My top 20 Wildlife and Nature Photographs of 2011
My top 20
Many of these Top 20 lists that you see all over the internet can appear self-congratulatory or vain. I think it’s sad to not share not only your work but to create a review for yourself of what you think you got right in a year. This helps you to grow and also to be grateful for being able to get out there and photograph or create. Here are my Top 20 that I was fortunate to capture.
This photograph was taken on a fantastic evening in the Masai Mara on my August trip. It had been overcast throughout the day, but we were lucky to have a few minutes of sun as we made our way back to the camp. The gap in the cloud lined up perfectly with the lone tree to add to the drama.
The Cairngorms in Scotland
The Cairngorms National Park in Scotland is a beautiful place in winter, and I was fortunate to spend two days in a hide in February photographing Red squirrels. A deceptively fast species to photograph. Many thanks to Peter Cairns of Northshots for setting up such an incredible hide. An operation at a fantastic venue and worthy of a mention in my Top 20.
Bushy Park in London
This grey heron photograph was taken at my local patch in Bushy Park in London. It is one of my favourites because it’s a different angle of a much-photographed species. I cannot stress enough how valuable it is to work your local patch. Wildlife is constantly on the move, so no two days will ever be the same.
What a privilege to spend time with tigers in the wilds of India. It is high up in my Top 20 experiences of all time too. This was my third trip to India, and I visited Tadoba and Bandhavgarh for two weeks this time. Tigers are the most beautiful animals, facing so many challenges to survive. This was the first time I’d actually seen them in the wild. Needless to say, this child of Africa was as excited as a child at Christmas.
Hides in Finland
European Brown Bear and European wolves have long been on my wish list of species to photograph. I got the chance in August to spend a week photographing them from hides in Finland through another trip with Northshots. Spending fourteen hours a day waiting for these beautiful big mammals to appear is what I love about wildlife photography. More of the photos from Finland here.
The Masai Mara is one of the most beautiful places on earth so throw in millions of migrating animals, and you will witness one of the wonders of the natural world. Along with the sight of the migration are the hundreds of predators that wait for the feast each year. A thrilling place to visit and one of those places everyone should have on the top of their travel lists.
The Annual Deer Rut
No Top 20 list would be complete without the annual pilgrimage to some large deer park. The red deer rut never fails to deliver, and although I didn’t photograph that much in this year’s rut, my favourite incident was this male that had just fought off another big male and then decided to enter the water to cool off. More of the photos from the Deer Rut
Martial eagles are, without a doubt, one of my favourite large raptors. It’s not just the formidable size and colouring that makes it such a beautiful bird. When they’re in the area, it all goes quiet. No other species makes a noise. I encountered two nesting birds in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and spent some time with them as they sat on the top of the dunes and hunted. More here
Cheetah on the dunes
This cheetah male and his brother walked right in front of my car and disappeared over the adjacent dunes. I spoke to it repeatedly behind the camera as it walked off, begging it to look behind it for the photograph… It did.
Bat-eared fox added to the Top 20 list
2011 was the year of the Bat-eared fox, and I was lucky enough to see the northern (Kenya) and southern (South Africa) species. Such intriguing little creatures as they run along with their oversized ears trained on the ground listening for critters hidden in the ground beneath them.
Springboks in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park serve as the primary source of food for both cheetah and leopards, and they can be seen in their hundreds. I have long wished to get some back-lit photos of them and managed quite a few. This is my favourite. Click here for a trip report of my time in the Kgalagadi.
Flocks of birds
The mass drinking sessions of these Cape sparrows can only be eclipsed by the bigger flocks of Red-headed finches. I spent many hours at waterholes waiting for predators, and these diminutive creatures kept me occupied as they flew to and fro, from the trees back to the waterhole.
At one of the waterholes, I came across thirty Gemsbok walking around. The males fought each other over the right to scent the females in the hope of mating. I had to wait a long while to get some photos of two males away from the group. They are grumpy buggers… Maybe that’s why I related to them.
To wrap up my Top 20, here is my favourite for the year. Ironically it is also the last sequence that I have taken this year, and I had to wait sixteen days to encounter a big male lion. I photographed many younger males and got a few decent images, but none that really wowed. On the last evening on my last trip out, I ran into this magnificent beast.
Join me on this whirlwind journey as I write about, and photograph, all manner of things on this planet.