December 2018
Our return visit to The Gambia was disappointing. There were far fewer birds than expected and habitat change seems to be responsible. A combination of issues which include continued house building, tree-felling (it seems this is on the increase), shooting, and, possibly, climate change ( at times the temperature was higher than we had experienced before which may be responsible for several small ponds vanishing and larger ponds becoming shallower).However we did at last get to see the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill which I photographed with the help of a 2x extender.
Hopefully things will at least stabilise soon.

October 2018
We had a great time in the Okavango Delta in Botswana on a mammal/bird safari with Naturetrek. We stayed in comfortable tents (with en suite), dining each night outside under the stars eating excellent food cooked on an open fire with ice cold beer or wine.
There were so many photographic opportunities (see my Botswana gallery) and I shot well over 2000 photos in a week. We were close up with so many impressive mammals and birds that it was, at times, hard to believe it was real.
We'll be back!!

March 2018
Our January trip to The Gambia went well except we had to return from a trip upriver before reaching Georgetown as our guide's vehicle was causing problems. Perhaps we'll visit upriver next trip.
My wife's luggage was removed from our flight before we left Birmingham along with that of several other passengers to lighten the aircraft without our knowledge. Thomas Cook delivered it via Manchester the following evening. We were really grateful to staff from The Gambia Experience in helping us as the Thomas Cook coach and rep left without us.
I finally was able to photograph the Goliath Heron, but we still missed the Ground Hornbill.

November 2017
We recently returned from a trip to Ghana. The lack of photographic opportunities was disappointing and this can be seen in my Ghana gallery. We did manage to see the iconic Yellow-headed Picathartes as they returned to their roost but the light was fading and it was rather gloomy. This impacted on the photography significantly. I was using my Canon 5D mark 3 camera which allowed for very high ISO's but it was a losing situation trying to get a sharp shot of the bird.A lot of travelling produced far fewer photos than anticipated.
Earlier in the year we spent the first week in May in Skiathos. The weather was great and I was able to photograph Little Bittern, Red-backed shrike and a Hobby. In September we spent two weeks in Porto Santo, a small island off Madeira sometimes called Madeira's little sister. Photographed Hoopoe, Canary, and White Stork (an unusual bird for Porto Santo-- the taxi driver called it 'the bird that brings the babies'!) plus other more common birds.
We shall be making another visit to The Gambia next year.

May 2017
Just returned from a week's holiday in our favourite Greek Island, Skiathos. The weather was great-really hot.
The day before we flew out I picked up the Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens, having traded in my original Tamron 150-600mm lens (G1 now I suppose) for it.
I was able to use it on Skiathos getting photographs of a Hobby, a Little Bittern and a lovely male Red-backed Shrike plus other birds but I missed a Subalpine Warbler that my wife saw. My experience with the new lens was very positive and I think it is sharper than the G1 at the big end which is what I use mostly. I tend to use an aperture of f/8 at the big end which is not a problem in bright light, but I'm quite happy to increase the ISO when needed using the Canon 5D 3 as it copes so well with higher ISO's. The G2 has extra useful items e.g. the ability to lock the lens at any focal length setting by simply pushing the focal length ring forward (and back to unlock).
Our next break is a visit to Porto Santo Island, Madeira's "little sister". This will be a new place for us.

March 2017
We've recently returned from another visit to The Gambia. The trip had to be rescheduled due to the reluctance of the outgoing President, defeated in last December's election, to accept his defeat. However he was forced to go and the new President, Adama Barrow, has taken over. This is very much welcomed by all the Gambians we met.
There does seem to be a decline in bird numbers in the usual places that can be visited for half or a full day. I feel construction work is playing a significant role in this.However we still saw some good birds and, as usual, really enjoyed taking plenty of photographs.I used the Canon 100-400 mm mark 2 lens and the Canon 300 mm f/2.8 mark 2 lens (plus extenders)
Our hotel grounds hosted the independence celebrations with the new president and other West African presidents in attendance.A most attractive evening.

March 2016
We recently returned from a birding trip to Sri Lanka looking for endemics. The number of endemics was taken to be 33 and our guide found all of these. It was not always possible to get good photos, or even photos, of these birds although some (e.g. Sri Lanka Junglefowl) were straightforward. My wife and I were impressed by Sri Lanka and another visit may be made in the future.We found the trip quite challenging at times, but we were well looked after. I took the Canon 100-400 mark 2 and the Canon 300 f/2.8 mark 2 lenses to Sri Lanka and I did make sure I took the two Canon extenders with me this time!
We visited the Photographic Show at the Birmingham NEC and, as usual, there were some good deals on offer. I succumbed and bought the Canon 7D mark 2 camera. It's as fast as my 1D mark 4 and offers a 1.6 crop factor for each lens plus up to date technology.

January 2016
Some of the photos from our latest trip (to The Gambia) are now in the gallery entitled "Some more from The Gambia".
We felt there were fewer birds to be seen in the area of our hotel and birds did seem more wary than in the past. One guide suggested the increase in construction has had an effect. At one reserve we visited, there was a line up for about the last half mile of lorries waiting to pick up sand.
Georgetown produced some good results including the Finfoot and a European Turtle Dove.
A silly error on my part resulted in my taking a 28-135mm lens instead of the two extenders which limited my use of the Canon 300mm f/2.8 mark 2 lens. However the Canon 100-400mm mark 2 lens did great work giving excellent results and this saved the day.I'll need to be more careful in future.

