost done and will be live by tonight so do pop along and have a look at the changes. I have re-organised the galleries and changed around some images, not mention making plenty of space for Madagascar! But it hasn't all been computer work, at the beginning of August I photographed the Bath NTS tournament which was a lot of fun and good chance to work on my sports photography, if your interested please have a browse here: Bath NTS, I have also been carrying my small compact camera around with me at work and have found some pretty cool stuff so here goes, WARNING contains a spider and a really cure mouse! 

Found this little girl running around on the path to the cave entrance, nibbling away at crumbs dropped by customers. 
But it's not just cute mice, found a couple of really cool bugs as well:
A bloody nosed beetle, a little camera shy this one.
A cave spider with her egg sack
And last but by no means least, the monster bug of the wall! 

I'm now down to only working a few days a week at the caves, but this is giving me chance to get everything ready for the big adventure to Madagascar which is now less than 4 weeks away, very exciting and just can not wait to get out there, in the meantime I am now regularly writing gear reviews on a panel for Practical Photography Magazine, although there are occasionally gear reviews I can't quite help with, for example portrait photography! I also have a new toy which I am still getting used to but will really help with macro work but have to say I am absolutely loving it already! Not going to let on with what it is just yet, I'm afraid you will just have to wait! So until the next instalment, happy snapping. 

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Cotswold Farm Park (Adam's Farm)

Well, we are now pretty much settled into the new house, although still have some unpacking and sorting out to do! I have managed a day away from house stuff and cave guiding and was lucky enough to go on a trip with Somerset WI to the Cotswold Farm Park (otherwise known as Adam's Farm from Countryfile). We were very lucky with the weather which thankfully stayed dry until we were back on the coach on the way home.

The Farm park is a wonderful day out for people of all ages, with a wonderful wildlife walk through various different habitats including woodlands, fields and disused quarries as well as a great walk around various pens housing goats, pigs, sheep, cattle and ponies. We started with the wildlife walk and enjoyed a wide variety of insects, flowers and a couple of rabbits! So the first image is of a butterfly, if you look closely you can see the pollen grains all over it!
After a quick refuelling of the energy tank, we headed off around the main part of the farm park to look at some of the rare breeds on show. We definitely weren't disappointed, there were some very inquisitive goats, some very cute piglets, sheep and a couple of goats having a bit of a fight, not to mention the highland cows or beasties as we always called them when we were growing up, there was a very cute calf with a cheeky expression! Here is one of the cute piglets, there will be more photos to follow on both my Flickr page and Facebook page as I get chance to go through them. 
There was a lot to see and enjoy for children of all ages, including big kids otherwise known as adults, the huge jumping pillows did look like a lot of fun although I didn't actually try them out. What really impressed me was the amount of easy to read and understand information that was available about the animals, not to mention the opportunity for people to hold bunnies and chicks, something that I just couldn't resist and made a new friend, not sure who is happier, a very rare photo of me! 
I would definitely recommend a visit to the Cotswold Farm Park to adults, children and families alike, it is a great day out and so much to enjoy, and who can resist so many cute animals! Finally the time had come for us to rejoin the rest of the group and head of to have tea with a local WI which was fantastic and well needed.  All in all, we had a really wonderful day so a big thank you to everyone at Cotswold Farm Park and the WI for a great day out.

I am now busy full time at the caves for the rest of the summer, but have managed to get the 2012 Natural Europe Calendar to the printers and they are now ready to order from here, orders will be posted out by the end of September. I am also busy putting together all the photos and information ready for the big exhibition next year, not to mention starting to sort things out for Madagascar. Exciting times ahead, but plenty to keep me busy. I am hoping to get out back to the Somerset Levels on Thursday so keep an eye out for more bugs! 

