Amazing aerial photos of a hoopoe feeding its young

By on April 2nd 2015 in Animals
hoopoe-from-below-peter-damerell

Hoopoe showing its crest, viewed from below. Photo by Peter Damerell.

One of my favourite birds is the exotic-looking hoopoe. It is an magnificent bird that lives across most of Europe, Asia and Africa and is famous for its giant mohican-like crest. Hoopoes often nest in cavities in the walls of derelict buildings, as is brilliantly shown in these stunning pictures by Peter Damerell.

Peter, a good friend of mine, was conducting research on the critically endangered Saiga antelope in the remote regions of the Ustyurt Plateau, Uzbekistan. While taking a break from work to avoid the 40+ degree heat, he found a nice cherry tree to rest under. But as soon as he sat down, he suddenly heard the chirping of nestlings nearby and discovered a hoopoe nest a couple meters away hidden in the wall of a crumbling outbuilding .

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Whilst the adults would sometimes perch to feed their chicks, food was mostly delivered ‘on the wing’ to speed up the feeding. Photo by Peter Damerell.

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Hoopoe delivering a beetle grub to its nest in the side of an outbuilding. Peter estimates that the adults were making between 30 and 40 deliveries per hour to their 4 offspring.

Peter set-up a cleaver trigger system to take these amazing photos of the birds coming to feed their young, even without them knowing as Peter explained:

By observing the parent’s behaviour I could accurately time their arrival and set-up my DSLR whilst they were away foraging. I then set-up a remote trigger that I could control while hidden away in the shade of the cherry tree, thereby minimizing my impact and at the same time enjoying a few cherries. I like using a remote camera in this way as it provides minimal disturbance for your subject, something that is really important to me.

Hoopoes mainly forage on bare ground, probing the ground with their long curved bill to look for big grubs and other insects, clearly visible in these photos. It’s salmon colour with black and white wings and extraordinary crest make the hoopoe instantly recognisable. I very clearly remember the times I managed to see them in the wild whilst travelling in Spain and France, a wonderful experience. However, I still hope to see them on an English lawn sometime as these birds do actually arrive in Britain each year!

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With this many chicks close to fledging it is a full time job for the parents to collect enough food for them all. Photo by Peter Damerell.

Peter has travelled and conducted research across the world and is currently doing a PhD at the University of Cambridge to look at the relationships between people and wildlife in Romania. You can see more of his amazing photos and learn about his work on his website.

NB: When birds are nesting it is very important that they are not disturbed as this can cause them to abandon the nest. If not sure wether you will disturb a bird, then the simple rule is not to take the picture at all but just to enjoy watching the birds. Thanks!

Stunning pictures in Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013

By on October 17th 2013 in Animals

This year almost 43.000 entries from across 96 countries have been submitted to compete in the fantastic annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. This great photo competition by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide celebrates the rich array of life on our planet, reflecting not only its beauty but also highlighting its fragility. After what must have been countless days of comparisons, the international panel of judges has announced the winners of this year’s prestigious competition. South African photographer Greg du Toit has been named Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 for his image Essence of elephants while the 14-year old indian boy Udayan Rao Pawar won the Young Photographer of the Year award with his stung image Mothers little headful. Enjoy these and the other winning photo’s of this year’s competition below!

Gharial female with young on head

“Mother’s little headful”. Winner in the category “Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year “. Photo by Udayan Rao Pawar/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013.

What a brilliant photo of a female gharial with hatchlings on her head. It was shot in the early morning by young Udayan Rao Udayan on the banks of the Chambal River, India. Sadly although Gharials were once found in rivers all over India, today just 200 or so breeding adults remain..

The essence of elephants

“Essence of elephants”. Overall winner of the “Wildlife Photographer of the Year”. Photo by Greg du Toit/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013.

This beautiful arty wildlife shot is the winning photograph of the wildlife photographer of the year 2013. Although Greg du Toit has photographed African elephants for years, he had always wanted to create an image that captures their special energy and the state of consciousness that he’d sense when with them. This is the stunning result, a baby elephant and its herd near a waterhole in Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve, photographer from a sunken freight container used as hide with a ground-level view!

