Forthcoming Events


Stanwick Lakes Northamptonshire

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Wednesday 17 April 2024 at 08:00

Stanwick Lakes, Stanwick, Northants, NN9 6GY

Stanwick Lakes is known for its wild birds, particularly for waterfowl but a huge variety of birds, such as Reed Warbler, Long Tailed Tit and Grey Wagtail are regularly spotted. There are several hides and a feeding station.
Over 15 lakes, ponds and marginal habitat provide perfect areas for waterbirds, particularly those lakes with an open nature and emerging islands. Ongoing surveys reveal that the site is used by Oystercatchers, Common Terns and Great Crested Grebes for breeding.
Reedbeds provide habitat for Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler and Bittern (a BAP priority species)
It has a large visitor Centre with toilets and cafe .
Car Park: Up to 2 hours £3.30, Up to 4 hours £4.80. All day £6.30
Please email annmiles70@gmail.com to book a place and for further details if you have any queries about the outing

More Information


RPS Nature AGM and Exhibition

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Saturday 20 April 2024 at 10:00

Smethwick Photographic Society, Old Schoolhouse, Churchbridge,Oldbury

Robert Thompson FRPS

Booking Link

The RPS Nature Group Spring Meeting, 48th Annual General Meeting and opening of the Annual Exhibition will be held at Smethwick Photographic Society on Saturday 20th April 2024 starting at 09.30am and finishing late afternoon. All the accepted Prints from the Nature Exhibition will be on display
Entry is free for all RPS members so please come along and support what will be an excellent day to interest and inspire all Nature Photographers. There will be many great images to look at, plus plenty of opportunity to meet old friends and discuss Nature Photography.
Please note that this is a live face-to-face meeting only. It will not be available online and it will not be recorded.
9:30hrs Doors open, tea and coffee available
10:00hrs Welcome and Introduction by RPS Nature Group Chair, Duncan Locke ARPS
10:10hrs Presentation by Natural History Photographer, Author & Conservationist and NG Member Robert Thompson FRPS FIPF
12:30hrs Break for Lunch and to look at the Exhibition
13:30hrs 48th Annual General Meeting of the RPS Nature Group
14:15hrs Opening of the 2024 Nature Group Exhibition: Presentation of the Awards and Projection of the accepted images
16:15hrs Close
Practical Information and to Book:
Please bring your own packed lunch as lunch will not be available. There is a dining area and tea, coffee and drinks will be available at the bar.
Please book a place on the link above
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information: Greg Lovett ARPS, naturesecretary@rps.org


RSPB Sandwell Valley

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Sunday 21 April 2024 at 09:00

RSPB Sandwell Valley, Tanhouse Avenue, Great Barr, Birmingham, B43 5AG

Close to Smethwick where we are holding the 2024 AGM with a Lecture by Robert Thompson FRPS, a top-notch wildlife photographer, and showing the 2024 Nature Group Exhibition on the Saturday, so why not stay locally and make a weekend of it.
It has full visitor facilities and, with a rich variety of natural habitats, Sandwell Valley is home to a huge array of wildlife. In spring and summer, warblers and Reed Buntings nest around our lake. Fluffy Lapwing chicks make an appearance, while bees and butterflies make the most of the flowers in the wildlife garden.
(Image Dave Belton)


Potteric Carr Nature Reserve

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Wednesday 24 April 2024 at 09:00

Potteric Carr Nature Reserve Visitor Centre, Mallard Way, Doncaster, DN4 8DB

Booking Link

Potteric Carr is a wild oasis just waiting to be explored. Now nestling between motorway and railway, it's a remnant of the vast fenland that once stretched all the way across the Humber basin to the coast. Potteric Carr attracts a huge number of wetland birds and is especially exciting during spring and autumn with migrating birds passing through.
There are good facilities there open from 9am. Full instructions given to those who book a place on this trip
Email peter.ward448@btinternet.com to book a place.


