Sarus cranes

Beautiful birds, the tallest flying bird in the world standing at over 1.80 m tall. There are currently two pairs resident at Bharatpur and one pair are incubating eggs. Indians venerate them as symbols of fidelity as they remain faithful for life.

Spotted owlets

Owls are cute. Owlets are beyond cute. I found these guys in woodland at Bharatpur National Park in India. There were four of them at a day time roost in a dead tree.

Woodland birds: Sussex, England

Some photos from a long day spent in a hide in a secluded woodland in West Sussex.

Male great spotted woodpecker

Male great spotted woodpecker

Male common chaffinch

Male common chaffinch

Blue tit

Blue tit

Spoonbills

Spoonbills are one of my favourite birds. Comical but elegant they spend most of their time asleep with heads tucked under wings but here are some feeding at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai.

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Shark diving at Gato Island.

I love wall dives. If you get your buoyancy just right then with a light current a wall dive can give you some of the best diving there is. You have the whole reef in front of you and over your shoulder is always a chance of something appearing from the deep blue.

Gato Island is a very cool wall dive with some added excitement!

Gato Island is in the Visayan Sea in the central Philippines.

Gato Island is in the Visayan Sea in the central Philippines.

Approaching Gato Island at dawn.

Approaching Gato Island at dawn.

Here is my dive profile from my Suunto D4i computer. Note the details say I dived on air. I actually dived on a 32% Nitrox mix to give extended bottom time but Suunto doesn't allow switching from air (which I used the previous day) to Nitrox within a 24 hour period.... I've no idea why except maybe for very conservative safety reasons).

My dive profile for the first Gato Island dive at 6.33 in the morning. The long 15 minute hang is going through the tunnel and then waiting at the end to watch the sharks.

My dive profile for the first Gato Island dive at 6.33 in the morning. The long 15 minute hang is going through the tunnel and then waiting at the end to watch the sharks.

We rolled out of one of the main boats lighters just after dawn and immediately dropped to a plateau at 12m then off the edge down the wall to 28m. The water was a pleasant 26c (ideal for a 2mm shorty) and visibility was a good 25m.

There was a lot of life on the wall including frog fish and a large banded sea snake.

Dropping off of the plateau.

Dropping off of the plateau.

The best part of the dive was a tunnel straight through the island at about 25m deep. The tunnel was about 3m wide and 60m long. At first the tunnel was pitch black and I was thankful for my torch but soon we saw (literally) light at the end of the tunnel.

We had been warned before we dived that a group of large white tip reef sharks often use the end of the tunnel for sleeping. I love sharks so I was hoping they would be there. And sure enough as I got to the end of the tunnel I disturbed about six of them. The largest being about 2m long. By now there was a strong current on my back so I managed to wedge myself in the tunnel exit and film the sharks as they circled. An awesome end to the dive.