Snow Moment japanese macaque

“Snow moment”. Winner in the category “Creative Visions”. Photo by Jasper Doest/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013.

When photographing the famous Japanese macaques around the hot springs of Jigokudani, central Japan, Jasper Doest took this stunning photograph of a Japanese macaque near the hot springs of Jigokudani, central Japan. It took him a couple years to get this ultimate shot of swirling steam and snow flakes and a wet macaque.

A barred owl flight path

“The flight path”. Winner in the category “The Eric Hosking Portfolio Award”. Photo by Connor Stefanison/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013.

By a combination of photography and wilderness skills, Connor Stefanison managed to get this amazing shot of a female barred owl in flight in her territory in Burnaby, British Columbia. He watched her for some time and familiarised himself with her flight paths until he knew her well enough to set up his camera near one of the owl’s favourite perches, linked to a remote and three off-camera flashes, and put a dead mouse on a platform above the camera to wait for the swoop that he knew would come.

Lucky pounce fox jumping

“Lucky pounce”. Winner in the category “The Eric Hosking Portfolio Award”. Photo by Connor Stefanison/ Wildlife Photographer of The Year 2013.

Another win for Connor Stefanison with this shot of a fox jumping up ready to catch a tasty mouse, amongst the beautiful grasslands of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. A beautiful photo showcasing this fascinating animal.

The cauldron

“The cauldron”. Winner in the category “Wildscapes”. Photo by Sergey Gorshkov/ Wildlife Photogrpaher of the Year 2013.

Sticky situation

“Sticky situation”. Winner in the category “Behaviour: Birds”. Photo by Isak Pretorius/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013.

Dive buddy turtle photo

“Dive buddy”. Winner in the category “Behaviour: Cold-blooded Animals”. Photo by Luis Javier Sandoval/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013.

The spat jaguars

“The spat”. Winner in the category “Behaviour: Mammals”. Photo by Joe McDonald/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013.

The water bear

“The water bear”. Winner in the category “Animals in Their Environment”. Photo by Paul Souders/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013.

You can visit the exhibition in the Natural History Museum in London from the 18th of October 2013 until 23 March 2014.

Amazing wildlife drawings for conservation

By on November 26th 2011 in Animals
Wildlife drawing Elephant

An amazingly detailed drawing of an adult male Elephant. Drawing by Rory Mccann.

One of the main aims of Mudfooted.com is to increase awareness for wildlife conservation. Fortunately I am not the only one who thinks this is important, many artists around the world are combining their imaginative skills and interests to promote appreciation for our wonderful natural world. So is Rory Mccann, a wildlife artist and conservationist working in Cambridge, UK. His drawings are characterised by an amazing precision and wonderful detail of often highly endangered wildlife. A selection of his work is featured below:

Wildlife drawing tiger

An amazing drawing of a Tiger. Drawing By Rory Mccann.

Wildlife drawing snow leopard

Wildlife drawing of a snow leopard. Drawing by Rory Mccann.

Wildlife drawing of a merlin

Drawing of a perched merlin, by Rory Mccann.

Wildlife drawing of hippo

Wildlife drawing of a mother and baby hippo. Drawing by Rory Mccann.

Wildlife drawing elephants

Wildlife drawing of a mother and baby elephant. Drawing by Rory Mccann.

Wildlife Eagle drawing

Wildlife drawing of an Eagle. Drawing by Rory Mccann.

Wildlife drawing chimp

A wildlife drawing called ‘thoughtful chimp’. Drawing by Rory Mccann.

Rory McCann is a wildlife artist and conservationist working in Cambridge at BirdLife International. He has been using his artwork to promote conservation issues for almost 10 years, through publications, exhibitions and mural paintings. He hopes to undertake even bigger projects combining art and conservation over the coming years.

He is available to do commissions of wild animals and pets and has a wide range of limited edition prints to buy, each for £25. Also, if you would like to get involved in his next exhibition, themed ‘Inspired by Nature’, he’d be happy to hear from you. To view more of his work, go to www.rorymccannart.com