Macrophotography Workshop

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Friday 3 May 2024 at 09:30

Toft People's Hall, School Lane, Toft, Cambridgeshire CB23 2RE

David Smith

Booking Link

David will talk about macrophotography in general and will then demonstrate the various techniques using Olympus systems cameras and accessories. He will cover Focus stacking both in camera and using software He will have available cameras and lenses to try and also demonstrate various aids such as lighting, clamps etc.
There will be an opportunity then to try the various techniques under David's guidance.
£15 (RPS members) £20 (nonRPS) to cover Hall hire and hot drinks.
Finishing by 15.00.
If the event is listed as Sold out please contact natureprog@rps.org and we will put you on the waiting list and hopefully arrange a second event.


Barnack Hills and Holes

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Saturday 11 May 2024 at 10:00

Barnack Hills & Holes National Nature Reserve 14 Saxon Road, Barnack PE9 3EQ

Arising from the rubble of a mediaeval quarry, Barnack Hills and Holes is one of Britain’s most important wildlife sites. Over 300 kinds of wild plant have been found on the Hills and Holes, including eight species of orchids. One of the rarest plants found here is the Pasque flower, which blooms in April and May, alongside more familiar flowers such as violets and cowslip. Orchids found last year include the Man Orchid, Early Spotted and Common Spotted Orchids etc. A leisurely day seeking out good subjects for photography and honing our flower and, hopefully if a warm day, insect photography skills. There is a pub in the village within walking distance for drinks and toilet facilities. (Image Ken Rasmussen). To book or enquiries, email: annmiles70@gmail.com


St Aiden's Nature Park

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Sunday 12 May 2024 at 09:00

RSPB St Aiden’s Nature Park, Astley Lane, Leeds, LS26 8AL, West Yorkshire

https://www.rspb.org.uk/days-out/reserves/st-aidans

Booking Link

St Aiden’s is a large (nearly 900 acres) RSPB nature park between Leeds and Castleford, West Yorkshire. It was an open cast coal mine until it was finally closed in 2002. Towards the end of its working life the open cast mine would flood from the nearby River Aire. The site is now very well run by the RSPB but it is also a public park. They have a visitor centre/cafe and toilets. The reserve has marsh harriers, bitterns, bearded tits, hirundines, northern lapwing, shoveler, redshank, common terns and many other birds but their star attraction, the black-necked grebe also breeds here; around 25% of the national population.
I have chosen this date so that we have a chance to photograph these very smart birds with their chicks. I suggest we meet at the gates to the reserve early at 6am when the site opens. You will need your RSPB pass to park for free, otherwise there is a small charge – last time I looked it was £4 for the day. The full address is Astley Lane, Leeds, LS26 8AL
Please contact brucekendrick58@gmail.com if you intend to come along.


RPS Nature Group Summer Residential trip to Yorkshire including Diving Gannets and Bempton Cliffs

Wednesday 5 June 2024 at 09:00  —  Monday 10 June 2024 at 09:00

Dates: Wednesday 5th – Monday 10th June 2024
Contact jamesfoadlrps@proton.me
FULLY BOOKED


Photography Day at Paxton Pits

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Wednesday 12 June 2024 at 10:00

Paxton Pits Visitor Centre, Little Paxton PE19 6ET, Cambridgeshire

Come and join the RPS Nature Group and the Friends of Paxton Pits for a special Photography Day. David Smith from OM Systems will be on hand from 10.00 to answer any questions you may have on wildlife photography and to show the latest Olympus cameras and lenses etc.
He will give demonstrations on Macro (close-up) techniques, using a range of macro gear from OM SYSTEM but the techniques will be relevant to all photographers, regardless of what camera they’re using. Lighting is important for macrophotography and David will suggest tips to help you get the best from natural light and from flash.
There will be wildlife walks to explore what Paxton Pits has to offer whether your interest is birds, insects or flowers and we will have Volunteers from the Friends of Paxton Pits who can guide you to good areas for these on the day. In particular, Paxton Pits is now designated a Dragonfly Hotspot by the Dragonfly Society. It is home to an impressive 26 species of dragonfly and damselfly and a large number of butterfly and other insects species so plenty for both macro and telephoto enthusiasts.
The event is free but please email to let us know you are coming so we have an idea of numbers and can allocate slots if needed for the demonstrations and walks. Contact: Ann Miles annmiles70@gmail.com
Donations towards conservation work at Paxton Pits welcome on the day
Paxton Pits Visitor centre has parking, toilets and a cafe serving drinks and snacks

