Simon Roberts Photography - WWW.DRAMATIC.PHOTO: Blog en-us Simon Roberts - sr at (Simon Roberts Photography - WWW.DRAMATIC.PHOTO) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:33:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:33:00 GMT Competitions I've never really seen the point in competitions, but got a bit of enthusiasm & recently had some success - quite a few in the Times travel section & a paid for picture story:

Solent News & Photo AgencySolent News & Photo Agencycut

Pictured: One of the otters looking very content sunbathes on a seaweed covered rock

A mother otter relaxes on a seaweed-covered rock after catching a tasty fish supper for her two excitable young pups. While the two male pups play with the scorpion fish they have been given, the mother lays back and takes advantage of a few moments peace.

As she relaxes, one of the inquisitive pups carefully examines the fish, before the pair of young otters excitedly eat the tasty treat. The photographs were captured by surgeon Simon Roberts in Loch Na keal, on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. SEE OUR COPY FOR MORE DETAILS.

Please byline: Simon Roberts/Solent News

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I've put in a few for big National competitions & was amazed to be short-listed for the British Photography Awards. Go & have a look at some of the really AMAZING photos Even more shocked to be on the final list off the shortlist & invited to tThe London Savoy hotel for the awards ceremony end of January 2019. I think I am in the last four. with this one from Svalbard:



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Well, just back from  a couple of weeks with Danny Green in Svalbard – I won’t (& my wife certainly won’t) call it a “holiday”. More what my son would describe as “travelling”. SAS failed to organize the pissup in the brewery & changed our flights from direct to Oslo, to via Copenhagen, leaving very tight transfers, before delaying our departure, so we were overnight in Oslo. Not the best way to “bond” with the rest of the group! There were 10 “guests” & some serious kit & experience – most of the others had organized their own tours or guided for Danny’s company previously. Lots of very fancy glass from Canon’s zoom fisheye & 11-24, to Nikon’s new 180-400 1.4x (two of them!), sveral 600’s & an 800.

We were on the Havsel, nice small & low, but largely unmodified “fishing” (actually SEALING) vessel. I think it’s the first time on the tourist trail, but had been used previously for commercial filming including the BBC’s “The Hunt”. Until the skipper fixed it, there was one shower between 16 & our cabin was half the size of my bathroom.

We didn’t start well, & had one day of lovely sunshine in the fjords, some seals & walruses with a calf, but NO BEARS for 6 days.  We pulled off into some fast ice & the skipper Bjorn dropped a rope-ladder over the side to stretch his legs. “Come on down” he said, “it’s impossible to fall through”. Danny said “NO!”, but down some of us went. It’s a very disconcerting experience, walking on the ice with some crunching, compressing snow/ice on the surface & some sea water coming through. My time working in A&E came back to me & reminded me of physiological responses like the diving reflex (which saves some kids’ lives under cold water for hours), but also the gasp reflex. When you go through ice into freezing water, there is an involuntary gasp of deep breath & the inhaled sea water does absolutely nothing whatever either for your oxygen transport or buoyancy. Falling through the ice would mean a very rapid death. Only some time later did he actually measure the ice depth & concede that it wasn’t quite as thick as he thought.

Getting a bit down about it, we decided to head out far North into the polar pack ice to have a further look. Nothing. We pulled of into the ice to get a closer look at a dull brownish-looking  bird or some kind. Some sort of unusual Skua which did nothing for me, when someone said “BEAR”. Awaaaaaay in the distance in the ice. I couldn’t even see it with binos. Well of course, off we went, bludgeoning our way into the ice. Very frustrating, it looked as though the bear would be out of range & we wouldn’t get close enough for pics. As we got nearer “there are TWO bears”. “There are SEVEN bears”….. well after 2 hours, back & forth battering through, we had twenty one bears on a whale carcass – so that was where they all were! We stayed there for a couple of days & some of the bears came right over to see us & have a sniff. Some photos with my Olympus held upside down on the end of a monopod over the side of the boat.

