Archive for birds

Join me at the 2015 RSPB Members’ weekend…

Posted in Conservation, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , on January 1, 2015 by Neil Aldridge

Join me in my old home town of York in March for the RSPB Members’ Weekend. I will be presenting the after dinner talk on Friday the 27th before delivering a photo workshop on Saturday the 28th, which will include an opportunity to have your work critiqued.

The RSPB is not only one of the largest charities in the UK but it conserves birdlife the world over. I’m incredibly proud to be presenting my work, experiences and knowledge to such a powerful and passionate body of members.

For more information, head over to the RSPB’s website at rspb.org.uk

See my latest work on the BBC Wildlife website…

Posted in Photography, Travel, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

A selection of some of my latest work is currently online on the BBC Wildlife magazine website discoverwildlife.com. This online gallery showcases 14 of my photographs from my recent visit to British Columbia. The portfolio is a cross-section of the mammals, birds and habitats that I encountered. A more comprehensive selection of shots can be seen in the North American Wildlife gallery on my website.

This is the latest gallery of my work to feature on the BBC Wildlife magazine website and follows a badger vaccination portfolio, which accompanied my Autumn 2011 feature in the magazine, and a selection of African wild dog images from my book Underdogs.

See more of my work on my site conservationphotojournalism.com

Tell better stories…

Posted in Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Exhibition, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

Join me on the Canon stand at the British Birdfair for seminars on telling wildlife stories with your camera. Every day from Friday the 17th to Sunday the 19th of August I will be talking through the shots I have to get and the decisions I have to make to tell award-winning stories and keep my editors happy. Download the seminar schedule here

As a Canon photographer, I will be showing just why my equipment choice allows me to work on books and magazine features while thinking about my online audience at the same time. During the seminars I will be trying to convince you to photograph more than just pretty wildlife portraits.

Having just returned from promoting my new African wild dog book Underdogs and picking up an award in the International Conservation Photography Awards in the United States, I will be revealing the importance of being able to photograph wildlife, landscapes and people to pulling together a project that matters. You will also have the chance to ask me your questions on equipment, the industry and how I captured the work that I will be showing you.

This year’s Birdfair will also see me delivering a lecture on the Limpopo Valley on Sunday the 19th in marquee 2 and spending time on the Estonia Nature Tours stand to talk about my upcoming 2013 photo tour in partnership with leading Estonian photographer Remo Savisaar. See the tour itinerary here.

Remember that a signed copy of Underdogs is also available in the Birdfair auction. See you there…

Join Me – New 2013 Estonia Photo Tour Dates

Posted in Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Photography, Travel, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

Discover one of Europe’s most exciting wildlife destinations with two international award-winning wildlife photographers. Join myself and Estonian photographer Remo Savisaar in May 2013 on a 9-day photo tour as we travel from coast to forest and from bog to riverbank photographing Estonia’s wildlife and wild places.

This exciting new photo tour combines specialist photographic tuition with expert wildlife guiding. We will be photographing bears, birds, beavers and Estonia’s famous bogs, amongst other wild things and beautiful places.

There are only six places available on this trip, so check out the full itinerary on my website and then contact our travel partners Estonian Nature Tours to secure your place.

See the full itinerary on my website conservationphotojournalism.com

Ospreys aplenty

Posted in Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2011 by Neil Aldridge

Those of you who read my last post and followed my tweets will know that I recently set myself the challenge of bettering my previous attempts at photographing ospreys hunting. For this, I needed a reliable location where I knew ospreys would be literally queuing up to catch food for their newly-hatched chicks. There are a few locations on the continent renowned for giving photographers the chance to work close to the action but Scotland’s Rothiemurchus estate on the outskirts of Aviemore and the Cairngorms National Park certainly ticks all of the boxes.

My first sighting of an osprey hunting was actually en route to Aviemore. Having stopped at the Scottish Wildlife Trust‘s Loch of the Lowes reserve near Dunkeld to see the resident female sitting on the nest, I couldn’t have been more than a couple of miles up the road before I found the male hunting along the River Tay. He must have gone down for fish five times in the time I watched him from my car, frustrated that I couldn’t find somewhere to pull over.

My frustrations were short-lived however and at first light the next morning I found myself frantically climbing into my hide with two ospreys scoping out the offerings of the Rothiemurchus lochs from above. Unfortunately, the changeable Scottish weather meant plenty of white cloud – nightmare conditions for photographing a predominantly black-and-white bird. When the sun did break through the clouds however, the light was fantastic and I often found my eyes wandering off to admire the Cairngorms reflecting proudly in the still waters rather than watching the skies for approaching ospreys.