More Information


Macro Workshop at WWT Welney

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Tuesday 9 July 2024 at 09:00

WWT Welney , PE14 9TN, Norfolk

https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/welney

Booking Link

The workshop consists of 3 parts:
Part 1: There will be a Zoom session on Tuesday 2 July from 7pm to 8.30pm when Duncan will explain the various macro camera techniques and kit for taking photographs, and demonstrate image processing tools such as Photoshop, Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker. If you are not able to attend this session, it will be recorded so that you can watch at your convenience.
Part 2: A day at Welney learning and practising macro photography skills. There are places for 12 participants.
Part 3: We will set-up the facility in the RPS Nature Group website for you to upload some of the images you take at Welney and we will provide feedback and answer questions
Welney day
9 am arrive Drop off your bags in the Pond Room (we have this room for the day) on the ground floor and book in at the payment desk at the top of the 1st floor. WWT members will need to show their membership cards and non-members will need to pay the entry fee that is around the £7 / £8 depending on age.
9.15am meet for tea / coffee in the Pond Room. Ann Miles will provide helpful ‘hints and tips’ on macro photography and answer any questions. Ann and Duncan will also set us a few tasks to undertake during the day. Ian will be available for any technical questions during the day
9.30am Welney will open their Moth traps and we will have the opportunity to take shots on suitable perches.
We will then split into groups and make our way onto the reserve where we will also have company from one of the Welney staff to assist with best locations to photograph varied species etc.
1pm for lunch. Members can bring their own lunch should they wish (to consume in the Pond Room), but there is an excellent restaurant on the 1st floor and given Welney is a charity they would obviously appreciate us using their restaurant.
After lunch we will go back onto the reserve and look to be back in the Pond Room by 4.30pm, or earlier if you want to make your way home.
Workshop cost: £40 that includes cost of room hire and tea / coffee on arrival; guidance before / during / after the day at Welney (all profits to Nature Group towards funding free talks and field trips). Entry to reserve and additional drinks and food are extra.
Questions: Please contact the Organiser: Nick Bowman on 07976 642189 or nickbowman55@hotmail.com.
Other information: If you require overnight accommodation, contact Nick for suggestions. Note that there are further Field Trips in East Anglia in the days following the workshop


Nature Outings in East Anglia

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Wednesday 10 July 2024 at 09:00  —  Saturday 13 July 2024 at 17:00

Various Suffolk and Norfolk Nature Reserves

The following outings have been arranged for those wanting to spend a few days visiting some Suffolk and Norfolk Nature Reserves. These follow on from the Welney Macro Day but outings can be booked singly.
!0th July Lakenheath RSPB; 11th July Strumpshaw RSPB; 12th July Winterton Dunes National NR; 13th July Buxton Heath. Norfolk WWT
These will all be listed as individual outings for those who just want to attend on one or more days. For more details and advice on arranging accommodation - contact natureprog@rps.org (image: Silver-studded Blues, John Simpson)


Advisory Day

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Saturday 10 August 2024 at 09:30

