Natural Eden Images Nature Photography by Stephen James Thompson
Natural Eden Images Nature Photography by Stephen James Thompson

An image" in depth"

This section looks at a selected image of interest,one of those images that makes you think,how,where and has the eh?? factor.The images on this page will be from the most questioned by you the followers of the site.Information on the exposure of the image will be added for those that have an interest in taking pictures themselves.The geography of a landscape image will be explained with background history given where needed.To sum up overall this section will hopefully just answer any questions the viewer may have on certain images.Certain wildlife images on this site are kept protected with the exact location not being revealed on the site for common sense reasons.











Dipper's in the Caldew

A common species along our waterways are the Dipper and one of my faves on the Caldew to get close up to as they feed beneath the surface.Recently i visited a well used territory of the Dipper along the Caldew near Carlisle where a pair was busy feeding close to there nest site.My biggest problem was a lack of good light and dry weather! so as the dull wet days passed by i spent a couple of hours each day observing there behaviour and there timed habits i also set up a position to photograph them in between there spells of action as not to disturb them.Once the weather was in my favour all i had to do was settle into my position low down to the water.Laying totally flat under camouflaged scrim with plenty of cover over my face and hands i waited 15 minutes for there arrival early in the morning.On there arrival the sun was at a bad angle as it was too low and straight towards the lens but i knew i had plenty of time for it to lift a little more and with plenty of passing cloud this would help.The pair of Dippers stayed in mid stream for a while as i knew they would after watching them all week it was as they made there way closer to me on my side of the river that i knew i would get the best chance of an image.Once they got close to me and the light was good i got my shots Using a high ISO of 800 and a shutter speed of 400 i was able to open the aperture up to F8 for a sharper image.All the images i took were taken in a two hour window before the birds dropped downstream which enabled me to slip away without been noticed.As i took shots of one of the birds that was about ten feet away from me it could hear the shutter release which caused it to flinch but i remained undetected low on the bank. some of the images........

These images will be added to the gallery pages shortly.

Common Buzzard on the Eden

The Buzzard is a large bird of prey that has grown in numbers during the last ten years in the Eden Valley and throughout the country.With there amazing eyesight and ability to blend in with there surroundings it makes them relatively difficult to photograph.Ive been asked a lot how to photograph them since i took the images of one on the lower Eden recently.The biggest challenge in getting a shot of a Buzzard is getting a decent background to highlight the bird i have taken many pictures of them in the past that were poor due to a distracting background and a poor angle.Its fairly easy to locate a Buzzard in its territory then it takes time to learn where its favourite perch is.Once you know where it likes to stand and as long as it is suitable to get a clear image of the bird it is a case of waiting for good light and just sitting focused on the post being well concealed and not making a move!

The Common Buzzard

Kingfisher images,worth a long wait!

Feeding Kingfisher

The Kingfisher is in my opinion the most challenging species to photograph on the river.This particular image took me weeks of preparation to establish the most likely area that would be the most successful for getting close enough to acheive a worthwhile image.I knew that at this time of year they would be busy sitting on eggs or feeding young so i knew that if i set up a hide opposite a sand bank and target a branch close or in the water i would have a chance of an image.In this case i found an ideal habitat and set up downstream of where the nest site was where i knew they would prefer to feed.After days of watching from a distance i witnessed a pattern emerging from a pair of Kingfishers feeding.Unfortunatley my roughly made hide was now sat somewhere in the middle of the Irish sea as a flood tore down the river a couple of days prior to seeing the bird activity! so i had to make do with plenty of camo clothing a small seat and a large sheet of scrim over me to stay hidden on the opposite bank to the birds.It was as close as i could get and as close as i dare go without causing any disturbance to the feeding birds.By law a licence is required for photographing this species on a nest site so i had to make do with capturing images of them away from the nesting holes.After hours of sitting looking through the viewfinder at a well used branch i was lucky enough to get a few images.


The light was good for the above images and in the right direction for the shot.Over the coming weeks i will work on capturing these birds in flight,and maybe with a bit of luck il get some images of the young once they have emerged from the nest and start to take to the river.

One of the most important factors in the success of getting these images was the use of camouflage clothing and a good camo scrim.

Eden Otter grabs a Salmon.....

