What an amazing 24 hours!
I hosted two thoroughly good chaps (they're also great photographers) at Tom Robinson's Wildlife Photography Hides, near Bourne in Lincolnshire.
My hosted wildlife photography service is targeted at both beginners wanting to experience a professional set-up and learn new techniques, but also established wildlife photography enthusiasts, hoping to get the very best out of their talent in front of spectacular creatures, at close quarters.
No better place for both types of Client than the incredibly well designed and natural setting that Tom Robinson has painstakingly created near his home just into Lincolnshire.
Clients Ian and Del both talented photographers already, were in for a real treat!
I had experienced the 24 hour session for myself earlier in the year on a freezing cold day, where the lovely log burner was just the thing to keep away the chills.
I was so looking forward to introducing my Clients to the wonderful sights on offer at Tom's place and it wasn't long before we were all settled in and ready for the hoped for appearance of the Tawny Owls.
The facilities here are second to none - tailored to the wildlife photographer's every need, whilst ensuring that the truly wild species that visit for supplementary feeding, are completely undisturbed by the excited humans watching and capturing their every move.
It wasn't long before our first visit, but I still had some time to experience a completely new type of anxiety .... that of worrying that I'd got paying Clients in place and yet (like all truly wildlife experiences) being completely at the mercy of the will of the creatures you were hoping to see.
I shouldn't have worried as once darkness fell, we heard the telltale 'Kewick' ... hoooouh ... hoooo (Twit-twoo as it's more commonly described). In fact it seemed to us that the male landed first a post near to the baited perch, calling in the female who flew in at speed, chasing the male away to ensure she fed first.
Once sure the Owl had settled and lit sensitively by carefully placed flash points, the beautiful predator soon had us transfixed as I watched my Clients carefully picking the best shots of the action.
Once happy that my Clients were getting some great images I managed to grab a few shots of my own, including a close up of the Tawny dispatching a mouse 'down-the-hatch' ... wildlife, red in tooth and claw and all that!
A long night-time vigil hoping to see the Otter family that visits every so often, turned out be be a 'not tonight' occasion this time - we'll be back for another go before you can blink!
A comfortable couple of hours kip and we were ready for the dawn and as the skies looked promisingly without cloud cover, we watched Tom set us up for a day with a very busy male Kingfisher. The Kingy's female partner was sitting on their clutch somewhere out of sight, meaning he had to fish for both of them.
Again ... that nervous anticipation of hoping my Clients were going to get great views was short lived, as the Kingy could barely wait for the dawn before he was up and at it!
Ian and Del managed to get some unbelievable shots, with close up views of this little master at work, set in a beautiful open pond, with water lilies starting to open in the background.
I really don't think I've ever seen a better shot of a Kingfisher in action than this one (above) that Ian captured in the early morning sun.
Look at that reflection, the pin-sharp focus and beautiful natural setting - perfection!.. great shots of his below too!
(pics above: copyright Ian Ireland)
What a thrill to have helped someone (in some small way) to produce such an amazing piece of work ... I think I'm going to really enjoy this Client Hosting thing!
The Kingfisher was so successful that I needed to ensure that he had a decent supply of small fish in the place where we were hoping he would dive .... so it was on with Tom's waders and the quickest 'in and out' to minimise disturbance.
We were lucky to pick up some interesting shots of other species, adapting to the availability of supplementary feeding intended for night time Otters. We saw Brown Rats as Wannabe Otters, to Crows (clever Corvids that they are!) poaching fish and Moorhen's taking some quality protein to boost their omnivorous diet.
So that's the story of a great day spent with Clients out in the WILD.
If you'd like to share an amazing wildlife experience, then check out my website for packages to suit where you are in your photography journey.
I've added the perfect special occasion gift package for anyone you know that's always wanted to have a go getting professional quality images of wildlife, but didn't know where to start.
This deal is also suitable for those who have made a start but are looking to improve their technique ... and their portfolio of images with which to impress their friends!!
Looking forward to seeing you out in the WILD soon!