The Brown Rat
Now I know that the Brown Rat is not everyone's favourite animal but personally I think they have a bit of a bad reputation. Yes I realise they can carry disease and the last thing you want is a rat in your home but outside I think these rodents are characterful and extremely intelligent.
Recently, I have been photographing a family of Brown Rats and I have been mesmerised by their cheeky nature and their adaptability. They are opportunistic and make the most of any situation that goes their way and for that I admire them.
Anyway I hope the following images don't make you cringe but instead give a you a greater appreciation for this very successful little mammal.
The images above feature a youngster that was particularly brave and not particularly afraid of me. The rest of the images in this gallery feature the rat I believe is the mother ...
As you can see I got pretty close and they were really rather relaxed. I am now tempted to actually do a project on these fascinating rodents. So, stay tuned and see if I carry on following this unusual photographic subject.
Insects & Plants of the Pyrenees
My final post on my recent trip to the Pyrenees and moving on to the smallest critters and a few of plants that I found particularly photogenic. Macro isn't really my strong point and I really need to get hold of a macro flash set (or build my own with some traditional flashes) but for this trip I actually used my 300mm f/2.8 lens with a 2x converter attached for some of the insect photos.
Macro is great if you have the time to set up your shots but when you are constantly on the move on a group tour you just don't have the time. But a few things like the Solitary Wasp below were just about manageable with the Macro 100mm.
Anyway on to the photos ...
Sadly, due to the poor weather for most of the week, we didn't see many of the Alpine plants at their best and many of the insects completely disappeared for a few days. The brief glimpses of warmer weather enabled to us at least get a taster of the diverse insect life and some of the beautiful plants that inhabit this spectacular region of Spain. It is well worth a visit and if you want to go why not try out the Spanish Pyrenees tour with Naturetrek next year!
Birds of the Spanish Pyrenees
So as promised (a little later then planned) here is a selection of birds photographed in Spain. I have only picked a few so as not to bore you but I liked these and though you might too! I have also thrown in a few landscapes to give you an idea of the weather and what the surroundings were like.
As you can see, we had quite a variety of birds on show and some of the individuals were particularly obliging (which makes a nice change from the UK). If the weather had been somewhat better I dare say I could have had quite portfolio from this trip alone. It just means that I will have to return in the not too distant future and try my luck again.
The next post from this trip will feature a selection of the plants and insects I managed to photograph!
A Barn Owl
Before I post the other images from my recent trip to Spain I thought I would share this image of a Barn Owl I took recently. I will by trying my luck again over the next week so I hope to show you more shortly.
As many of you might know, last week I was in Spain with Naturetrek Wildlife Holidays, accompanying the Spanish Pyrenees tour as a photographer. My aim was to try and take as many photos as possible for the brochure and for adverts too, one slight issue was the weather didn’t play ball and many of those target shots just didn’t materialise … it was a real shame.
Many of the plants weren’t on show due to the poor weather and the blue skies we hoped for in the mountains never materialised. In fact, it was only in the evenings when the sun seemed to shine but there was still a chill in the air and we were back at the comfortable hotel!
Anyway, I was fortunate enough to get close to some great Pyrenean wildlife and this post is to share a few of the mammalian highlights. So the appearance of a Marmot was great but to get as close as I did was a real treat and I had great fun with the individual below. It had absolutely no fear of me … that might have something to do with the fact it was at the bottom of a ski run! The second star of the show was the Pyrenean Chamois or the Izard, I spent around half an hour photographing this individual and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
The final mammal to feature here has not yet been confirmed but I am pretty sure it is in fact a Hybrid Wildcat! It saw our group and immediately ran away from us up into the cover of a rocky hillock. I immediately sprinted around this hillock and climbed its far side to find the cat walking straight towards me (well below where I stood). I am so happy with the images but I am sending them off for confirmation as to whether or not they are believed to be a Wildcat Hybrid. Having done quite a bit of research I am sure that it is!
For those that don't know, Marmots are actually a large rodent and are closely related to squirrels. They dig burrows on the high Alpine meadows of the mountains in Europe and spend the summer grazing this rich pasture. In the winter they retreat to the safety of the burrow and escape the worst of the weather before re-merging the following spring.
After taking the first sequence of images (above), of this Chamois, I thought that I might try and get a little closer. This meant climbing down the rocky crag I was perched on and making my way up the next crag. However the wind was swirling and as I got to the base of the crag the Chamois must of caught wind of me. He came to the edge and looked straight down at me as you can see below the results weren't what I wanted at all as I managed to spook it. I was rather angry with myself for startling the individual but at least my first shots really caught the animal in the environment.
Before the Marmot and the Chamois though, there was the 'Wildcat' moment ...
Our first view was through binoculars and in my case a long telephoto lens. I was using my Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 IS II USM with the 2x extender and it was hard to get a decent shot. Then I made the decision to dart off round the hillock and climb up the other side.
I couldn't believe my luck when I walked round the other side ... I climbed up to the brow of the hill and there right below me was the cat, trotting along completely unaware of me. Then, as I leant around the rock to get a picture the cat caught sight of me and stopped dead in its tracks!
I still can't be entirely sure that this is a Wildcat Hybrid but many of the characteristics add up to give me that conclusion. It doesn't quite seem right, to me at least, to be a pure-bred Wildcat but who knows? I am still ever so happy with the images I managed to capture.
I will add my favourite botany and macro pictures in the coming days too so keep an eye out!