Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Glass house ruin

The last photo of the year, this one is may be a bit atypical. I like old things which are in a state of decay, it is a bit like nature reclaims them. The light plays a nice game with this gentle glass house ruin.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 150mm; ISO-400, f9, 1/160s; tripod.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Jack Snipe ditch

Lovely morning after one of the coldest nights of 2014 (only -5°C). Good circumstances to search for Jack Snipes (Lymnocryptes minimus /Bokje), the master of camouflage. Luckily I find some (4+ birds) in a ditch with running water. Can you spot it too? The photo is taken just before sunrise, hence the bluish color.

* Canon EOS 7D, 300mm/f4; ISO-800, f4.0, 1/8s; +0.7 stop; tripod.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The snow must go on

Another Saturday morning in the X’mas holiday period, heavy snow and a fierce wind. Rare conditions these days, and excellent weather for landscape photography. Here is an ordinary path flanked with Poplars, which is so typical for Noord-Brabant. Photo is taken near the village Nistelrode.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 135mm; ISO-800, f7.1, 1/250s; +0.7 stop; hand held.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Foamy beach

Stormy weather on this first day of the X’mas holiday. So I decided to go to the Dutch coast, in the good company of Andrew George. Last summer (July 2014) I spotted a few nice places with beautiful wooden breakwaters, and I was curious how they would look in winter with this type of weather. Well this is it, one big foam party!

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 17-40mm/f4 @ 17mm; ISO-100, f14, 1/6s; ND2 hard gradient filter; tripod.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Dutch jungle

Sunset, Eckartse Bos Eindhoven.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 140mm; ISO-800, f5.6, 1/80s; -0.3 stop; hand held.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

All is well

Meadow with a well near the Strabrechtse Heide on an ordinary December morning.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 17-40mm/f4 @ 17mm; ISO-200, f16, 1/4s; +1 stop; ND2 hard gradient filter; tripod.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Starling spectacle II

I couldn’t resist to go back to the Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris/Spreeuw). Just another end of the day, another murmuration …

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 70mm; ISO-800, f3.5, 1/320s; +0.7 stop; tripod.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Starling spectacle I

I’ve never seen such a large Starling (Sturnus vulgaris/Spreeuw) gathering in my life until today. These birds have the strange habit to stop feeding about an hour before sunset, and to fly to a common sleeping place (usually a reed bed or group of trees). They fly back and forth for about half an hour and make fantasy figures in the sky, especially when a bird of prey is present. The English also call this phenomenon very appropriate “black snow”.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 100mm; ISO-800, f4.5, 1/250s; +0.7 stop; tripod.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 170mm; ISO-400, f4, 1/250s; +0.7 stop; tripod.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Fungus on fungus

The forest floor is full of surprises: Bonnet Mould (Spinellus fusiger/Knopschimmel) growing on Yellow Stammed Mycene (Mycena epipterigya/Graskleefsteelmycena).

* Canon EOS 7D, 100mm/f2.8; ISO-400, f4, 1/30s; beanbag; -0.3 stop.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Beach Dunlin

IJmuiden aan Zee in the morning. You have to get up early (it is 1.5 hour by car!), but it is always rewarding. It is a very nice place, I feel at home here. In the corner of your eyes you see huge coloured container ships enter the North Sea. There are many wooden restaurants along the coast where they serve good coffee, and last but not least at this time of the year there are often sandpipers along the beach. They stop off here during migrating to feed. This morning I encountered a group of very tame juvenile Dunlins (Calidris alpina/Bonte Strandloper); the adults are already further south. The youngsters are probably more relaxed and less in a hurry :-).

* Canon EOS 7D, 500mm/f4; ISO-400, f5.6, 1/2500s; beanbag; +0.3 stop.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Tombstone owl

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) on tombstone, the scene reminded me of the mythical Harry Potter movies. I am very happy with this one!!

