Wildscenes » Wildlife and landscape photography by John Gardner

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I’ve just returned from a session of bittern photography at a local reserve where a breeding pair are presenting good photo opportunities to capture some flight shots. This elusive and rare breeding bird has a nest deep in the reedbed but I was able to place myself strategically so that I could get some flight shots as they flew from the nest out to feeding grounds. It’s always a game of chance as to which drection the birds fly, but there’s one flight path that works perfectly for photography. Here are a couple of images from today, slightly contra jour but I’m pleased with the results. I’ll add a few more as I edit or return to try for more images.

bittern photographybittern photography



This is probably the final post from my recent combined family holiday and  bird photography on Texel and so I thought I share a few images of the beautiful bluethroat and some of the landscapes of the island. The bluethroats are found in the dunes down on the SW corner of the island, but the morning I was there looking for them, the light was very poor. Typically, they performed superbly, almost taunting me knowing I was struggling with very high ISO to try and get a reasonable shutter speed. The landscapes on the other hand, were all done leisurely with the 645Z firmly mounted on a tripod so that I could use a  very low ISO and slow dhutter speeds to get the vreamy goodness out of the 50mp sensor! I’ve lots more images to edit, including yellow wagtail, tree pipit, brent goose, common tern and a few neutiful flowers such as intermediate wintergreen. Not a bad trip for four days, especially given I was only out shooting hard core wildlife for a few hours overall. I suspect I will be back very soon to the island, maybe even this autumn if the wader migration is good.bird photography on Texelbird photography on Texelbird photography on Texellandscape photography on Texellandscape photography on Texellandscape photography on Texellandscape photography on Texellandscape photography on Texellandscape photography on Texel

Some more imnages from my recent trip to do bird photography on Texel, a Fresian island off the coast of Holland. These are all images I took while on a family holiday there during the last week of May, probably the ideal time for most things, though early May could well be better for migrants and displaying waders. I think though, a trip there at any time throughout May and June will yield results. This images were just snatched in the early morning or late evening or as I cycled round the island with the family. I’ll probably post a few landscapes to finish with but I am pleased with the images and selection of species I managed to capture in a relatively small amount of time.

bird photography on Texel

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Part 3 of my bird photography on Texel while I was there with the family at the end of May. Here is another selection of birds that I managed to capture either as I drove round in the two hours after sunrise or on foot as we cycled round the island during the day. The portability of the Nikon D500 and 200-500mm kit is one of it’s strengths; there was no isuue in cycling round with the kit on my back in a Think Tank airport accelerator bag. OK, so there was some delay in dismounting the bike and getting the lens out of the bag, but often that wasn’t an issue. It was especially not an issue when I came across, say, a small pool with common terns fishing on it

bird photography on Texelbird photography on Texelblack-tailed godwit Texelmeadow pipit on Texelbird photography on Texel | avocetbird photography on Texel | whitethroatspoobill photography Texelspoonbill photographed on Texel

The second installment of my trip for bird photography on Texel. These are just a random selection uploaded as I process my images so no real order to them but they give a flavour of the images I created. There are a lot more Sandwich terns to cone as I spent a really enjoyable couple of hours photographing them as they came in off the sea to the nesting colony on Lancaster Dike. Of course, when shooting white birds in bright sunshine against a dark background like this, manual exposure is mandatory to maintain detail in the highlights. I tend to shoot mostly in manual exposure anyway as I feel I get better control over the final image with less editing but, every now and then, aperture priorty exposure saves the day. I was pleased to get a grasshopper warbler out in the open ‘reeling’ his head off in the early morning light, but he was just down a sandy embankment and it wasn’t possible to get the car close enought to him, so I got out carefully and edged my way towards him while hand-holding the 200-500mm. Another 5yds closer and he’d have been a perfect size in the frame. As it was, he dropped into the bush soon after these shots and I had to make do with a more artistic composition to mask the small size of the bird in the frame. Still, I’ve not photographed this species before so I’m pleased to have him under my belt.

bird photography on Texel : House psarrowbird photography on Texel : black tailed godwitbird photography on Texel : black tailed godwitgrasshopper warbler on Texelbird photography on Texel : black tailed godwitavocet bird photography on TexelSandwich tern on Texel

I’ve just returned from a few days’ bird photography on Texel, Netherlands and I’m now going through the images. It wasn’t just a bird  photography trip, I was out there with the family but I managed to get a few hours in from first light until breakfast each day and then again in the last couple of hours of the day. Having said that, we cycled around this small Fresian island and I always had my Nikon D500 and Nikkor 200-500 on my back just in case. It came in handy a few times, particulalry for the sanderlings and ringed plover on the beach. I just pulled up, got the lens out of the backpack and crawled slowly up to them. The smae thing happened with the godwit on the post: I literally got off the bike, got out the lens and walked up to it! The images below are the first few I’ve edited in between shooting my normal, day to day commercial work for clients. I’ll keep posting a few as I edit and here, I tried to keep it to a wader theme but I did enjoy the spoonbill, so he’s made it onto this post.

