Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unexpected rutting

Saturday was the last warm day of 2014, based on what weather forecast were telling us. And actually was quite pleasant, this week temperatures dropped of about 10 degrees.

So I decided to take the camera after almost a month and go somewhere to take pictures, and I decided for the Zuidpier (south pier) where on the shore it is possible to find diverse species of sandpipers and, being lucky also snow buntings and other interesting birds. I usually go in March but I decided to give it a try anyway. I took my beanbag and an old pan with me.

The main difference is that now sunrise is around 8am, and in March is around 6am, convenient one would say.. no it isn't convenient the beach had people walking scaring birds away right after the sunrise, hard to make birds come close.

A lot of seagulls and only one remarkable subject, in my opinion, one Bar-tailed Godwit, shouldering his way across the gulls. Laying on the sand, with the pan supporting the beanbag on the sand, I managed to get closer to the bird, little by little, making the pan (with the beanbag and the lens on the beanbag) sliding 30cm every time. I wasn't very close though, and the following pictures are consistent crops of the frame.

He decided to walk away from me to look for nutrients in the sand, so I stayed put waiting for him to come back. 

It did not happen.

Two ladies were walking something like 6-8 dogs on the shore and they scared away the bird. A pity, but ok. I couldn't find him anymore and there were no other interesting subjects for me, no buntings either on the dunes. It was half past nine, anyway, I did not want to go back to Amsterdam yet. So, I headed to the AWD north entrance to see if I was lucky enough to see some foxes. 

I wasn't, but the fallow deer were still in the rutting period, which was kind of unexpected, I knew they were rutting, but I thought it was over, since the season started very early for red deer this year. Not expecting fallow deer being so active I did not pass through the most populated areas, but still I was able to get some pictures of some activity.

A male belling his call to attract females and challenge other males. Also this one is a good crop.

Another male running after a female, in the foreground, who was clearly not much convinced of his belling :-D

To testify the impressively warm year we are having in the Netherlands, the dunes were still really full of dragonflies, most of them flying in couples. No pictures, sorry, I'm very bad with macro photography :-(

Now the rutting season should be really over.. and we are entering the second part of Autumn with no much photography chances. I  will try to look for birds of prey next month.. I will post about it if I have any success.

All photos taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV and a Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG.
As usual, feel free to contact me for questions.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The rutting season at the Hoge Veluwe

September is the rutting season for the red deer at the Hoge Veluwe national park.
The rutting season is the mating season for the big mammals, male deer usually don't hang around with the hinds, but during the beginning of autumn the mating instinct pushes them to stay with the herd, it's therefore easier to see the males.

The most famous place in the Netherlands to enjoy this activity is the national park Hoge Veluwe, where there are at least three big herds of deer. The rangers and park administration know that this is a great added value for the park and a big opportunity of income to sustain the park itself.
To make more attractive for photographers, during September (only September!) the rangers feed the deer with apples to attract them in front of specific observation points.

There are two feeding points relatively close, one or two hundreds meters apart, on the road called Wildbaanweg. Usually the rangers distribute food first on the point more souther, than on the north one. I suggest to stick with the north one, since it's likely that the animals stay around longer, not being bailed anymore after that feeding.

If you enter from the north west entrance drive until where you have to turn right to go towards the museum, then you should go straight on until you see photographers :)
In september there are a lot of them.

The rutting season begin can change from year to year, this year (2014) started very early, at the end of August, last year on September 10th was everything quiet. I think that if you have only one day in September, a safe bet is around September 20th, at that point the rutting should be in full swing.

And you can see male and females together, point your cameras to the males and wait for them to shout their love call!

The deer will hang around for around 15 minutes or more, so be ready to shoot as many pictures as you can, check your settings when you see the ranger spreading apples, it will takes few minutes for the deer to arrive. 

Stay on that spot until you're happy with your photos, or the deer go away. I usually stay there a little longer to try to get deer from different point of views.
Eventually these beautiful animals will leave, and disappear in the woods.

Then, you can go home, or.. if time allows.. continue south on the road and go to another observation point, just after a crossing but on the same road. You'll see, if you're lucky, other photographers. At this point there are chances to see deer from a smaller herd, but being the area on the west of the road you will get some photos with a different light, this year I was not lucky this year, but it's worth trying!

Now it's probably too late for the Hoge Veluwe, but the rutting season at the Oostervaardersplassen is shifted few days later, so you may have luck there, or try the AWD for the rutting season of the fallow deer, that usually goes well into October. 

All the photos were shot with a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV and a Sigma 500 F4.5 EX DG (sometimes multiplied with a Kenko 1.4x).

Hope you found this post interesting, please feel free to contact me for any question!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yet another blog about nature photography?

Quick answer: "yes"
Long answer: "yes but..."

I am an Italian expat living in the Netherlands for few years, and I am very interested in nature and nature photography. The Netherlands are definitely the right place to be.

There are plenty of very good blogs of amateur and professional Dutch photographers that I follow constantly, but I could not really find an English one. I therefore decided to start my own :-)

I usually have at least one or two days dedicated to photography per month, I will try to report as much as I can about the locations, the birds and animals, and all the information that could be useful for another photographer who - looking at the photos - would like to visit the same places. When possible I will try to refer to the beautiful sites such as waarnemingl and vogelkijkhut where all the right information usually are.

Now it's a quiet period, since it's too late for the migratory birds and too early for the big mammals. I will probably write a post about some sessions of this summer, or directly a new post about the incoming rutting season.

I hope I will be able to write something interesting for the visitors of this page.

All the best.