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 150mm; ISO-1600, f4, 1/60s; tripod; 3 LED torches.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Strabrechtse Heide

For the month of August I decided to do some serious landscape photography and especially to keep an eye on the local moorland “Strabrechtse Heide”. I admit the summer period is not ideal for nature photography. First of all, you have to set the alarm clock at an unreasonable idiot time (I am not a morning person). Secondly, the quality of light is often not as good as in winter times. The sun rises quickly to a high elevation. But on the other hand, since I have been a teacher I have plenty of time in the summer holiday and often the warm weather causes thunderstorms at the end of the day. So the plan was to focus on heavy weather and the flowering heath. Here is a small selection of the results.
  • Photo 1 – August 3rd: I saw this monstrous shower coming. Thanks to mobile technology with a rain radar app. I was just on time on the right spot to photograph this shelf cloud.
  • Photo 2 – August 5th: A traditional heath-with-fog wide-angle shot.
  • Photo 3 – August 17th: This place on the Strabrechtse Heide was new for me. When I first visited the spot a week earlier I immediately sensed its potential. I wanted flowering heath on the sand with heavy clouds full of rain above it. I took me a couple of return visits before I encountered the right circumstances.
The latter photo was also selected by the Roots nature magazine on their Facebook account as one of best flowering heath photos of this year.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 17-40mm/f4 @ 17mm; ISO-50, f16, 1.6s; ND2 hard gradient filter; tripod.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 17-40mm/f4 @ 17mm; ISO-50, f16, 0.5s; ND2 hard gradient + ND3 hard gradient filter; tripod.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 17-40mm/f4 @ 20mm; ISO-50, f18, 2s; +0.7 stop; flash, ND3 hard gradient filter; tripod.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Dutch coast

Water comes and goes
also when I am not there anymore
tide will stay forever
[Translation of a Dutch poem by Lies Drenth]

Holiday in my own country. These wooden breakwaters overgrown with algae and seaweed are really great! The first wide-angle photo requires careful planning. First of all you have to be on the spot at the right tide. Secondly, if you want a beach without any footprints this moment has to coincide with the early morning hours. The second photo shows some details (beam near the pole with a rope, right below) of the same breakwater from the other side.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 17-40mm/f4 @ 17mm; ISO-50, f16, 2.5s; flash, ND2 filter and ND2 hard gradient filter; tripod.
* Canon EOS 7D, 100mm/f2.8; ISO-400, f7.1, 1/500s; -0.7 stop.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Queen of Spain

Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia/Kleine Parelmoervlinder) on a rainy morning in the Belgium Ardennes.

* Canon EOS 7D, 100mm/f2.8; ISO-400, f4.5, 1/60s.

Friday, 18 July 2014

The heat(h) is on

I copied this title from Silvia’s blog. It is very appropriate because the temperature at 5.15 AM was already 20°C (later today it rises up to 35°C!). And also because I had a very early appointment with Bas Mandos and Silvia Reiche to visit a nice piece of heathland. We all enjoyed a beautiful sunrise. The first photo shows a Black Darter (Sympetrum danae/Zwarte Heidelibel), the second photo pictures an Alcon Blue (Phengaris alcon/Gentiaanblauwtje) in its typical Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix/Gewone Dopheide) habitat, and the last photo shows a nearby landscape detail.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 200mm; ISO-400, f5, 1/160s.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 200mm; ISO-400, f5, 1/250s; +0.3 stop; tripod.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 150mm; ISO-200, f16, 1/40s; tripod.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Alcon Blue

The Alcon Blue (Phengaris alcon/Gentiaanblauwtje) is a scarce and vulnerable butterfly of our wet moorland. Like some other species of Lycaenidae, its larva (caterpillar) stage completely depends on support by ants of genus Myrmica. It is therefore known as a myrmecophile.
The butterfly lays its eggs onto the Marsh Gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe/Klokjesgentiaan); see the white tiny spot on the photo. The caterpillars eat no other plants and leave the food plant when they have grown sufficiently (4-th instar) just waiting on the ground below to be discovered by ants. The larvae emit surface chemicals (allomones) that closely match those of ant larvae, causing the ants to carry the Alcon larvae into their nests and place them in their brood chambers, where they are fed by worker ants, a method known as the “cuckoo” strategy. When the Alcon larva is fully developed it pupates. Once the adult hatches (next summer) it must run the gauntlet of escaping because the ants now recognize the butterfly to be an intruder.
This miraculous process repeats itself for thousands of years on our moorlands. However, in the last few decades many Alcon Blue populations have disappeared. Predictions are that they will be extinct within 10 – 20 years. Nature protectors do what they can to prevent it.

