August 15th 2020
Newly established deciduous woodlands are providing sanctuary for all kinds of animals.
Here, a Long Eared Owl sub-adult settles down in a new territory of Alder and Birch trees.
This kind of habitat will provide plenty of prey like, Wood Mice, Frogs, Earthworms, and
Juvenile Long Eared Owl.
August 12th 2020
Smooth Newts can be seen surfacing on ponds on warm Summer days when water oxygen levels
are low. The Newt is one three amphibians to be found in ireland, the others being the Common Frog
and the less common Natterjack Toad.
August 9th 2020
One of seven species of Corvid to be found in Ireland the Jay is a woodland specialist. They are responsible
for establishing new generations of Oak trees by caching acorns throughout the countryside. Any acorns that
don't get eaten during the Winter will germinate the following Spring.
Jay on the forest floor.
August 6th 2020
Honey Bees establish new colonies when a new Queen leaves the old hive or tree cavity, bringing an
entourage of worker bees with her, and explores a new location for a home to lay her own eggs and
produce the next generation of pollinators. This happens during the Summer months.
A Honey Bee returns to the protection of the swarm
August 3rd 2020
Badgers have an omnivorous diet, they'll try carrion, eggs, earthworms, slugs and snails, berries, nuts,
bumblebee honeycomb and grubs, ants, rats and mice and the occasional hedgehog.
Badger exploring a hollow log for grubs
July 31st 2020
Macro photography has infinite potential for images regardless of location, weather conditions, lighting,
or subject availability. There are details, colours and textures to observe at high magnifications which
can always make an interesting photograph.
Dew drops on a blade of grass
July 28th 2020
Like all the Hawk Moth species the Poplar Haw Moth is an impressive insect. It's caterpillars feed on the
leaves of Poplar, Willow, and Sallow trees. The adults can be seen from May to August and have a wing
span of 65-90mm.
Poplar Hawk Moth.
Poplar Hawk Moth in mid-flight.
July 25th 2020
Nature photography spans many photographic disciplines, from long exposure captures minutes long
to high speed action shots that last a mere 1/40,000th of a second, to macro photography, to blurry abstracts,
to behavioural documentary style photos, to name a few. The common denominators between all these are
practice and perseverance.
"Why bother?" people frequently ask. The reason is this: spending time in the company of wild creatures
offers contentment and freedom from the trappings of modernity, and occasionally a satisfying picture gets made.
Grey Wagtail on a fast flowing river
July 22nd 2020
If insects are plentiful enough Swallows can rear 2 or 3 broods over the course of one Summer.
The increasing use of herbicides and pesticides in mono-cultural intensive farming is putting
populations of insects, birds and wild plants at enormous risk. Once one link in the relationship
between plants, insects and larger animals is broken, the food producing sector in this country
will be on it's knees.
Swallow returning to the nest with food for her second brood of chicks.
July 20th 2020
One of the more impressive butterflies to see in late Summer is the Silver Washed Fritillary.
With a wingspan of 70-75mm it's the largest of the fritillaries to be found in Ireland. They are
mostly associated with woodlands.The eggs are laid in bark crevices on trees in August.
The caterpillars depend on Violets to thrive and reach the metamorphosis stage.
Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly
July 17th 2020
The Brown Long Eared Bat is an expert hunter of mosquitoes, midges and moths. It's large
ears are super-sensitive to insect wing beats. In complete darkness they use echo location
to zero in on their target. Their eye sight is also very good.
Brown Long Eared Bat in flight.
July 14th 2020
The Banded Demoiselle damselfly is a jewel among insects, usually found flitting along river banks
and lake shores on warm Summer days.
Female Banded Demoiselle damselfly
July 11th 2020
As afforestation has increased slightly over the last number of years, so has the numbers of Long Eared Owls.
In Spring the calls of the Male and Female can be heard in the middle of the night. In Summer it's the
calls of the chicks you're most likely to hear usually an hour or so after dark. The chicks are dependent on their
parents for a few months after they leave the nest, it's at this time they can be found waiting to get fed sometimes
close to farmyards and gardens
Long Eared Owl Chick
July 7th 2020
Metamorphosis among insects and amphibians is still one of nature's most profound magic tricks.
Here, a Four Spotted Chaser Dragonfly has just emerged from it's larval skin. It takes 2-3 years
underwater for the dragonfly larva to grow and reach this stage. This final part of it's life will last just
a few weeks where it will find a mate and perpetuate the cycle and any tiny trait changes in it's evolution.
Four Spotted Chaser Dragonfly emergence.