My time at Rothiemurchus perhaps didn’t yield exactly what I had hoped for – the high quality shot of an osprey emerging from the water with a fish in its talons – although I must say that was through no fault of Speyside Wildlife and Rothiemurchus who between them provide what must be one of the UK’s top wildlife watching opportunities. Two ospreys carried off fish and there were several other failed plunges during my time by the lochs. Only two hunts happened within view however, and both were at quite a distance in dull morning light. That said, I think I can safely say that I have met my challenge and bettered the only shots of an osprey in my portfolio.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to test your photographic skills, then I couldn’t recommend a trip to Aviemore and Rothiemurchus more highly, particularly as the site plays a vital role in sustaining a healthy and renowned local population of these special birds of prey. Ospreys were extirpated from the UK by 1916 but now, almost a century later, it’s clear they’re safely established once again thanks to the hard work of organisations like the RSPB and people like Roy Dennis.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

New images online at Photoshot

Posted in Conservation Photography, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2011 by Neil Aldridge

A new selection of my wildlife, conservation and travel photography is available online at Photoshot and their specialist wildlife and nature collection NHPA. The number of my photographs available to buy here is growing all of the time and there will be new images, particularly from my work photographing the signs of spring, going online in the coming weeks. Simply enter ‘Aldridge’ into the Photoshot site’s search function or find me on NHPA’s Photographers page to view the collection of my images.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Signs of spring

Posted in Conservation, European Wildlife, Photography, Take Action, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2011 by Neil Aldridge

Despite a bitter winter in western Europe, the dry start to 2011 has meant that many typical signs of spring are appearing early in the UK. Looking back, the impressive ‘supermoon’ that appeared in the night sky on the northern hemisphere spring equinox should have been a clear indicator that this year’s season of growth was going to be something special.

Spring means different things to different people. For some, it’s the return of swallows from Africa. For others, it’s the burst of colour as bluebells carpet our woodland. Whatever your favourite sign of spring may be, in our changing climate it is more important than ever to record these moments to map how our wildlife is adapting or being affected. If you are out and about in the UK and you’re seeing butterflies or hearing cuckoos then you can help build a picture of spring by logging what you’re seeing via the VisitWoods website.

For me, spring came alive in Suffolk over the Easter weekend as I was fortunate to hear my first booming bittern. The males of this red status bird only make this far-carrying call in the spring but the rarity of the species in the UK means that few people get to hear it. I also tracked down and saw my first cuckoo of the year after following its distinctive call. Hobby falcons skillfully catching dragonflies overhead and adders basking in the sun were unexpected but equally compelling.

After the cold and dark winter, the vibrant colours of spring are just as evocative to our senses as the sounds, smells and antics across the country. The brilliant yellow of gorse and the breathtaking blue of carpets of bluebells have inspired me to find, enjoy and photograph (in that order) as many signs of spring as possible. I’ll be adding images to the dedicated Signs of Spring portfolio on my main website as I go, so be sure to check it out.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

British Wildlife Photography Awards

Posted in Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Exhibition, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2010 by Neil Aldridge

One of my white-tailed eagle photographs from my last visit to Skye will be featured in the winning portfolio of the 2010 British Wildlife Photography Awards. All of the winning and commended photographs will form part of a series of exhibitions, launching at London’s Hooper’s Gallery on the 14th of October. The portfolio of images are also available for the first time in a book. For a full schedule of the UK-wide exhibition tour, visit the BWPAwards website. My main site conservationphotojournalism.com features more of my work on white-tailed eagles.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Lock and load…it’s migration time!

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Photography, Poaching, Take Action, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by Neil Aldridge

Quite soon birds will be leaving Europe for warmer climes. Tiny swallows to huge eagles will be heading Africa-wards to escape the northern hemisphere winter. However, many will not get there and even fewer will make it back again to breed in 2011. Some will be predated along the way and others will fall to other natural influences like severe weather or poor navigation. But it is the human impact on the hundreds of species that make the journey across the Mediterranean that is most worrying.

