Archive for Eagles

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

Bears, Bald Eagles, Beavers and boats in BC…

Posted in Conservation, Conservation Photography, Photography, Travel, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

Since I wrote about collecting an award and presenting a talk at the International Conservation Photography Awards in Seattle in June, I have been based further north in Canada photographing the wildlife of Vancouver Island. I came with plans of capturing images of bears, eagles and whales but, barring the research I had done beforehand, little first-hand knowledge of how I was going to guarantee access to the opportunities I needed.

In my experience, social media is all well and good but face-to-face networking is essential to succeeding as a professional photographer. That being my weapon of choice, I turned up in Seattle ready to absorb the advice and tips any ICPAwards winners and judges would be willing to part with. Through his personal efforts to gain protection for Vancouver Island’s remaining old-growth forests with the Ancient Forest Alliance, fellow winning photographer TJ Watt pointed me in the direction of his home town – Port Renfrew.

Port Renfrew turned out to be way more than just a starting point and a location to find big old trees. The location of the town away from the busy east coast of the island makes it a quiet spot to seek out the wildlife that thrives in and around the port. Hikes into the forest to photograph the groves of giant red cedar and Douglas fir trees were sandwiched by early morning shoots at the rockpools of Botanical Beach and sessions staking-out a local lake to photograph beavers. I hadn’t packed in preparation to sit half-submerged in a mosquito-infested swamp waiting for nocturnal aquatic rodents to wake up but it wasn’t an opportunity I was going to let pass. After the lakeside fishermen finally slipped off home, the beavers rewarded my efforts and came to feed right in front of me.

Just when I thought that crouching in a swampy reedbed for four hours deciding whether to pee or not to pee was going to be the most uncomfortable shoot of the trip…a friendly fisherman called Doug showed up. Doug’s invitation to join him on his boat to photograph bald eagles hunting from the cliffs north of Port Renfrew was too good an opportunity to pass up – even for a photographer with no sea legs. The swells of the Pacific made sure I moved regularly between a doubled-over position on the edge of the boat and a prostrate position on the floor of the cabin – all of which made me even more satisfied with the shots I managed to fire off as the hunting birds came overhead.

Earlier this week, the wilder north of the island called me away from Port Renfrew with promises of cetaceans, bears and otters…and it did not disappoint. My first afternoon outside Telegraph Cove delivered my first real opportunity to photograph a black bear. This first opportunity was quickly followed by a second as a mother brought her two cubs out to feed in the late evening light.

As things often go, it wasn’t even bears that I was in Telegraph Cove to find and the next morning I was seeking out orcas and humpback whales with Stubbs Island. This whale watching operator came highly recommended and I’m proud to pass on that recommendation. Despite the resident orcas going AWOL, close (very close) sightings of humpback whales, flat-calm waters and an excellent guided experience made for a great morning on the Johnstone Strait.

In my short time remaining on Vancouver Island I’ll be concentrating on finding and photographing grizzly bears and heading into the forests in an attempt to capture evocative scenes showing the effects of logging and deforestation on the island. Hopefully my time in the forests will also give me the chance to find and photograph some more of the island’s forest species too. Safe travels…

See more on my website conservationphotojournalism.com

White-tailed Eagles, part 2

Posted in Conservation, Conservation Photography, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by Neil Aldridge

9M6J2897crop2I recently returned to Scotland to try and get the shots of white-tailed eagles I felt I was missing from my last visit. The weather was perfect on all 4 days, giving me the chance to capture the eagles hunting at a higher shutter speed and a lower ISO.

While all seemed rosy with perfect conditions for the eagles to feed their chicks, truth be known these were one of the lucky pairs after a spell of bad weather had hit western Scotland earlier this spring, meaning that many nests have failed this year.

9M6J2848crop

The weather I can put down to luck but the timing wasn’t by chance. I’d planned my visit to Skye for a few weeks after the chicks would be likely to hatch so that the adults would be hunting twice as hard to feed their growing chicks and to keep themselves in shape, providing me with more opportunities to get the shots I was after.

9M6J2769cWith some shots already in the bag from the previous day with the 1d mark3 and the calmest, brightest day of the lot upon us, the timing seemed perfect to try the new 5d mark2 with a 1.4x teleconverter and 400mm f2.8 combination. But, true to the unpredictable nature of photographing wildlife, the eagles didn’t want to budge from their nest, content with digesting the sea bird they had killed before our arrival on the scene earlier that morning.

In the end I had to be happy with what I’d captured on the first morning and this gave me the chance to see what other wildlife was thriving alongside the eagles on the island.

The trip provided me with my best views of golden eagles and one of my most memorable encounters with a pair of otters. Also, knowing that cuckoos are having a hard time of it at the moment, it made it all the more rewarding that by the end of the trip we’d seen 5 of these charismatic birds. In true Scottish style however, the warm weather following spring rains also meant one other thing – midges!

In all, it was again plain to see how important white-tailed eagles are to the local community. Sentimentality aside, a bad nesting season such as this one can have knock-on effects for tourism and the local economy and that came across in my conversations with those people whose lives are intrinsically linked to the presence of these magnificent birds.