onsdag 1. september 2021

LOCAL SNAKE HAPPINESS 2021

A male grass-snake / buorm restlessly searching the terrain to find a receptacle female

Oslo, April 14th 2021. Nikon 200-400 4,0 /350 mm, f/9,0, 1/800, ISO 900


As some of you already may know : I have a big heart for snakes, and the reason for this is complex : 

1) Snakes have a very interesting biology, 2) Snakes live a hidden and very secretive life, 3) Snakes are beautiful animals, 3) Many people have irrational fear for snakes and human cultures & religions around the world have given snake supernatural traits and finally 4) : Some snakes are dangerous and claim a lot of respect.

In cold Norway we have been soberly blessed with only 3 species of snakes : Adder / Huggorm (Vipera berus), Grass-snake / Buorm (Natrix natrix natrix) and Smooth-snake / Slettsnok (Coronella austraica), the first one to go longest north and to highest altitude, the two latter ones restricted to warmer coastal areas in southern Norway. 

I find it difficult to do good snake photography, snakes are in principle just "a line with a frozen face in one end". No mimics, no visible expression of feelings or emotions and relatively little action. So how do you make good snake photography ? How do you add the little extra ? I don't honestly know, and if I`d known I would have done it all the time. However I try very had to accomplish something that I cannot define myself ! 

This is a compilation of local snakes pictures from 2021 season. I have skipped the basic ones that you, in principle, have seen many times before, and tried to pick "the special ones". I can only hope that you`ll like them ! 

I hope that all "my snakes" out there will make it through the winter and that we will meet again next spring.

Thanks to biologist Pål Sørensen who is doing scientific research on all 3 Norwegian species. I have been lucky to assist him in the field through the season and this is something I appreciate a lot. Also thanks to Thor Håkonsen & Are Hogner for inspiration & great company.  

 

He can smell the female, but cannot find her. Male grass-snake / buorm in dry spring leaves.

Frogn, April 18th 2021. Nikon 200-400 4,0 /400 mm, f/9,0, 1/640, ISO 1400


Grass-snakes mating. Many smaller males compete to mate with the bigger female.

Frogn, April 16th 2021. Nikon 200-400 4,0 / 400 mm, f/9,0, 1/640, ISO 1400

Grass-snakes mating. Many males coil around the receptacle female.

Frogn, April 16th 2021. Nikon 200-400 4,0 / 400 mm, f/8,0, 1/1000, ISO 800

A huge female grass-snake measuring 1,24 m. Biggest I've ever seen so far.

Larvik, April 21st 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/7,1, 1/640, ISO 1400

Female grass-snake, a local "Anaconda"

Larvik, April 21st 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/7,1, 1/1000, ISO 2000

Deep down in the misty, green "Underworld of the Unexpected" lies ... a grass-snake

Frogn, May 27th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/13,0, 1/500, ISO 2200

Grass-snake

Frogn, May 27th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/13,0, 1/500, ISO 2200

A grass-snake winding through a meadow of Yellow Stonecrop (Sedum acre)

Frogn, June 18th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/4,0, 1/2500, ISO 360

Grass-snake

Frogn, August 22nd 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/6,3, 1/500, ISO 1100

A female adder ... posing in an central perspective angle

Frogn, June 16th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/13,0, 1/400, ISO 2000

A female black adder with a blue-ish colour shine

Vestby, June 7th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/5,6, 1/1000, ISO 1800

The "blue" female black adder

Vestby, June 7th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/9,0, 1/1250, ISO 2500



The "blue" female adder with coastal midsummer flower colours

Vestby, June 7th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/10,0, 1/1250, ISO 4500

A female adder`s venom fangs

Frogn, May 27th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/16,0, 1/1250, ISO 1800


Thick leader gloves is recommended when handling adders

Frogn, May 27th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/8,0, 1/1250, ISO 640

Smooth-snakes / slettsnok have their name from their scales beeing non-keeled. They are basically hard to shoot, not only because they are rare in Norway, but also because they live a hidden & secretive life and mostly keep their head down to the ground (which doesn't`t make good pictures)

Larvik, April 21st 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/7,1, 1/800, ISO 720

Smooth-snake 

Hurum, July 30th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/6,3, 1/800, ISO 2200



      This smooth-snake looks massive, but measures only 70 cm and weighs only 110 grams 

