Winter Reeds

Female Reed Bunting

Winter Reed

Taken at Loch Spynie, Morayshire, Scotland. Nikon D7000 with Tamron 150-600mm lens.

My photography since the last entry (I dare not look at the post date) has ranged from an intense full-time activity to being practically non-existent.  I’ll spare the excuses and just say it’s great to be back with camera batteries fully charged – and the creative juices flowing again. I’ve missed it badly.

We have relocated to the Scottish highlands and have spent the winter evenings scouring maps and guides in search of new wild places to visit and hopefully to capture.

Above is a female reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) perched in the winter reeds, also home to the elusive water rail (Rallus aquaticus), which we didn’t see but constantly heard calling.  It was a chilly, dull day with long waits in the bird hide interrupted with a few exciting sightings – least of all a male otter fishing some 50 metres away.

Cheers, John.

Backyard Birds

It’s all to easy to overlook these small, common birds.  But I wonder how many birdwatchers would travel far and wide to see a Blue Tit, if it was a rare species?

It was time to test the new Tamron 150-600mm lens. I opted for some ‘easy to find’ targets, at a nature reserve near the New Forest, England.  These are the first test shots.  There’s a lot to learn about this new ‘beast’ of a lens, least of all, how to carry and maneuver the extra 2 kilos.  I might have to start working out – I’m thinking if I lose 2 kilos myself, it will cancel out the weight carried on the next long hikes in the mountains!

– John

Male Chaffinch

A handsome male Chaffinch posing, very obligingly.


A Dunnock or Hedge Sparrow, probably the dullest garden bird, but their song outshines their bland exterior.  

Blue Tit

The colourful and highly acrobatic Blue Tit.

Young Robin

A young Robin, still awaiting their full redness and adult plumage.

Looking West

Cuevas del Mar, Asturias in Northern Spain
The clifftops at Cuevas del Mar in Asturias, Northern Spain.  I was waiting for a sunset, but mother nature had other ideas.

It has been a while since I last posted anything here.  But there’s been good reason.  Belinda and I started a road trip in April, and we are still travelling!  A record of a journey is here at ‘Stories from the Wild’.  I hope you like it.

– John

Sky, Sea, Sand


It’s been a while posting here.  But there’s a good reason.  We have been up scaling our endeavours in ‘making time to live’ and Belinda and I are currently starting a new project involving a lot of getting up early and going to bed late.  More about that later.

Here’s a picture from Galicia in northern Spain on a beach close to the La Playa de las Catedrales.  A long exposure with intention camera movement, panning from left to right.


Against the light

Me! – Taken by my Dad (under supervision!).

A rare moment on our visit to the UK. The weather has been horrendous – walking has been replaced by wading.

Another New Day

From the Parque de la Concordia, Arriondas, Asturias, northern Spain.

A photo was taken this morning in the same place as my last post – Clearing Mist.  This sunrise crept up on a me.  Our lounge window is north facing and it looked a bit gloomy as I peered out at 7.30am.  But leaving the building, we were greeted with a tinge of red in the higher clouds, that eventually evolved into this scene.  And behind us the rising sun turned the previously gloomy north view to a blanket pink colour.  It looked amazing but I wasn’t carrying the wide angle lens needed to capture it….. there’s always tomorrow.

I think in 2014, I will try to experience as many sunrises as possible.  Magical.

Happy New Year to everyone.

– John

P.S.  Full disclosure, I photoshopped some annoying overhead cables.  Sometimes you just can’t avoid them!

Clearing Mist

Taken from the centre of Arriondas in Asturias, looking down on the Río Piloña.

At this time of year our morning walks are often accompanied by a thick blanket of mist.  Sometimes it can last until early afternoon.  But yesterday, it cleared enough to allow a little colour from the sunrise.

Ben made a black and white shot of the same scene earlier in the year.

– John

Las Cañadas


An early start, walking in Las Cañadas below El Teide in the volcanic landscape of Tenerife.

It turned out to be a one-day holiday – even though we went for 7 days.  I spent the first 3 days with flu and another 3 days forced inside by a tremendous storm.  Lightning, wind, rain and floods.  Although we did see the sun again – as we were driving back to the airport!

– John


Nature therapy

Autumn in the region of Ponga, Asturias – views of the Picos de Europa and Bosque del Peloño.

I recently heard the term ‘NDD – Nature Deficit Disorder’.  I think I caught it!  It was time for action.  So, we took a long walk to see the autumn colours.  It wasn’t ideal for photography – clear skies with strong sun, contrasted by deep shadows from the high peaks.  But that wasn’t the point of making the trip.  And we still managed to see a wild cat stalking its prey on the edge of field, which was a real treat.

–  John

The Hills Have Eyes!

The Hills Have Eyes

Not the horror film! But a walk in the area of Amieva, Asturias in northern Spain. The route was called “El encanto de la Mitologia” and runs from the village of Santillán to Beyu de Pen. A great autumn walk.

– John