Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sunrise, seabirds and a fox

What a difference a week makes.  Stepping out of the house at 6:00am last week the temperature was already 17 degrees and I was wearing a tee shirt, today it was around 8 degrees not including wind-chill!  At this time of year, it’s an ideal time to do land/seascaping as the ‘golden hour’ is around 7 in the morning – not too early to get up for and yet it is still relatively mild, at least I don’t have to wear gloves yet which makes it difficult to operate the camera for this type of photography.

So it was this in mind that I packed my tripod as well as my usual load of 500mm lens, converter, camera and 17-40mm lens, filters and cable release making for a hefty load.  On arrival at location the sun was just below the horizon and by the time I was taking photographs the sky started to light up. I started taking some photos in prelude to what I thought would be a spectacular sunrise, when it just fizzled out!  The clouds got the better of the morning and that was that, the below image was as far as it got.


As I wondered around looking around for further opportunities, the wind picked up. The photos above and below show two opposites of the conditions.  Above, the winds whipping up large waves.  Below, the same waves were crashing against these rocks but because is was a long exposure it looks deceivingly tranquil.


Walking further up the beach I spent around an hour attempting to photograph some of the waders around, though it wasn’t really the ideal time or location due to the number of people about though I did manage to get a few decent images.



Despite a light rain starting and the continuing grey skies, I decided to head inland where I came across this Fox.  Initially, it saw me before I it and disappeared into the long grass though didn’t seem overly concerned by my presence, so I took a chance by waiting in the hope it was simply out ‘patrolling’ the area and I would see it again.  This paid off as around twenty minutes later it reappeared. It was soon obvious that it was hunting for rodents in the grass as it was stopping, looking around and every now and then very intently looking downwards and then it would pounce.

I set my camera to ‘silent’ mode, which, although clearly quieter shutter sound than normal mode, it was still loud enough for the Fox to hear as at first, it would look at my direction, but would then be more interested in something in the grass and ignored me.  I think silent mode does make a difference as it’s not so distracting and the Fox seemed to become quickly accustomed to me.


I spent around three hours at this location and could see a clear pattern to the Foxes behaviour.  It would go one way, hunting for rodents, disappear for around twenty minutes then come back and go the other way, again disappearing before returning.  I didn’t want to try chancing after it – I’ve never found this works with wildlife – but rather stayed put as I new there were Fox paths there and as long as I kept my distance I would have a good chance in seeing it.

The images here are just a few I took, though many didn’t turn out too well due the difficulty in focusing on it because of the low light and long grass.  I had to manually focus and with a converter on the lens made it extra difficult, pointing the lens at a spot of shorter grass where I hoped it would walk by or following when I could, as it walked in the longer grass but with it’s head down there was little to focus on.

Many of the photos look like the Fox was looking at me but it was just looking around, kept turning its head in the hope to locate the sound of its prey.  Often it did look directly at me as if to say “you still here?”  I wondered if it was one of this years cubs explaining why it was so tolerant of my presence.  There’s something special to me about a wild Fox looking right into your eyes.


Eventually, both our attentions were diverted to a commotion in the distance.  Two Crows were mobbing what I could just make out to be a Sparrowhawk though at first I wasn’t sure as it seemed almost white, certainly very pale – I’m guessing it was a juvenile.  You can click on the images below to get a bigger one, but they are heavy crops so the detail isn’t there. 

SMP_2832 SMP_2828