Tag Archives: Bempton Cliffs

Bempton Cliffs with Tesni Ward (May)

Earlier this month I visited the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs. This was the location for one of Tesni Ward’s Coastal Birds workshops.
Tesni runs a number of these workshops and I chose the one on May 13th as this was a Saturday and allowed me use of the family car.

The RSPB reserve is one of the better ones around the coast in that they have a nice building that serves coffee and snacks, sells gifts and provides the necessary facilities all for a small charge; fortunately for me the fee I paid for the workshop included access to the reserve.
I arrived at the reserve just before the agreed time and met up with Tesni who remembered me from previous meet ups (Marwell Zoo back in February and The Photography show in March); I have a lot of respect for those who remember people they meet and Tesni must meet a lot of different people all the time.

Joining Tesni and I on the day were two other Olympus Photographers both called John; I contemplated changing my name to John for the day but two were confusing enough. Both Johns were nice guys too, I always enjoy meeting up with other photographers and I am making new friends all the time – social media really helps keep in contact.

Although Tesni primarily shoots with Olympus gear, she had to lug around her Canon 5D and 500mm lens on this day as one of the John’s had borrowed her Olympus 300mm f4 PRO IS lens. The Johns agreed to swap the lens between them so they could both experience what it is like to use this awesome lens. I of course have my own 300mm lens that I picked up for a great price at the Photography show earlier this year, although it wasn’t cheap I don’t begrudge the cost of this lens as it sees a lot of use on my OM-D E-M1 Mark-II. I was initially worried that the 300mm would be too much focal length for the day as this lens has a Field of View equivalent to 600mm on a “full-frame” 35mm sensor. So I brought with (and carried or rather lugged around) my 40-140mm, TC1.4x and other lenses just in case I needed them – I didn’t and by the end of the day my aching shoulders pointed out that a shoulder bag is not the best item to carry around for a day if it hold a lot of stuff and carrying more gear ”just in case” toy need it is not a good idea – seems obvious I know but I will learn one day.

Just prior to heading into the reserve we went through the types of bird we will see at the reserve as well as the typical shots we should be able to get. I also picked up one of the Reserve’s “What you might see at Bempton Cliffs” fact-sheet/map to help. The list of birds on the sheet was quite extensive:

  • Puffins
  • Kittiwakes
  • Herring Gulls
  • Gannets
  • Guillemots
  • Razorbills
  • Fulmars
  • Shags

Tesni took us around the reserve and what follows are what I consider my best shots of the day, these are not necessarily in chronological order but instead are separated by species.

The Gannets:
Most of my photo’s from the day are of the Gannets, they were out performing for us throughout the day.

Gannets in flight

Puffin:
We saw a total of 2 puffins on the day, most of them nest more north of Bempton:

Kittiwakes:
Along with the Gannets, Razor Bills and Guillemots there were large number of Kittiwakes too.

This is a photobombed version of the previous shot:

Razorbill:

Guillemot:

Bridled Guillemot: There were not many of these around but some of the Guillemots had a white spectacle like mark around and behind their eyes as below:

Other Animals:
Although we visited Bempton Cliffs to take pictures of various coastal birds, we also saw some other animals too, these included, Pheasants, Sparrows and many Jackdaws.

We also saw a few porpoises in the water below, these are heavily cropped but you can still see that the shape of the fin and the white under belly:

This was my first experience of one of Tesni’s own workshops, she is professional, knows her stuff and has a great sense of humour. I was there to learn, take great pictures and have a great day out which I (and the other workshop attendees) had even though it was a long day. How Tesni does this day in day out just amazes me – I don’t think I could. Tesni has comprehensive knowledge of how to get the best out of the Olympus OM-D system for nature and wildlife photography, what works and doesn’t work, as well as demystifying the myriad of focusing modes and options at our disposal. Her subject matter knowledge was extensive, and interesting and useful facts about the birds we were photographing were provided to help get the better shots. As we were taking photographs Tesni also reminded us to think about the more camera agnostic aspects of photography such as exposure and composition. Finally, it was obvious that Tesni knew the area well and we were directed to the best locations at Bempton Cliffs to get the photos that we wanted. Thank you Tesni for a great day out and I look forward to my next workshop with you.