Our Wild    Life

Nature photography by John Langley ARPS & Tracy Langley ARPS

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Diary 2012


We've just finished a book on tigers. It has lots of our tiger photos in, along with several other mammals and birds. The text gives some insights into tiger habitat and habits. You'll find it in the Blurb bookstore. There's a hardback printed version and also an e-book version for iphone / ipad.

eBook for ipad / iphone          Full book plus 6 minute AV show £3.99

Printed Book          Softback  £24.95     Hardback  £29.95


Although we do travel a fair bit to find wildlife, we are very lucky to live with Snowdonia literally on our doorstep - the national park boundary is at the bottom of the drive. One of our favourite walks from home is up the mountain to a very old church. Here wildlife thrives in the old stone walls.

Walls surrounding the old churchyard

common lizard

small tortoishell butterfly

Peacock butterfly

Blood-drop Emlets / Monkeyflower hybrid

Elephant hawk moth caterpillar

I was very pleased to find the elephant hawk moth caterpillar as it's one of my favourites. The moth is said to get its name from the little grey protrusion at the front of the caterpillar's head - this can extend outwards if it is alarmed and looks like the trunk of an elephant !

The next morning I was eating breakfast and gazing out of the window when an unusual shape in the tree just outside caught my eye - it looked like another elephant hawk moth caterpillar. I got out the ladder and climbed up to get a better look. Thank goodness John was away and didn't see these antics - the caterpillar turned out to be a brown curled up piece of leaf. Should have gone to specsavers !


Earlier this year we made a mad dash up to Scotland in an attempt to photograph a sparrowhawk that was regularly frequenting an area of woodland. Unfortunately we missed the sparrowhawk as he had left the area during the breeding season. This month we got a call from the hide's owner, Alan McFadyen, that the hawk was back in the area. Another mad dash up to Scotland ensued. Thankfully we had more success this time and also delighted in the array of other birds visiting the site. We spent several 12-hour days in Alan's hide and enjoyed many visits from the male sparrowhawk, some fleeting but one or two lasting for several minutes - a pleasure to watch. A big thank you to Alan for all his hard work.

The hide can now be booked through Scottish Photography Hides


On a short walk on the Derbyshire moors we saw a handful of red grouse, so we decided to make an early start the next day.

Up at 5.30am - dark, rainy, windy & cold but we persevered. Once up on the moors the sun soon started to warm us up and we encountered lots of grouse.


We've been a bit quiet photographically of late, due to a number of reasons (attending lots of shows, the terribly wet weather, and decorating our house). However, when the sun shone we grabbed our gear and headed out for a morning on the lookout for butterflies.



Silver-studded blues



          Small Heath


We spent 3 weeks in Scotland. During our first week on the Isle of Skye we did plenty of walking and enjoyed the wide open spaces. We also took some boat rides to see seabirds and the Small Isles.

Arctic Skua


White-tailed sea eagles

Neist Point lighthouse

The Quiraing

The Isle of Canna

The black cuillin mountain range from Elgol

For the next 2 weeks we moved south to the Sunart / Ardnamurchan area. We found some butterflies in the local oak woodlands.

Chequered Skipper

Small pearl-bordered fritillary

Buff tip moth - looks just like a broken birch twig !

Common sandpiper calling from boulder in a stream

The main quarry of this fortnight was pine martens so we spent most of our time waiting and watching out for them. The midges were formidable. We went well prepared with our mosquito headnets but the tiny devils managed to get inside, making working from our hides tricky.  Luckily the local store had finer midge netting that worked well. Pine martens are mainly nocturnal, so many of our sightings were in very low light. However with perseverance (and over 180 hours of look-out duty) we were fortunate to have some early evening encounters with several of these charismatic creatures.


In-between exhibitions we had a few days off in Worcestershire. On a village green, green-winged orchids were flowering. Thoughtfully, the parish council had roped the area off to avoid the flowers being mowed down when the grass was cut. Many passers by stopped to enjoy the colourful spectacle.



