Some of my favourite photos

Saturday 29 August 2015

Bird Survey

My local wood group does quite a few surveys of the wood throughout the year.
They can be surveys on moths, bats, birds, fungi, butterflies and small mammals. 
I have been on quite a few of them and they are always really interesting to walk around the woods with an expert who can show you much more than you would ever see on your own.
This morning we went out on a bird survey with Simon and Ray.
The bird surveys are done a few times a year and they stop in several set places in the wood and record the birds in that area and then compare them to how it changes throughout the year.
During the survey we spotted
Blue tits
Great tits
Marsh Tits
Long tailed tits
Coal tits
Greater spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Red Kite
Stoke Doves
Wood Pigeons
Tree creepers
Lots of Goldcrests
Also heard a Buzzard but didn't see one.
As well as lots of grey squirrels

Simon and Ray were brilliant at identifying not only the calls of different types of birds but the different types of calls, such as a contact call, and could tell which bird was around before I could even see a bird.

Green Woodpecker


 On the way out of the woods, I spotted a particular Roe deer that I haven't seen before with marking on its face.


Wednesday 26 August 2015

Inspirations, influences and Birdfair

Over the weekend I spent two days at Birdfair. Birdfair is an annual event, based at Rutland Water, focusing on everything and anything to do with birds as well as other animals.
I had an amazing time meeting people that I talk to on social media, such as Lucy McRobert, Billy Stockwell, Toby Carter, Evie Miller and Josie Hewitt as well as seeing old friends such as Georgia Locock, Ben Long and The BBC Wildlife Magazine team .
One of the best things about Birdfair is going to talks such as the one on Friday evening with Georgia Locock and Josie Hewitt interviewing Chris Packham, Simon King and Nick Baker,  but the highlight of the weekend was going to see Charlie Hamiltion James's talks.
Charlie Hamilton James is one of the main reasons I picked up a camera and started taking photos of wildlife after I watched Halcyon River Diaries a few years ago.
Over the two days I was there, I went to three of his talks, each one was slightly different and containing so much technical information that I needed to go to all 3 to get my head around everything.

Here are two of the things I mostly remember.
When taking photographs of wildlife, having the subjects eyes pin sharp is important.
If the photographer tells a story with a photo then the aim is to get the reader/viewer to connect with the subject, so sometimes it is good to get a background in to show what is going on.

Every photographer has their own style and every person who looks at a photo knows what they like or dislike.

I use a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, I like to use this camera because it's a bridge camera with a long lens as well as different settings. I mainly take photos around my local patch but sometimes visit places. I have just started on my photography journey and still have loads to learn and develope my own style.

Over the past week I have taken lots of photos of  Brown Hares (Lepus europaeus). I think 100's of photos is a lot but I was amazed to hear that Charlie Hamilton James takes thousands.

I like the first photo because its a nice close up of the Hare trying to blend in with the cut straw, everything in the photo is sharp but the straw is kind of covering part of the Hares face.
My local Hares are very shy and it takes a lot of time to get this close to them.

I also like the photo below it because it singles out the Hare in its environment. It shows the Hare coming out into the cut wheat to eat the green shoots but they stay close to the uncut maize so when the Hare is spooked it can run to hide from danger, the Hares are always alert.

These are two photos taken this morning in my garden, of a Male Green Woodpecker.
 When I take lots of photos it is always hard to choose one or two to go on my blog.
I prefer the second Woodpecker photo because it shows him looking over his shoulder, this is because there was another Woodpecker in a tree the other side of my garden and they were communicating to each other.

Althought this isn't a very clear photo because its at the end of my lens and the light is wrong as the sun was just setting, I like it because it still shows that this Buzzard is in fact H3. 
H3 is a Buzzard that I have been following and photographing for about a year. It is always nice to see H3 and to know she is still around. I also saw her and her mate a couple of days ago with what looks like a young Buzzard which I hope is one of their young.
She had just eaten before I took this photo and had spent a little while wiping her beak on the branch, unfortunately with her back to me.

 This type of fungi was in my local patch, I don't know what it is.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Stoke Gabriel, Devon and Land's End, Cornwall

The Mill pond in Stoke Gabriel is one of my favourite places to go when we are down in Devon. It is a tidal Mill pond that has a dam across it, filling each time the tide comes in.
It is a great place to see waterbirds.
It was fascinating to watch this Heron really slowly creep around knee high in water after fish.

Banksy - Rat with camera - in Babbacombe

The photo of this Buzzard was taken at The Eden Project. Over the outer edge of the old Quarry there were 5 or 6 Buzzards riding on the thermals.