* Canon EOS 7D, 100mm/f2.8; ISO-400, f4.5, 1/160s; +0.3 stop.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Back-light shrike

The FIFA World Cup in Brazil is in full swing, and against all odds the Dutch soccer team is performing very well. But at the same time at least 4 Red-backed Shrikes (Lanius Collurio/Grauwe Klawier) are breeding near the Nature Reserve “Groote Peel”. And one couple nests in blackberry bush near a small and quiet road. In particular the ♂ bird is very confident and often poses on a beautifully curved branch full of thorns. That means I have to set some priorities: Only sunny evenings and when the Dutch team is not playing I drive up to this place to do some photography. This is one of the many ‘keepers’.

* Canon EOS 7D, 500mm/f4; ISO-400, f4, 1/320s; -0.7 stop; bean bag.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Parental love

Nature is full of deceit. All tricks to survive are allowed. The Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus/Koekoek) is a brood parasite. They specialize and lay eggs that closely resemble the eggs of their chosen host (egg mimicry). After mating, ♀♀ try to locate nests of host parents, such as in this case a Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus/Kleine Karakiet). When the nest is found she deposit one egg of her own and removes one host egg. The Cuckoo egg hatches earlier than the host’s, and the Cuckoo chick grows faster; in most cases the chick immediately evicts the eggs or young of the host species. The chick encourages the host parents to keep pace with its high growth rate with its rapid begging call and open mouth. In this stage the deceit looks really ridiculous for an outsider. The Cuckoo chick outsizes the host parents and completely fills up the nest. This shows how far parental love can go …

* Canon EOS 7D, 70-200mm @ 175mm/f2.8; ISO-800, f2.8, 1/320s.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Poppy festival

For many years I am searching for a corn field full of weeds such as Poppy (Papaver rhoeas/Klaprozen) and Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus/ Korenbloem). This year I found such a field close to home, between the city Eindhoven and the village Geldrop. It was again a privilege to be out in the field early morning with Andrew George!

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm @ 200mm/f2.8; ISO-400, f2.8, 1/1600s.
* Nikon D800, 80-400mm @ 400mm/f4.5-5.6; ISO-200, f5.6, 1/320s, +0.7 stop.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Orchid sunrise

Perfect morning with Heath-spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza maculate/Gevlekte Orchis). Although the flowering grass announces hard times for me as a hay fever patient!

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm @ 200mm/f2.8; ISO-400, f5, 1/800s.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm @ 100mm/f2.8; ISO-400, f16, 1/200s.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Marguerite heron

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea/Blauwe Reiger) surrounded by Ox-eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare/Margrieten) with a touch of backlight.

* Canon EOS 7D, 500mm/f4; ISO-400, f5, 1/500s; bean bag.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Eye candy

A peaceful May morning, just before sunrise. Noisy frogs, a singing Stonechat (Saxicola rubetra/Roodborsttapuit) in a nearby bush, and a calling Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius/Zwarte Specht) in the background go along with this photo!

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm @ 70mm/f2.8; ISO-200, f16, 1/6s; +0.3 stop; tripod.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Cottongrass sunset

For the 3rd year in a row I photographed the Cottongrass at the border of a local fen close to my home. It keeps inspiring me!

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm @ 145mm/f2.8; ISO-200, f5, 1/320s; tripod.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Return of the winter

Last night we slept in an open forest area hoping to see and photograph Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus/Auerhaan). Very difficult and unpredictable bird to photograph. Conny heard a male around 3 o’clock, but I slept through :-(. Afterwards, no sounds, no sight, no nothing. That’s all in the game.
Moreover, I was not feeling well today, having a cold and because of the lack of sleep I guess. The photo of today (converted to black-and-white) was taken during a midday walk when it started to snow. So on the 1st of May some compensation of the missed winter. Temperatures in Kalvträsk varied between -5 and +5°C.
I really enjoyed the true wilderness of Scandinavia. It was great there up North! Conny thanks for your hospitality and all the good stories about wildlife, and Catarina thanks for your wonderful cooking!