July 4th 2020
A regular on garden bird feeders, the blue tit is a colourful little character. Very useful to the gardener too,
as it can collect up to 1000 caterpillars per day when there are chicks to be fed.
Blue Tit in mid flight.
June 30th 2020
There are crucial reasons for leaving some fields and meadows un-mowed until late summer.
Providing ground cover for this year's generation of birds, mammals and insects is just one way of restoring
vitality and diversity back to the countryside after 50 years of Government backed intensive farming.
Lower stocking rates of hardier livestock breeds would also reduce the need for silage making and pasture
topping, using late Summer haymaking for fodder instead. Also late Summer haymaking helps the
dispersal of wildflower seeds for the following year.
Irish Hare using long grass for cover.
Common Snipe using long grass to nest in.
Peacock Butterfly on Knapweed flowers in a hay meadow.
June 27th 2020
The recent return of the Pine Marten has resulted in some balance being restored to woodland and
farmland habitats. Grey Squirrel, rats and mice are commonly eaten by the Pine Marten. Eggs and chicks
from Magpie and Hooded Crow nests are also eaten, mainly because these nests are easily spotted and
are no problem for the tree-climbing loving Pine Marten to reach.
Pine Marten climbing towards a Magpie nest
June 24th 2020
A recent addition to the wildlife pond is the Water Rail. A secretive bird related to the Corncrake,
Moorhen and Coot. It spends much of it's time foraging among dense reed beds, occasionally
giving away it's presence with a loud screeching call.
Water Rail chick.
Summer Solstice 2020
On this the longest day, the circle of life and death continues. In this instance, life continues for
another day for an Ichneumon Wasp but death is inevitable for a Sawfly Larvae.
Ichneumon Wasp stalking a Sawfly Larvae
June 18th 2020
There are 3 dragonfly species on the wing these days around the wildlife pond.
The Hairy Dragonfly (aka The May Hawker), the Brown Hawker and the Four Spotted
Chaser. A small garden wildlife pond will attract these species, definitely a worthwhile
The Four Spotted Chaser Dragonfly
June 15th 2020
Wildflowers provide two sources of food for insects, nectar and pollen. Pollen
is high in protein, so a lot of insects collect it to feed to their developing young
back at the nest. Nectar is consumed to fuel flight and foraging activity.
Bumblebee collecting Buttercup nectar and pollen.
June 12th 2020
On blue sky days the dappled canopy light that woodlands offer is great for spot lighting subjects.
Of course whether a manic arboreal specialist like the Red Squirrel chooses to pause on a well
lit tree branch is just pure chance.
June 8th 2020
Intensive farming techniques are having devastating effects on numbers of farmland birds like the
Meadow Pipit, Lapwing, Curlew and Skylark. Mowing for fodder, pasture topping and slurry spreading in
Spring/early Summer all destroy nests, eggs and young birds which have just left the nest.
The solution is both simple and more profitable: keep livestock breeds that are smaller, hardier and
require less Winter housing and less intensive management of pasture during Spring and Summer
The songs and calls of Skylark, Curlew, and Corncrake are now mainly present in the memories of our parents
and grandparents, a shameful legacy if ever there was one.
Meadow Pipit descending flight.
June 6th 2020
At just 7mm long the Zebra Spider is Ireland's only native species of jumping spider. Instead of spinning
a web of silk, it actively hunts it's prey by a combination of pouncing and pure speed to chase it down. It is
commonly found on south facing exterior walls on warm, sunny days.
June 2nd 2020
An alternative approach to photographing familiar animals is to concentrate on form instead of colour.
Shooting into the light at sunrise or sunset, rim-lights the subject, emphasizing the form and darkening
out any feather detail or colour.
May 28th 2020
Red Squirrels are expanding their range in County Cavan and elsewhere mainly due
to increased levels of afforestation. They particularly thrive where tree species like Oak,
Scots Pine, Hazel, Elm, Beech, Birch, Alder, Cherry, Crab Apple, Sweet Chestnut, and
Lime are planted.
Continuous Cover Forestry practices are best, to provide stable diverse woodland habitat
over hundreds of years.
Mono-cultural planting of commercial species like Spruce only have a minor short term
positive impact on diversity for the first 15 years after planting. These trees are then completely
removed for processing after 35 to 40 years causing upheaval to any wildlife that is present.
Red Squirrel in an Ash tree.
May 22nd 2020
From time to time newspapers buy my photographs for articles about nature and environmental
issues. One noteworthy article was in The Guardian newspaper written by none other than Brian May,
the famed guitarist with Queen, who is also an astronomer and badger welfare campaigner.