The Jackdaws and Rabbits at Landsend are so used people walking past them every day that they were very easy to take photos of.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

A coastal path walk with Peregrines

We started our Coastal path walk at Brownstone car park, as soon as I stepped out of the car a cold breeze flew into my face, the sun was out but it was difficult to feel the warmth through the wind.
Bird's were tweeting from every direction especially a distinctive call of a Peregrine coming from down the hill where we were heading.
After reaching Daymark Tower a Peregrine came swooping down over the treeline only meters away from the grass, gliding as it flew.
The Peregrine flew into the opposite field, it was joined by two others which were all flying in different directions. A couple of times they came together, crying into the wind.
After a few encounters one of the Peregines flew in the direction to Newfoundland Cove, the other flew straight to Froward cove and the last Peregrine headed out to the cliff face. 

Daymark Tower

On arriving at the lookout post, lots of squawking could be hearded. Suddenly a Raven appeared over the tree tops followed by a Peregrine chasing it.
We knew that it was a Raven because of it's distinctive deep call - Cr-r-ruck.
The Raven tried to lose the Peregrine by swooping and diving thougth the trees whilst the Peregrine  kept dive bombing the Raven.
Looking at the photos you can see the size difference with the wing span of the Raven averaging 130cm and the Peregrine being smaller at around 110cm
Eventually the Raven and Peregrine flew behind the trees still fighting.

Half way along the coastal path we stopped to listen to the obvious sound of chicks calling as a parent approaches. It was the Peregrine who flew in and disappeared into the ferns on the cliff face. A few seconds later it reappeared, flew off and return 3 or 4 more times while we sat and watched.
The Peregrine doesn't build a nest, but scrapes a shallow hole called an Eyrie in grass or earth on a cliff face.
Even looking through my binoculars I couldn't make out the chicks as they were so well hidden.

The walk along the coast was extremely challenging as some parts had to be done on hands and knees, but it was worth it for the views of the coast, the Peregrines, the seals and the exercise!

Outer Froward point

Sunday 16 August 2015

A friendly seal in Devon

Each year we go to the same beach in Devon to see a couple of friendly seals.
Two years ago there was a huge bull seal nicknamed 'Sammy' by the local people who was very used to being hand fed and having people in the water with him. There was also a much younger, smaller seal that had a pale underbelly with dark spots.
Last year when we went to visit them both seals were around, but there were lots of people jumping off the end of the breakwater so the seals stayed well away from the shore.
This year the older, bigger seal was not around on the day we went down, although somebody on the beach did say that 3 seals are there most days.
The seal we went in the water with was the young, small one from two years ago although it is not so small any more.
We kept our distance from the seal and let him swim close to us if he wanted to. He was quite curious and came over to us, but then went back to the breakwater where he was being fed by the fishermen.
'Sammy's' main diet should be fish and crustaceans but unfortunately we watched him being fed chips and other takeaway food.

As the tide came in so did lots of Compass jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella). These jellyfish do sting, but we had full wetsuits and gloves on (and didn't get closer enough). Their diet is mainly plankton and they live to around one year.

Friday 14 August 2015

Dolphin watching (Porpoises) at Berry Head in Devon

Last year we went dolphin watching in Cardigan Bay in Wales. 
When we decided to come to Devon this summer we looked up if there was anywhere that we might see dolphins from the shore.
Berry Head near Torbay seemed to have the best recorded sightings over the past month.
After researching last year that dolphins can be seen just before high tide we worked out that high tide at Berry Head would be 12.30pm on the day we were visiting.
We climbed up through the Nature reserve and sat down right on the cliff edge. The sun was shining and the sea was quite flat so it was easy to spot anything on the water. At first we noticed patches of sea weed and lots of jellyfish floating past.
Roughly around 12.45pm we saw what we thought was 3 Common dolphins, over the next 30 minutes we watched a group of 3 and a group of 2 go back and foward around the buoys in front of us.
On looking back at the photos I think they look more like Harbour Porpoises as they have shorter snouts.
These photos are right at the end of my lens

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Photogenic hare

I spent the morning hiding behind a hay bale taking around 70 photos of this hare. 
He/she came out of the tall maize, had a few long stretches, scratched behind its ears, washed a bit, then sank down into a form. 
I thought that was going to be it but the hare got up after a few minutes, looked around, scratched again, hopped about nibbling at the small shoots of grass that are coming up between the stubble. 
After an hour or so the hare disappeared back into the maize.
I'm quite pleased with some of the photos.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

A quick walk around the field and flying ants

After tea this evening we went on a quick walk around the field. I am always amazed at how much wildlife can be seen.
The local farmer has spent the last couple of days cutting the wheat field and this evening 3 hares were out in the open.
In the hedgerow the birds hopped around before they settled down for the night and two deers stalked along the edge of the woods.
At the moment the most we see of the badgers is a rustle in the grass or a glimpse of dark grey running across an open patch.

The blackberries and elderberries are ripening, we ate a handful of blackberries on the way home.

Back in our garden the whole of the area around our bug hotel is moving with ants. The flying ants come out of the ground, climb to a high spot and take off in to the air.
When I tried to look up information on flying ants all I could find was articles about how to get rid of them, which I don't want to. They are only around for a few hours then all that is left is a pile of fine soil.