Archive for Europe

BBC Wildlife feature my Estonia tour images…

Posted in Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Photography, Travel, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

estonia_2014_1

I’m proud to say that BBC Wildlife Magazine has chosen to feature a selection of photographs taken by myself and Remo Savisaar during the trip that we co-led for Estonian Nature Tours in 2013. You can enjoy the gallery online at their website discoverwildlife.com

estonia_2014_3

If this taster of what Estonia has to offer excites you, Remo and I will be introducing guests to Estonia’s fantastic wildlife again in 2014. During this nine-day tour you will have the chance to photograph from hides, boats, vehicles, viewing towers and on foot as we seek out bears, beavers, birds and other animals in Estonia’s vast forests, bogs and wetlands. You can see the full itinerary and tour details on my website conservationphotojournalism.com

estonia_2014_2

Super Squirrels…

Posted in European Wildlife, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

© Neil Aldridge

Okay so let’s get one thing clear – these aren’t actually flying squirrels, they’re red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). More specifically, they’re Scottish red squirrels. Most of my previous attempts to photograph these wonderfully iconic creatures have been fruitless, which makes me even happier with the resulting pictures from a recent trip to the Highlands.

© Neil Aldridge

If I’m honest, while planning this trip to Scotland I was visualising and hoping for snow…and lots of it. Yet, while neither myself nor fellow South African photographer Ben Cranke came away with the wintery images that we had prepared for (and I always try to plan my shots before a shoot), the show that the squirrels put on and the opportunities that we had to capture their antics were beyond our expectations.

© Neil Aldridge

Ben and I spent two days working a set-up in Glenfeshie (check out the Northshots website for info) in the Cairngorms National Park, moving between a hide by a drinking pool and a hide positioned on the edge of the forest. We managed to learn the habits of the squirrels pretty quickly and finally get the best jumping, drinking and feeding shots that the lighting conditions would allow. While we may have arrived in the middle of a strange mid-winter heatwave, the sun was still low in the sky and barely broke above the treeline, making me pretty glad I had the f2.8 capacity of my Canon 400mm and 70-200mm lenses. I was also quietly happy to see Ben struggling to autofocus in the low light with his much vaunted Nikon D4* (*Disclaimer: this may not have happened).

© Neil Aldridge

It’s neither a secret nor is it new news that red squirrels in the UK have been squeezed out of their natural range by non-native grey squirrels. Grey squirrels cause such damage to the UK’s native fauna and flora that they are listed in the IUCN international list of 100 most impactful invasive non-native species. They are not only larger and out-compete the native reds for resources but they also carry the parapox virus. While greys can carry the virus without being affected, reds are highly susceptible to it. Research shows that in areas where both species occur and where the virus is present, greys can displace the reds up to 20 times faster. This makes protecting red squirrel strongholds both more important and more difficult.

© Neil Aldridge

Having been won over by Glenfeshie’s super squirrels, we left the comfort of the hides behind and spent two days on the surrounding snow-capped mountains searching for ptarmigan. Check back soon to see how we got on looking for white birds in a white landscape in horizontal blizzards.

© Neil Aldridge

Check out more images & news at conservationphotojournalism.com

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

Get on top of your photography in 2012…

Posted in African Wildlife, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

Do you want to take better wildlife photographs? There’s no better way of learning than in the field so why not join me on one of my exclusive photo trips? As a professional wildlife guide and award-winning photojournalist, I take pleasure in showing people the beauty of our natural world. I invite you to join me on one of my photo tours to Europe or safaris to Africa, created to offer you the perfect opportunity to experience some of natures most inspiring places and to learn how to better photograph its wild wonders.

Africa has a diversity of wildlife, breathtaking scenery and stunning lighting that makes it a favourite with photographers. Wanderlust, the world’s leading travel magazine, has selected my Land of Giants African photo safari as one of their top trips for 2012, as seen in their December 2011 issue. This exclusive photographic tour to the Limpopo Valley is led by myself in partnership with carnivore expert Dr Peter Neville. Check out my website for the full safari itinerary, trip information and how to make a booking with my expert travel partners Tracks Safaris.

Done Africa? Perhaps you’re looking for a new adventure? I’ve teamed up with leading Estonian wildlife photographer Remo Savisaar to offer just 6 people the chance to discover and photograph Estonia, one of Europe’s wildest countries. This exciting new 9-day photo tour combines specialist photographic tuition with expert wildlife guiding. So why not take a look at the itinerary we have in store?

With professional training and qualifications in both photography and wildlife guiding, coupled with experirience and an award-winning quality, I believe my photo tours offer the right package for you to improve and enjoy your wildlife photography. Working with leading photographers and guides adds even greater value to your experience. But don’t just take my word for it. Come and see for yourself.

More information on my website at conservationphotojournalism.com

Underdogs available on Amazon across Europe…

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation Photography, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

New my African wild dog book Underdogs is now available on Amazon for delivery across Europe. The book can be ordered in the UK on Amazon.co.uk, in France on Amazon.fr and in Germany on Amazon.de.

With over 140 wildlife photographs, Underdogs celebrates what is special about the endangered African wild dog. Acute senses, a lightweight body, unrivaled stamina and power in numbers may make the wild dog one of Africa’s most efficient hunters but these remarkable characteristics saw the species fare badly with the arrival of big game hunters in Africa in the late 1800s. This charismatic carnivore has been an underdog in its fight to find its place in a developing continent ever since.