Eden Otter with a large Salmon Kelt

The first image to be added to this section is of the Otter that i witnessed grab a large Salmon in the lower Eden at Carlisle.This took place back in early 2011 we had just got through the best part of a hard winter which saw the river frozen over for a couple of weeks on end making times hard for the local wildlife in there search for food.On this bright March morning i was watching a large Dog Otter cruising around the NB Pool below the Waverely bridge,seemingly fairly inactive as it porpoised its way down to the lip of the" bay"( a good stream that flows to the pumphouse) All of a sudden it vanished into the depths,nothing unusual as they do this all the time as they search for food it wasnt until there was a huge disturbance on the surface of the high flowing water that i began to realize that there was about to be some out of the ordinary action about to take place! With camera on the tripod and the exposure roughly set for the light conditions i followed the Otter as it crashed and thrashed downstream in an intense wrestling match with its prey.I wasnt one hundred percent sure what the Otter had grabbed i thought it was probably a large Eel or Lamprey that it had grasped but then as it won its battle and turned on the surface of the water i saw the head of a large Cock Salmon gripped in the Otters jaws as it made for the gravel bank opposte to where i was now lying.Once the fish was heaved onto the gravel the size of the fish could be seen to be in the region of 15lb plus! a Salmon that had spawned in the late autumn and wasnt at its best as it was seized by the hungry Otter.I watched the otter feed on this fish for over an hour before it decided to slide back into the river and sneak off downstream.Most of the fish was gone with only skin and bone left on the gravel for seagulls to fight over! 

Geography of the images

Carlisle marked on the map,this is where the bulk of the images come from

Occasionally i am asked where Carlisle is mainly by overseas visitors to the site so i have added a map of Great Britain to show its position.It has been known for peaple in the south of England to think that Carlisle lies on the Scottish side of the Border.

Salmon making its way up the Caldew...

A Salmon rushes upstream in the River Caldew

I am often asked about the Salmon fishing images from the fishing section,and the above image in particular has been questioned a number of times.This image of a grilse speedily thrashing its way over the concrete sill bellow the homehead weir in Carlisle was taken in December 2004.A Grilse is a Salmon that has typically spent one year at sea returning to the river at a size of up to 8lb, but in the Eden 5-6lb is the typical Grilse weight in July-August when they move into the system.Homehead weir is a steep fall which was erected for the textile industry which had a factory mill on the banks of the Caldew in this part of the River (now a block of flats).The weir prevents fish from gaining any further ground upstream,a pass built into the corner of the weir is there only way through the blockade which is a closed pass controlled by the Environment Agency.This image was taken on the back of a very productive season for Salmon migrating into our rivers and they were filling the river in high numbers making this an easy picture to get.Unfortunately the past few years have seen a large decline in the numbers of Salmon and Seatrout entering our rivers and the Caldew in particular has seen a big decline.This decline on the Caldew in my opinion is due to a large amount of fish spawning below the weir year after year in the lower reaches of the river which has made them vunerable to large deposits of gravel covering the redds due to a lot of flooding that we are seeing over the last several years.Where in the past build ups of gravel below the weir was removed on a regular basis where now a regulation stopping the removal of the loose gravel was brought in a good number of years ago by Natural England has left huge amounts of gravel to be pushed downstream filling in the spawning beds of the river which over time has reduced our stocks of Salmon which we are now seeing the affect of.This is one of the major factors in the reduction of fish in the Caldew in my opinion and of course there are a few other factors in the mix from the sea to the spawning beds which i wont go into here. 

Otter on the frozen Eden images...

An Otter walks across the frozen river Eden 2010

The winter of 2010 saw long spells of low temperatures sending the Eden into a big freeze with the above image taken on a morning with the temperature sat at minus 12 degrees! With these low temperatures came a hard time for the wildlife of the lower Eden with Kingfishers finding it impossible to feed, there only hope was to drop to the coast to survive.During this big freeze the animals that are normaly active during the night had to resort to coming out during the day when the temperature was slightly higher than the dead of night even if it was only by a degree or two!

20 1/2 LB Salmon from the Eden

Stephen Thompson with the large Salmon from the lower Eden

Fishing enthusiasts have asked me about the Salmon i took back in 1999 on the Carlisle Angling stretch.This fish was taken on a clear falling water at the cally stream on a flying c spinning lure.Back in the 90s there was no restrictions on the fishing, this was before the two fish a day and the returning of Hen fish, it was also a time before the uprise in fly fishing on the Eden when the main method was the spinner.It wasnt long after this time when the big fly craze came about.This Salmon was taken in early October from the old powerstation wall which had been cleaned of overgrowth in the spring before.After a battle which lasted nearly 30 minutes the fish was hand tailed by a good friend of mine Walter Graham.These were good days on the river of which i doubt we will ever see again in my lifetime unfortunatley.

Roe Deer close up

Roe Deer

The image of a Roe Deer Deer bust was taken in 2011 near Bowness on Solway i managed to stalk three female Roe's that were feeding in a field on the edge of a small wood,flat on the ground i sneaked up to them. Within 20ft of the feeding Deer they started to realise that something wasnt right,they became very curious as they circled me in the dimming light.The Deer in the image above ran right upto me and jumped over me! it was an incredible sight,unfortunatley the sun was dropping down as it was an evening when i took this image.