By the end of 2015 my book Photographing Wildlife in the UK was pretty much in the bag. I had visited all the locations I had aimed to reach and managed to photograph most of the wildlife I had hoped to encounter. The manuscript and photographs were with the editors and wouldn’t be published until March 2016 so I was anticipating a bit of a rest from my travels and didn’t expect to be out looking for wildlife quite as much as in the previous three years.
Happily this was not to be.
I can’t remember quite how I managed it but probably feeling a little uninspired in January I headed for the hills and found myself once more on the fabulous Isle of Mull. The highlight being tracking this family of otters, a mother and two cubs as she lead them safe but struggling through stormy winter seas.
Revitalised and realising that though the book was finished I was still totally inspired by photographing wildlife, I returned to the Cotswolds. In February our local barn owl was increasingly visible, now hunting in the last hours of daylight, which they often seem to do in the colder winter months.
Using the Nikon D4s high ISO capability to the maximum and underexposing by minus two allows the exposure of the white feathers against the underexposed dark background.
By March, a sunny spell in the Highlands seemed like a good excuse to get back to Scotland in search of wildlife in the snow. Picking a weather window worked incredibly well to find mountain hares still in their winter white on the snow fields in fabulous sunshine.
Again feeling revitalised – after all I had made it through another winter. I returned to searching out local wildlife and one sunny April day I was pleased to find this superb male kestrel hunting over Pink Hill meadow in Oxfordshire. Kestrels are a regular sight round here but it’s not often you get them with the sun and a breeze behind you with the bird hovering in symmetry.
May is one of my favourite months and I always set my iPhone calendar to remind me to go looking for fox cubs in the woods at this time of year. This one saw me before I saw him but he stayed around long enough for me to capture his wary expression.
In June I teamed up with Nature Photography Hides in Worcester and led some photo-tuition days to photograph kingfishers.
Then in July I also lead a couple of fantastic pine marten photography workshops in Scotland. A great opportunity to get close to these rare and enigmatic mammals whilst being eaten alive by midges. A wide aperture, slow shutter speed and high ISO were required at dusk.
At the end of July and the start of August I found myself on a long planned trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari area of South Africa. Here the black-maned lions were an amazing sight and a reminder that the conditions here require completely different camera settings.
Returning to the UK in September I led some more days at the photography hides in Worcester where I was able to photograph this kingfisher’s spectacular diving action.
In October I lead some photo-tuition trips to Brownsea Island in Dorset which is a great place to photograph these charismatic little animals in their woodland home.
By November I had lead some more photo-tuition days at Richmond Park and the red deer rut was almost over. I also managed to squeeze in another trip to the Isle of Mull. This time the opportunities included an amazing encounter with a big dog otter who had caught a large skate, a slightly exaggerated version of which story made it into the Daily Mail – He must be hungry! Moment a tiny otter manages to snare a huge 35lbs thornback ray in an incredible show of strength.
In December I am back in Oxfordshire and the seasons highlights include the throngs of fieldfares and redwings, bitterns skulking on the ice and the spectacular marsh harriers that have bred for the first time at RSPB Otmoor.
This winter you can share in Andrew’s knowledge of wildlife photography and his experience of Scotland on a variety of courses ranging from one-to-one tuition days, weekend wildlife workshops and five day wildlife trips.
Based in Aviemore these wildlife photography workshops are suitable for beginners to those who want to learn new skills. Dates start from 16th December and except for Christmas week will continue into January and February.
You can contact Andrew to get more details by visiting his website at www.gowildlandscapesphoto.com
If you would like a copy of Andrew’s book (or any of our other books), use the code FVFV at our shop to get 15% off and free UK shipping.