31 December 2010

Annual Report

And so we get to the end of 2010, the end of the year and the end of the first decade of the 21st Century. In personal terms this year has been nothing short of a bloody nightmare – family matters – we miss you so much Trish - , but in terms of our photography and wildlife watching – which is, after all the reason d’ etre for this blog, we have had the proverbial ball. 

So, just for the moment, let’s forget the personal and concentrate on the lovely animals and the photo adventures Seri and I have enjoyed this year…….

2010 has been our most “productive” year ever in terms of photos added to our database and collection. As of today – 31st December 2010 – we have added a pretty astonishing 90,859 images to our database – we have never approached this number of shots in any previous year. I should point out this is not the overall number of shots, but rather the number that have survived the cut. We probably shot 40-50% more than this…….

So – a few, ok, a lot of,  boring statistics –


Number of shots
























Sum 90,859

Not all of the above were wildlife shots, of course, we tend to take one or more camera each with us wherever we go to. Also it is true to say that cameras with a high frame rate (8 frames per second for our D2h and 7 Frames per second for the D300s) tend, on the whole, to generate more output simply due to the fact that more shots are taken in shorter periods of time.

So more boring statistics – which I shall read in future years, which in itself makes this a worthwhile effort - So the cameras workload:


Number of shots

Nikon D2h


Nikon D200


Nikon D300s


Nikon D50


Lumix FZ28


Olympus U850sw


Pentax Optio S40


Fuji S5700


Konica-Minolta Z1


As you can see the Nikon D300s is our most worked camera, hope it survives LOL

Lots of very old equipment as you can see – but hey it works and it costs a great deal less than buying new……

Our database lists 93 different locations for the shots we took this year – most of them are in the Coventry and Warwickshire area – where we live at present.  We did however manage to get out and about between periods of illness and so on. Brandon Marsh Nature reserve figured largely, no surprise to anyone who knows us, in our photo activities and we shot 56040 images on the site, spread over 158 visits - as you can imagine we didn’t miss a great deal :-)

We also managed to visit Bradgate Park in Leicestershire 9 times shooting 5774 images, Coombe Abbey Country Park in Coventry 8 times – 4266 shots, Donna Nook Seal Rookery in Lincolnshire twice shooting 2610 shots, Draycote Water 4 times – 1960 shots, Groby Pool 7 times (it’s close to Bradgate Park) – 1477 shots, Rutland Water twice – 1090 shots, Slimbridge Wetland Trust twice with 3560 shots, Warwickshire University Grounds – 4356 shots and Seri visited her parents in Malaysia returning with 484 shot in tow. We also made a trip to Wales, our old homestead for our “summer holidays” shooting Red Kites and a May Day trip to the Cotswolds – to the Bird of Prey Centre at Batsford Arboretum. Not a comprehensive list – but these are the main places we visited.

In terms of what we have taken photos of this year, well, anyone who knows us knows that we shoot anything that is in front of the cameras – so we have taken lots of scenic shots, especially at the beginning and end of the year when snow was on the ground. We try to place our images in context in our database, so if we go to Bradgate Park to shoot the deer, we will also shoot the scenery to place context into the overall trip’s portfolio. As I said, we shoot everything, plants, fungi animals, birds and so on…….

So this year we have taken 8637 invertebrate shots (insects, spiders, snails and the like), 6658 vertebrate shots (not including birds) ranging from dogs and cats through to rare Great Crested Newts and all manner of mammals, 59247 shots of birds ranging from very rare Bittern and Osprey through to the most common Pigeons, Starlings and so on. We have also photographed Deer 3217 times (Fallow, Red, Muntjac and a few shots of Reindeer). 1830 shots of Fungi, 3751 shots of people and  1669 of ourselves, 3951 shots of plants and flowers, 4896 shots of scenery and landscapes and so on and 1535 shots of Grey Seals.

In amongst the above are 103 shots of Osprey and their nest site and chicks, 314 shots of Bittern, over 800 shots of Kingfishers and 2371 shots of Robins – what can I say, we like Robins :-)

Highlights of the year, undoubtedly our two trips to Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, and the two trips to Donna Nook for the seal breeding, and also our trips to Wales and to the Batsford Arboretum.

The first  two locations could not be more different to one another – Slimbridge teems with captive and often highly endangered species of wildfowl from all over the world. All nice and tidy each species or breed has an enclosure suited to its needs, with manicured pathways and lots of staff to care for them. Donna Nook is a stretch of beach with a fence, some 2000 seals, at the peak, and several hundred interested and excitable people all trying to get a view, and more often than not a photograph of the new-born pups.