Read the article here:
Badgers foraging in woodland.
May 21st 2020
Lake dwelling Kingfishers are difficult to get close to compared to Kingfishers on rivers. This image
took 2 weeks of careful planning. I kept my distance at about 30 meters to minimise disturbance and
used a silent shutter function on the camera.
Female Kingfisher on a fishing perch.
May 17th 2020
The first chicks of the season need constant feeding, in the case of the Spotted Flycatcher this means
plenty of mosquitoes, midges and other insects that the flycatcher snatches from mid air.
Spotted Flycatcher feeding chicks.
May 13th 2020
In Spring, Bumblebees depend on all the well known flowers like bluebells, dandelion, cuckoo flower, lesser
celandine, ramsons, garlic mustard, herb robert and buttercup. All these provide nectar and pollen to nourish
the next generation of bees. Leaving a border or a small patch of garden lawn un-mowed is a simple and
effective way of helping out our pollinators.
The Bumblebee and the Bluebell
May 10th 2020
Green Veined White Butterfly in flight among Cuckoo flowers in a hay meadow where no
herbicides or chemical fertilizers are used. The hay is harvested in July/August when farmland
birds like Meadow Pipit, Snipe, Reed Bunting, Lapwing, Curlew and Pheasant have finished nesting
and the wild flowers have gone to seed.
Green Veined White Butterfly among Cuckoo flowers.
May 5th 2020
Swallows regularly compete to snatch any feathers caught on the breeze to line their nests.
April 22nd 2020
Every photographer has their favourite subject to photograph, mine is the Irish Hare.
Fast, hardy and always alert, this lagomorph is born to run.
April 15th 2020
There is quite a lot of debate in the photography community about DSLRs versus Mirrorless.
From using both over the last few seasons, both systems have their advantages. For wildlife
photography, the silent shutter on the mirrorless cameras is a game changer. The ability to
photograph an animal without any noise from the camera is non-intrusive to animal behaviour
(something we should all strive for) and consequentially will increase the number and variety
of keeper images.
April 4th 2020
Covid 19 movement restrictions means photography has been limited to the garden for the last while.
For variety of subject matter, macro photography is king when shooting in the same location day after day.
Invertebrates come in all shapes, colours and patterns and require just as much patience and respect to
photograph as any larger animal.
Female Wolf Spider
Nectar feeding bug.
March 22nd 2020
The Spring Equinox time of year is always a huge turning point for wildlife photography. Opportunities
for photographs suddenly quadruple as animal behaviour goes into overdrive and there's 12 hours plus
of daylight to work with. This year i intend to adopt an opportunistic approach rather than set image goals.
The main tool i'll be using for this is the Sigma Sport 150-600 zoom telephoto lens which is a lot more
versatile and just as sharp as the Canon 600mm f4 i used to have.
March 10th 2020
Cleaned out all the bird nest boxes of any damp or dirty nesting material from last year. This should help
prevent any parasites from annoying the new born chicks this Spring. The leaves of Wild Garlic and
Lords and Ladies can be seen on the forest floor. I collected some garlic leaf tips for cooking with.
They also freeze well for use later on in the year.
February 28th 2020
Saturated soil, high water tables, flooded lakes and rivers, have offered up some photo opportunities.
Pike can be seen spawning in the shallows of lakes and rivers. Frogs and Newts are also breeding.
By using a home made Pole-Cam, i'm hoping to get close enough to capture some of this behaviour.
February 16th 2020
Just some of the prep work required before things get really busy: All lenses fully serviced and
cleaned, camera sensors cleaned, focusing rail cleaned and oiled, tripods cleaned and greased, high
speed insect capture rig readjusted and refined. Rucksack, camo netting, boots and jackets cleaned and
water proofed with bees wax, waders, hides and canoe patched up and repaired.
February 8th 2020
Storm Brendan and Storm Ciara have adversely effected photography projects over the last few weeks.
Reduced animal activity and poor lighting conditions meant i made just a few stock images over the whole
month. However Spring is just around the corner, bringing new opportunities for photographs of both plants
January 4th 2020
It's been just 12 days since the Winter Solstice and there's the slightest lengthening of daylight hours,
mostly noticeable in the evenings. Territorial birdsong from Robin, Wren, Great Tit and Wood Pigeon can be
heard just before darkness falls each evening. Rook and Jackdaw are already circling and investigating their
nests from last year.
December 4th 2019
The long nights of Winter are an opportunity to photograph nocturnal foragers going about their business.