Zoom

Booking Link

The Nature Group is hosting an Advisory Day for Associate Distinctions on Saturday August 10th by Zoom. If you are interested in presenting a Fellowship panel then contact natureprog@rps.org and we will either offer a place on this day or arrange a separate session
What you will get from the day? You will see a wide variety of different prospective panels as well as some successful panels. You will hear comments from the Assessors and have a chance to ask questions. There will be information on what makes a good panel, what to avoid and, most importantly, how to plan your project and where to get further advice
What are Distinctions? The objective of the RPS Distinctions programme is to support and inspire everyone to improve their own photography practice, and to celebrate those who reach clearly defined standards.
What is an Advisory Day? Everyone can get advice on their body of work before applying for the Distinction or attend as a observer to learn about the Distinctions process and see examples of a successful panels for Natural History. Associateship, this is our second level, applicants must submit a body of work/project consisting of 15 images and a written statement and presentation layout. The images must be all be of a high standard. The number of places is limited so please apply early. If the event is listed as full, please contact natureprog@rps.org - we will maintain a waiting list etc
There are plenty of Observer places and whether you are thinking of preparing an Associate application or are just interested in seeing a wide variety of images you will get a lot from the day. You will see lots of different prospective panels as well as some successful panels. You will hear comments from Panel Members and have a chance to ask questions. There will be information on what makes a good panel, what to avoid and, most importantly, how to plan your project and where to get further advice. Book Online
Chair: Mick Durham FRPS, Advisors: Andrew McCarthy FRPS, Ann Miles FRPS
Observers £10; Advice £15
For problems with Booking, please email natureprog@rps.org

Featured Items


Winner of March's Competition

Congratulations to Gavin Bickerton-Jones on winning March's Monthly Competition with his excellent image Kingfisher Feeding Young, taken on the River Tiffey in Wymondham.  To quote Gavin: One of those once in a lifetime shots that took many hours of patience over 5 months to get, but worth every minute!

Please click here, or on the image above, to view a gallery of the high-scoring entries from the competition.

The results of April's competition will be published here in due course.


Winner of February's Competition

Congratulations to Russell Millner LRPS on winning February's Monthly Competition with his wonderful image Family on Baffin, taken in Spring 2023 on Baffin Island, Canada.

Please click here, or on the image above, to view a gallery of the high-scoring entries from the competition.

The results of March's competition will be published here in due course.


Winner of January's Competition

Congratulations to Brian Boyes on winning January's Monthly Competition with his excellent image Eurasian Otter Family, taken in November 2023 on Loch Na Keal, Isle of Mull.

Please click here, or on the image above, to view a gallery of the high-scoring entries from the competition.

The results of February's competition will be published here in due course.


2023 Nature Group Exhibition

The 2023 Nature Group Exhibition is now online.  Please click here, or on the carousel above, to view it.


Winner of December's Competition

Congratulations to Stewart Haynes on winning December's Monthly Competition with his well-timed image Lilac-breasted Roller with Frog, taken in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia in May 2023.

Please click here, or on the image above, to view a gallery of the high-scoring entries from the competition.

The results of January's competition will be published here in due course.


Photographing Bats by Andrew McCarthy

This is the link to andrew McCarthy's excellent talk on Photographing Bats

https://youtu.be/ieGatwcxf_0


Winner of November's Monthly Competition

Congratulations to Gianpiero Ferrari on winning November's Monthly Competition with his image Hard Working Blue Tit.

Please click here, or on the image above, to view a gallery of the high-scoring entries from the competition.

The results of December's competition will be published here in due course.


Winner of October's Monthly Competition

Congratulations to Kevin Pigney on winning the inaugural Monthly Competition with his image Brown Hares Boxing.

Please click here, or on the image above, to view a gallery of the high-scoring entries from the competition.


Noise Reduction and Sharpening Talk

The Recording of the recent talk "Noise Reduction and Sharpening - The Sequel" by Ian Wilson ARPS is is now available on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/JX7G4VTB-Ac

News and Information


Visit to St Albans March 2024

Image Alexandra Doughty

Most of the group met at 7.30 am in the car park and walked down to the lake to observe and photograph the Heronry that for many years has existed in the centre of the public park. This year there appear to be at least 5 nests and one of the pairs were busy with nest building. The light was excellent giving first-class opportunities to take Herons in flight. We were joined during our hour or so on the side of the Lake by various other Nature Group Members giving a final total for our party of 14.  Apart from the Herons, there were plenty of other birds to photograph including Great Crested Grebes, Red Kite, Canada geese, Coots and Mute Swans.

