Sunday, 6 January 2013

First Encounters

Over recent weeks the weather’s been rotten, and although this weekend saw an improvement, I was feeling a bit rough, so I’ve been continuing to go through my older images, getting rid of those I now believe to be rubbish, but re-looking at others that, due to improvements in both software and my own abilities, have managed to better ‘salvage’.  I’ve already shown some in a previous post 'Blast from the past' .  After deleting what must be nearly a quarter of those I’ve looked at so far, I’ve also come across a couple of dozen I’ve re processed with various degrees of success. 

As these were early images they were also some of my first encounters with certain wildlife and so I’ve added four of those animals here – Kingfisher, Otter, Fox and Buzzard.



Although I had seen Kingfishers before, they were always just flashes as they streaked past down a river.  This was the first time I could really watch and photograph them.  One of the reasons I left these photographs alone for so long is because on the day the weather was wet, overcast and dull, I was still re-learning my photography as well as the camera and lens that were new to me.  All three images were taken with the Canon 30D at between 800 and 3200 ISO, a 400mm lens with converter and at 1/800th.  The original RAW images were under exposed which meant even more noise.  Although the first two are still not great, the final of the third turned out much better and one that could certainly be used as a print.

This encounter certainly started my love affair with the Kingfisher as it’s not just a lovely colourful bird but just great to watch fish.



It wasn’t that long ago that seeing an Otter, certainly in this part of the country, would have been rare if not impossible, but since the ban on hunting them and the waterways in this country being much cleaner and without all the pollution of the sixties and seventies, they have become much more common though, due to being largely nocturnal, still hard to see during the day. 

This was the first and best encounter of about a dozen I’ve been lucky to have with them.  Although I took a number of shots of them, the images were distant and overexposed and, although I’ve salvaged something from them, they are not exactly wall hangers but good enough for viewing on the web.  On this occasion, it was good just to watch this mother and her two cubs and gave me my first understanding on how best to recognise an Otter presence on a lake by the gulls following them overhead.



Strictly speaking this was not my first encounter with a Fox, having heard one once at night and anyone who has heard a Fox scream will know how creepy that will have felt in the dark.  This was my first visual sight of one having never seeing one growing up as a child, maybe because of the wide hunting and persecution of them in those days. 

Much like the Otter, it was the actions of other animals that alerted me to its presence – in this case a couple of Magpies who’s reactions are often a good sign of a predator such as a Fox or bird of prey.  As with the Kingfisher, this has become a firm favourite of mine to watch and photograph, though recent years I’ve had to be more content with brief glimpses than real opportunities.  The year I took these images, they seemed to be everywhere and I had plenty of opportunities. It’s just a shame I didn’t have my current photographic equipment at the time especially my 500mm lens.



Again, I never saw one of these birds of prey when growing up despite their being common.  I believe they are now the most common bird of prey in this country and was in the wilds of Northumberland when I came across this one whilst making my way towards Hadrian's Wall.  I'd sat down to have something to eat and drink in some fields by some trees when I heard the typical Buzzard cry overhead and the small silhouette of the bird circling above me.  I took the opportunity to get my first shots of this bird as it got closer and closer, then, it seemed to have spotted some prey as it folded its wings and dived.  I was struggling to get it in focus when I realised it was getting eerily close and worse, it seemed to be coming straight at me!

It pulled out at the last minute by which time the very large and angry looking bird in my viewfinder convinced me I had managed to take enough images.  I figured either I had disturbed a previous kill it had made or there was a nest nearby, so I hastily moved off with the loud Buzzard overhead.  Strangely enough it continued to follow me from a distance for nearly a mile, stopping in some trees ahead of me, watching me go by.  It was a very strange encounter and Hitchcock's film ‘Birds’ did enter my thoughts as I waked past it.


1 comment:

  1. Great images, Frank. Love the fox especially. Great new look to the blog.