Thursday, 30 April 2009

O'Neill Cold Water Classic at Brims Ness

Stopped off at the surfing competition for an hour to see if I could get the image stabiliser working when I'm panning moving objects - a 6 star surfing event makes for pretty good practice :o)

These guys are some of the world's top surfers and these shots are barely cropped at all, other than to straighten the horizons.

O'Neill Cold Water Classic - Brims Ness 30th April

O'Neill Cold Water Classic - Brims Ness 30th April

O'Neill Cold Water Classic - Brims Ness 30th April

O'Neill Cold Water Classic - Brims Ness 30th April

Walking back to the car, I saw a seal bobbing up and down in the shallows, no doubt wondering when he'll get his coast back!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I'm in love

Half an hour of good light, topped-up bird feeders and a new Canon 100-400mm L lens - bliss :o)

Chaffinch (4)

I've only taken 10 shots with it and I'm already head over heels with this lens. Can't wait to try it out on the surfers and puffins!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Scottish Natural Heritage

Thanks to Mike for a comment reminding me that it's Scottish Natural Heritage's Biodiversity Week coming up again and therefore there's another competition. Details are here:

(Lens should be here tomorrow!)

Monday, 27 April 2009


My piggy bank will not be speaking to me, but one Canon 100-400mm L lens plus 1.4X extender ordered and paid for - it's being sent Special Delivery today so I should have it tomorrow or Wednesday. Stand by for lots of surfer and puffin shots while I get to grips with it!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The puffins return

Remember last year I went looking for puffins? Those photos were pretty terrible, so when I heard that the puffins were starting to arrive back in Caithness, I vowed I was going to do better this year.

I knew there had to be a better vantage point to photograph from than the one I got from my foolhardy scramble down the little gorge, so I crossed over it back near the road, where it's still a stream, and walked down to the cliff edge on that side to see if I could get any closer.

And, sure enough, there was a steep slope with a sheep track at the bottom of it and landing on the sides of that slope were puffins!

Puffins (11)

I sat at the top and watched them for a bit. After a while I spotted a sheep track curving down the slope to meet up with the one below and decided to scramble down it (this involved a very undignified 'reverse all-fours' manoeuvre, but it kept me low to the ground and safe). I bottom-shuffled along a small ridge, thinking I'd sit on the end of it, only to find it ended in a 3 foot drop to a flat area where I could sit with my back to the ridge and have a ringside seat of all the action on the puffinry. And, as you can see from this shot of a very small section of it, there was lots going on:

Puffins (6)

Males clear out the burrow they've chosen and line it:

Puffins (14)

These two have paired up - clashing beaks together is called billing and is a bonding action; it's the puffin equivalent of kissing I suppose!

Puffins (16)

Puffins (9)

With so many birds zooming in and out, there's bound to be the odd collision...

Puffins (7)

Lots more on my Flickr account if you click through on any of the pictures above. This is about the limit of what this lens can do - I was having to shoot at ISO640/1000 to get shutter speeds fast enough for a non-image stabilised lens at 300mm. What with the professional surfers turning up in Thurso next week I'm being SO tempted to raid my piggy bank for that 100-400mm...

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Lazing on a sunny afternoon...

One warm gravel path, one very happy small tortoiseshell butterfly...

Butterfly (1)

Butterfly (2)

This little bird has been hanging around the garden for a while. On Monday, while I was pulling 'Orrible Purple Stuff out of the flower borders and Smokey was on the lawn tucking into a cow hip joint as big as his head, he was pottering around the bottom of the bird feeders less than six feet away from us, completely unconcerned. Not sure if it's a young chaffinch or a young greenfinch or something else though!

Chaffinch (2)

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter!

The ewes and lambs get numbered in order of birth - makes it easy to see whose lamb is whose and keep track of their age:

Number one lambs!

Easter lamb

Smokey is still loving being out and about:

Morning walk (2)

And he's now allowed to do this:

Morning walk (3)

A week on Wednesday he can go off-lead on the flat and I get my camera arm back!!

Reports are in that the first puffins are arriving at Duncansby Stacks. I'll go out and have a look at the stack off Drumholistan in the next few days and see if they're starting to come back there.