The robin is one of my favourite birds because they are so obliging and friendly. One of the easiest garden birds to photograph. And I’m not the only fan – the nation voted the robin its favourite bird.
Here are some of the photos I’ve managed to capture of robins this winter. Currently the robin in our garden regularly greets me as I come back from my daily walk and he sits there on the bush near the front door as I struggle to get the pram through. I’ve started offering a hand of seeds to him – with a little patience, I hope to have him feeding out of my hand.
If you’ve been anywhere near a TV screen or radio or – god forbid – been outdoors, you may have noticed we’ve quite a bit of snow. I don’t remember snow like this for about 5 years and it’s so rare.
I’m not one for snowball fights – I have a very low tolerance for extreme temperatures in either direction – but I am one for taking photos when the landscape changes so dramatically. Here’s a few I’ve taken over the last few days as the office has been closed and I’ve been snowed in working from home.
A short post today containing some photos I took at Pensthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk this Sunday. We go there quite a bit as we have an annual membership so we’re getting to see the park in all seasons this year which is quite interesting. This is by no means everything that Pensthorpe has to offer – there are also eurasian cranes, flamingos, corncrakes, turtle doves, waterfowl, bearded tits, birds of prey, otters, so an awful lot of wildlife.
The woodland hide never fails to let me down – there were at least three nuthatches. There are around 5 or 6 feeders and you can get really close but what’s so impressive is how much activity there is – you don’t know where to look. I feel like a nuthatch is an autumn bird because it always seems to be photographed with an acorn in its bill.
Here are a few of the red squirrels. Pensthorpe has a captive breeding programme so you can see the red squirrels and their kittens up close before they’re released onto Anglesey as part of a reintroduction project.
Today we went for a trip out in the windy autumnal weather to Strumpshaw fen in Norfolk. It’s an RSPB reserve famous for its bitterns, kingfishers and swallowtails (though of course no swallowtails this time of year). It’s largely a broadland habitat, with reedbeds and marshes, loved by bitterns, marsh harriers, otters and wader birds, but it also has an extensive woodland area and large meadow grazed by cattle.
Today in the Fen Hide we watched a bittern flying for quite a few minutes, marsh harriers circling way up ahead, and a water rail scuttling around in the shallows in front of the hide. Later in the Tower Hide we were impressed by a juvenile cormorant stretching its vast wings out. Fleetingly we saw a kingfisher flying along the river Yare and a few hobbies in the sky. Finally, near the end we came across a delightful little mole, who looked a bit lost on the gravel path and was trying to find out way back to the safety of the soil.
The ongoing saga of the copyright of the famous monkey selfie has probably filtered into your consciousness at some point in the last few years but been dismissed as “some nonsense.”
Yet the case drags on and the photographer’s career – and life – has been basically ruined.
David J Slater self-funded a month-long trip around Indonesia to photograph the rare and endangered crested black macaque monkeys to draw attention to their dwindling numbers so that the world might take notice. And so it did – because the monkeys liked the shutter sound on his camera and one accidentally ended up taking a photograph of itself.
Despite the fairly modest income the photo was going to make him, Wikipedia decided to reproduce the image, making it free for all and it has been shared over 50 million times.
The photographer became embroiled in a 6 year legal battle over the copyright and more recently in the last two years PETA has sued him, claiming that the copyright belongs to Naruto the monkey, and they have demanded to manage the funds on the monkey’s behalf. Last year, a US judge ruled against the suit, as animals are not covered by the Copyright Act, but PETA has appealed the decision.
The saddest thing about this bizarre story is that not only has a man lost his career, he has also lost his love of photography – the magic has gone. PETA has made its point and should end the stalemate – even if the monkey’s right to the image could be asserted in law, it cannot prove which monkey took the photo. Dave Slater even claims PETA is championing the wrong monkey!
Doesn’t PETA have anything else to spend its money on?
One good thing has come out of the monkey selfie image: Dave has achieved his aim and the local people no longer hunt the macaques; instead they love their ‘selfie monkeys’.
I’ve been enjoying this new BBC series called Spy in the wild.
They send these robot cameras in various disguises to live amongst the animals, blending in and secretly filming. The animatronic spies are very amusing.
Here’s a good clip that also shows how intelligent and curious animals can be:
What has been interesting is that technology becomes the narrative – the animal families engage with the cameras, seeming to know that they look like themselves but that something is not quite right. A group of monkeys accidentally drop one monkey spy and they all gather round and mourn it.
Ok, so the best photography is actually captured by the real human cameramen who shoot from a distance, but it’s a new way of doing nature TV that is showing some interesting behaviour.