Both of these sites are gorgeous in their own way – it is not accidental that we visited each twice  - and are well worth the pain and effort required to get there and back, and indeed the week or so of bed rest required after such trips.

The trip to Wales is, for us a trip home. We saw hundreds of Red Kites in the air above our heads at Nant yr Arian – a site to remember forever. Batsford Bird of Prey Centre was similarly memorable – to see large raptors such as the Golden Eagle and European Eagle Owl swooping above one’s head has to be seen to be believed. Some great trips this year :-)

We have had a great year in terms of our photography……… hope it continues into next year and beyond :-)

You probably noticed there are no photos in this posting – the reason being – we have posted hundreds of shots throughout the year. View the other posts on this blog, or visit our Flickr sites or the Brandon Marsh Galleries to see what we have been up to.

For now we wish everyone we know a Happy New Year and I’m off to prepare our equipment for 2011. We shall be at Coombe Country Park tomorrow – 1/1/11 a visit we have made each New Years Day for the past 3 years.

So Happy New Year – and if we see you, we will probably take your photo :-)


7 December 2010

Brandon Marsh– On ice.

Seri is off to see her parents, in Malaysia, and is currently missing all this wonderful weather in the UK. Cold cold and then, just for a change, more cold. Unseasonal weather for early December we are caught in what seems to be a never ending cold spell, with temperatures in parts of the UK dipping as low as minus 21 deg C. We, here in Coventry and Warwickshire, have  been a little more fortunate in that we have seen little of the snow which is paralysing parts of the wider country, and the temperatures have not been below minus 10 deg C – so far.

Seri phoned me last night and told me it is 35 deg C in her parents house, a few days ago we were talking and she said “I'm wearing bed socks here, but I will be sleeping with the air-con at full volume in Malaysia” and so she is :-) my is she in for a shock when she gets back to this weather LOL make the most of the heat sweetheart :-)Coventry D2h  07-12-2010 11-16-25

Anyway enough background – lets just agree that it is cold….

So I decided to make a trip to Brandon Marsh this morning – minus 5 deg C in the car, but it started first time, (Citroen - C3 Pluriel) so off we go. Slippery roads, and lots of idiots going too quickly, but what’s new….. Turn off the main roads onto Brandon Lane – just on the outskirts of Coventry – in Warwickshire – this is the start of the rural environment, and what a sight it was – every tree covered in ice crystals, every blade of grass shining in the winter sun, my god this is beautiful.

I was so taken aback by the scenery that I stopped the car before I got to Brandon Marsh and just had to get the cameras out. This trip I’m carrying the Nikon D300s with 120-400mm Sigma lens and the old Nikon D2h with my new toy, the Nikkor 12-24, for wide angle shooting.

The view over the farmland was incredible –  Shetland Ponies prancing around on the snow – it is not really snow, more frozen dew, but you get the idea – lots of white cold stuff on the ground. These little guys were having a whale of a time to the bemusement of their large horse cousins and field-mates.  What a glorious scene…… but back into the car and drive the final mile or so into the reserve……

The reserve is very quiet – only small birds and a few Mute Swans, Black Headed Gulls, Ducks of various breeds and lots and lots of European Robins to be seen.

I walked to the Baldwin Hide, to see little but an ice bound lake and a couple of birds. Walked on to the East Marsh and Teal Pool Hides, a little way up the main path, same again, but less so….. more Robins but not much else.

Sat around for an hour or so looking for signs of Water Rail and Bittern (A.K.A. Eurasian 0r Great Bittern), which, if they are going to appear at all, will usually show up around this time of year, but alas nothing doing – not a peep from any of them.

Walked back through the reserve and decided to go up towards the golf course area, just to see what is about, and there is very little. Visited the Wright Hide briefly, to find a large spider in residence – normal for this time of year. There is a Short Eared Owl that has been frequenting the reserve, in the golf course region,  in the past few weeks, and there were a few photographers and bird watchers, waiting around to see it, but it did not show, at least not whilst I was around (not long) :-)

So I carried on walking – came across a very sad sight – a Stoat with the back of its neck bitten through, can’t think what would have killed, but not eaten, it? Apart – perhaps – for another Stoat…….. Anyway it is still a good sign, where there was one there will doubtless be more. This is the third time we’ve seen stoats on the reserve……. on the previous two sightings they were actually alive……

So after taking a few record shots of the deceased I walked on, and eventually back to the car. Not a long walk, but good exercise nonetheless….. So how was the day? sounds boring right? Guess again, the scenery is so dramatic with everything wreathed in ice – it was spectacular.

I have deliberately not given too much detail of the meagre wildlife sightings on this trip – sometimes it is better to just show the photographs and let the reader make their own minds up :-)

Hope you enjoy the views around this little winter wonderland……