Friday 16th January 2009

Winter Visitors

and Winter Photography

While some photographers put away their cameras over the winter period others of us realise that this part of the year offers many opportunities that are not available to us at other times of the year.

Just over a week ago we had, for a few days, a covering of snow, and this gave us the opportunity to capture photographs, including images of the historic Cheltenham College (private school) in the snow as well as a some Cotswold scenes.

This week we spent a morning at Slimbridge looking specifically at photographing some of our winter visitors, and getting opportunities to take geese, swans and ducks both on the

A Barnacle Goose

Image taken with Nikon D300, with 70-300mm lens @ 200mm, ISO 800, 1/250th, F8, EV -0.7

ground and in flight. Being a member and not being far from us we get the opportunity to visit a number of times a year, and should find the time to spend more time there, as every time we go we get great photographs and cover only a small portion of the area in each visit.

Some of the ducks in particular are now in their breeding rituals and we managed, while at Slimbridge, to photograph ducks mating on the water, an unusual feature in nature as the female duck was completely submerged by the weight of the male. It was also the female in this case that was initiating the activity. We got a good series of photos showing the whole process. This would be difficult to get if we had waited until the ducklings were about in the spring.

This week we have also been working on a feature edition to come out shortly on waterfalls. While many photograph waterfalls only in the summer, the winter months often offers the opportunity to capture them with more water flow, while some are not possible to photograph in the summer either because they dry up or because there is too much tree growth to allow a view to be obtained.

In a similar way there are many scenes that can only be obtained in the winter, either because you want a river with more water, you want a view with less plant growth, fewer people or cars or its just more impressive this time of the year. Add a wintry storm and perhaps the coast is the place to be with large breaking waves and spray.

The days are shorter, light not as plentiful, giving us a range of challenges, and we may not want to spend as long outside as at other times, but venture out with your camera if you can, at least once a week through the winter months, and you will get to quickly appreciate our seasons and the opportunities that it provides to the photographer.

Our winter bird visitors

Each year, many species of bird migrate large distances, currently some of our summer visitors are wintering in Africa, and at present we have large numbers of birds here that spend their summers in the arctic circle, and smaller birds from many other areas.

Within Birds Species under wildlife, you can find all birds that are within the UK at any time of the year, with some species detailed on this site and links in all cases to information on other sites. This week we have a number of new wildlife pages on specific species, all winter visitors.

New Species include:-

We also have an article looking at Winter Migrants

We had previously produced pages on some of the swans, of which the Whooper and Bewick's are the winter visitors:

Other existing articles that you may find helpful are:

We have this week both added and updated a number of location guides on the places you are likely to see the winter water birds such as swans, geese and ducks.

New Location guides

Old Hall Marshes, Essex

Abbots Hall Farm, Essex

Snettisham Nature Reserve, Norfolk

Ynys Hir Nature Reserve, Machynlleth, Powys

Vane Farm, nr Kinross, Scotland

Abberton Reservoir, Essex  

Holkham National Nature Reserve, Norfolk

Updated or extended location guides

Arundel WWT

Caerlaverock WWT

London Wetland Centre

Martin Mere WWT

Slimbridge WWT

Welney WWT



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