Some of the party later walked up to the Cathedral as it was reported that the pair of Peregrines had returned to the area. No sign of them when we arrived but we were shown a wonderful crevice in the walls where a Nuthatch was busy building and entrance of mud to its nesting area.  The Nuthatch was soon abandoned as the Peregrine pair arrived with the male alighting on the Cathedral and calling to the female. He took off and the pair gave a wonderful aerobatic display though not really a photographic opportunity as distant and into the light 

See Galleries: RPSNature - St Albans Lake March 16th 2024

   RPSNature - St Albans Cathedral Birds March 16th 2024


Nature Group Outing to Slimbridge March 2024

Image Peter Ward

It was a cold and wet start to the day at Slimbridge and the hides between the Peng observatory and the estuary tower were all fairly quiet, sowe met in the estuary tower where we could watch the progress of the tidal surge that followed in the wake of the Severn Bore.

The Dumbles were quickly flooded and many birds were pushed onto the Tack Piece in front of the hides, including around 200 Black-tailed Godwits with a smaller number of Dunlin and Curlew.  There were several murmuration’s when a Marsh Harrier started hunting over the Tack Piece, which is always a spectacular site to see.

The spring migration is well underway now and a large flock of Avocets has arrived and has settled around the Hogarth hide, where they have started pairing up and mating. Last year was a successful breeding season for Avocets at Slimbridge, where fences around the reserve means they are more protected from predation.

There were still a few Bewick and Whooper around the reserve, but most have now left along with many other over wintering birds.

I would also like to thank Mark Wardle on behalf of the group, for the Introduction he gave us to Slimbridge, which included conservation work and advice on what to see and where.  Mark is a Nature Group member as well as a WWT Volunteer.

Gallery RPSNature - Slimbridge 12 March 2024


Blacktoft Sands and Far Ings RSPB Reserves Humberside

Image Dave McKay

The weather forecast did not look good for the visits to Blacktoft Sands on Friday 1st March and Far Ings Reserve on Saturday 2nd March. In fact Saturday dawned bright and sunny and, arriving at Blacktoft early, I was able to capture a very vocal Reed Bunting and an early Marsh Harrier.  By the time the party had all arrived the weather had deteriorated and most of the day was cold, showery and quite windy so we appreciated the excellent hides at Blacktoft getting many views of Marsh Harriers - at one stage very close as it ate prey and then drank in front of us. In the late afternoon, the weather cleared to give a sunny end to the day along with great sightings of a Barn Owl, unfortunately scared off by a Marsh Harrier! and a Water Vole feeding right in front of the hide.

On Saturday, we visited Far Ings Reserve - a very scenic location right next to the Humber Bridge. The highlight undoubtedly was the Bittern which obligingly strode across the reed bed right in front of us. Some of us also spent time near the visitor centre photographing passerines near the feeding station. 


Summer Leys February 2024

(Stonechat Male by Jane Moore

Eight members of the Nature Group braved the heavy rain and flooded roads to visit Summer Leys Wild Trust reserve on Sunday 18th February. The weather improved quickly with sunshine and the occasional shower for the rest of the day. We were aware that all the heavy rain would result in rising water levels later in the day as proved true!

We spent the lost of the  morning in the Pioneer Hide enjoying photographing an obliging pair of Stonechats and three not so confiding Little Grebes though we did get one opportunity when one of the trio came close and free of the  reeds.  
Some of the group walked up to the bird feeding station through ankle deep water but, as it was obvious the water was rising, others drove up the side lane and, certainly by the time we left early afternoon this hide was just about inaccessible. 
The time spent in watching the birds coming to the feeding areas was very rewarding with all the common species plus Siskins, an early singing Chiffchaff and a very acrobatic Sparrowhawk.

See Gallery RPSNature - Summer Leys February 18th 2024


Nature Group 2-Day Visit to Deeside

The two-day event Parkgate and Hoylake to witness the exceptional high spring tides event proved popular once again. Parkgate, on the Wirral coast of the Dee estuary is a favourite spot for photographers to capture some graphic images. The Dee estuary at Parkgate is now salt marsh. Hidden channels fill up with the tide but when these channels are full the incoming water overflows at speed. 
 
