Saturday, 17 April 2010

Spring has finally sprung…Part II

With the weather finally throwing together more and more decent days of almost summer like weather, I headed out with my camera.  With the approaching summer comes the lighter mornings which are a mixed blessings.  On the downside the morning ‘Golden hour’ is obviously getting earlier – this time isn’t only good for landscapes but it’s when a lot of wildlife are active, many nocturnal animals are finishing their ‘nightshift’ and returning to their day holdups.  The plus side is the light is better for photographing with long lenses.  At 8:30am, the woods were lit up by a sun that was already quite high in the sky, with sunrise being two and a half hours before.

By now, I should have learnt to have my camera ready as soon as I hit location as within five minutes of walking into the woods I heard a rustling coming towards me, then suddenly there was a Fox running in my direction out of nowhere which stopped in front of me about fifteen feet, sat down, panted a bit and looked around.  I froze  knowing it would at any moment see me standing there and get one hell of a fright  and be off a darn sight quicker than it came, but amazingly it didn’t look in my direction.  It stood up, looked around again – not in my direction – sniffed the ground around it and then started walking away.

My camera was in my backpack and so I thought I would quietly get this off and take it out and with luck get a shot of it walking away, but before I could it came back again, still looking around but again not in my direction.  How could it possibly not see me standing there in the open!   It slowly walked passed, even closer than before, sniffing the ground and again I thought it was going to see me any moment – it didn't except it just continued up a wooded path.
I finally managed to get my pack off and camera out.  I new where the fox was going as thanks to all the tracks in the snow in winter I new where all their runs where so new where I might see it again and thanks to my newly acquired powers of invisibility, I might be able to get a photo of it this time. 

To be honest, I think even if I did have my camera ready, I wouldn’t have taken a photograph of it.  It was so close that  if it didn’t see me move it would have certainly have  heard the shutter and seeing a human so close to it would have given it a major fright and somehow this would have spoilt what felt like an amazing moment.  I’ve been close to Foxes before but I’ve always been hidden or concealed in some way.  The Fox would hear the shutter, look in my direction, but with their eye sight not being that acute, tend to just stare in my direction, not being able to make me out.  This Fox would have had to be blind not to know exactly what I was.  I follow my own set of  rules in photographing wildlife and one is to not  put any undue stress on the animals – no more than I would if I was a person simply walking through the woods – probably less so since I make little noise and keep still if I am spotted.

With my camera and lens now unpacked and ready I started out to a point I thought I would be able to see it walk down a long path, but before getting there, stumbled upon three Roe Deer.  My powers of invisibility must have warn off because they did see me, so I stopped still as did they and starred at me.  As with Foxes, Roe Deer don’t have great sight and so they tend to stare at you to see if you are a threat.  After a quick stand off, they continued on their way and with the Fox likely to be long gone, I continued on my way.IMG_5796

One thing I’m good at is walking quietly through the woods.  One thing I am not good at is concentrating  on what’s around me when I do, as I tend to start thinking about other things which is when I suddenly come face to face with some wildlife – I’ve done this twice with a Sparrowhawk on its kill, Foxes and today, on three occasions, with Deer.  If was paying more attention, I would have seen them earlier and managed to take a good photo, as I’ve often managed in the past. (See image right taken with a 300mm lens).

After seeing plenty but photographing little I decided to head for the wetlands area hoping to maybe see my first Kingfisher of the year.  No Kingfishers.  I wonder if the bad winter has taken its toll on them.  There was a few birds including the one below.  I’m not an expert on Ducks but I believe this below is a Garganey and quite rare in these parts.


The only other activity were a couple of Reed Buntings which were precariously perching to and from reeds that swayed and bent under their weight.  Unfortunately, later, I realised I had forgot to return the over exposure compensation I had set on my camera, which has caused these to look a bit ‘washed out’.

With the large amounts of snow and rain we’ve had this year, quite a few parts of this area were partly flooded which will mean it will probably be even worse than last year for Mosquitoes, so I will have to make the most of the comings months until the little blood sucking vampires hatch.  This should give me time to photography Fox cubs this year, something I’ve set myself to do in 2010.


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