The leaf litter on the forest floor provides plenty of grubs, beetles, millipedes, centipedes etc. for omnivorous
mammals like Badger and Pine Marten. While the surrounding fields provides only a few feeding opportunities,
native woodlands sustain animals of all kinds over the four seasons.
November 4th 2019
At 5 grams in weight and just 9cm from beak to tail, the Goldcrest is the smallest breeding bird in Europe.
Like all the small birds they have a fast paced lifestyle and are always a fun challenge to photograph. A
shutter speed of 1/500s, a telephoto lens of at least 400mm at a range of 5 meters are required to get a decent
portrait type image. At dusk, while packing up after a Goldcrest session, a juvenile Pine Marten made an appearance
close to the bird feeding station, attracted by some spilled peanuts. A reminder that Pine Marten are omnivores,
with berries and invertebrates making up a good proportion of their diet.
October 3rd 2019
Early mornings by a local lake proved productive over the last few weeks. Autumn light diffused
by mist and fog is ideal for landscape images and also softens shadows and highlights for
Waning Moon during the morning blue hour.
Mute Swans taking flight.
Mallard Ducks at sunrise.
September 8th 2019
This month i have been mostly photographing Badgers, Butterflies, and Great Crested Grebes to help out a
nature charity with their information panel for their reserve.
Great Crested Grebe feeding chicks.
Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly
August 9th 2019
Kingfisher, Red Fox, Silver Washed Fritillary, Painted Lady Butterfly, Brown Hawker Dragonfly and Reed Bunting
featured in this month's projects.
Red Fox pup
Brown Hawker Dragonfly in flight
Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly
Painted Lady Butterfly
Reed Bunting female
July 30th 2019
At this time of year young Sparrowhawks can be heard in woodlands, begging unrelentingly for food from the parents.
Here, the larger female returns with some prey. She perched in an Ash tree right over my head and looked quite exhausted
after the hunt.
July 5th 2019
High Summer provides a huge variety of subject matter to photograph. However, the lure of hay making, gardening,
camping trips, fishing, and swimming can easily distract.
Green Dock Leaf Beetle
June 13th 2019
A casual wander for an hour or so on a Summer's evening provided an image harvest of
many different species. Most were this years progeny taking their first flight/steps in the world.
Sunset light on a juvenile Wren
Speckled Wood Butterfly
Swallows in flight
A soaring Common Buzzard
May 29th 2019
Fighting over territory, pairing up, home making and constant foraging, all the typical activities of Spring
are represented in images from the last few weeks.
Fighting Grey Wagtails
Great Crested Grebes
Bullfinch feeding on Wych Elm blossom.
May 7th 2019
Huge swarms of the Hawthorn Fly were evident this last week. Perfect subject matter to practice
2x-5x macro shooting with modified flash reflectors and diffusers. Also made some "landscapey"
type images which yielded a few wall art sales.
A leafless Ash tree silhouette
Hawthorn Fly aka St Mark's Fly
April 15th 2019
Delighted to see the first of "my" swallows arrive back on Spring migration from Africa yesterday to claim her roost.
A lot of people admire them and are happy to welcome them into their sheds and outbuildings.
For folks who dislike their nesting habits, a securely placed 2ft square board or plastic sheet under a nest will prevent
droppings falling on vehicles, floors, tools etc.
March 30th 2019
In order to make the viewer appreciate the wonder of nature, sometimes it's necessary to abstractify a subject,
which will hopefully encourage him/her to ponder over the photograph for a little bit longer. In this instance, instead
of freezing the wing beats of a Rook in flight i used a slow shutter speed to show the movement of the wing beats and
of the whole bird as it moves through the air. See 4 examples below.
March 19th 2019
Gusting gale force winds and heavy rainfall meant my image output was well below average so far this
month. Aside from camera trapping, photography activity was confined to servicing lenses, cleaning
camera sensors, backing up files etc. Hopefully the Spring Equinox will bring a change to the weather
February 27th 2019
This month i've been experimenting again with a super telephoto lens, this time using it to make stitched panoramas.
As the frogs at the wildlife pond are in spawning mode, i took 7 vertical images, panning across the scene.
Keeping the same exposure settings for each, i then stitched them all together in post processing. Using this
technique gives me a large file, which in turn means i can make a professional grade panoramic print some
10ft wide for my clients, an ideal wall space filler in an office, business or gallery.
Breeding Frogs Panoramic
January 24th 2019
Using a telephoto lens of 400mm focal length or longer takes a lot of practice to get right. They are heavy (6kg in my case)
and have a very narrow field of view which makes framing and composing images of fast moving animals a challenge.
Big lens practice has been the main occupation this month resulting in a few useful stock images.