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Successful two weeks

Well, I am now back in a very rainy and not so warm UK and catching up on processing images and emails. The last two weeks have been an incredible experience, a lot of fun and meeting the rest of the TWP team was great, already looking forward to heading out again in September. After a full on morning and late afternoon/evening of walking and photography, we were treated not only to a wonderful sunrise through the trees in the forest but also to the eclipse on Wednesday night which is the first image for this instalment.
I am gradually uploading images to my website with details of the equipment used and going through the invertebrate images working on identification, if you can provide any help with the identification process please let me know! I have now finalised the details for the 2012 Natural Europe Calendar which will cost just £12 including first class postage within the UK, images will comprise of mammals, birds, plants, insects and landscapes and there will be space for writing. I am just going through choosing the images and as they are selected they will appear on my website here along with further details: 2012 Calendar I am also having a sale of existing stock over the weekend of July 30th and 31st (Saturday and Sunday) with up to 50% of some items, for full details click here: Buy Direct from the Photographer. One last bit of news, my Corryvreckan whirlpool image is being published in a new book coming out in October about the Earth. This last image is one of my favourites from the last two weeks of the sun coming through the trees, taken in black and white.
Well, that is about it for now, back to the washing and selecting images for the calendar and hoping that the sun will come out sometime in the next few days!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

An update from in the field in Romania

I arrived safely in Romania and it has been a busy few days, meeting the team and organising trips to find and start documenting the wildlife. We have been concentrating on local areas around Odjula and have had some great success in only a few days and have begun the task of photographing and identifying plants, insects and amphibians. We have undertaken both short and long walks through forests and meadows in search of species to document and have so far found at least four different species of grasshopper, a cricket, three species of orchid, a salamander and a yellow bellied toad, not to mention the Carpathian deer and a family of wild boar. The area is incredible with breathtaking forests and vast amounts of life. So for the first photo, this was taken in a clearing in the forest with low cloud creating a wonderfully atmospheric image.

Hiking through the forest is a wonderful experirence that words cannot explain but unfortunately in many areas of the forest illegal trapping still occurs using both snares and foothold traps, both of which cause suffering to the caught animal as they are not killed when they are trapped and the traps may not be checked for days. During one of our trips through the forest we came across both types of traps along a path with the snare first followed by the foothold trap, luckily our team members saw the traps, disabled and removed them.

So a little more about the wildlife and this area has a huge diversity of species from plants to insects to mammals. The Carpathians are home to a specific deer called the Carpathian Deer which is found nowhere else. It is much larger than the familar red deer and has a long thin face with a dark stripe running along the ridge of the neck. The forests are also home to fire salamanders and yellow bellied toad which mate, lay their eggs and look after their young in pools of water. We have seen both of these species and if you click on the link below you can watch a video of the fire salamander. Fire Salamander

As for the bugs, well there are a lot of them around and some very interesting ones at that, the first photo is of a yet unidentified insect that we found next to the landrover.

The second photo is of one of the many species of grasshopper that we have seen, but this one was a little camera shy and kept hiding behind the grass stem!

We are making good progress with documenting the flora and fauna and as always you can seen a more extensive collection of images and videos on both my Flickr page and new facebook page. Right back to cataloguing images!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Hello again, hope everyone has been out and about enjoying the sun if you've had some! This will be my last update for a while as I head out to Romania on Sunday June 5th for two weeks to work on the Transylvanian Wildlife Project, it goes without saying that I am very excited and looking forward to meeting the rest of the team and getting stuck into photographing and studying the ecosystem out there. I will try to post a quick update from the field but no promises! I will however provide a detailed account when I get home hopefull with some wonderful images.

But for now back to what's been happening here in Somerset. I have had another day out on the levels with the macro lens and a great deal of success. Not only was it wonderful to be down there in the peace and quiet with all the wildlife around in the sunshine, but to see so many damselflies and dragonflies was fanatstic. So I have a couple of images from the day out on Wednesday, the first is of a damselfly. This image is a little more artistis and took some skill in capturing due to the strong winds blowing the grass in and out of focus, but I have gone for a shallow depth of field to give the impression of this little critter coming out of the green towards you, hope you like him!

