Sunday, 25 July 2010

Bits ‘n’ bobs

Not through want of trying, have I had little to put in this blog over the last few weeks.  A combination of the weather and lack of opportunity has meant I have only had a few photographic opportunities.  At this time of year you would think it would be ideal – long summer days, warm sunshine – unfortunately, during my days off, the weather has been unpredictable, windy and cloudy.  Most wildlife tend to be active dawn and dusk of which I find dawn the best time to go as there is less human disturbance (who’s crazy enough to want to get up at the crack of dawn!), so it’s hard to get to location at the right time.  Oddly, one of the biggest disadvantages is the vegetation.  Walking through one of my local woods, it’s very hard to see anything (see image below).  Birds hide in the foliage, mammals are hidden, the amount of times I have ‘stumbled’ upon a Roe deer or Fox recently, not seeing them until the last minute.  The ponds I like to visit to watch Kingfishers in particularly, are covered in reeds and a layer of weed.

At other times of the year, even winter, I’m happy just sitting quietly and wait for the wildlife to come to me if I’m in a wood.  In the summer there are the mosquitoes and midges to contend with.  Despite this, with great enthusiasm I ventured to various locations at the weekend, firstly the woodlands.


Typical woodland at this time of year


I arrived late, at least two hours after sunrise, and so I expected much of the mammal wildlife had taken to their day retreats, though walking along the side of the woods I came across this male Roe Deer working its way along the edges.  Unfortunately, because of the foliage I was unable to get a clear image of him through my lens, so moving parallel to it, to a place which was open, I waited for it to move into sight.  It didn’t show.   After moving to the edge of the ripening wheat field, I saw why.  Another male from an adjoining wood made an appearance and this one had gone to investigate.  After a short while it moved away from the stranger, but I lost track of it in the depths of the wheat.


Down at the lake was just as quiet as the woods with just a Heron and Little Grebe fishing.  Later one Heron was chased off by another for the prime fishing spot.  Both Grebe and Heron seemed to be finding plenty to eat.  View of the Heron was largely obscured by reeds blowing in the wind so the images have some green streaks.


On the Sunday I went to one of the local hides in the hope of seeing a Kingfisher, which, this time last year, was making a regular appearance.  This year, however, the pond was covered largely by a layer of weed and the nicely placed branch used as a perch by the bird was only being used by a few juvenile Swallows.


Walking along the River Derwent, I found a quiet spot and sat down under a tree as it was raining on and off.  After a while, a Dipper came along, working its way upstream.  Despite the photographs looking quite bright, it was at a section of the river which was quite dark due to the trees on either side and so it was actually quite difficult to get an image, with the best shutter speed I was getting less than 1/200 so with a 500mm  lens plus a converter, I struggled to get any sharp images at such a low shutter speed.  Anyone who has watched a Dipper also know they don’t tend to stay still for very long, bobbing its head constantly.

Occasionally, a Kingfisher would flash by making its high pitched call that’s often the first sign there is a Kingfisher in the area.  Unfortunately, this part of the river is very popular with people out for a walk and so I haven’t managed to find where they do their fishing, guessing that it’s likely to be somewhere inaccessible and away from human disturbance.


With some time off work I’m hoping to get a bit of good weather and get out as much as possible.  Kingfishers will be my top priority to photograph and with any luck, maybe a few Foxes thrown in.


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