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Time, Business & Mental Health

The only advantage of being unemployed for four months in the year, is that I've got time to develop myself and finally start my own business. My choice to start this business was one made out of self pride, as I could well have signed on and claimed off the government, but I've been there before and during in that low period in my life, I found it extremely damaging to my mental health. Weekly visits to the Job Centre, being sent to interviews that had no relevance to me was really hard. I once attended an interview with only a nights notice from Job Seekers, only to find out during the interviewing process that the position was for a financial manager. I've had no experience in anything financial at the time, I didn't even have my GCSE Maths! Yet Job Seekers sent me on that interview, for the sake of ticking a few boxes on a sheet of paper. Never again. 

Anyway, I just wanted to point out the importance of mental health issues and if you think you're experiencing some of your own, seek help. It's far more important than a few numbers in the bank account as this stays with you your entire life. 

Gavin Vella Naturalist

For now, the business is going to run under 'Gavin Vella Naturalist'. While i'll be selling physical products like Photography and Sound Recording, I'll also be offering my services for all sorts of training, from Wildlife ID, Bird/Song ID, Photography, Sound Recording and general wildlife guide tours. 
I've already started training, my first session being for GWT which was an introductory course into Sound Recording. Getting that first one out of the way has really helped build my confidence and the feedback I got was also really helpful. 

Keep an eye on this space, I'll be making my prices available soon and my one off signed prints will be located HERE once I've sorted the stock.

For now I'll leave you with some Winter wonderland pictures from south sebastopo's stretch of the brecon & mon Canal. 


Spent a lot of time close to home this weekend. Even walked around Cwmbran Boating Lake which is especially busy on the weekends which I generally try to avoid. Glad I visited though as I did record a Marsh Tit on arrival and had a great time watching early spring behaviour coming from the waterfowl / Great Spotted Woodpeckers that have already lined up a few nesting holes ready for spring. 

Last night I gave my second ever talk, this time at Gwent Ornithological Society' AGM meeting. Still not a massive fan of talking in front of people but it was received well with some very good questions at the end which proved they were listening lol. On a serious note, my talk was on Mimicry in birds, something that is a difficult topic to talk about considering how much mimicry happens day-to-day. 

Today also saw a small flock of Waxwing at Morrisons Carpark in Cwmbran! Finally starting to get some local sightings. They weren't showing very well though due to the activity there, they seemed a bit shy compared to the urban sightings I've had so far. 

Old Man Photography

For those expecting photos of old men, sorry to disappoint you. The only old man today was the person taking the photos, or at-least, that is how I feel currently with back problems. Despite that I tried my best today with good friend Ian Howells. Spent more time in the car today driving around to different locations but I'll let you decide if the results paid off. I'm pretty happy with some of the photos from today with some decent light for a change. 

Store Improvements

You may have noticed (probably not) but I've removed the store from the menu bar. Nobody  ever visited that page because for quite sometime, the only product in there was a used teleconverter that I've never used... This is all about to change however, and in the not so distant future (once Paypal sort themselves out) I'll have lots of merchandise for you to purchase. I'm in the process of creating my own small business and with it, partnering up with some of my local printers. If you like Mugs, Pillows, Canvas', Aluminium Prints, Keychains, Clocks ect, they'l all be available soon! I'm so excited to see how this goes and move forward. 

On the wildlife front, everyone seems to be going mad, with Waxing sightings popping up everywhere in South Wales. I personally haven't had any time to get see them yet but hopefully will find some time this weekend so I can show you what all the fuss is about. Waxwing' are winter migrants to this country and only ever come down this far when the Berry crop in Scandinavia runs out or isn't enough to sustain them through the winter. They arrive mostly down the East coast and have been sighted in England / Scotland in the last couple months but finally, they've started to turn up in Wales which is a huge treat, as they really are stunning little Birds, very exotic looking. 

For now, you'll have to enjoy these two photos from work. 