The second image is off something that is rarely seen let alone photographed, look away now if you are scared of spiders! This image shows two mating soldier beetles with a crab spider biting the female beetle. By moving myself I managed to get the spider face on so you can see its face and all its eyes, and if you look carefully you can see the black heart marking on the back of the soldier beetles.

I've not only been busy with the bugs, I have also been photographing, as well as playing in, the Bath touch rugby summer league. I actually did a lot of sports photography when I was at school so it is really nice to have the opportunity to do it again now, even if it is just for fun! I've included the link to the summer league album, I will be updating it on a regular basis with images form the league and cup competitions, hope you enjoy browsing through them: Touch Rugby.

Well, time for me to go and get things organised and ready for the trip to Romania. Have a great bank holiday weekend and I will be back online soon. In the meantime you can keep up to date with images through my flickr account Flickr or why not pop over to my brand spanking new Facebook page: Facebook.

Monday, 16 May 2011

One of my Favourite subjects

Before things get too hectic with planning and packing for Romania, less than 3 weeks now, I decided to take myself off for the day to spend some time with and photograph one of my favourite subjects........swans down at Abbotsbury in Dorset. At this time of year the cygnets are hatching out and once they have dried off there really isn't much cutier baby birds, all fluffy and not quite able to walk! Despite the wind I had a truely wonderful day and with the freedom to be as creative as I like I came home with some shots that I have fallen in love with, not to mention feeling privileged to be able to see newly hatched cygnets still wet. Here is the first image, two cygnets snuggled up close to mum, these are only a day old at most.  

The second photo is a little more arty. A few years back I tried an infra-red black and white 35mm film on a trip to New Zealand and fell in love with it and the real magical feel that it gave to images. This film is now very hard to come by with most things being digital and I have long investigated a way to optain the same effect. Well..... with a new computer and new software I can now achieve the same effect. So the second photo is again of a cygnet, in black and white and processed to look like it was taken with 35mm infra-red black and white film, it gives a really soft, fluffy and dreamy appearance to the image.

This was the first time I had ever visited Abbotsbury and would definately recommend it, one thing to bear in mind is that all the swans are wild, it is a sanctuary not a captive environment, we should feel very humbled by the fact that these swans feel safe and comfortable enough to nest in such close proximity to humans and allow us to share these moments.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Macro Work on the Somerset Levels

Following on from my first photograph of a damselfy a couple of weeks ago, I have spent a growing amount of time concentrating on photographing the other insects and bugs that are around on the Somerset Levels, in particular at Westhay Moor Reserve. With damselflies, spiders and various other invertebrates everywhere it was hard to choose where to start, but as I was surrounded by damselflies this seemed a good place to begin! Although I have taken a few identification shots, it is the more artistic and different shots that I was aiming for, including ones to try to illustrate the characters of the insects in question. This first image is one of my favourites from the day and did result in me being stung by nettles in more places than you can imagine, but I hope you will agree that it was well worth it! This damselfly had just finished eating an unidentified insect and the way that it was cleaning itself really appealed to me, it looks like it may have been a very tasty bug!

For a slightly different angle, this is a different damselfly that had just caught the insect that it is making quick work of and illustrates the hunter in the grass side of these small and beautiful creatures (unless you are on the menu!).

Something a little different now, it is not only insects that I have been working with, the warm days and cold nights that we have been having have produced some wonderful dew drops, I found this dandelion seed head complete with dew drops, I decided to go for a slightly softer focus approach to create a very peaceful image of a well known plant that we perhaps take for granted.

If you are interested in seeing a few more shots from my days on the levels so far, you can check them out on my website or flickr page Somerset Levels Flickr Set, I will be spending more time down there over the coming weeks along with a special day out with a subject that I love, but you'll have to wait for that one, not giving too much away!!

