Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Photo competition – Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon | Moorland, the Heart of Exmoor

2 July, 2011

Photo competition – Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon | Moorland, the Heart of Exmoor.


Examples of Clients

4 March, 2010

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Moonset picture

3 February, 2010
Moonset Through Pine Needles ©2010 Jason Ball (click to enlarge)

Moonset Through Pine Needles ©2010 Jason Ball

This is my first picture of the moon as it was setting the other day. Actually the image doesn’t show the amazing colours of the sky, or the intense glow of the moon and the bright moonlit landscape. Next time I’m going to set the camera to take a long exposure, with a tight aperture, on a tripod.

Hoots at moonset, grunts at sunrise

31 January, 2010

Nature notes by Jason Ball – 31 Jan 2010

Can you tell this is a Barn Owl?

Just before dawn I wrapped myself up and walked out into the cool, crisp light of a moonset (you know, like a sunset, but the moon). It was a full moon, and as it was setting, I thought I would try to take a photo of this extremely beautiful phenomenon, because I’ve never done that before! This is a daily occurrence, but how often do you go out and watch it? Today it was worth it, despite the freezing temperatures. With a full moon to the west and the emerging colours of sunrise on the eastern horizon, it was fantastic!

A male Tawny Owl was answering a female in the woods, and a Grey Partridge was calling just beyond. Like yesterday it was a well frosted landscape. As I clicked and fiddled with camera controls that I couldn’t see, my fingers gradually became too cold to feel the shutter button.

After putting my camera back in the house, I went out again put out some food out for the birds. I walked alongside Nut Wood and stopped alongside a reedbed, watching out for owls. Very soon I got a surprise, when I heard something grunt.

A startled badger was on the path in front of me, looking right at me. After a moment of uncertainty, it dared to come closer. The badger sniffed the air, presumably attracted by the fragrance of food. But the badger didn’t like the smell of me, I suppose, and made a rapid about-turn and scarpered away – only to bump into a feisty friend.

This other badger – presumably a sibling – hadn’t noticed me and it immediately started wrestling the first badger – adding to its sense of panic!

I walked back home and decided to set up a camera to film a Barn Owl who I have often noticed flying past the house, usually soon after 7am.

The Barn Owl is a crepuscular bird, haunting the edges of day and night. When we recently had snow laid on the ground for days on end, these owls were seen during the day. They had to search longer to find prey – if any – and were desperate enough to risk being out when diurnal birds attack them. That was a difficult time for many raptors, except the scavengers.

Success! As the owl flew by I could see that my camera was recording, and the owl was in shot. I went out to switch off the camera, but the Barn Owl was coming back my way, so I stood still and tried to photograph the bird again, but with a stronger zoom.

a Barn Owl flies past

Being only sunrise, the light levels were too low for the camera to autofocus. And with a 12x zoom, at this relatively close range, it was hard to pan fast enough for the Barn Owl, which was flying up and down the road. Ah, it was best to leave the bird to its business, and try again another time.

But what an excellent start to the day!

Barn Owl, Tawny Owl and a few more bird records from this morning.

31/01/10 Dunnock Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
07:45 SU358819.
31/01/10 Woodpigeon Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
07:45 SU358819.
31/01/10 Blackbird Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
07:45 m. SU358819.
31/01/10 Blue Tit Sheepdrove Organic Farm 2 J Ball
07:45 feeding. SU358819.
31/01/10 Chaffinch Sheepdrove Organic Farm 4 J Ball
07:45 2m+2f. Feeding. One of the males was mature, the other juvenile; harder to tell with the 2 females. SU358819.
31/01/10 Great Tit Sheepdrove Organic Farm 3 J Ball
07:45 on feeders. SU358819.
31/01/10 Great Spotted Woodpecker Sheepdrove Organic Farm 2 J Ball
07:45 m + unknown. 1 definite male at nut feeder. Another GS flew off but too fast to check gender. (Would 2 males tolerate a close presence at this time of year?). SU358819.
31/01/10 Rook Sheepdrove Organic Farm 70 J Ball
07:30 flying from north. SU359819.
31/01/10 Barn Owl Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
07:15 Perched on a post for a short while. Hunting in flight. Saw one unsuccessful dive. SU358819.
31/01/10 Great Spotted Woodpecker Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
06:45 m. drumming. SU359818.
31/01/10 Grey Partridge Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
06:40 m. calling. SU356817.
31/01/10 Tawny Owl Sheepdrove Organic Farm 2 J Ball
06:40 m+f. Both calling in the woods. SU356817.

2 Nov BBC Berks interview

2 November, 2009

I’ve just been interviewed live on BBC Radio Berkshire by Phil Kennedy. He began by mentioning that I work at Sheepdrove Organic Farm – so a good plug there!

We had a chat about some of the things I’ve seen and written about for BBC Berkshire’s Nature pages as a sort of local Autumnwatch.

Phil asked me if I enjoy autumn, and suggested that the season is “rather sad” in some ways, because it’s a time of things dying off for winter… but I wanted to enthuse about autumn and talk about more than just pretty colours.

Autumn does, in fact, have action, growth, and energy. Lively aspects of nature in autumn are hidden sometimes – like the countless seedlings which sprout beneath leaf litter, in preparation for a great start in springtime; or the bursting out of fungal fruiting bodies; or the wild flowers which peak at exactly this time, such as Autumn Hawkbit.

Phil described seeing a field full of red poppies last week! How spectacular for October! And told us he’d encountered a stag while driving in the dark – just standing ahead in the road. The rutting season makes the deer behave a little strangely, of course, and the warm weather has certainly blessed Berkshire with sights of creatures and flowers we wouldn’t have seen in a cold year.

BBC Berkshire Autumnwatch gallery.

Listen again to Phil Kennedy on BBC Radio Berkshire.

Nature video group

25 May, 2009

Follow the link to a new collection of videos on Youtube. Join up if you have a passion for the natural world and start to share your wildest videos!

Calling all budding wildlife photographers

15 May, 2009

Goldilocks ButtercupHow about this as an idea?
Your local Biological Records Centre probably run a website or produce a newsletter, and they are likely to be short of good images. It’s quite a good route to get your nature photographs seen.

I was really pleased when Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre featured my picture of a rare Goldilocks Buttercup as their May 2009 photo of the month at

Then this week my photo of a Marsh Fritillary made it into UK Biodiversity News (issue 45, page 17). Phew. Next stop Holywood.

Springwatch starts early…

16 April, 2009

You’ll enjoy the growing set of videos posted at the YOUTUBE Natureheads Group.

Richard Claxton has posted this marvellous HD (High Definition) video footage of a Blackbird nest in a garden. Watch mum and the chicks, up close. Listen out for the birdsong in the background too, including Chiffchaff.

Bird feeder movie

3 April, 2009

It took a few days to get this footage, as the birds got used to the camera. I managed to completely outwit the Goldfinches by hiding under a camouflage net – but some birds weren’t fooled for a minute! Odd that. Blue Tit and Great Tit were very sharp and recognised me as a human right off. Blue Tits soon got brave and tolerated my presence.

To capture close footage of the others I mounted the camera on a tripod or hung it next the feeders and allowed the camera to run until the memory was full, or the batteries ran out. Easy! When recording, a flashing light on the front of the camera scared some of the birds, but a bit of blu-tac solved that, but the lens reflection seemed to intimidate most species for a while.


Colour shift bug

13 December, 2008

nymph of Green Shield Bug

I’ve learned from the Hagbourne Wildlife blog that this nymph of the Green Shield Bug will not have stayed the same colour. When it changed into an adult bug, it will have been green for the summer, but now might be brown – presumably to blend in with the autumnal colours.

Now I’ll never find it.