At many significant points along the way, human development is encroaching on natural habitat that has been vital for migrating birds for centuries. The vast amounts of energy used when flying such long distances makes resting and refuelling stops essential. If these birds can’t find enough to eat along their journey, chances are they will starve and perish. With booming human populations, this global fight for space is a sensitive issue that has no quick fix or easy solution. Similarly, increasing energy demands and the quest for renewable energy resources has necessitated the erection of wind turbines that increase the risk to birds of mid-air collisions. However, one fight that migrating wildlife is losing that can and should be remedied more easily is the illegal shooting and trapping of migrating birds by poachers around the Mediterranean.

BirdLife Malta works tirelessly to monitor and reduce activities on the archipelago that threaten wild birds yet the high density of hunters makes their job difficult. Relatively few birds are resident on Malta in comparison to the 170 species that occur during periods of migration, making spring and autumn the height of BirdLife’s efforts. Almost anything avian is targetted by illegal hunters from beautiful hoopoes and European rollers to black storks and lesser-spotted eagles (check out BirdLife’s 2008 illegal hunting and trapping report). Birds of prey are specifically persecuted and so it’s not surprising to learn that Malta’s last remaining resident pairs of peregrine falcons and barn owls were all shot by hunters.

In 2009, volunteers at BirdLife’s annual raptor camp found the remains of over 200 birds stashed away in the Mizieb woodland and the reports and video footage captured by BirdLife staff and volunteers show that hunters are prepared to flaunt the laws protecting wild birds right under the noses of the authorities.

The presence of dedicated conservationists and their links with the local police may help to deter some poachers on the islands yet the confiscation of smyrna kingfishers and lappet-faced vultures from Maltese hunters after visits to north Africa shows just how far some individuals are willing to go to carry out their killings. It is thought that Maltese poachers bribed their way in to Egypt’s Gebel Elba National Park before smuggling guns and ammunition through various checkpoints. But Egypt is not the only other important site for conservation where birds are at risk on the Mediterranean. It is believed that bird trapping in nearby Cyprus accounted for an estimated 261,000 birds on the island during spring this year. Top conservation blog ‘Migrations‘ gives more in-depth information on the situation in Cyprus where many migratory birds are trapped for the restaurant industry. But if you want to help put a stop to the illegal killing of thousands of birds each year and also get to see the biannual spectacle of this mass migration then check out BirdLife Malta‘s autumn Raptor Camp and its springtime equivalent Spring Watch.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Northern headaches

Posted in Conservation, Conservation Photography, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2010 by Neil Aldridge

What a week. Having planned to shoot at what I thought to be fail-safe locations across the north of England over the course of a week, grim weather and elusive animals contributed to a paltry return of exactly sixty photographs. I saw almost everything that I hoped to photograph, although mostly through a veil of drizzle and at a distance even the best telephoto lenses would struggle to reach.

Lancashire’s Red squirrels were the first to elude my shutter finger and I had to admit defeat and retire to the shelter of a cafe for the afternoon for some emails and editing. I didn’t think peregrine falcons would give me as much of a run around the next day, especially knowing that Yorkshire’s Malham pair would still have their now airbourne chicks hanging around. As I made my way up to the cove I saw one of the parents make a mid-air manoeuvre to pass food to the chicks, after which all three promptly disappeared off into the distance. After five cold hours of sitting and hoping in gradually lessening light and worsening weather, I again had to begrudgingly admit defeat.

The weather never improved enough for me to justify going after in-flight peregrine shots again and so I concentrated the rest of my time in the Vale of York seeking out adders and the threatened water vole. Having searched heathland for some hours I was thrilled to find a male adder basking in the sun. The problem is, by the time I found him he had obviously warmed sufficiently to be able to slink off into thick gorse. Still, it’s only the second time I’ve ever managed to get any shots of this beautiful and declining species.

Photographing the usually delightful and previously obliging water vole proved as irritating as listening to a tape-loop of the Beatles’ Revolution 9. A local researcher friend assured me that she had heard the distinctive ‘plop’ of vole into water and seen them out foraging along the river in the weeks previously. It’s hard to tell how hard the harsh winter hit these small mammals but based on my luckless daily quests to find and photograph them, I’d say pretty hard. After a few days of sitting camouflaged in the undergrowth seeing nothing but nettles and smelling nothing but himalayan balsam, I decided enough was enough and headed home content in the thought that a week in some of the UK’s best countryside in the company of some of its rarest animals qualifies as a good week for some. And hey, if everything was tethered or caged to make it easier for photographers then I’d fall out of love with my job rather quickly. Yes, as a career it has to be viable but the unpredictability, the challenge and the chase make it worth every slow, cold, sodden, nettle-stung hour on a riverbank.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com