Along with about 20 other volunteers, I spent yesterday afternoon helping the Chew Valley Ringing Station team with their annual Canada goose round-up. Each year, when the geese are moulting and so cannot fly, boats herd about 100-200 birds into a pen for ringing and release.
Canada geese in their temporary pen
Most of the volunteers acted as ‘runners’, handling the geese while trained ringers weighed and fitted them with new rings.
As I learned, cradling a Canada goose under your arm allows complete control over the legs and wings, which protects you from scratches to the front. The downside of this stance is that both your flank and upper arm are left at the mercy of the [now vengeful] bird’s long, slender neck – on the end of which is a bill that can bite you. And bite you it will.
Canada goose being carried by a nervous volunteer
Weighing a Canada goose
With the plentiful volunteers, we worked our way through the c. 120 geese fairly quickly, all of us sustaining a few bruises from the biting. Most of us were a little bit apprehensive about the more feisty individuals, and the final goose left in the pen seemed particularly displeased with the situation as it stood in a corner – neck arched and mouse agape.
“Careful, this one’s a hisser”, explained one of the wranglers inside the pen, whose role it was to catch and hand over geese to runners. Fortunately, the hisser calmed down once in hand!
Releasing a goose
All of the geese were released safely back onto the lake, many with new rings in place and about 30 being re-catches.
It’s been a busy week!
First up; I was recently asked by the Bristol Zoo Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project (AGDWP) to produce a film exhibiting some work they’ve been doing with Christ Church Primary School. The children there created stories which were acted out on the Downs in front of classmates and parents.
Jeremy DeCoursey and Claire Thompson are also involved in the project, with the footage to be shown at the upcoming Festival of Nature. Our shoot took place last Thursday and we’ll also be putting together a DVD for parents to buy, with the proceeds going to a conservation project based in Africa.
Misumena vatia, a rarely seen spider at the Blaise BioBlitz
Next, the second ever Bristol BioBlitz took place over the weekend; take a look at the blog here to see what the media team got up to. The event was a huge success, with a final tally of 536 (set to go up as BRERC finishes trawling through the species data).
I helped to produce two videos, which are below. They were loads of fun to make, but neither is meant to be a masterpiece; the idea was to keep content streaming in fast.
Finally, it was off to Milton Keynes the next day to help out as a Runner on a shoot for an upcoming Aardman production. I assisted with filming and also interviewed contributors. A grand day out! (sorry)
For the next week or so I’ll be working on getting the AGDWP project ready for the Festival of Nature.
As promised, some photographs from a recent trip to Exmoor below, and to give this post a bit more substance, I thought it would be worth mentioning one of my favourite photographers; Kevin Schafer.
Kevin’s website was the first place I encountered his particular philosophy in wildlife photography, which I know is shared by many. In addition, an old article on this subject by Kevin in BBC Wildlife Magazine, The Sad Demise of Wow , is certainly worth reading.
While not showing fantastic animal behaviour, all of the images below are displayed as shot (taken in JPEG format), with no post processing.
Hikers look out over the landscape
A bit of showreel news; we’ve recorded voice over and now have a second edit with music. The showreel itself is very nearly finished!
Communicate and WildPhotos both occurred at the end of last month; two greatly inspiring events.
WildPhotos showcases the work of the world’s best wildlife photographers. The event included a keynote speech by Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols; discussing his life achievements as a photographer for National Geographic. His presentation featured a run down of the stunning redwood panorama which appeared in October’s National Geographic , composed of 83 images.
The podium at WildPhotos following Nick Nichols' keynote
Another highlight for me was Danny Green’s look at black and white wildlife photography. Having won the B&W category in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Danny discussed how incredible detail and textures can be masked by colour and brought out with the use of greyscale.
Communicate reflects WildPhotos in many respects, with science communication being the main theme. The annual conference investigates how NGO’s and environment-themed organisations can more effectively reach out to the public. Reflected upon as the most successful instalment in the conference’s 6 year history by Jo Gipps, the Bristol Natural History Consortium Chair, it would certainly seem the case that today’s society could do with more events of a similar tack.
Andrew Jackson, the new head of the BBC Natural History Unit, delivered a keynote talk. Some refreshing ideas were heard, providing a hugely insightful glimpse into what could be in store for the NHU. Other discussions examined whether the term biodiversity is too inaccessible to the general public and a dissection of the current state of science reporting in mainstream media.
On a side note, I’ve recently started working with naturalist and broadcaster Ed Drewitt in the creation of a showreel to display his work. We’re in pre-production at the moment; more on this soon!
It’s been six days since I returned from Morocco and just over a week since summiting Mount Toubkal, where the photograph below was taken.
A true gamer
The image was a lot of fun to make, which is probably the most important part of amateur photography. I’m not sure if it was the sense of achievement (from reaching the summit at 4167m after five days of trekking) which induced this strange high, or if it was just the minuscule amount of oxygen reaching my severely altitude sickened cerebrum. It felt good though.
The set can be viewed on Flickr here.
In my case, it’s acute deficiency of an internet connection.
Until September, I am residing in a temporary holding. As a result, the internet has become somewhat of a luxury. None of these connection issues are helped by my imminent holiday, which will take me far away from any sort of “world wide” web for roughly a fortnight (not that I’m complaining).
A small hoverfly in Leigh Woods
I’ve not been completely bone idle though. Please enjoy these shots from Leigh Woods and the recent Bristol Balloon Fiesta. They were made with my new telephoto lens, which I’ll talk about in the future. Hit the Flickr widget link on your right for more.