Sunday, 28 March 2021

Book review - Getting Closer Rediscovering birds through bird photography....

 The lastest lockdown read has been a wonderful book I've been enjoying while sat up under an old oak tree beside an unused railway track while Skylarks fly above with there spring calls I sit below reading about how I could photograph these flighty delights. 

The Book is called Getting Closer Rediscovering birds through bird photograph it was written by Paul Sorrell who took up photography in the early 2000s, giving him a new form of creative engagement with his longstanding interest in wildlife and the natural world. His images have featured in local, national and international wildlife photography competitions, and he has published online and print pieces for outlets ranging from airline magazines to Tourism New Zealand’s website and the School Journal.

Click here to purchase Getting Closer Rediscovering birds through bird photography

 I found that after reading I learned a few new ideas and techniques when photographing birds and to see that someone had written a book with the same passion as me was a wonderful feathery treat to behold. What made the book so appealing and easy to follow is the layout starting simple then going to an advancement throughout the different sections of the book. The top tips and Handy hacks dotted throughout the sections of the book really helped as sometime the smallest changes can have the biggest effect on editing a photographing and taking it. With lots of wonderful photographs taken by a master of his craft really made this book very interesting. I especially loved the many photographs of the Oystercatchersas not matter how many photographs you take of them the background adds so much to the feathered black and white suited birds with there bright orange beaks and red eye rings make them such charasmatic coastal birds. I seem to be seeing alot more in land lately and I will be trying my newly found tips from this book to capture moments of there activity on my local river.

Thanks for reading


An end in sight and Nature is thriving

With the possible end of Lockdown in sight I have started cleaning up my gear buying a few new pieces of kit plus booking some much needed welsh get aways. I have purchased a few Gopros for some filming from my point of view what I see the stunning views, the sounds and the Wildlife.

On the sunnier days my exercise was in the form of Kayaking and Paddle boarding

I really want to see the countryside return to the peaceful place it once was without people stepping every where going on private land disturbing areas normally left for birds and mammals undisturbed once again. The importance of freedom and the outdoors means even more to me the earch for solitude will begin soon whether in the Peaks, down a river or on the coast and who knows I may even see this big visitor if it decides to move up the coast to Wales in the next month.

We have a couple of nests in the garden with the Robins and the Blackbirds plus I have treated myself to a few last light sessions by the Badger sett and seeing a few members of the clan come out for a sniff while the foxy neighbours trot past in there search for prey hopefully with cubs underground nearby but I would be lucky to find them before they get to big or to shy to find.

With it nearly being a year since my dad passed away of terminal cancer and coming out from what feels like a lifetime of mixed up life I'm not sure what it feels like to grive in a normal world. I think  due to not having the freedom last year I was not able to deal wih but with days improving and thought of last years events in the past I feel the breaks and wild connections I have this year will mean so much.

My dads little spot in the Peak district where I like to relax and enjoy nature while thiking of the good times with him.

Thanks for reading 


Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Book review....Max Quinn A life of Extremes....

With lockdown still in play and holidays booked and planned hoping that when they come around freedom will be once again in our grasp but until then I decided to catch up on a few books and as I'm getting into my survival and living in extreme conditions really appeals to me after losing so much freedom over the last year and my desire to get back to nature is at the forefront of my focus this year. The main book I've been reading is about a natural history filmaker Max Quinn and is called A life of Extremes and they sent me the book for free to see what I think and post my thoughts on my blog.

Filming in the worlds most extreme environments requires more than just a steady hand. In temperatures as low as -50 degrees, your body shuts down and your equipment freezes up. But it's worth it to witness and record the stunning beauty and epic struggle of life on the edge.

Since 1991 when he spent 11 months filming the wildlife of Antarctica, Max Quinn has been the go-to filmmaker for documentaries such as Expedition Antarctica (2010), Hunting the Ice Whale (2013) and South America&;s Weirdest (2019). A Life of Extremes tells the stories and shares the stunning images from Quinn&;s 20 years of adventures in polar climates. Be it travelling 80 kilometres over crevassed ice to a lonely colony of Emperor penguins, or figuring out how to keep cameras warm in the coldest places on earth, Max Quinn has a story to tell about it. Natural history fans will be enthralled by the rich and layered stories, while film buffs will marvel at techniques required to keep the camera rolling when pushed to the absolute limit of endurance.Become inspired to leave the tourist trail behind with this unique book about what life is like behind the camera, beyond public transport and even human habitation. Learn about dog sled racing, the last great ice age, penguin colonies, and everything else that happens in the immensely beautiful landscapes where the temperature is permanently below freezing.

It was tough for me and my brother with tempretures no where near as extreme as bad as the Antartic just to stay warm must have been tough but to stay safe and keep expensive camera gear running must have been a huge trial for a person to live and work in such harsh temperatures gains my respect.

I ended up reading this book in the comfort of my bed tucked up in my sleeping bag under my duvet. 

To follow a mans life from being a child to a man whos passion was found having expeditions in polar regions to his last trip that took so much from him and due to age it became impossible for him to continue his journeys into the cold knowing he may never return to the harsh, beautiful enviroment of the land of ice and snow. A great book that inspires and shows the endurance and energy one person must have to do the thing they love most even when the risks are high the rewards wre priceless shown through the photographs in this book may his adventures carry on through his Grand Children..

you can buy it on Amazon for Kindle or Hardback book on the link below.

 Thanks for visiting and reading my blog


Monday, 7 December 2020

A tale of Ice and Fire....

I've really not felt like sharing much of my nature experiences with life being so tough this past 10 months as I have had to really go back to my roots and just enjoy the moments of simplicity without feeling the need to see new things but really appreciate the things I normally take for granted.

