Monday, 13 March 2017

Brown Hare's by Mick

I had for a long time wanted to photograph Brown Hare but had only ever managed distant views.

While living in Romford I made several trips up to Copped Hall on the edge of Epping Forest as I knew several of my friends had seen them there, but it wasn't fruitful for me.

With the move up to Norfolk, Brown Hare was very much on the agenda . Norfolk is a stronghold for them and I was hoping it would turn up trumps for me, and I was not disappointed.
These images were taken on farmland that is quite local to me now.

I first spotted this group of four at quite a distance.

The two on the right then started to run in my direction and as I was sheltered by a bush my hope was that they would come quite close, eventually coming within about 10 feet before spotting me and running back across the field.

 This last image is only a slight crop using a 300 mm lens on a 5 D mk lll. I am looking forward to getting back out again with them soon and hopefully will get some images of them boxing.


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Living in Norfolk

Sorry its been over a year since our last blog.

Most of last year was spent trying to sort out our move up to Norfolk, having sold the house in Romford back in April we didn't actually move until the end of October, this kind of put photography on hold. We are now pretty much sorted and hopefully will soon be back out taking pictures.

We had long wanted to move to this part of the country to be closer to the our favorite places for natural history photography and are now living adjacent to farmland in the Brecks.

We are getting quite a varied selection of wildlife in the garden including, hedgehog, muntjac deer, lots of blackbirds and goldfinch, pheasant. long tailed tits to name but a few. We have also had buzzard overhead and in the last few days have had a barn owl hunting right in front of the bungalow.

                                           So here are just a few images for now.

                                         Munjac at the bottom of the garden

                             East Wretham NWT reserve is just a few miles from us

                                          Two morning views from the bungalow

                                                 Long tailed tit on our feeder

MIck & Angella

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

A week in Suffolk by Mick

Saturday 26th September saw us hitching up our caravan for a week long stay at Cliff House in Suffolk. We often stay here as it's in a perfect location for us located on the edge of Dunwich and Westleton Heaths and just a short drive to the RSPB reserve of Minsmere.
Once set up we went up to the Coastguard cottages (no cameras) just to take in the sea air and relax with a cup of coffee.
On Sunday we went to Minsmere. Reception said that Island Mere had been good first thing so that's the hide we headed to. Although the hide was busy the birds seemed to be lacking, there were Bearded tits about but much too windy to try to photograph, but we were treated to a Hobby hawking over the mere catching dragonflies, this was our first opportunity to photograph Hobby and although quite distant were happy with the results.

In the afternoon I headed up onto the heath to try and find a Dartford warbler, a bird I have been trying to photograph for about 4 years now. Although I could hear them and did get a couple of fleeting sightings there were no images to be had. The only bird I came close enough to on the heath was this Stonechat.

Before I went back to the site I took a look over at the cliff edge and spotted a Kestrel approaching and this is the best image on this occasion.

No photography Monday morning, we just went out for a drive around the area, but after lunch I went on a Fungi foray. This is not something I have had much success at. I don't know what they are but this first image was a small fungi I spotted by the path not much more than an inch tall. So getting down low with the 100 macro this is the result.

With this image of a group of fungi, I was having difficulty in getting it all in focus so it gave me the chance to try out our tilt and shift lens. It took several images before I found the right tilt and focus points but just about managed it.

When I was up on Dunwich Heath I got talking to one of the volunteers about Dartford warbler and he suggested trying Westleton Heath so that's where we went on Tuesday. There was quite a lot of bird activity by the car park with Blue and Great tit and as we walked onto the heath saw a Stonechat.
We had been walking for about half an hour when I spotted a bird flitting about between a small branch and the heather, a quick glance with the binoculars confirmed it as Dartford warbler and for the next 15 or so minutes we managed to get some pretty good images. My 4 years of trying to photograph Dartford had come to an end.

Minsmere is well known for it's Marsh harriers and we always try to photograph them when we come here. Although we saw them most days they were more often than not quite distant views. So what I have tried to do is show one in its environment and one which is quite a tight crop but I think I have just about got away with it.

After a coffee back at the cafe we went for a walk along the beach and to the east hide. These next two images are by Gella. there wasn't a great deal going on in the hide but Gella did get this image of a Shoveler coming into land, and while walking along the sand dunes took this image of a Kestrel hunting.