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm @ 200mm/f2.8; ISO-400, f16, 1/250s.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014


Back to Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix/Korhoen) lek. Same tent, same spectacle. The only difference was that they already started at 1h45! Again the temperature dropped below zero. Here you see some pictures of the kingbird on his small hill at sunrise. The backlight was really breathtaking.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 500mm/f4.0; ISO-800, f4, 1/500s.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Common Crane

We spent the second day and night in a floating hide. Conny brought us to the hide with a canoe. A Crane (Grus grus/Kraanvogel) pair was breeding in the marsh forest behind the hide. Often the cranes forage right in front of the hide. But not today, probably the strong wind was not favourable. Other species of today are: White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla/Zeearend), Goosander (Mergus merganser/Grote Zaagbek), Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula/Brilduiker), Teal (Anas crecca/Wintertaling), and Wigeon (Anas penepole/Smient). We were quite happy to be released after staying 24 hours in a limited space of 2x2x2 m3.

* Canon EOS 7D, 500mm/f4; ISO-400, f5.6, 1/1250s; -0.3 stop; bean bag.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm @ 135mm/f2.8; ISO-800, f8, 1/200s.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Black Grouse lek

I have never started a nature photo trip like this. We (Jos van de Kerkhof and I) arrived yesterday evening around 22h30 at Skellefteå airport in Västerbottens län, Sweden. I looked over my shoulder when we crossed the platform and walked over the tarmac towards the airport buildings. The SAS plane was beautifully lit-out against the late evening sky that was still not completely dark at this time of year. A pity that I could not take any photos (my tripod was in my suitcase). At this small northern airport it was easy to spot our guide Conny Lundström (I looked-up his photo on Facebook). We shook hands with Conny and his wife Catharina, picked up our bags, and left in a 4 wheel-drive Toyota. After a 2-hour drive we stopped at what looked like an arbitrary spot. Some snow patches were still present at the roadside. In the dark we changed clothes and put on our rubber boots. Soon after that we followed Conny for a 15-minute walk on the bog; 3 torch lights struggling to go forward on this marshland in the middle of the night, that must be a funny sight. Soon I spotted a 2´2 wooden hide and 2 small tents; we arrived at the Black Grouse lek! After I installed in the tent I tried to catch some sleep, without success. I was too excited about what was going to happen. Then, all of a sudden I heard the first drawn-out “kakakakakakeh” besides my tent, and 5 minutes later I was surrounded by a wall of rookooing sounds. Before I zipped open my tent I checked my iPhone, 2h15! The view was unbelievable. About 20 Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix/Korhoen) were moving around, threatening and fighting, faint red stripes in the sky already announced the day. The AF didn’t work, it was still too dark, but there was plenty of time, the light increased all the time, very slowly. Around sunrise 2 Cranes (Grus grus/Kraanvogel) visited the bog. The Black Grouse display went on until 7h30. Below you find some impressions. Around 9 o’clock Conny picked us up and we drove to his house in the hamlet Kalvträsk (35 inhabitants) for a proper breakfast, smiling faces!

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 500mm/f4; ISO-640, f4.5, 1/160s; bean bag.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 500mm/f4; ISO-400, f5.6, 1/160s; +0.7 stop; bean bag.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 500mm/f4; ISO-640, f5.6, 1/250s; +0.7 stop; bean bag.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 500mm/f4; ISO-640, f5.6, 1/500s; +0.7 stop; bean bag.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Into the Cuckooflowers

It was a beautiful morning with fog. I went to a small wet forest area called “Heerendonk” close to the village where I grew up. This is where it all started. For many subsequent years (in the ‘90’s) I carried out a bird monitoring project in this forest. Those were the days of breeding Nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos/Nachtegaal), and Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus/Wielewaal). Today I was here to search for resting butterflies between the flowing Cuckooflowers (Cardamine pratensis/Pinksterbloem). All in all I found 4 Orangetips (Anthocharis cardamines/Oranjetip), 7 Green-veined Whites (Pieris napi/Klein Geaderd Witje), and 1 Small White (Pieris rapae/Klein Koolwitje). Oh, and I also heard my first Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus/Koekoek) of the year!