Long Tailed Tit
December 31st 2018
Pine Marten and Badger featured the most in my work over the last month. For nocturnal mammals
the long mild nights offer plenty of time to forage and mark territory boundaries. By setting my camera
up on regularly used trails i managed to make some publishable images.
November 24th 2018
Winter offers many opportunities for nature photographs. Migrant birds from the far north suddenly
appear, resident animals are more approachable and the light is relatively pollen free and diffused.
As long nights draw in, i build campfires and cook food in order to stay out as long as possible.
Badger, Wood Pigeon, Red Fox, Fieldfare, Redwing, and Whooper Swan have been subjects so far.
October 27th 2018
Multiple attempts over 3 years and finally a low angle Red Fox image in woodland habitat at night in Autumn.
In Autumn and Winter a fox's coat grows a lot thicker to keep warm, also making it more photogenic. Foxes
are omnivores which means they eat fruit and some plants as well as small animals. Their usefulness at
controlling rodent numbers is greatly unappreciated in Ireland.
September 26th 2018
Changing weather patterns have both frustrated and aided this months photography. The race is on to build up
fat reserves for many animals while food is plentiful. This extra activity by a wide variety of species means using
all the different techniques i've learnt over the years . Subjects photographed so far include, Badger, Treecreeper,
Devil's Coach Horse Beetle, Wood Mouse, Mute Swans, Centipede, and a few species of tiny Micro moths.
Mute Swans' approach flight
Badger on the move
August 31st 2018
Decaying orchard windfall fruit attracting butterflies and other insects provided some macro subjects over the last few days,
also had close encounters with Raven and juvenile Sparrowhawk. The latter attempting to capture a Kingfisher over open
water on a small lake, unfortunately the attack was too far away for a useful image. Species photographed this month include Red admiral Butterfly, Green Veined White Butterfly, Raven, Red Squirrel, and Bullfinch.
Red Admiral Butterfly on rotten windfall apple.
Green Veined White Butterfly on Water Mint
Red Admiral Butterfly on rotten windfall apple
July 27th 2018
High Summer is my main season for insect photography. There are hundreds of species to choose from at this time of year in the Cavan area. Extreme macro, normal macro and insect in flight photography techniques take plenty of practice before even average photographs can be achieved. So I've spent many days by the wildlife pond, by hedgerows, field margins and woodland edges to make publishable photographs of Brown Hawker Dragonfly, Azure Damselfly, Soldier Beetle, Sexton Beetle, Green Leaf Hopper, Horse Fly, and Four Spotted Chaser Dragonfly, to name some of them.
Brown Hawker Dragonfly
Horse Fly compound eyes
Four Spotted Chaser Dragonfly
Compound Eyes of a Dragonfly
June 29th 2018
Long Summer days are great for nature photography, providing almost infinite scenarios and subject matter, even in Ireland which isn't as bio-diverse
as other parts of the world. Subjects photographed this Summer so far: Hairy Dragonfly egg laying, Great Crested Grebe, Ringlet Butterfly, Shoaling Perch and Roach, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch, Four Spotted Chaser Dragonfly, Snipe Fly, Azure Damselfly hatching out, Reed Beetle, Willow Warbler, Mute Swan, Speckled Wood Butterfly, Lone tree on a foggy dawn morning, Chicken of the Woods Fungi.
Lone Tree on a foggy dawn.
Hairy Dragonfly laying her eggs in aquatic plants.
May 24th 2018
Initial test images from the diy underwater housing look promising, clear water and good light over the coming months will hopefully produce some useful pictures.
Subjects photographed so far this Spring include: Fulmar, Gannet, Great Skua, Greater Black Backed Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Black Guillemot, Green Dock Leaf Beetle, Spotted Flycatcher, Bullfinch, a Rookery, Carder Bee, Zebra Jumping Spider, St. Marks Fly, Red Ant, Bluebells, Treecreeper, Badger, Collared Dove, Bird Cherry, Swallow, Hooded Crow, and Goldcrest. See some samples below.
Zebra Jumping Spider
Great Skua at sea
March 23rd 2018
Currently making an underwater dslr camera housing for photographing freshwater fish.
Also getting to grips with large format photography using a 6cm x 17cm panoramic 120 roll film back on a 4x5 field camera. Image turnaround with this system will be approximately 20 images per year. Looking forward to shooting landscapes on film where resolutions of 150 megapixels can be acquired from the scanned film, suitable for detailed panoramic prints 4.5 meters long and 1.5 meter wide.
The nocturnal woodland mammals project continues, usually get 3 or 4 publishable images every week, here's some examples: