KookaburraMesh 2 KookaburraMesh 1

Above are two pictures of the same caged Kookaburra at Thorp Perrow Arboretum, photographed with the same camera and lens, from the same position, though it did turn its head between shots and the crop is slightly different. The significant difference is that the first is focussed on the mesh of the cage itself, whereas the second is focussed on the bird, causing the mesh in the close foreground to blur so much that it vanishes almost entirely – though in this instance you can just about make it out as very broad, faint bands. If you weren't looking for them you probably wouldn't notice they were there.

This is a prime demonstration that all is not lost when the fancy animal you want to photograph is behind mesh. It's important that you keep the camera aperture as wide open as possible, and that the distance between the mesh and the animal is as large as possible. Obviously if you've got a Lemur clinging to the mesh itself, making faces at you, then the effect cannot be achieved.

Unfortunately this technique is unlikely to be workable with a compact camera due to the much smaller lens and sensor – you pretty much need an SLR. You're also likely to have to switch to manual focus to stop your camera automatically focussing on the mesh, and manual focus is a facility that most compacts don't offer.


A tethered Peregrine falcon at Thorp Perrow Arboretum, looks back at me haughtily, and with more than a degree of suspicion.


More from UKNB's 2010 tour of Northumberland. Today a small collection of photos demonstrating the wonderful autumnal colours that have been on display. It seems to have been a good year for it, and a few days with wonderful warm but weak sunshine have lit the trees up just so.

These are all from the Cragside Estate, which is a wonderful place to walk around at any time of year.





The BBC reports that Kingfishers seem to have survived last year's harsh winter and in fact are booming, if popular reports are to be believed. An annual British Waterways survey showed a 217% rise in reports by members of the public, which is a surprise result given Kingfishers' susceptibility to very cold weather. Of course it's possible that people are more tuned into them recently after high-profile TV and general media coverage, such as Halcyon River Diaries, and are reporting them more readily whilst the actual wild numbers aren't much changed, but I would hope that their survey tries to accommodate such phenomena.

Read all the way to the end of the BBC article for an interesting aside on how the RSPB was originally formed, and what it has to do with Kingfishers specifically.


UKNB has been on tour to Northumberland, where your intrepid editor originally hails from would you believe, even if he's a Southern softie these days. The theme of the trip so far has been Nuthatches – loads of them! These pictures, from a couple of different locations, were as close as I've got to these enigmatic tree dwellers. They look almost like little Kingfishers in some of these shots.