Sanderling on Texel

bird photography on Texelwader habitat Texelbird photography on Texelspoobill photographed on Texelbird photography on Texelbird photography on Texelbird photography on Texel

I was out photographing beetles and butterflies at Carlton Marsh LNR today with my friends from the Wakefield Naturalists’ Society. This was one of our monthly summer field meetings and it was the first time we’d visited this reserve as a group, though I’ve been there many times before. Having many pairs of eyes made finding subjects relatively easy but I was pleased to find the wasp beetle. Wasp beetle is common and widespread in the UK and is seen from May to August. I also photographed my first dingy skipper of the summer too.

Carlton Marsh LNR Barnsley

wasp beetle | beetles and butterflies dingy skipper | beetles and butterflies

I had to head up to Pately Bridge to undertake an ecologocal survey on a barn at dusk, so I decided to head up there early and try for some photos of moorland birds and mammals in the late evening sun. The grouse were there in plenty but none really played ball until one perched on a dry stone wall at sunset and he made a lovely silhoutette against the setting sun. Just afetr the sun went dowm and I was heading to the job, I came across a few rabbits outside a burrow and they were fairly tolerant of the car. I also managed oystercatcher, lapwing and an obliging meadow pipit in the warm evening sun and narrowly missed a nice shot of a wheatear.

rabbitbaby rabbitbaby rabbitlapwing near Pately Bridge

meadow pipit

red grouse at sunset

The warm spring sunshine tempted me away from editing commercial photography shoots to head over to do some insect photography at Brockadale. There were plenty of butterflies on the wing, including brimstone, orange tip and large white and plenty of whitethroats in full song. Across the valley, the soft purring of a turtle dove was the first one I’d heard this year. Photographcally, I only managed to capture images of some common carrion flies, a tawny mining bee and a small micro moth which I have yet to identify positively. Most of the images were taken with the Nikon D500 and Nikkor 200mm f/4 macro lens, although the frst image of the flies mating was taken with the Nikkor 200-500mm and a 1.4x extender!

Brockadale nature reservemicro mothcarrion flies matingcarrion flies matingblow flycarrion flytawny mining bee

A six mile walk around Winteresett Reservoir today proved fairly fruitless in terms of bird photography with none of the newly arrived migrants performing for the camera. However, just as I was within 500yds of my car, I managed to grab a few shots of a very obliging treecreeper which was busy traversing up and down the large willows near the boat house. The bluebell woods seem to be at their peak and I managed a few shots with the 200-500mm lens to get some effective compression and this was the only lens I had with me other than the Fuji XPRO-1 which I have had converted to infra-red.bluebell woods Wakefieldbluebell woods in infra-red


The final bird we photographed on the three day trip to Wiltshire was the displaying great bustard that are being reintroduced to Salisbury Plain. This is a magnificent bird that once bred in the UK on Salisbury Plain and the Yorkshire Wolds but was hunted to extinction. Now, a dedictaed team are collecting eggs under licence from Spain and Russia with a view of bringing these superb creatures back to the UK breeding list. The project has been running a few years now and is having some great success with birds now breeding in the wild and beginning to spread further across the Plain away from the nursery pens. We were lucky enought to photograph the males displaying as well as getting up close and personal with one of the Russian hand reared birds. OK, the light wasn’t as good as when I’ve photographed them in Spain, but they are still a magnificent bird to photograph in any light!

displaying great bustard Salisbury Plaindisplaying great bustard Salisbury Plaindisplaying great bustard Salisbury Plain

I’ve been away for a few days with a couple of friends to photograph firecrest in Wiltshire. I’m not sure what the breeding status of this beautiful bird is in Yorkshire, but down in Wiltshire they seemd to be almost abundant! The woodland edges around Longleat were ringing with the sound of these colourful, but tiny, birds as they sang for their territiry. I’ve photographed firecrest before but it’s always a great thrill to see them and they surely have to be in the top ten must see UK birds!
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