The wildest thing I have experienced this year was at the beggining of December on my birthday where we headed up to the Peaks as we had heard there was snow and we were not disapointed. Just as we arrived at the bus station to get the bus into the middle of the peaks it was doubtful we would get there.

It was amazing being in a snow storm watching the Red Grouse search for food calling to each other gathering in groups. It felt like we were in the middle of an Alaskan white out with snow up to our waists and I was disapointed as we dropped down to where the snow had melted on the ground.

On the next day after the snow I ended up going kayaking at 4am in the morning  in the dark on the river to have a campfire on one of the sandbanks and soak up the silence in the middle of no where.
I think I'll hold off any plans for 2021 as we don't what or when things will be happening...



Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Something for lockdown a little experiment...NOCMIG??

 While searching my social media for local sightings I came upon a new word in the birding and Nature field the word in question is Nocmig while before I go into this word I'll explain a what another word means. The first word is Vismig which is short for visible migration which refers to bird migration you can see where flocks or individual birds can be seen flying through the day on a journey coming from or going to a location from where they live usually we gets lots of migrants from Europe or even further. VISMIG is best oberved on the coast for rarer signtsings after they fly over the sea birds like to rest on headlands and beaches beforee moving off on there journeys. So thats vismig now NOCMIG which is the nocturnal migration of birds but you cant see the birds with the naked eye so the best way to findout what birds fly over during migration is to record at night there calls and I've posted a link to how it works below as they explain it better than me and I have not done this myself yet but it looks interesting as I live in a good spot in the centre of the country where the shortest journey is from the Irish sea across the country to europe or visa versa, the best thing is we have a flate root blocked from one side of a main road facing into an open sky the other side meaning any bird calls over the roof get projected down and should record clearly on my device well once I get one.

 Beginners guide

Dedicated recording website to help diferensiate bird calls

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Summer days are shortening....

It's been a while since my last post and with the government brain reprograming I knew things needed to get better soon. As in the photograph below the clouds parted and the sun shone well in terms of annoucments towards Wales unlocking and holidays allowed once more so I booked a cottage in Wales and waited anxiously for the unlocking of my second home so I could return to visit a few of my most loved places.
On one of my walks on the hotter days at the end of June I sheltered in a woodland glade and ended up getting the best encounter with a hunting grass snake as it slithered through the leafy woodland floor.
Tasting the air
Rising up over a fallen branch which really made the snake hiss
I also put my new Google wifi camera to work although my new mammals gate got a few visitors the the Foxy guests I am trying to attract never showed up.

It may only be July but I see and feel the changes of the summer fading and things becoming scraggy and the cooler nights and mornings bringing wet grass and browner leaves at ground level.

-In my next blog The first holiday after lock down with some surprising encounters-

Thanks for reading Mike

Sunday, 7 June 2020

A new normal for Nature

So as lockdown ended I returned to my favorite passion on the river on my journey with my kayak on my back I found mess and disturbance in wild places where people normally never tread from campfires with rubbish to new biking paths ripped through bluebell forests. 
As the lockdown madness ends hopefully people will leave my local wild places and return to places further afield. The river was quite busy with old and young swimming and sunbathing in the river and on the banks so the nesting water birds are being very secretive.  I always have a rest on the end of my kayaking trip and park up on a sandbank to soak up some sun have a rest and see what birdlife shows up. I've been watching a pair of Little-ringed plovers hopefully breeding and nesting on the low sandbank but with disturnbance to be high on the sunny days and on the wet day's risk of flooding I don't see much but we shall see and I will update in the future.
 Hanky panky on the sand bank
 I had a few wild swims in the river on the hotter days on my walks home from work made the pressures of working in retail melt away in the clear flowing rivers where Mayflies and Dragons dance on the surface and the fish swim below the surface waiting for an easy meal.
 One place that has been keeping me sane is the peak district and we heard and saw a our first Cheshire Cuckoo of the year in a quiet valley away from all the people enjoying being released from there homes and local patches. I never want to leave the secluded valley on the sunny days as the mossy ledges make the perfect sunbathing spots and with water flowing close by its easy enough to cool off after a long walk or a quick nap.
 Next time: Sorrow once more and my need for the sea....

 With regards


Sunday, 19 April 2020

Death and new life

It has been a tough few months of happiness, sadness, and stress but one thing that remains constant is the Nature that's in my garden and my hidden local spots where I won't see a soul. Just before the Lockdown with the virus I and my family found out that my father had terminal cancer and only had a few months to live. I knew one day this time would come and 4 weeks ago he started to show quickly go downhill and the last 2 weeks of caring for him were so precious for me, my brother, and my mother. I told him so many times in those 2 weeks how much I loved him and that he was the greatest dad/man I have known. I would not have been able to get through this without nature and my daily dose of the renewal of life as my father was losing his. Once he got so weak we felt like there was no more we could do and his pain was getting to hard manage so we luckily got him into st Lukes which was a beautiful place. The last moments before going are of holding his hand saying goodbye and I loved him so much. I remember seeing him smiling as he went off with my younger brother in the back of a patient transfer bus staring at us and the house he raised his family and spent 40 years working and being happily married brings a tear to my eye and a smile to face.

My brother told me a lovely thing that before my brother left him at St Luke's he grabbed his hand and said "Thank you for everything" which made me cry and smile at the same time even now it gets me and will for many years to come. A few days later after being visited by my mum and sister each day then on Easter Monday as the sunset on a beautiful warm summer day, we got the call we were waiting for that my father had passed away. When I found out he was dying of cancer  I wanted him to go on a sunny blue sky day it was one of the saddest days of my life but I was happy as I knew he was free from pain and since that day when I am out in the woods or walking country path, I think of him and see him in the beauty of nature around me. I'll try to post more soon but it will take time for me to get back to the energy I once had...
Thank you