Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Spring is sprung ......

My grebe project has come to an unexpected stop, and I'm not sure it will restart this year.  More to follow in due course.  I haven't done too much photography otherwise, except when I have been out walking the dog which is a shame because I had planned to try and work on my flower photography this year.  I've even bought some cheap LED lights to play around with rather than use flash.
The thing is I think I lack some patience for plant snapping.  I like the buzz of catching a bird before it moves on, but with plants you need to think about composition, lighting and have the time to do so - which isn't when you are walking the dog!  Some folks do it well - I especially like Sandra Bartocha and Radomir Jakubowski as well as Jodie Randall.  I bet none of them were trailing a whippet though.
Still a few shots below, many with the pocket camera:
 I haven't forgotten the mammals though, just not found time to go after them.  Later I hope to have a go for the badgers that have established a latrine in a local field,

but I hope I get my lens choice better than I did when trying to squeeze the fox into frame.

Look at those pearly white's though.

More orchids expected to come - determined to work out how to snap the twayblades this year.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bring the birds to you

My grebe project continues, but one of the frustrations is that I have absolutely no control over where the birds are - and sadly they could try harder!
In contrast my couple of feeding / drinking sites in the local woods mean I can tuck in and see what drops by.  Sadly the hide or camo set up at both sites has been nicked.  At the far site I have left in place a rather shabby looking little screen, but it means the birds are used to something there.

When I go along I take some netting and the birds do still come in. It's not the prettiest set up although from a distance you see nothing

 - don't really know how anyone found the camo gear.
Niger and sunflower seed are placed on various flat surfaces as well as on the ground, to encourage birds to land on the prop branches, etc. 

The water feature here is really too small and I struggle to get a good angle, but it does work and being smaller I can easily flush through regularly.

A few recent snaps below - found a nice piece of wood - including 2 different goldcrests - only one had the hint of orange.
In years gone by I have watched a number of times an adult feeding another adult during the breeding season -  most notably hawfinches. This snap of a robin pair is the first I've got though - tongues and all!

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Bumbarrels in the brambles

The grebes have been on eggs for a couple of weeks now, so action is slow and largely restricted to changeovers every hour or two.  Still worth some time, but my mind drifted to the long tailed tit nest in the briar patch behind me.  As the grebe activity has been at long range I had resorted to 1200mm of lens and my 1DIII with it's 1.3 crop factor to try and get something worthwhile. 
I could hear the tits churring as they worked through tree branches above and wondered if I could turn the lens at this high magnification to see the nest without going near and running the risk of disturbing them - or attracting attention to them, as many nests get predated.  Sure enough by moving a few feet to one side there was a window through the brambles.
The birds were going in and out periodically.  Not award winning images, but fascinating to watch.  The nest hole is snug and the birds squeezed through, almost popping out as the nest walls flexed, the mix of webs, lichen moss and feathers springing back into shape behind them.
 Fingers crossed they make it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Canadian bycatch

What is your view of introduced species?  I could live without pheasants (and the adders would thank us), but  love to see little owls.  If there were ring-necked parakeets locally I'd go and have a look.  Canada geese? In truth I probably see them as more of a nuisance species, and I've never headed out to snap them.
However my new project for this year is planned around an old estate lake and it is not short of CG's at present.  The access is limited but the accessible part of the lake is ideal for morning work, although to date the weather has largely messed up my plans.  I did get one morning a while ago when the weather and a free morning coincided, and I do think the site holds promise.
I'll hold back on posting my main targets as I think (hope) I will be able to build a better collection of shots (that pre-visualisation again) to post at a later date, but looking back at the snaps from that first session I really quite like the goose shots (although it's amazing/frustrating how the far shoreline is just at head height)

...... and one of a tufted duck.
From the calls I could hear in the background I also found a spot that might prove productive - know what it is?

Hopefully the main project will work out.  Here's one snap to start.

And the nest?  Long-tailed tit.  One for a remotely operated camera I think, but will need to make sure not to draw undue attention to it as I gather they are frequently predated.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Black and white on recycling

The fields up the road had some manure put in them - presumably to be spread around soon.  Always worth keeping an eye on. In the last few days I've noticed a few pipits - presumably meadow, and there was a buzzard once, but to start with it was all about the wagtails.
Although I never had imagined setting up camo gear next to a pile of poo I did spend a few hours over a couple of days.  I was bit surprised that the birds seemed quite wary, and I couldn't get very near them - the fact that there were several long heaps didn't help.  Frustratingly too they seemed to prefer the more rotted stuff - I could see they were finding lots of grubs, but it wasn't really photogenic! 

I think part of the problem was that the fresher manure was still quite active - on a cold morning the steam streamed up from it so presumably not so good for the foodstuff.  In the second field there was some straw laden manure that had been out a bit longer and on a frosty morning I finally got a few pics something like I had envisaged.  No close-ups, but I think they still work - and maybe better - the straw is quite big and might look a bit unbalanced in close up.
 That last shot is my favourite even though the bird is small in the frame, and that after a bit of cropping.  The dusting of frost adds something too.