Catch up and 2016 brings in a New Year

02nd January 2016
It has been a long time since I wrote an update for the blog - in fact both the blog and website have been some what neglected over the last few months - a year and a bit without updates - where does the time go to ?

Despite the elapsed time it only feels like yesterday that Roy and I met up on a Friday evening in June 2014 (June being the start point for the catch-up, I will attempt to keep it short !!), we met as it would be my last chance to catch the juvenile Peregrines before they fledged and in typical UK fashion the June weather was dull - but I was still able to get a few shots

The trip to Ardnamurchan provided to be reasonably successful as I was able to get a couple of Pine Marten shots - the BBC used one for their Natures Big Picture although my favourite photograph of the week was this one . It was a bit tricky getting the shots and somewhat painful lying about on a hillside with a zillion trillion midges eating me alive - keeping the camera stable in twilight conditions whilst being eaten alive is not the easiest of photographic techniques.

Fast forwarding in time - midges played a part in Steve doing a great impression of dancing in the "quiet room" - we were out photographing Tawny Owls and Steve ended up looking like he had a severe case of measles or chicken pox - whichever one gives you bright red lumps and been thumped in the eye - as the rims of his eyes were in particular swollen - we did get some photographs .

A couple of trips to Ardnamurchan in the year gone by included a couple of brief visits for breakfast and some photography over in Inverness with David - the usual suspects being the targets for our lenses. We were lucky as there was some stunning light about and few day trippers on the hills - a couple of Leverets and some Red Grouse passed the time nicely. David has revamped his website in the past 12 months changing the format completely by using Wordpress - results of that work can be found on my Links page .

Steve whizzed backwards and forwards to France becoming more French on each visit !!! On one his sojourns there was a flurry of photography activity with the Kingfishers.

Having a bit of a free pass one weekend I drove to a spot on the Marsh that I usually photograph at - sitting in the car and looking about there was nothing obvious to photograph and yet a clear blue sky provided great light with a setting sun - after a bit of time a bird hopped onto the fencing - at first I thought it was a Wheatear and from the comfort of the heated seats of the Range Rover it was a real pull to be bothered to get out into the howling wind and get the camera gear set-up - as despite the sunshine the wind was howling across the Mersey and onto the marsh. Nevertheless I did get out having not pressed the shutter that day so I thought I might as well have a go.

Anyway this bird turned out to be a Red backed Shrike a but of a rarity although I did not know it at the time - to get an id I stuck a photo of it on Flickr that night

Bill who runs the Frodsham Marsh blog contacted me recently and he is using one of the shots I sent over to him earlier in the year as the banner for the site in 2016

Most of the year has been spent around Peter's "garden" - photographing the kingfishers.

These shots added to the backlog of Peregrine, Red Squirrel, Mountain Hare, Slav Grebes, Black-necked grebes etc etc that have culminated in a backlog of some 60Gb of unprocessed - looked at images - simply consigned to the "sock draw" !!

Matt joined us this year more frequently and between him and Peter the rest of us passed the time away with banter about various photographers, bloggers and bird watchers and who owned what dog !!

The rest of the time was trying to get something different than a bird on a stick - Ian doing diving shots flawed from the start as he uses Nikon gear !! Simon changing lenses every two minutes and pressing the shutter on random ducks - Grey Herons became a featured bird for Matt - the way to go apparently !

Trips around the world were discussed and as both Peter and Matt took a couple of breaks from the Kingfishers to go and photograph the likes of the Jaguar, wolf and bear in various places in the world.

We were lucky enough to get a shot or two of Kingfishers on bull rushes - a photograph I have wanted to achieve for sometime - the bird on the bull rush showing just how small they actually are.

The best missed shot of the year had to be one of the many attempts that the "local" Sparrowhawk made to grab the Kingfisher - one of those attempts happened at eye level as the kingfisher sat around preening and the Sparrowhawk came in head on and missed the Kinfisher by milliseconds. One rather flustered Kingfisher took off to recover elsewhere.

We now all await the results of Peters next trip away to photograph Snow Leopards the only big cat that he has not photographed in the wild, along with no doubt the next bit of new kit that is on the market, although his latest Canon Do lens is a bit of alright - a 400mm the size of a 300mm and certainly felt lighter - be interesting to see the 800mm Do lens when it is released - travel photographers will be in their elements.

Not that I saw it but I got a "name check" on this years Autumn watch as they had picked up and used a Redwing shot of mine for the background to the weather forecast.

I caught up with it on BBC iplayer and took the screenshot above on the ipad.

A highlight of the year was going out with the keepers to watch the Golden Eagles - some sight they are and watching them doing the nest change over was some spectacle. Despite being such large birds they really can "turn on sixpence" - extremely manoeuvrable.

Many thanks to David for taking the time out of his day to take me into the "wilds of the estate".

The "boys" have been busy photographing short eared owls recently, I have not had the time to join them as yet due to work and other life commitments.

What's in store for 2016 - well hopefully some time spent with David and Margaret and preferably in the snow ! I would quite like to get the Canon 600mm f4 - to date I have deferred on the purchase as I thought the price might drop - but regular visits to Camera Price-buster has not shown any real reductions on the current price tag - plus Canon should launch its replacement to the Canon 1DX - a model I skipped sticking with the MKIV.

Then it will be the same old favourites and looking to get better photographs of them, plus replacing images on this site and updating the blog photos as time permits.

To any and all readers of this blog or visitors to the site - Happy New Year to you.

It must be all over as the shops have by 4/1/16 got Easter Eggs on the shelves !!!

Nikon have announced a couple of new camera bodies at the CES - there was a rumour that Canon may use the CES as a launch pad for it's new 1DX replacement or MK2 - seen nothing as yet.

Well here it is - the first click of the year - managed 30 minutes of sun in the garden with the Goldfinch feeding away.

Despite assertions by several individuals WD40 was not required to get the shutter going ! Focus may have been slightly off but 11 months practice ahead.....

As the weather gets colder more and more birds are seeking the remaining seeds in the garden and the papers and weather forecasters predicting snow - what a surprise hey - snow in the UK during winter !

The "boys" have been out photographing - mainly owls - long eared, short eared and barn owls there seems to be a good number of owls about as the year starts.

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