Saturday, 30 April 2011

A Mornings Walk

How often Out for a walk this morning making the most of my continuing time off and decent weather, I had no plans to see anything or take any particular photographs and so decided to travel ‘light’, packing a 400mm, 105mm macro and zoom wide angle lenses along with the camera.  Having been used to carrying around the 500mm lens, this seemed positively feather weight.

As it was early morning and overcast, I thought I could try taking some landscapes, something I haven’t done for a while apart from the odd chance one, but the sun came out making the light too harsh, so instead watched some Rabbits from a distance feeding in the tall grass.  Two them disappeared leaving just one by itself, which carried on feeding until nervously, bounding ten metres away then stopping and looking back.  I wasn’t really serious in taking photographs of them at such a distance and was just happy enjoying the sunshine and watching them, when suddenly a flash of reddish brown streaked towards the remaining one and chased it into some bushes – it was a Fox and I never even saw it coming!

Both it and the Rabbit disappeared into the undergrowth and it was over before I could train my lens onto the action.  I waited thinking the Fox was likely to return the same way as I had seen a Fox here before and knew its route.  I also felt the Rabbit would have probably been food for some cubs and didn’t really give much hope for its chances as it was heading away from the burrows when trying to escape and so had nowhere to go.  Ironically, 30 minutes before I was in a closer position, where had I remained, I would have had a front stand view of the incident.  A further

20 minutes and no sign of either so I went back to that previous vantage point hoping I might yet see the Fox returning.


Within minutes of being back in the position two Magpies were in the spot were Fox and Rabbit disappeared and both birds were making a typical warning sound so I new the Fox must still be around and so trained my lens where it might come out.  Normally I don’t like Magpies (from a photographers point) as when they make those warning sounds it ‘s usually because of me and I’m pretty sure other animals recognise these warnings too and so they are warned of my presence.  However, if I know it is not due to me then they can be a great help  for finding predators, having seen Foxes and Sparrowhawks before due to Magpies mobbing them.

This was one of those times as, out of the bushes, came the Fox.  Problem was I was upwind from it now and it must have got me scent of me almost straight away as it immediately looked in my direction, giving me barely a chance to focus and take one image, when it legged it across into some other bushes.  I don’t like to chase after wildlife, but even if I had done, I wouldn’t have had a chance of finding it in all that undergrowth and so decided to have a walk around and return later.  Had I been carrying around my camouflaged netting which I normally do, the Fox may not have been so spooked as at least I would have been hidden.


I returned back about and hour and a half later  to the position I first saw the Fox as this gave me the widest view point.  Within a short space of time I saw the unmistakable top half of a Fox in the tall grass going in the same direction it went when I spooked it.  Either it had come back during the time I had gone or this was a different one.  Once again I had picked the wrong spot though at least  I was downwind now.  I was starting to think packing ‘light’ was the wrong decision now – ironic since this was only the second time in over a year that I didn’t go out with the 500mm.  I managed to rattle off a few shots before it once more disappeared into the grass. 

In the photograph below, you can see the original bushes just above and beyond the top of the Fox, where it had originally chased the Rabbit into.


With the Fox gone I carried on walking around and nearly trod on this Toad.  I wonder how many of us actually look around us and at where we are walking when we are out in the wilds.


With the morning coming to an end and little else stirring, I thought I would try my hand at some bird in flight shots.  Something I’ve never really tried to do but with the a Mk IIn camera and Canon 400mm, renown for being ideal for photographing birds flying, I messed around with the different settings and practiced on anything that flew by.  My feeble attempts at the Swifts didn’t go too well.  It was hard enough just to keep them in the frame, never mind keep them in focus! 

Photographing Crows and Rooks, which are black and Seagull, which are white also gave a few technical problems due to exposure and so tried compensation and spot metering.  The bright sunshine at least help me keep a high shutter speed and stopping down the aperture for a greater depth of field.  I hope to dedicate a few days out over the coming months to trying more birds in flight with the 400mm.



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