Sunday, 5 January 2014

2013: A Year In Review

Ouch, it's been an entire year since my last blog post. Apologies!

Anyway, happy new year everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the festivities of Christmas and have all recovered fully from your NYE antics.

It's time to look back over the last year and share with you some of my favourite images from 2013.

It's been a slow year for me photography wise. I've been focusing mainly on saving up for some new gear in preparation for my return to Canada. Telephoto lenses can do some serious financial damage as most of you know, so I've been knuckling down to 61 hour weeks in call centre to try and hit my target! With only one day off a week, my wildlife encounters have been few and far between.

I started the year in Cambodia where I was visiting my mother on her travels. The main target for me during my visit was the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin. These relatives of the orca live in the Mekong river and in Cambodia their population is estimated at around 70 individuals. I spent five early mornings and late evenings out on a boat trying to photograph these odd looking dolphins. Unfortunately, they rarely ever spyhop or breach so capturing anything other than a dorsal fin was next to impossible. After nearly a week, I only came away with one image that I was happy with.

(click on an image to enlarge)

Irrawaddy Dolphin - Mekong river, Cambodia
Long-Tailed Macaque - Siem Reap, Cambodia
Praying Mantis - Kulen Hills, Cambodia
Tailed Green Jay - Bokor National Park, Cambodia
Angkor Sunset - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Since returning from Cambodia early last year, I've barely left the country. I did manage a few day trips within Wales though and had the opportunity to photograph some cool native species for the very first time.

Whilst hiking along the Wales Coast Path on the Gower Peninsula with my brother and some friends, we came across my very first adder. I've been wanting to see Britain's only venomous snake for years now so this encounter was truly special to me. Adders are usually seen on mountainsides, heathland or in woodland but this guy was curled up on a rock right on the edge of the clifftop enjoying the sea view. I didn't have my telephoto lens with me on this occasion so these were shot with my wide-angle.

European Adder - Gower Peninsula, Wales
European Adder - Gower Peninsula, Wales

I also made three separate trips to Skomer, an island off the Pembrokeshire coast which is home to thousands of seabirds including Atlantic puffins. I hadn't seen puffins since I was little so it was great to finally spend a few days with them once again.

I tried for some flight shots but failed miserably. The speed in which these tiny torpedos come at you is quite scary and my old Sigma lens was far too slow to keep up. Luckily the red campion was in full bloom on the island, creating the perfect backdrop for some portraits.

Atlantic Puffin - Skomer, Wales
Atlantic Puffin - Skomer, Wales
Atlantic Puffin - Skomer, Wales

And finally, a couple of shots from my favourite part of South Wales, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. I tend to head down there on most of my days off, weather permitting of course. There are several amazing beaches which are great for landscape photography and it's a great place to look for owls and other birds of prey too.

6 Shot Nash Point Panorama - Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Wales

I had an amazing encounter with a little owl chick there back in the spring, one which still makes me laugh every time I think about it. This owlet was only a few weeks old and the look on it's face told me that it had never seen a human before. I returned to visit him and his sibling a few times throughout the spring/summer and was pleased to see them grow into proper little owls before fledging successfully to search for their own territories.

Little owl chick - Ogmore, Wales

So 2013 was a relatively slow year for me in terms of photography, but I'm still incredibly grateful for all that I've seen and done.

Now if all goes well with my visa application, I should be heading back to Banff sometime in the next few months. Wish me luck though, there's only 2000 visas left for 2014 and it's first come first serve!!

Thanks for reading,