Hurum, July 30th 2021. Sigma 180 2,8 macro, f/14,0, 1/160, ISO 2000



 Smooth-snakes are non-venomous and completely harmless, but they can still bite if beeing handled. Since snakes don't chew their food, but swallow their prey whole, there is relatively little bacteria in their mouth. I never had any infection from bites from non-venomous snakes 

lørdag 24. juli 2021

PEREGRINE FALCON / VANDREFALK

Bringing in a Wood sandpiper prey (grønnstilk), defeathered & decapitated

Nikon D5, 600/4,0 + 1,4 conv. = 850 mm, f/6,3, 1/3200, ISO 7200, manuel prefocus


SOMEWHERE IN FINLAND, JULY 2nd TO JULY 17th, 2021 :


Site : This project has been planned for almost 4 years, but not implemented until now because lack of official permission, irregularities in breeding habits and of course the pandemy. Now finally I had the chance and over 2 weeks in early July I spent all together 170 hours in a small tented hide in an open Finnish marshland with the nesting site on the ground (as you normally will find them at the eastern taiga). The timing happened to correspond with a serious eastern heatwave with outside temperatures up to 30 - 31 degrees. Temperature inside hide : almost unbearable ! 

Nestphotography : Of course this photography is done in close proximity to the nesting site. However I'm not a big fan of nest photography, so my focus was more to do flights than the traditional nest shots. Personally I do not want to show pictures with nestlings or nest visible (no big discussion this time please, its just the way I feel about it). My presence at the nest site was done with sustainable manners and done under license of Finnish wildlife authorities.

Shooting : When it comes to flight-pictures remember that the peregrine is the fastest flying bird on the planet with max speed in dives up to 300 km/h !! In-flights to the nesting site were completely unpredictable, with little wind in-flights could come from any direction, neither chicks nor adult birds gave any warning signs or signals and sometimes with up to 5 - 6 hours wait between each feeding. In most of these situations autofocus was completely impossible .... at least with my focusing skills !! ... so my technique with in-flights would be to manually prefocus on an airspace where I hoped the birds would fly through, and shoot both cameras simultanously (800 mm & 850 mm lenses) with one cable release in each hand. To freeze the rapid movements and to get the bird within the limited depth of sharpness I needed fast shutter speeds & relatively small apertures. The price to pay was of course higher ISO values.     

A difficult start : Finnair delayed my checked in luggage for 3 full days (!!) and I had to work first 3 days & nights with reduced photo gear. Then I ran into a window at the airport that I thought was an open door ! Full force !! ... and got badly beaten up .... and finally, as I sat down behind my cameras in the hide for the first time, I had a heavy crick (lumbago thing !) in my back ... and both sitting up and laying down was seriously painful ... and still is ! :-) 

Hope you like the pictures !!!
 

Marsh area with the tented hide ... and nest site to the left under tree

Wood sandpipers (grønntilk) were a common prey

Nikon D5, 600/4,0 + 1,4 conv. = 850 mm, f/9,0, 1/3200, ISO 3200, manuel prefocus

Nikon D5, 400/2,8 + 2,0 conv. = 800 mm, f/6,3, 1/2500, ISO 2800, manuel prefocus

Nikon D5, 600/4,0 + 1,4 conv. = 850 mm, f/6,3, 1/3200, ISO 2500

Nikon D5, 600/4,0, f/5,6, 1/3200, ISO 2000

Bringing in another Wood sandpiper (grønntilk)

Nikon D5, 600/4,0 + 1,4 conv. = 850 mm, f/6,3, 1/3200, ISO 7200, manuel prefocus

Nikon D5, 600/4,0 + 1,4 conv. = 850 mm, f/6,3, 1/3200, ISO 1600

Bringing in a Wood sandpiper (grønntilk)

                             Nikon D5, 600/4,0, f/4,0, 1/2500, ISO 720, manuel prefocus

Nikon D5, 600/4,0 + 1,4 conv. = 850 mm, f/6,3, 1/2500, ISO 3200, manuel prefocus

               Nikon D5, 600/4,0 + 1,4 conv. = 850 mm, f/6,3, 1/2500, ISO 3200, manuel prefocus



                                Nikon D5, 600/4,0, f/4,5, 1/2500, ISO 3200

                                   Female bird in noisy communication with the male.

