Wheatears on Dartmoor in Devon England, A New Wildlife Photography Venture & Special Offer

August 19, 2016  •  2 Comments

During the last week or so, whilst walking Murphy I have been searching for a very beautifully coloured bird which seems to frequent the rocks on Dartmoor in Devon, England. They are a summer visitor, a little larger than a Robin, and they migrate here from their wintering grounds in Central Africa. The male is particularly pretty with the top of their head and shoulders being blue-grey, their wings being black and a light orange chest. It is striking with its black mask with a white outline across the front of its face. When in flight you will see its white rump and black tail as it flies away from you. Females are browner / buff coloured and juveniles are light brown with speckles. Their Latin name is Oenanthe oenanthe and they are part of the Chats family. I am of course talking about the Wheatear.


Earlier in the year they were in abundance on the moor, especially juveniles, and mostly where there is bare granite showing.

Juvenile WheatearJuvenile Wheatear

Recently I have only seen 2 adults and 4 juveniles so I can only assume that they have either moved on from this area of Dartmoor or they have started on their long journey back to Central Africa. I can’t wait to see them back next year in April / May.


For the past few weeks I have not done much wildlife photography which is really disappointing for me. Within those weeks I continued writing my wildlife photography blog and recently started posting photos in my blog. This entailed taking up more of my time with the post production of images and less time out and about with my camera. I also would like to start a new venture with my wildlife photography (see details below). Therefore I have decided to cut back on my wildlife photography blog and will only blog once a month from the beginning of September 2016. The blog will still be along the same lines as before which will include photography hints, tips and what has occurred in the previous month with my photography exploits and progress updates on wildlife at my nature reserve and on Dartmoor. This will probably mean that the blog will be longer and more detailed. I would like to thank everyone who has commented on my blogs, website and Facebook posts, your comments are most appreciated and I hope you will continue to let me know what you think of my photography work in the future.

If you have been reading my weekly blogs you will know that I am nearing retirement, it is now only 2 years away (Yee Ha!). Throughout my life I have been interested in photography from film, where I used to process my slides, to digital photography. During this time I have gained a vast amount of both technical and artistic information and knowledge, learning photography secrets from my own experiments and from professional photographers. Therefore I have decided to combine my hobby of wildlife photography, with my teaching abilities and will be tutoring on some wildlife photography workshops. So to put the wheels in motion I have decided to start a selection of wildlife photography workshops in the months of April and May 2017. Although I state that it is wildlife photography, as you can tell from my images, it will be mainly birds to begin with, but any kind of wildlife could put in an appearance during the workshops. The workshops will be held mostly within the Dartmoor National Park in Devon, England and will be for beginners and intermediate photographers who want to learn real wildlife photography. Within my wildlife photography workshop package I have tried to include as much as possible to help you learn and improve all the aspects of being a wildlife photographer from using your camera, through the picture taking process, to the end image and post production workflow. The beginners workshop will be a 3 day course as I will be teaching you how to use your camera and the intermediate’s workshop is 2 days. You can book extra days if you wish and this will allow me to take you to more locations.

Bed and Breakfast accommodation is included in the workshop price, staying in our spacious and highly regarded “Acorn Lodge” for details please go to www.acorn-lodge-dartmoor.co.uk . If you have photography or non-photography friends or family they can also join you, up to 3 extra people can stay in the lodge which sleeps 4 people in one double bedroom and one twin bedroom. (Please see prices below). Therefore the group size could be from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 4 people. Only if there are 2 photographers, unknown to each other, enrolled on the same course will you have to share the lodge otherwise you will have the lodge to yourself.

Beginners Workshop – 3 nights

Check-in time to the accommodation will be 4pm with a Devonshire Cream Tea on arrival and the workshop will begin at 5pm with a “meet and greet”. We will discuss your wildlife photography needs and draw up an action plan for your workshop. The next day after a hearty breakfast you will receive tuition on your camera and photography in general, before going out on location for the rest of the day returning at approximately 5pm, depending on the light (packed lunch is included). The following day will start at sunrise when we will go out on location, returning later for breakfast. After breakfast we will go back out again returning at about 5pm, depending on the light (packed lunch is included). On the last day, after breakfast you will learn about the post processing workflow of digital photography until 12 noon. Finally, check-out from the accommodation will be at 1pm.

The workshop will consist of learning how to use your Camera, Lenses, Autofocus modes, ISO, Settings, Exposure modes, Metering, File types, Depth of field, White balance, Histogram etc.

How to use light including front, side and backlight to achieve different images.

Learning where wildlife can be found, reconnoitring an area for wildlife.

Types of hide and Camouflage and where to use them.

Taking the photo, Focus, Exposure compensation, Composition, Background etc.

Post production workflow using Lightroom and Photoshop.

Although I have stated the above please use it only a guide as the workshop can be adjusted and tailor-made to suit your individual needs.

The Special Introductory price for this workshop including tuition, accommodation, breakfasts, packed lunches and all excursions is £330

Extra nights are £110 per night.

There are several local Inns which serve excellent food for your evening meals (not included).

Intermediates Workshop – 2 nights

The workshop will be as the Beginners Workshop but emitting the camera learning part unless you need help in this area (If so, you may consider an extra night).

Although I have stated the above please use it only a guide as the workshop can be adjusted and tailor-made to suit your individual needs.

The Special Introductory price for this workshop including tuition, accommodation, breakfasts, packed lunches and all excursions is £220

Extra nights are £110 per night.

There are several local Inns which serve excellent food for your evening meals (not included).


You will need to provide your own camera equipment, preferably a DSLR with the longest lens you own. Any lens or a zoom from 400mm up to 600mm is ideal but a 300mm plus a converter will suffice. Please bring a waterproof cover for you camera and lens. You will also require a tripod or a monopod and spare memory cards.

Please bring the manual for your camera.

Clothing – Please bring appropriate clothing to keep you warm and dry. Preferably a waterproof camouflaged or muted dark coloured jacket, waterproof trousers or leggings, hat and waterproof boots.

Please bring your own laptop computer to view your images as although there is Wi-Fi in Acorn Lodge, for you to use, there are no computing facilities.

Prices for extra guests

A non-photographer guest is £49 per person per night including a Devonshire Cream Tea on arrival, accommodation and breakfast.

If any person would like to attend a wildlife photography workshop then please contact me using the link above or below this blog or, send an email to acornlodgetheoaks@gmail.com and specify dates preferred and whether you require a Beginners or Intermediate Workshop.


Julie West(non-registered)
Recently spent time down at Acorn Lodge. I'm related to Bridget and Robin so went out across the moor with Robin and my camera. I'm a real novice but he shared his knowledge in language I could understand and came away with a few professional looking pictures. Don't think about it. Book it. You won't regret it.
Craig Macinnes
Great idea with the workshops Robin. You have a wealth of knowledge and a nice way of putting it across. Might be a nice excuse to get down to visit your part of the world
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