Because I had a “Sherpa”, I had brought my little drone & I flew this a few times, but it really, really, REALLY didn’t like it.  Normally, it’s dead easy & almost flies itself, but up there, I’ve never seen error messages like it. I could hardly see the screen – “GPS error”, “Compass error”, “IMU conflict”…. It wouldn’t fly itself, so was very difficult to get good pictures. I’m still not sure of it was the cold or the wind, flying from a big chunk of iron, or that we were 83 degrees North. Anyway, it was challenging. Only after I landed OK in the end did Bjorn tell me that he had had 3 drones on previous trips. Two had crashed & one had disaapeared over the horizon never to be seen again.

It was even harder to get out of the ice than in. Over 24 hours including overnight to give the engine a rest, breaking the four miles out into open Arctic Ocean. Only as we left did Bjorn admit that he had once been stuck for eight days unable to get out of the ice.  The first mate easily trumped that having once been stuck in the pack ice for FIFTY SIX days! Back to Lonyearbyen via Alkhornet (where they filmed the fledging Guillemots getting picked off by arctic foxes).

Checked in at midnight, but the incoming flight hit a goose, so needed a new plane flown in – 8 more hours in the airport – entertained by another arctic fox on the runway.

Well, not a holiday, but an adventure. Do it again? I’m going on Danny’s snow mobile trip for polar bears in April & taking the Sherpa to Kamchatka next Summer. You’re a very long time dead.

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Machloop ]]> Thu, 07 Jun 2018 17:07:00 GMT Shorties  

Lunt Wildlife

I've been up to Lunt Meadows (North Merseyside) a few times looking for short eared owls, never with much success, but went up yesterday (30th Nov) since I had a free afternoon & good (if bloody cold) weather was forecast. As ever, it's difficult to know where to stand - they've been showing best backlit by the setting sun right at the far end of the reserve, but can be anywhere. As ever, they also tend to appear just as the auto-ISO says "go home". Anyway, here's a few I got  yesterday ISO 3200 to 16000 all of them pretty big crops.

It's great to find some properly "wild" animals. This was the first time I'd ever had a good look at SEOs & it was a great half hour after 3.30 until dusk.

]]> Fri, 01 Dec 2017 18:15:00 GMT

I'd never been to the Bird Fair, but went this year & added on a long day of photography for Ospreys & with Tom Robinson just up the road near Bourne. Early start (only 5am this time of year) at HornMill. They seem pretty straight up & volunteer I think that they've had over 20 blank days this year. The Aviemore guys keep their cards close to their chests. The River Gwash is not as good as Aviemore. A bit higher position & unpredictable splash point, & I think all the birds are ringed. This was the very last day of the season & many birds had flown, preceded by two blank days, we only had one dive, but at least it came towards us!


So, all done by 8.30 & over to Tom Robinson's pond hide. Tom's got all sorts of ideas for pay & display, so it's a bit of a building site at the moment. The pond hide is fine - nice & low, near the action. There were  a few kingfishers for bird-on-a-stick portraits, but not really any good for diving. The light was a bit flat, but they were reasonably close with plenty of visits, but no photos to go on the wall! The herons were more obliging, stalking & fishing for quite a while. A couple of buzzards also came past.


Anyway, better than working for a living! Then after a quick curry in Bourne, off to Tom's night owl hide. He regularly gets Tawny & BaBarn. Not this time! Not a thing. Sat in the hide listening to Manchester City try to lose to Everton, I called it a day at  about 12.30 (call me a lightweight, but I had been up at 4am) for the drive home. This was the best (only) photo I got in the evening...

Maybe next time!

]]> Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:15:00 GMT

Half an hour in Helsinki airport, so thought I would upload a few pics from the trip with Jari Peltomaki where I met up with a couple of buzzers, both of whom keep their heads down on this site - David white (who anyone who came to the FB conference a couple of years ago will remember from his farm buzzer hide pics) & Phil Dennison. First Oulu, then Kuusamo for the Black Grouse Lek, but also some eagles. Bit chilly!


"I want a good clean fight"


I had never seen a Lek before.


Even getting up at 3am. The sounds & aggression make for a memorable experience.


Then off to see some wild Golden & White-tailed eagles 


To Jari's home for some waxwings


Some rather dark red squirrels with the biggest ear tufts I've ever seen. Easier for the eagles to spot them.

Spring hasn't yet really sprung in Finland & we were too early for the bears to have woken up properly, so we have a couple of quite thin nights in the hides, which are quite comfortable (& heated).