One of the main reasons for going to Minsmere at this time was for the Red deer rut.  The RSPB run Deer Safaris onto the reserve in 4 wheel drive vehicles. They do 3 a day lasting 90 minutes each and is a great way to see the Deer. We had done it a couple of years ago but didn't get very good weather and were too late for the rut. But it seems this year, although the weather was good we were too early for the rut. It should have been the perfect time but as all things in nature you never know. That said we still had a good drive and did manage some pleasing images, and are already booked in for another go next year.

We hope you enjoy our blog "A week in Suffolk" as much as we enjoyed being there and taking these images.

Thanks Mick & Gella

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Wasp spiders by Mick

What fantastic little creatures these are.
Until last Saturday I had never seen a wasp spider, but I had seen lots of images being shown on Facebook and I just had to find one for myself to photograph. The images I saw were being taken at Rainham Marsh RSPB reserve, a reserve close to where I live and do go to on regular occasions.
I had decided to go over to Rainham Marsh on this day for a walk in any case to see what was around and also to try to find a wasp spider.
On arrival I asked where the best spots were for the wasp spider and was pointed in the right direction and it wasn't very long before I found my first one.
I had decided for this walk I was going lightweight as far as camera equipment was concerned and just took my 100 to 400 zoom. This actually turned out to be a bad decision as its not the best lens to use for close up work with a closest focusing distance of 1.8 meters. Still that's what I had with me so it would have to do. I took a number of images from varying angles and they looked fine on the screen. Great I had my first wasp spider recorded and couldn't wait to get home to process them.
For a first attempt I was pleased with what I got, however they were a little soft and knew I could do better.
This was my best image from the first day.

Tuesday saw me back at Rainham, this time going better prepared, taking the 100 macro and a tripod.
I made my way straight to the same area, found my specimen and started to set up. Of course they are always in the most awkward of positions and you have to be very careful not to disturb them and at all costs not to damage the web. I could see from the previews on the screen that the images were a lot sharper on this occasion but was a bit disappointed with the background being so messy.
Just before I left I was talking to a fellow photographer who had also been doing the wasp spiders and he showed me a couple in the car park but was too late for this day so another trip was on the cards.
This image was probably my best one from the Tuesday trip and you can see what I mean about a messy background.

The following day was a complete wash out with rain all day long but Thursday was looking better.
Arriving about 10.00 I looked for the two I had seen 2 days ago but unfortunately one of them was no longer there and that was the one I had wanted to photograph as it was in quite a good position. Still there was another one available and that became my target. Again I was using the 100 macro but had brought a much heavier tripod as I knew I didn't have to walk far at all today.
What I wanted to do on this session was try and get a better background. My thoughts were to get something behind the web to distract from the background, I always carry a lens rain cover in my bag and this was just the right colour to try and shield some of the background. This was not easy to set up but just about managed it without disturbing the spider.
This is my best image from the day and think you will agree is much more pleasing having quite a plain background.

I had a great time last week trying to get the best image possible and hope you like them. Their season is just about over now but its in my diary for next year. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Migrant hawkers by Mick

I have been trying to get images of dragonflies in flight for quite some time now. So with just a couple of weeks left this year of the dragonfly season, decided to have another go. RSPB Rainham is my local reserve and is a good place for the Migrant hawker. After a short walk along the south path past the Purfleet hide I found a good spot and set to trying to get some flight shots. It took a while to get my eye in but eventually managed to get some pixels onto the sensor.

Here are a couple of images from this morning, one of a Migrant hawker perched on a reed stem and the other of one in flight, which I am very pleased with.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Post processing

Today Gella has been working on some images ready for the next print competition.
This tight crop of a Red kite taken back in June gives the appearance of being a painting rather than a photo but looks a good effect.

This image of the Blue Bells in South Weald Country park near Brentwood Essex has been processed in Photo Shop using the motion blur filter.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Printing and Mounting

Spent today getting our prints ready for the Camera Club competition tomorrow night.
Gella's first one is of a Robin on our car tyre and has called it "Tyred".
Most times when we got back from a drive he would go on it, don't know why maybe it was the warmth.

This Swallowtail was from our trip to Strumpshaw Fen earlier this year.

And finally a singing Sedge Warbler taken at Minsmere in the spring.

Mick has two natural history images going in, the first one is a landscape. This image is of the rapids on the River Towy as it passes through the RSPB Dinas reserve.

And finally another of our Red Kite images from the feeding station at Llangadog.