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 180 mm; ISO-200, f5, 1/320s; +0.7 stop; hand held.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Lonely Oxlip

I got up early today, hoping to photograph dew-covered Orangetips (Anthocharis cardamines/Oranjetip) on Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis/Pinksterbloem). I found some but they were not on the right spot. So I changed my attention to the upcoming Oxlip (Primula elatior/Slanke Sleutelbloem) flowers. For me this is one of my best photos!
Tomorrow evening I give a lecture object “Small en Big Flying Objects” in Eindhoven; it’s about birds, butterflies and dragonflies. Later today I have a radio interview about this lecture that will be broadcasted this evening between 22.00 and 23.00 on Radio 5 (NTR Academy).

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 175 mm; ISO-400, f5, 1/640s; +0.3 stop; hand held.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Back-light Godwit

Together with Jos van de Kerkhof, I spent the night in a hide on the small island of Marken in the IJssel lake (less than 25 km from Amsterdam) amidst Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa)/Grutto), Redshanks (Tringa totanus/Tureluur), a few Spotted Redshanks (Tringa erythropus/Zwarte Ruiter), and Dunlin (Calidris alpina/Bonte Strandloper), Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus/Kievit) and Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus/Scholekster). I did not sleep a wink. These waders have a continuous quarrels and other social interactions in the night, and they are above all noisy! But it was a great experience and we were rewarded with a magnificent back-light scene in the early morning. If you are also interested in such an adventure, check out When you want to book please mention my name.

* Canon EOS 7D, 500mm/f4; ISO-400, f5.6, 1/4000s; -0.3 stop; bean bag.
* Canon EOS 7D, 500mm/f4 + 1.4x; ISO-400, f5.6, 1/800s; bean bag.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Fair trade

He got sex, she was rewarded with a self-caught fish. Good deal, isn’t it? I see far more Kingfishers (Alcedo atthis/IJsvogel) this spring. Their population was decimated because of the hard winters of 2011/2012 and 2012/2013. But I guess their numbers increase rapidly after this mild winter.

* Canon EOS 7D, 500mm/f4; ISO-400, f5.6, 1/200s; -0.3 stop; bean bag.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Mid-March Morning

Photo 1 – Low Visibility: It is really great to be in the field early on such a exceptional morning. Photo 2 – Into the Void: By creating a small world, mist makes a composition powerful and simple. I have noticed these Willow bushes may be over a hundred times, but never the way I saw them today. Photo 3 – Here comes the Sun: All good things come in threefold.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 70 mm; ISO-100, f16, 1.3s; +0.3 stop; tripod.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 70 mm; ISO-400, f14, 4s; +0.3 stop; tripod.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 80 mm; ISO-400, f7.1, 1/160s; +0.3 stop.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Gran Canaria

A holiday week on Gran Canaria. The weather on the island had 2 faces. The north was cloudy and windy, the south sunny and calm. The first photo features some houses of local fisherman on the north, facing the Atlantic. The second photo shows the arid and dry south. After a climb uphill from our appartment in Puerto de Mogán, you enter an area of vulcanic rock with some sparcely populated bushes. Ideal terrain of Southern Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor, race koenigi /Klapekster), Canary (Serinus canaria/Kanarie), a few dark-headed Blue Tits (Parus caeruleus, race teneriffae/Pimpelmees), Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus/Torenvalk).

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 80 mm; ISO-50, f9, 1/40s; bean bag.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 100 mm; ISO-400, f9, 1/8s; ND3 hard gradient filter, ND2 soft gradient filter; -1.3 stop; tripod.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Barn Owl III

I really like this kind of ‘bird-in-the-environment’ photos. These kind of images tell you a lot more; you can imagine where Barn Owls (Tyto alba/Kerkuil) live, nest, and hunt, i.e. old and abandoned sheds.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 200 mm; ISO-400, f5.6, 1/125s; tripod; 2 flashes.
* Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70-200mm/f2.8 @ 150 mm; ISO-400, f8, 1/125s; tripod; 2 flashes.