Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Back to the woods

Our little community woodland is looking good this spring.  At least three of the nest boxes are in use - just tits, but hey it's good.

The feeding, drinking and bathing station now boasts a proper little hide and I think this will pay dividends, although the jay and crow still seem a bit nervous.  The woodpeckers are regular visitors at present to the woodpecker tree we put in - wondering whether to be a flycatcher

and a bit of shadow puppetry - note the bottom right hand corner.  Still it needs to learn to make more than a woodpecker.

The treecreeper isn't bathing at present, but it does like the woodpecker tree.

The woodpeckers also drink from the pool

 as does the woodpigeon.

I had a magpie down but struggled with framing.  One problem is the lens needed for a magpie doesn't work so well for a treecreeper.  Maybe I need to try the zoom.

A pair of asian longtailed woodchickens are prowling around - legs cropped to avoid showing the plastic bird table.

To close an new one for me.  The long tailed tits are enjoying the suet / fatballs, but one showed some acrobatic skills while it ate a sunflower seed.

Those legs don't look strong enough do they?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

If at first you don't succeed .........

Our early purple orchids crept up on me again, and I nearly missed them.

I had another short spell in my quest to do something a bit different flower snap wise.  I'm starting to learn how some of these images might work, but it is harder than it looks to get something worthwhile!  Truth is I need to spend some proper time on this.  Orchids, bluebells and our garden's little pink leaved horse chestnut species.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

The fox and the earth

Foxes have their habits.  Like badgers they stick to their paths, giving you the prospect of intercepting them.  Wild foxes are wary though so there is always some doubt about the prospects of getting a snap.  We had seen this vixen a few times crossing the newly worked field and always about the same time in the evening, so I took advantage of one of the deep ruts and bedded down early one evening to try my luck.
Sure enough she popped up, although not from the direction I expected.
I realised she knew something was in the field, but the advantage of a long lens and some scrim is that you are not obviously a person, so she just watched, leaving because she was heading on her way, not from fear.

Despite appearances in one shot no feeding used for this session.  Just a shame the light is shaded off the earth by this time as in the sun the colours would have glowed. 

In the woods the badger tracks run though the spring flowers. 

I had a shot in mind so another evening sat late to try my luck.  I did see a badger, but frustratingly the flash set up I tried misfired so this wasn't the standard I hoped.

Still you learn a bit more every time - like trying it out more first!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


That there are badgers in the area is obvious. In the fields and the woods we have found dung pits at various times.

In the woodland there are also obvious tracks through the anemones and celandine, the fallen tree slightly worn where claws and bellies have sanded the bark away.

Over a few months I had got a few badgers coming to a spot on a regular basis by scattering around a few peanuts.  We had seen them occasionally in the fading light, and then I worked on getting them to accept a bit of artificial light.  I only get out on some weekend nights so it has been a bit of a protracted process.  Very dim white light was OK, but a brighter light seemed to put them off.  Some red film over the lights, start again from a dim light and I had at least one (and the odd fox) coming out eventually into light enough to focus by.

Finally the night came to try a snap.  I resisted the temptation to take the fox - these wild ones are always a bit twitchy - but once the badger appeared and had been munching for a while I took a shot.  The badger looked up briefly, then it was head down again.

Before I started I thought I'd probably prefer some darker, moodier shots reflecting the night conditions, but now I'm not so sure.  The tree and flowers in the light behind look better than I envisaged.

I now have a second (cheap!) flash unit for a bit of a better balance and might try softening the light as well, so hopefully not too long before I get a chance to try again.  We have once seen three out, so would be good to catch a couple sometime.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Gold and silver (well, chrome)

The goldfinch numbers actually increased further, peaking at 15.  That meant a couple more teasel heads, and eventually the plan came together with the classic grumpy finch shot.

In the woods the celandine and anemones are in full flow, bluebells nearly there and the early purple orchids shouldn't be far behind.  As I have said before I'm a big fan of the macro snappers who produce those dreamy shots of flowers, maybe not even in focus, impressionistic shots.  I am determined to get the knack, but I just can't stop focusing!!  I'll keep trying........

A decomposing mudguard from a dead motorbike was a bit more photogenic than the rotting pallet truck - so nice to live near 'ancient' woodland.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Charm offensive

In recent weeks the numbers of goldfinches visiting the garden has been creeping up.  We've never reached the heights of Kay's parents who get them in the tens, but still a reliable and frequent visitor.  There are some snaps that are kind of staples for every bird photographers gallery, and the goldfinch on teasel is one of those.
So it was out with a bank stick and clamp, a teasel stem, some nijer seed for 'sprinkles', plant the prop near the feeders and keep an eye on the birds.  By day 2 there were fairly regular if not frequent visits, and some shots in the bag. 

Background might be better a bit more uniform, but I couldn't bring myself to start hanging up backgrounds in the garden.  I haven't actually posted my favourite as the subtlety will be lost on blogger.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Neon or pastel? Who cares - it's dry!

It felt good to get back to the woods again.  At last some dry weather and even a hint of sunshine saw me up at the far woodland feeding station, where the sunflower hearts and the nijer seed are now disappearing fast.  3 main options for snaps - an interestingly weathered tree stump with a central hollow for seed, a small puddle and various props positioned near the nijer 'plank'.
The usual finches and tits appeared, but the highlights were the siskins, pocket-sized but feisty males in full bling plumage, and the marsh tits - just as small, but possessed of a subtle pastel elegance.  The tree stump doesn't look quite as good as I hoped when I found it and the props should be dripping with lichen rather than bald and pale, but what the hell, they look OK.

I always hope for a hawfinch here, but not a tick to be heard yet.  There is still time this year, but I won't be holding my breath!