November 2015
Recently sold the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 zoom as I'm now using the Canon 300mm f/2.8 L mark 2 lens.I traded in the 500mm f4 lens for the 300mm lens.
WEX, the Norwich photographic company, has an offer on the new Canon 100--400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS mark 2 lens when the mark 1 version is traded in which I found irresistible. I'm now getting to grips with this new lens which is a complete remake of the older mark 1 (first available in 1999). I did read the review of this lens by Bryan Carnathan, the American photographer (he does fantastic reviews) which rated it very highly. It will be a great addition to my lenses as it is so light compared to most other lenses I use. I will be taking it abroad on our next birding trip.

June 2015
We've decided to return to The Gambia later this year--- it is a particular favourite of ours, so there should be a Gambia 3 gallery appearing early next year. Some friends have recommended a trip to Sri Lanka so we're getting info on the possibilities of this.
As mentioned on the Home page, I'm now getting up to speed with two new lenses. I'm really looking forward to using them "in the field".

March 2015
Recently my wife and I returned from a trip with other birders to Costa Rica.We took around 3000 photos and some of these can be seen in our Costa Rica gallery.
We reached San Jose in Costa Rica via Madrid. Our flights were booked with British Airways but, apart from the first flight from London to Madrid, all other flights, out and back, were with Iberia. This had the downside that we were able to pre-select seats only on the London-Madrid flight. Possibly better to fly via Miami.
Costa Rica is an interesting country with its own currency, the Colon, but the US dollar is equally acceptable with a fixed exchange rate of 500 Colons to the dollar.Hotels,bars etc often show their prices in dollars.
The food is good and there is always an attractive supply of fruit. Scrambled egg seems very popular for breakfast!
We experienced rain, walking through clouds and very hot conditions. Quite a mix of climates. There is an annual rainfall of between 59 and 80 inches. Trout farming is popular as there is plenty of fresh water.
I recently bought a second hand Canon 400mm f4 DO mark 1 lens (the mark 2 is now available) and I'm pleased with its performnace. I'm wondering if I will be tempted to sell my Canon 500mm f4 mark 1 lens.
We have not planned our next trip.

January 2015
My wife and I spent twelve days in November/December last year as part of a small group of birders travelling around Senegal. We flew from Birmingham to Dakar via Brussels. It was extremely hot in Senegal and we had, at times, to travel large distances between sites stopping en route to check out potential birding places.
Like The Gambia, there are a lot of fine birds and I was able to take over 2000 photos and I've put some of these in the Senegal Gallery. I was really pleased to finally get to see and photograph Little Green Bee-eaters and the very beautiful Carmine Bee-eaters.
The official language in Senegal is French and it is widely used. There seems to be few birding trips visiting Senegal from the UK.
I had bought the Tamron 150-600mm lens last August at the Bird Fair being much attracted by the relative lightness of it compared to other lenses I use (it weighs in at 1.951Kg). I am very pleased with its performance, although there was a problem with the numbers on the barrel fading and disappearing. Tamron are very puzzled by this and they have replaced my lens with a new one with my original lens going from the UK to Germany and on to Japan for further investigation.
Sigma have now brought out two(!!) 150-600mm lenses with one (called Sport) directed towards wildlife/ sports etc. photography. As well as being more expensive than the Tamron lens it does weigh almost a kilogram more than the Tamron. It will be interesting to find a detailed comparison of them. I really appreciate the lightness of the Tamron.

June 2014
In April this year my wife and I flew via Philadelphia to Fort Myers for almost three weeks of driving around Southern Florida at our own pace seeking out birds and, sometimes, other wildlife to photograph.
After three nights in Ft. Myers we headed for Florida City. We went over to Flamingo and had a pleasant surprise in bumping into a birding couple we had often met in the Scilly Isles.We moved on to Key West, staying three nights (somewhat more expensive than other places we visited). It was great flying out to The Dry Tortugas in a seaplane only 500 feet above the sea-- a really worthwhile experience. We left Key West just as the annual Conch (pronounced Conk) week of partying started. We realise now that we stayed in Key West during Conch week in 2012.
Other places we visited included Boca Raton, Sarasota areas.
There are so many wildlife reserves in Florida that there's always somewhere new to visit.

January 2014
We spent three weeks in November/December last year back in The Gambia. We really had a great time and visited new places including a trip upriver. Again we saw and photographed many stunning birds, but some only allowed us fleeting views which is so frustrating, but "we'll be back". Enjoyed travelling around with George Jadama and Ousman Joku-- both great guides.

June 2013
I've recently traded in my Canon 50D plus my Zeiss telescope in order to buy the Canon 5D mark 3 camera. I'm very pleased with the new camera. It performs well in all areas and does take low noise photos even with high ISO levels.
I recently purchased a "Beach Rolley" to carry the photographic gear around. It's only been used once when we went to RSPB Leighton Moss but it worked well and saved my right shoulder some bruising! Did get my first photos of Marsh Tits at Leighton Moss--- well worth a visit.
We had a very pleasant week in Norfolk in April, taking more bird photos, staying at a well placed caravan site in the village of Holme.