Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire


“…the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it”.

Heron Teasel and Butterflies

I believe that this unusual word accurately describes my approach to wildlife photography and in common with most people, I do like surprises. Today, I’ve reached the ripe old age of 58, so I guess I should continue to savour each and every one of these special moments.

To illustrate my point… late one evening, I was carefully studying the grey heron in the photograph above. The warm light of the setting sun was illuminating the reeds and providing a perfect back-drop to the plain grey of the heron’s plumage. As the heron slowly stalked its prey along the line of the reeds it eventually reached a point where several butterflies were feeding on the purple flower heads of the teasel bushes. I made a few exposures and then suddenly, the heron took off. I immediately pressed the shutter and hoped that I had captured the moment, but still had to wait until I saw the enlarged version on my monitor a home.

Yes, I was lucky. The heron was sharp. Compositionally, there was a strong diagonal line running across the frame and the trail of water from the heron’s feet gave the image a sense of dynamic movement. With a perfect background too; you can tell I was pleased.

A few days earlier, I was in another hide with John, a fellow photographer, trying to explain the best camera settings to use for ‘bird-in-flight photography’. I needed an example to demonstrate these settings when an immature gull suddenly came into view. I quickly made a couple of exposures. I thought about deleting these example frames but must have got distracted. Later that evening, I met up with ‘gull guru’ Martin Hodges in the car-park and I quickly showed him the two images of the young bird. He suggested that I e-mail the images to him but of course, I forgot.

A day or so later, Martin sent me a reminder e-mail and I quickly sent him my photograph of the young gull. He then asked me if I had other pictures as well, so I sent hime the second frame. Marin eventually concluded that it was a juvenile Herring Gull; but a rather rare leucistic variety. Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather…even a gull’s one!

leucistic juvenile herring gull

Well, that’s enough talk for now. Here’s a few more special moments from the past few weeks I hope you will enjoy. Please don’t forget to ‘click’ on an image to see a much larger version on my Flickr page.

Fox - summer stroll

Fox cub wink

Marsh Harrier and rabbit

Greenshank-Summer passage


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5 thoughts on “Serendipity

  1. Barry Oakley on said:

    Again, some excellent pics, presumably at Tophill Low. I live in the north Midlands and will be visiting Tophill around the middle of September. I want to try and get some good pics and whilst early morning is impractical for me, what’s likely to be seen before dusk from the North Marsh hide. Might be a “how long is a piece of string” question, but I’d like to have your comments. Best wishes.

    • Hi Barry.

      That’s a very difficult question. You might be lucky or even disappointed. It’s difficuly to predict but North Marsh is known for its Kingfishers and the occasional otter sighting.

      For non-members, the opening times are from 09:00 until 18:00. If you wish to visit outside these hours then it may be best to dropm me a line once you have decided on the date of your visit and I could accompany you. —cheers, Tony McLean

      • Barry Oakley on said:

        That’s a kind offer, Tony. Although I live in north Sataffordshire, I am a member of Tophill Low and would be able to be there on 19th or 20th September to suit you. I’m actually staying near to Spurn.

        Best wishes,
        Barry Oakley

      • Hi Barry

        Sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed that you were not a member!

        Please drop me a Flickr mail or call me on 07771 942609 just before you set off and I will give you the latest information on sightings at THL


        Tony McLean

      • Barry Oakley on said:

        Thanks Tony. My plan is to set off for Tophill Low on Thursday soon after breakfast (circa 9.30am) and get there in around the hour and staying through practical daylight. I see that lighting up time on the 19th is about 7.30pm, probably meaning that photography is ok up to circa 7pm. I shall be armed with a D7000, Nikon 70-300 and Sigma 150-500. Modest compared with your set-up.

        Best wishes,


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