Away from the photography side of work, I am currently working on 2 separate talks, one is a general talk about what I do and the projects I have and am currently working on with plenty of photos and videos aimed at a wide range of groups and the second is more technical talk that goes into more depth about how particular images were achieved and the settings used to obtain certain effects which will be geared towards those more a very keen interest in photography. If you are interested in either of the talks please drop me an email and I will send you more details. Email: Talk Information

Until next time, enjoy the sun and keep fingers crossed for some rain!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Last Few Days

Well, things have been busy over the last few days. i have been out on the Somerset levels again looking for just about anything! I saw my first ever wild grass snake and it swam across a small pool of water, the spiders were out in force and were the ants and ticks, but thankfully all the ticks remained on the vegetation and not on me! I also saw my first damselfly of the year, what a character it was too, and features in the first photo for this post almost looks like it's waving!

I finally managed to capture on film the mating dance of the wolf spider, it is a mesmerizing display, make sure you watch both spiders carefully, the male is on the left the femal on the right.

Spider Mating Dance

Some news from the garden to finish off with, there have been some visitors to the garden over the last couple of days in the form of four mallard ducks, one female and three males. They definately seem to have made themselves comfy, resting in the grass, washing and feeding in the pond. Just yesterday I found an egg on the lawn, thankfully the female came back for it and now just keeping fingers crossed that they will have a family. I will keep you posted, but for now the second photo for today is of one of the males having a wash.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Early Morning Beauty

It truely has been a beautiful couple of days in terms of the weather and it seems the insects and spiders are in agreement. I decided to get up early this morning and head to Westhay on the Somerset Levels to try to photograpgh some bugs, something I have become very addicted to over the last few weeks. I definately wasn't disappointed, arriving at 8am the dew was in perfect droplets everywhere and the early sunlight reflected of them beautifully. I had a really productive day behind the camera which included filming the male wolf spider performing his mating dance for a female, who it would seem was less than impressed! I also captured this image of a spider in amongst dew drops in the sunlight, I hope you like it. Videos to following shortly, off again early tomorrow morning.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Rare Find

It really is amazing what you can come across in your own garden, I've been re-arranging some fruit bushes and found this little fella wondering around unaware at the time how important a find it might actually be! It turns out this little fella is actually a violet oil beetle, a species that is considered vulnerable in the UK and one on which a survey is being run by buglife ( I will be submitting the fining to them). So here it is:

Friday, 1 April 2011

Wolf Spiders

I've been spending quite a bit of time recently concentrating on wildlife in the garden and in particular a group of wolf spiders on an old railway sleeper that come out to bath in the warm sunlight. I have been trying some different things including the use of monchrome and using different points of focus. Below is one of the more creative shots, I hope you like it!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Early Morning on the Somerset Levels

I decided to get up super early yesterday morning and head to the Somerset levels to see what I could find. I made it to the car park a little before 6am and was greeted by very thick mist which was persistant to say the least! But none the less I did get fantastic views of a great white egret fishing for eels, although I did manage to get some really good shots the mist put pay to them being any good to use as they are, so I decided to go a little arty on the shot below to bring out the egret. Once the egret flew off I headed over the road to Ham Wall and was treated to wonderful views of 3 great crested grebes and numberous litle grebes, so all in all a pretty good day!

Great White Egret fishing for eels, must have been hungry
while I was watching it, it caught at least 4 big eels!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Asiatic Lions Cubs

Spent a lovely day at Bristol zoo with my mum,
they have two Asiatic lion cubs, super cute and super playful!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Take Off

This ladybird was just about to take off, unfortunately this flight
ended about a second later when it crash landed

Wolf Spider, Pardosa Spp.

Must be a big, scary world out there for one so small!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Creative use of a well place flash gun, tungsten white balance and
good helping of morning dew on this beautiful wild primrose

Wednesday, 16 March 2011