But we found some Great Grey Owl


and some White Tailed Eagles to keep us entertained


At first, quite shy & in poor light

Then better light.

Finally, out in the open, but it needed some patience!



Quite a lot of ravens to keep us busy during the long waits.


As well as dog food, they're fed on Salmon offcuts, which don't always make for the prettiest pictures. Over to the Wolverines next...


If you're still with me, more pics from Finland. Now wolverines which are even harder to find than bears, but do not hibernate. A highlight for me as I had never seen one before.


Lots of waiting in hides, some not very warm! Once 14 hours in a hide for 3 minutes of action. Sometimes heavy snow, sometimes a bit more light.


Tricky to focus through snow as well as getting the exposure right with bright snow & dark animal 


They were tempted up the trees by food. These wolverine have been fed every day for 20 years, but were still quite shy.

Huge "snow shoes", but with claws

Make you understand why the X Men called him Wolverine. Good for climbing trees.


Just uploaded these 3 bolts quite quickly, so apologies for errors.


Overall a great trip. Jari is highly recomended, but you need to be ready to "earn" the wildlife encounters with long hours, even in "pay & display" hides.


]]> Sun, 30 Apr 2017 17:30:00 GMT

Paying the man to sit in his shed  watch the wildlife he has cultivated has been a bit controversial, but I am on my way back from Zimanga in South Africa where they have “super-hides” with one-way glass for birds, & mammals.


There are hides at water-level for waders.



Movable hides for the variable nesting-sites of bee-eaters.



These animals are all properly wild, & not habituated any more than any others, but very unfortunately, all the rhinos have recently been de-horned after poaching. We may be the last generation ever to have seen a rhino horn on a rhino.



There is an overnight hide with real beds & a backroom with kettle, fridge & microwave (even internet!) & LED lighting. There is an infrared motion detector if you need a nap.

There's always one won't get in line!



At Zimanga, there are also chipped predators – 4 lions, but just a single cheetah (the male died recently). This means the animals can always be found by telemetry - not always in a good place to see them, though. This pic on a fresh kill taken with 24mm on foot, so not so “wild”, but a real kill.


There is a pack of 18 dogs which are a highlight, two collared for telemetry. We spent a lot of time with them on foot / lying in the dirt within touching distance. They were oblivious to us & appeared to behave normally with lots of interaction, fights & rough & tumble.


We saw two kills, one after seeing the whole hunt, from start to sleeping it off.

I won’t post the more gruesome images!

There is a whiff of captivity here, but the reserve is about 15km across & well managed. The Mara, it ain’t, but if you can tolerate or want human habituation in your African predators, I can’t believe there is anywhere better. A very memorable week.


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I've spent quite a few evenings watching this fox grow in the last couple of months. Usually frustratingly coming out just after it's too dark for pics, but still a joy to watch. We had two adults & three cubs, but Ive only seen one in the last month or so. Some pics in the evening sunshine.




May cub


I think it is the same beast, looking a bit more mature

This is the first non pay&display wildlife I have managed & it has been great fun, although also a great way to waste a lot of time! Comments & grits very gratefully received.



]]> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:30:00 GMT

We had a week in Mull a couple of weeks - ago guided, in weather that hadn’t heard of Spring, but saw quite a bit  - cuckoos, owls (both ear-lengths) & a “pay & display” boat trip for white-tailed eagle. 


White tailed eagle from the boat                 

White Tailed Eagle from the boat

Hunting SEO                 

Hunting short eared owl in the gloom

The boat trip was very worthwhile. Lots of visits, but could have been much better had there been more thought put into it for photographers. The fish could have been chucked downwind to have the bird coming towards us & with a better background. Martin is an affable guy, but a Yorkshireman!

More WTE         

Otters running                 

We spent quite a bit of time looking for otters, but saw only bobbing heads. We learnt some fieldcraft & immediately after the guiding  ended had time to go out in our car on our own. 

Otter eating                 

MUCH more satisfying to find the beasts ourselves, tracking them from the road for half an hour before stalking them on foot when they came out of the water in evening sunshine.


]]> Sun, 31 May 2015 17:30:00 GMT