Winter Robin using car to warm up. 

Winter moon over Brecon

Work Goals

Geez! I'm absolutely shattered, the last couple weeks have been flat out in the lead up till Christmas with two assessments back to back. First, my B+E Trailer test which I was chuffed to pass and also I had my Chainsaw / Crosscutting assessment today, after a weeks crash course in Mid-Wales (Rhayadar) last week, which I also passed!. Fabulous part of Wales mind you! Red Kites everywhere, also saw a lot of Crossbill while felling with a Great Grey Shrike deep in the woodland too. Both physically and mentally draining however so ready for a 'relax' this Christmas. Doubt that'l happen but who knows! 


If you're following my flicker page  you'll see that I have been uploading a few pictures this month. I've started a winter feeding station at a remote location with a pop up hide set up, in the hope to get some of the more common species. I've noticed that wildlife photographers tend to neglect the common species of bird because either they find them boring or don't find them a challenge to photograph. I for one know how difficult it can be to get decent, natural images of these species so I'm going to try this winter to get some in the bag that I'm happy with. Here are a few so far. 

Road Trip

A hunt for Red Squirrels saw an early start of 3am this morning to get to North Wales for sun rise. The day didn't quite go to plan with a number of challenges, number 1 of which was Dog Walkers. I returned to the same woodland that brought me success last year but this time, on a weekend instead of a week day, which turned out to be a big mistake. Either way, the scenery in North Wales was spectacular and well worth the travel. In our time there we were entertained by the bubbling sounds of Curlew overhead, the whistling echoes of Wigeon and the scratching bark of  Nuthatches frantically stealing all the nuts we brought with us. 

Too much to talk about!

Please take the time to listen with a good pair of headphones (if you have a pair of course). Sound Quality doesn't get much better than this. It's a short recording of an evening chorus on my local moorland/woodland which was painted with the passing by of off-road bikers. Something that we're getting a lot more of lately. A group of 20 Bikers travelled from London just to rip up OUR local moorland... Very frustrating. 

In other news, it was nice to see 3 Oystercatchers stopping off this evening for a rest during their spring Migration to their breeding grounds. They looked very tired but were also very un-settled about staying with quite a lot of cars buzzing by the damn wall. You need only pop your head over the wall for them to fly off and circle the area before settling again. 

While you have your headphones on, this recording was taken during the evening chorus and before the Motorbikes turned up so I managed a fairly lengthy recording of this Robin. I did however capture a plane in the background which is near impossible this day and age to get anything but with planes going over every 5-10 minutes no matter where you are. 

This next recording deserves a blog post of its own to be honest as I could talk about this for hours. It's a manipulation of a Skylark recording that shows just how complex their song actually is. By slowing down the recording, you can pick out individual beats like it was a peace of music. Yet, even having slowed this recording 7 times slower than its original speed, the rhythms are still extremely fast and hard to comprehend! It's a drummers dream to reach speeds this fast and something we will never achieve as human beings without the aid of computers. Yet again, out-trumped by the natural world and we clearly still have a lot to learn, even with something that we consider a very human trait, after-all, we invented music right? I think not ;)

Never a rainy day for a Robin

Is there anything that will stop a Robin from singing? Not even the darkness of night these days is enough to silence Britain's National Bird. 

I'm sure you're familiar with this winter song 


Ok, that was easy. I know! but how beautiful! This guy is pretty tame (so long as I don't step out of the hide) so I've managed to get fairly close as you can see. 

Winter Robin Song

Winter Robin Song

Finally got around to recording the Winter Robin Song! Not ideal recording conditions with all this wind and rain but I just about managed to get some clear isolated recordings while hiding out of the wind beneath some thick bushes. You'll hear plenty of other Robins singing in the background back and forth this guy so I was spoiled with choice a bit. In the last section when the wind picks up, you'll also hear that this Robin has mimicked a couple phrases from either a Blue Tit or Great Tit.