                      Nikon D5, 600/4,0 + 1,4 conv. = 850 mm, f/6,3, 1/3200, ISO 3600, manuel prefocus.


                                            Nikon D5, 600/4,0, f/6,3, 1/3200, ISO 2500

                                   Nikon D5, 600/4,0 + 1,4 conv. = 850 mm, f/6,3, 1/2500, ISO 3200

                  Nikon D5, 400/2,8 + 2,0 conv. = 800 mm, f/6,3, 1/2500, ISO 5600, manuel prefocus

                                       Nikon D5, 600/4,0, f/4,5, 1/2500, ISO 2800


 With outside temperatures around 30 - 31 degrees warm & no wind the inside temp raised to almost unbearable ! Compensating by having a wet cloth over head !

mandag 19. april 2021

ARCTIC WINTER DUCKS AT BÅTSFJORD

Male King Eider shot in the morning twilight with the reflections from a harbour light

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,0, 1/400, ISO 2800

Its been a dream for some time to go to photograph arctic ducks in the sheltered harbour of Båtsfjord, a small fisherman's village on the rough Varanger coast on the northern tip of Norway. With initiative and great company from / with photographer colleague Bjørn Erik Hellang we went there in second half of March 2020. The trick with the birds is to feed the local Sea Urchins (kråkeboller) with fish leftovers, the urchins come in big numbers and cover the bottom ... and arctic ducks like King Eiders (Prakærfugl), Longtailed Ducks (Havelle) and Stellers Eider (Stellerand) + Common Eiders come in big numbers in early mornings to revel on the urchins. Best time of year to go there for this purpose is February & March ... after the mid winter permanent darkness is gone and before the birds go to their arctic breeding grounds in (mainly) russian Sibiria .... A great photographic experience !! ... and the new manager has creative ideas for next years shooting !!! 

Accommodation, food & service : First Class !!! 

All bookings of hide & accommodation is done through Båtsfjord Hotel (post@baatsfjord.com)

A winterly visit to Båtsfjord can easily be combined with artic seabirds colonies at Hornøya nearby the city of Vardø and with possible owls, Willow Grouse & the Pine Grosbeak feeding place in Pasvik. (Pine Grosbeak contact : Ben-Arne Sotkajærvi).

TEST : Reflections in the waves from a "planted light" on the nearby harbours edge gave ideas for King Eider photography in the morning twilight.

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,0, 1/400, ISO 1000


Male King Eider shot in the morning twilight with the reflections from a harbour light

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,0, 1/400, ISO 2000

            Male King Eider shot in the morning twilight with the reflections from a harbour light

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,0, 1/400, ISO 2800

Male King Eider shot in the morning twilight with the reflections from a harbour light

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,0, 1/400, ISO 2800

Male King Eider shot in the morning twilight with the reflections from a permanent harbour light

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,0, 1/400, ISO 5600

Male King Eider shot in the morning twilight with the reflections from a nearby red building .... highlighted by a red fender hanging on the pier`s edge

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,0, 1/400, ISO 2800

Portrait of male King Eider

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/6,3, 1/2500, ISO 5600

Male King Eider

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,5, 1/1600, ISO 640

Male King Eider

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,5, 1/1600, ISO 640

Sunrise with male King Eider

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,0, 1/3200, ISO 1000

Male King Eider

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/5,6, 1/2500, ISO 1400

"Gull blandt gråstein" ? Male King Eider swimming with Common Eiders

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/6,3, 1/2500, ISO 5600

Male Longtailed Duck / Havelle

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,0, 1/1600, ISO 200

Male Longtailed Duck / Havelle in reflected colours of a harbour building 

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,5, 1/1600, ISO 640

Portrait of male Longtailed Duck / Havelle

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/4,5, 1/1600, ISO 500

Touchdown ! Female Longtailed Duck / Havelle

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/5,0, 1/3200, ISO 1100

Male Stellers Eider / Stellerand

Nikon D5, Nikkor 600 4,0, f/6,3, 1/1600, ISO 1600

The floating hide for arctic ducks inside Båtsfjord`s sheltered harbour

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Inside the floating hide for arctic ducks in Båtsfjord. Each blue XPS plate is a optional shooting opening with possible low angle with both backlight and frontlight. 

iPhone