Over three years, I worked closely with trackers and researchers to follow, photograph and understand the African wild dog. The result is a book that explores the ecology of a remarkable species and looks at what makes it one of Africa’s most efficient carnivores. Underdogs also explores the reasons behind the decline of the wild dog and champions the efforts being made to secure a future for the species in South Africa and beyond.

Many of the book’s photographs have achieved acclaim in major international competitions and exhibitions but Underdogs is the first time all of these award-winning photographs can be seen in one place and brought into context.

See more of the photographs on conservationphotojournalism.com

Wild Estonia

Posted in European Wildlife, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2011 by Neil Aldridge

Estonia’s bogs, ancient forests and meadows support a diversity and abundance of wildlife long forgotten in most European countries. This richness makes the country a pleasure to explore as a photographer and wildlife watcher. Estonia is fast becoming one of Europe’s birding hotspots and having watched short-toed eagles, nutcrackers, honey buzzards and three-toed woodpeckers during my recent trip, I can see why. It can also be one of the best places to see some of Europe’s large mammals like bear, wild boar, elk, lynx, wolf and beaver.

With food plentiful and the forests thick with growth, summer can be a difficult time to see these large mammals but it was the wealth of healthy ecosystems supporting this wildlife that really drew my attention as a photographer. The dedicated portfolio on my website is just my take on why Estonia is so special and why I cannot wait to return. Keep an eye on the Safaris & Workshops page for details of how you can join me on an exciting photo tour to one of Europe’s smallest but wildest countries, organised in partnership with Estonian Nature Tours.

It is not only wildlife that is intrinsically connected to Estonia’s various habitats though. Many people still gather wild food in the forests, fish the large lakes and hunt for meat. This connection with the offerings of the land reinforces just how important Estonia’s landscapes are. However, many Estonians that I spoke to fear that the awareness of the importance of the country’s habitats is being lost. Wildlife tourism through local pioneering companies like Estonian Nature Tours not only helps to celebrate Estonia’s natural heritage but it generates valuable income for local economies. And one knock-on effect of a successful eco-tourism industry is increased protection for wildlife and wild places.


Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Ripples in the reeds

Posted in European Wildlife, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2011 by Neil Aldridge

‘Beaver!’ Remek’s outstretched arm pointed to a shady patch in the shallows under some river-side vegetation. My usually sharp eyes struggled to find anything vaguely animal-like in the dark waters. A sudden loud splash signalled where the young beaver had grown tired of my ineptitude and disappeared beneath the surface, slapping his tail in disgust as he went.

I was on the Emajogi, a river in southern Estonia, with wildlife filmmaker and photographer Remek Meel. Having watched, researched, filmed and photographed beavers in his native Estonia for almost all of his life, Remek has become the country’s beaver specialist. It is these years of experience of looking for beavers that makes Remek able to locate them simply by looking for what he calls ‘strange ripples’ coming from within reeds or from under overhanging vegetation. Perhaps that’s where I was going wrong – I was looking for mud-brown creatures against a mud-brown, shadowy backdrop in the fading light just before sunset.

As we went on and I had slipped into Remek’s method, it became easier to spot them. We were picking them out at such a rate that we eventually lost count once we passed the mark of Remek’s record for an evening’s Beaver watching. It was at this point that it became clear just how healthy the Beaver population has become in Estonia. Beavers were once ruthlessly hunted in Europe and by the start of the 20th Century had disappeared from all but a handful of waterways in Germany, France, Norway and Belarus. Reintroduction programmes and the introduction of protection measures have seen them make a remarkable comeback across the continent though. The UK is following suite now too with breeding, monitoring and reintroduction projects developing across the country, such as the one at the renowned Aigas Field Centre in the Scottish Highlands.

The close viewing opportunities and Remek’s infectious enthusiasm for these semi-aquatic mammals make spending a day on the Emajogi River with him an absolute must for any wildlife watcher or photographer visiting Estonia. A selection of Remek’s work can be seen on his Nature Observer website but to be shown how to look for those ripples in the reeds yourself, contact Estonian Nature Tours directly.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Highland highlights

Posted in European Wildlife, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2011 by Neil Aldridge

Scotland may be a stronghold for many of the UK’s rare and threatened species – like the golden eagle, Scottish wildcat, pine marten, crested tit and capercaillie – but the natural light can be second to none for landscape photography, particularly in spring. The changeable weather that made my attempts at photographing ospreys so frustrating were the exact conditions that made me stop again and again to break out my tripod and wide-angle lens.

The fierce winds that rocked Scotland for several days in May did make maintaining a steady camera and tripod hard work. Thankfully, a hefty 400mm f2.8 lens makes for a heavy camera bag to hang off the hook under the head mount and anchor the tripod in place. The movement in the clouds and waters as a result of the wind allowed for some atmospheric long-exposure shots, particularly at Loch Garten in the Abernethy Forest and at the picturesque 18th-century bridge in the centre of Carrbridge.

When the sun did break through the clouds it mostly bathed the slopes of the Cairngorms and dappled the forest floor in brilliant golden light. This meant that waiting for the right break in the clouds was often the name of the game. That said, waiting for a rainbow to reach across the skies or for the reflection of a mountain scene to appear in a loch is easy in such tranquil surroundings. I’m already planning my next trip and you can bet my wide-angle lens and cable-release will be going with me!

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