News

November 2019
Another really good safari. This time to the Masai Mara in Kenya with Naturetrek. Everything worked well and we had a great time.The Cheetahs were amazing and we did see and photograph "The Five Musketeers"--- two pairs of brothers and single who had formed a very effective hunting pack. We also,at last, met up with The Secretarybird and photographed it-- wonderful! This trip had so much packed into it.

March 2019
The Southern Africa trip was taken in glass-sided land cruisers with pull down windows which didn't work as well for us taking photos as we needed to be a bit taller!! The land cruisers we used in our Botswana trip worked much better as they had open sides. However these latest vehicles had raised roofs which worked ok for us.
We saw quite a few mammals but only came across a leopard at night at a floodlit waterhole, but it was interesting watching rhinos jousting while a female and young rhino looked on.
We stayed at several lodges and the accommodation was always good.

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.


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