Sunday, 23 May 2010

Warbling Delight

With promises of it being the first day of summer weather on a weekend, this year, I managed to drag myself out of bed at 5:00 am this morning – it’s amazing how much more easier it is to do so at this time of year when it’s bright and sunny than when it was dark and cold as of 5 months ago.  Normally, when I’m still in the built up areas of the city, I like to have my MP3 headphones on so I can just turn off from the grim and noise, hustle and bustle but today, because it was so early and because of the time of year, there was a chorus of bird songs in the air.  Whilst waiting at the Metro station I just listened and picked out the different sounds – Robins, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, Swallows, Wrens – all seeming to compete with each other.  The only other person waiting at the station seemed oblivious to this, something that living in a city does to many, he was busy texting someone.  Who on earth could you be texting at 6:00 am on a Saturday morning???

After the usual dubious delights of public transport seeing me to my destination, the plan was to make myself comfortable at a spot where I thought might be my last chance of seeing this years Fox cubs before they grew up and the mosquito hordes took up residence.  Unfortunately the recent spell of warm weather seemed to have brought the mosquito menace out a few weeks earlier than I had hoped and as I walked through the woods they must have thought they had hit the jackpot with nine pints of blood walking past their neighbourhood.  Fortunately I had become prepared, bringing a long sleeve shirt with me, anti histamines and some antiseptic cream.
After attempting some 40 minutes being subjected to constant attack by an assortment of different sized mosquitoes and with no luck at seeing anything never mind the Foxes, I beat a hasty retreat to an open area near water where I new they wouldn’t be and ‘licked my wounds’.  The buzzing sound I had been listening to was now replaced by a bird singing – a Sedge Warbler – an amazing sound for such a small bird.  For a while I couldn’t find where it was coming from even though it seemed so close.

As it was very bright and sunny, I put my 1.4 converter on my 500mm lens and attached my monopod and edged towards the noise slowly and eventually could see this summer migrant perched on a reed singing away.  The photographs I took weren’t great as I was in an awkward position and, despite having the monopod and a shutter speed of around 1/1000 sec, I still struggled to keep the image still in my viewfinder and there were other reeds obstructing the view.

The sound of a Sage Warbler


After taking a dozen or so images, I decided to just enjoy the sun and birds singing.  By 11:00 am it was starting to get warm (the forecast was for around 25 degrees) and the Warbler took shelter from the sun.  I thought I would make the most of the bright light and take a few infrared images which I love the effect of though still trying to master the technique. 


I had guessed that most of the animals by now would have also taken shelter and as I headed back through the woods home, this seemed to be the case though I did see some Roe Deer, but at the last minute as there war now in a dense undergrowth of ferns at this time of year.

Just before exiting the woods, I heard some rustling in some nearby reeds running alongside the path I was on, then, about four metres away, I could see the top part of a Fox coming out of the thickest part of the reed bed and then moving parallel to the direction I had just come from.

I crouched down and stopped, thinking it was going to come out and use the path I was on.  I pointed my camera at it, but because of  the reeds I struggled to focus on it, so tried manually but the shutter speed was only 1/200 of a second – way to slow for a 500mm lens and would have given me camera shake as well as alerting the Fox for nothing.  Once I realised it was not going to come out of the reeds, I headed off back in the same direction it was going, knowing that there was a gap further along which it would have to go through, giving me a chance to photograph it, but waiting there it must have doubled back.  Unusual, as, unless it was hunting, Foxes tend to prefer the path of least resistance so creating their own routes or using existing man made ones.

For some reason, this year so far I have had no luck in photographing Foxes despite being very close to them on a number of occasions.  It looks like it will have to wait another year before I can get my Fox cubs image.


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