International Garden Photographer Of The Year

Today I am very pleased to be able to say I have been awarded 1st place winner in the ‘Wildlife in the Garden’  category of the IGPOTY competition with my images of these Starlings taken in my garden in Snowdonia, North Wales. igpoty

 

 

Starlings on garden tap

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Red Squirrels

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One of the species to photograph on my list this year was Red Squirrels.

Living in North Wales I had a few options locally.  Anglesey has a good population of reds and no greys and is only an hour away from home.

I also had the option of heading for Formby Point near Liverpool where Red squirrels are easy to see and approach without too much effort.

However having a few days free and a the need for an adventure I decided to make the trip to the Scottish Highlands and the heart of Red. Squirrel country in the Cairngorm National Park.

On short trips like this when you need pictures in a short space of time it’s good to use local guides or experts to show you the best places to visit without wasting hours or days searching.

On this occasion I decided to enlist the help of Neil Macintyre a man who growing up in the highlands has a special place in his heart for the Red Squirrel.

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Deep in the pine ancient pine woods Neil has a hide set up where he can sit comfortably within close proximity of numerous squirrels who visit on a daily basis for a few hazel nut rewards.

The hide is also open to keen photographers allowing the chance to get some intimate views of otherwise shy animals.

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Getting close to the Squirrels is however only half the story. They are very active little blighters and some perseverance is necessary along with some knowledge of Squirrels behaviour to get some half decent shots.

After two mornings of photography I left with a handful of images I was happy with and look forward to a return visit in the near future.

Temperate Rainforests and Rare Lichen

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I am lucky enough to live on the edge of  a very special woodland nature reserve. Coed Felinryd and Ceunant Llenrych. The woods date back almost 10,00 years to the last ice age and are some of the best remaining Atlantic Oak woodlands also known as temperate rainforests  in Europe.  Drenched with river spray and high rainfall (over 200 days per year) the humidity is high.

A walk through these woods is along steep narrow slippery tracks. I seldom meet anyone else along the way. Although becoming more popular over the last few years the woods are still far enough off the beaten track to attract too many visitors.

First discovered in Wales in 2005 in Ceunant Llenrych and otherwise only known from  two sites in the highlands of Scotland and a handful of sites in Ireland ‘Blackberries in Custard’ or Pyrenula hibernica is a internationally rare species of lichen. Confined to the most undisturbed woodland and the smooth bark of Hazel in Wales.

The anticipation in the search for this lichen always leaves me breathless although this could also be down to the steep slopes of the ravine. The reality of the find however can leave you disappointed.  I most cases it can look like a small patch of snot on a branch, it can take some time to find a good sample in perfect condition worthy of a photograph.

Today was a good day.

 

 

Exploring Snowdonia

I cannot believe I have not posted on here for almost a year now. It all seemed a good idea at the time. The start of a new era , a new home,  a new business and a new life.

A diary seemed a natural progression. However I did not anticipate just how busy life  would get.

With exciting future projects planned in 2016  that need to be shared there is no real excuse for me not make the effort to keep  up to date.

After two years now of living in Snowdonia and finishing some major house renovations we are finally getting the chance to explore the area with the camera.

 

Dyffryn  Ardudwy

OS Grid Ref SH589228

Dyffryn Ardudwy - Burial Chamber (Dolmen) Wales, Gwynedd. UK
(C) Jonathan Need

Just a few miles drive south along the coast from home lies the village of Dyffryn Ardudwy. At the south end of the village is the wonderful site of two well preserved neolithic burial chambers.

If you follow any of my future blogs you will see i love to photograph ancient and historical sites

Apparently also known by the name of Coetan Arthur  (Arthur’s Quoit).

The site is estimated to date to circa 3500BC  although the western chamber is of an earlier date than the eastern chamber.

Dyffryn Ardudwy - Burial Chamber (Dolmen) Wales, Gwynedd. UK
(C) Jonathan Need
Dyffryn Ardudwy - Burial Chamber (Dolmen) Wales, Gwynedd. UK
(C) Jonathan Need

Remains of a cremation burial have been found within the site.

I  find it fascinating that entrances to both chambers face east. If anyone knows why I would be interested to know.

New beginnings

Welcome to my new blog. Something I have been meaning to do for a while now but never  got around to it. There never seems to be  enough hours in the day.

In 2013 I was fortunate enough to be able to  move to a cottage in  North Wales, situated in the Snowdonia National Park and surrounded by beautiful  mountains and woodlands.

Working now full time as a photographer I hope to share some of my highs and lows along with some of the images I take along the way.