We were on the look-out for more spring butterflies, but the weather was against us. We visited a wood where we had previously found butterflies at this time of year only to be drenched by heavy showers and see no butterflies at all. Undeterred we returned a couple of times over the next few days and managed to locate our quarry - the pearl-bordered fritillary.

Spring wouldn't be complete without a visit to a bluebell wood, so we immersed ourselves in a wonderfully tranquil blue haven for a whole day.


From Conwy to the south east is a long way to travel only to be thwarted by the weather. Therefore when our plans to photograph reptiles in Surrey were scuppered by heavy rain, winds and cold we had to come up with a plan B.  We headed for the slight shelter offered by woodland and managed to find a few early orange tip butterlifes.  Although with the weather conditions we doubted that even the early spider orchids would be flowering, we ventured into Kent to search for them.  There were in fact several hundred spikes flowering but the cold conditions appeared to have stunted their growth somewhat and most were much smaller than usual - still a lovely sight to see.




For some time we have wanted to visit the south of France to photograph the iconic white horses of the Camargue.  The variety of settings and weather conditions we experienced whilst photographing these beautiful horses provided a challenging but rewarding experience.


A couple of years ago we travelled to the West coast of Scotland to photograph boxing hares. This year we returned to the same place at the same time. Whilst we saw plenty of hares, none were in boxing mood. We're unsure if we were too early or too late but given the fact that everything appears to be early so far this spring, we guess the bouts were over.


Red deer were grazing on the hills.

There was plenty of bird life

After a few days we craved a greater challenge. Given our poor success rate in the past with otters we decided to dedicate a chunk of time to trying to track down this elusive animal.

The old maxim rang true for us this time - hard work reaps its own rewards - and we enjoyed some great encounters with a couple of otters. We were privileged to spend a few hours in their company, watching these master fishermen at work.

One of the nice things about being professional wildlife photographers is that our images are purchased for a variety of uses which often broadens our experiences. Recently a Swedish band used one of our great grey owl photographs on their cover - we liked the effect and the song is good too - click on the single cover for a link to the song in iTunes.

Stop press June 2012 : the band have now released their EP - click on the EP cover for a link to the album in Amazon.


the single                                                                       the E.P.

Three days by the seaside in the company of sanderlings, lying down on the cold blustery beach has left us with a great admiration for these feisty little birds as they feed on the seashore and take fleeting naps at high tide.


We spent a day with fellow photographer  Mike Lane  in his woodland bird hide  His regular feeding has certainly attracted large numbers of birds.

Blue tits & great tits were most numerous

A long-tailed tit paid several visits

Marsh tit is a bird we don't get to see too often. This tiny bird is very active, so it's hard to photograph

The coal tit is equally active, rarely staying still

Redpolls frequently visited the area

With so many birds flying everywhere it was difficult to concentrate on one particular species,

but nuthatch is one of our favourites so we spent quite a while trying to capture the spirit of this cheeky bird.

Whilst we were exhibiting at the Bird Festival at Slimbridge Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust the weather took a turn for the worst.

Very cold icy conditions with snow made for some interesting photo opportunities.

We were thankful that the festival was in a heated visitor centre, not in outdoor marquees !

Canada goose

Greylag geese

Mute swan

Black-headed gull

Our favourites were the Bewick swans :-


Even closer to home a local stream is laden with icicles.

Now is a good time to see Hazel flowering. The yellow 'lambs-tails' are the male parts on the tiny red flowers are the female parts

In Snowdonia, a light dusting of snow covers some of the higher tops

We've been spending a lot of afternoons watching at least two short-eared owls hunting over waste ground, and occasionally arguing over territories. They're usually a long way off, but now and then they grace us with a fly-by. The weather has been difficult, very wet & windy and the owls notoriously don't like flying in the wet or the wind ! An occasional fly-past of other birds helps the waiting.