As we witnessed, especially on the higher tide on Monday, where it does spill over, it travels at a very fast walking pace and in volume. Rodents, in our case shrews, voles, mice, moles and even rats frantically swim to the safety of higher higher ground, the sandstone promenade, only to be picked off by their natural predators. Gulls, crows, egrets as well as raptors have a field day. 
 
Hoylake, on the other hand, 20 minutes away from Parkgate lies on the north Wirral shore and offers refuge for waders from all over Liverpool Bay. High tide hits these shores a good 45 minutes before Parkgate.  Large mixed wader flocks, up to 10,000 birds have been recorded, of knot, sanderling, dunlin and grey plover twist and turn before settling on what's left of the mud banks. When these are finally covered by these exceptional spring tides the flock will wait patiently, waiting for the tide to ebb, very close to the promenade at Hoylake. Unfortunately this grassy area is often used by dog-walkers though most heed the many notices along the promenade requesting them to let the birds settle and rest. 

Many thanks to Bruce Kendrick for organising this very successful event

See Gallery  RPSNature - Parkgate11/12 February           RPSNature - Hoylake 11/12 February 2024


Visit to WWT Reserve Cambridgeshire

On Sunday January 28th,  a party of 15 Nature Group Members and local nature photographers met  for a day photographing in the main hides overlooking the Ouse Washes and on a walk around Lady Fen. Those who arrived early had good views of Kestrel and Cattle Egrets on Lady Fen though the birds were more distant and not as abundant as in previous visits. This was true for much of the day. Once the Visitor Centre was open we spent the morning visiting the hides (just about all open for the first time in a couple of months with the high rainfall). As usual, plenty of duck activity to keep our cameras clicking plus a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit (Image by John Kirkelionis)

We returned to the cafe for a welcome lunch before returning to the reserve to explore and take more photographs. In the afternoon, some people revisited the Hides while others took a walk round Lady fen - unfortunately no hares this visit but Chinese Water Deer, a pair of Buzzards, and lots of Egrets kept us entertained.

Several returned to the hides for the sunset - some good colours on the water but not as good skies as we hoped. So overall an enjoyable day and certainly very sociable event with WWT very keen to make us welcome. See Gallery at RPSNature - Welney 28th january 2024


Wet and Windy Wicken Fen

The forecast for our visit to Wicken deteriorated as the day approached and most people decided to give the trip a miss. As I was already at Wicken, I continued the morning plan by hurrying between hides while the rain was a bit lighter and fortunately the wind was behind me. Lots of atmospheric shots of Coots, moorhens and ducks of various types battling the wind and horizontal rain.

In the afternoon, the rain had stopped and the sky started to clear but the wind was much stronger and, at times, was strong enough to make remaining upright a difficulty. Amazingly Kestrels, Marsh Harriers and Short-eared Owls were in the skies but mainly at a distance. As I was departing, at the height of the gale. john arrived and stayed through to sunset though by then the wind was too strong for much aerial activity.  Lots to photographincluding Herons, Goldfinches, Starlings, Jackdaws and, of course, the iconic Ponies.


North Norfolk Weekend

Seven members participated in one or both of the days at Hunstanton on Saturday and Titchwell on Sunday  18th/19th November. The forecast for the two days of frequent rain showers proved inaccurate as it was almost entirely dry though cloudy most of the time. Hunstanton was amazing for the sheer numbers of waders, gulls, geese, fulmars etc and the variety of wader species. Titchwell had a lot less to look at but there were star species to keep us happy such as a party of six Snow Buntings, a Goosander and Spoonbills.(Images by Bruce Kendrick and KevinPigney)


Bradgate Park Comes Up Trumps

For the first time in several years of running this annual visit to Bradgate Park we had perfect weather with a beautiful sunset on the Sunday evening followed by a misty sunrise on Monday. Lots of Rutting Red and Fallow stags bellowing and clashing antlers plus a few toadstools to direct the cameras at (Stag, Greg Lovett; Misty Sunrise, Dave Belton).