Over the weekend I decided to visit my friend's farm in Dorset as I knew there was an active Badger sett there. So after the drive down to the Isle of Purbeck, I set off to scout out the tunnels, to see which was the most likely exit point. I eventually decided on the most likely looking entrance and set my hide up for their starring roles. During the day I went off with my macro lens and found a wonderful variety of subjects.
At around 6 o' clock I headed off to my hide, to wait for the arrival of the shy Badgers. Up until recently I had only ever seen a wild badger whilst driving down the small country lanes around my house. Anyway at around 8 o' clock I noticed one of the branches above the tunnel entrance moving. This was because I placed Peanut Butter around the area to entice them out, it certainly seemed to work well. I get such a rush when I get as close to wildlife as I did here, it is such a wonderful experience, especially when you are there by yourself. So the first adult appeared, but all I could see was the top of its back, it was extremely frustrating. Then, after three further individuals trotted off into the bracken, before I could even get the camera to focus on them, three younger individuals decided to stay put only a few metres from the hide. There were a few squabbles and some wonderful sounding chatter, unfortuntely I don't have a specialist microphone so the sounds were not picked up.
I hope you like the footage, as you can probably tell they definitely knew I was there but it didn't put them off the starters I had laid out for them!
It has been over a year now since my first visit to the Red Kite feeding station at Gigrin Farm. This farm, perched high on the side of a steep sided valley (close to the town of Rhayader), is in a beautiful spot and it provides a wildlife spectacular. I love the relaxed nature at the farm, on your arrival you pay to enter the small car park and then you head off to the hides to await an exhilerating couple of hours of wildlife photography heaven.
A quick tip to anyone who has not visited Gigrin Farm, if you are really keen on photography then make sure you pay the small extra charge and utilise the photography hides. They make it much easier to get the shots you are after with a lot more space, especially if you are wielding a large lens.
The feeding station provide the Kites with prime cut beef and the birds sometimes arrive in huge numbers to make the most of this feast. The fascinating thing for me, is the social structure of the feeding. There are birds who are more 'senior' to some of the others and they bully them into submission. There are also a variety of different feeding behaviours; some birds do the traditional swoop at an extremely high speed and grab the scraps of meat, some swoop down and flush the Carrion Crows into the air so they can steal the meat of off them and finally some individuals stay high and mob the successful Kites as they return to the skies with their prize.
The agility of the Red Kite is absolutely incredible, they can be cruising along and suddenly flick the tail and turn into a near vertical dive, it seems as if sometimes they even go upside down. It is hard to predict the dives as they go in groups, almost as if they are Stuka dive bombers, and then for minutes there might not be a single bird going down towards the ground. The hardest thing, as a photographer, is to try and stick with one bird. If you don't stick with one individual then the auto-focus just isn't quick enough. It has taken me three visits but I think I have finally got the technique right, the number of sharp photos increased dramtically. Perhaps on my next visit, I will get an even larger number of shots in focus, especially if I get my planned camera upgrade.
There are loads more images from the photo session but for now I will leave you with these. Keep an eye over the next couple of days when I will post the next batch.