A Pregnant Roe
The female Roe Deer that has been around over the last few weeks was definitely pregnant ... and you can see the images below as to how I know. It seems she is much more alert now then she was and I am wary about getting too close and spooking her. I would love to carry on photographing her and her fawn(s) over the summer, let's hope she sticks around allows me to her share her summer life.
I have also had a few rabbits around as I always do but they are never easy to photograph being particularly skittish.
So you can see that she had quite an impressive belly and that has certainly disappeared now. She looks sleek and actually much more healthy, she has shed her winter coat and now looks fine in her shorter summer coat.
The Rabbits are always close by and if you sit still for long enough, you are usually within twenty yards or so of a cute individual.
I will keep trying to photograph the Roe Deer for the next few months but for the moment she is proving to be rather elusive.
Spring Roe Deer
For the last few weeks there has been a lot of deer activity around my house and in particular the field behind my house has been a hub of activity. In fact, I have been trying to photograph the deer for a few weeks but haven't had much luck.
This unlucky streak really proved itself when one afternoon I crept up on a group of three different Roe Deer and I was all set up to get some great images. I had been laying in wait for around an hour, the deer were resting on the ground and I was anticipating that they would kick into activity as dusk approached. However it really wasn't to be as suddenly the three deer came leaping by me and I knew that was that! To my surprise I turned to see two men standing, around ten yards away, and when they spotted me they screamed for me to put up my hands. They were two armed response officers pointing their pistols at me as someone had called 999 reporting an armed man in the middle of a field. After discussing with Hampshire's finest Police Officers that I was merely photographing some deer, they let me return the 100 yards home.
Anyway after a bit of persistence and some very good sneaking around the same field I have finally managed to get some shots which I am pretty happy with. I got absolutely soaked and it really wasn't a warm day but it was worth every moment. I was only around 10 yards away from this Roe buck and he was completely at ease with me, in fact as I type this he is still feeding behind my house.
Enjoy the pictures!
So, first off I have to say sorry for being off the radar for the last few months. I have had a completely manic few months but could have a few really exciting things lined up for the future and particularly regarding my photography. Also the weather for 2 months or so was absolutely diabolical with a lot of flooding and real lack of photographic opportunities.
So where do I even begin ... well first off I got an image in to the final round of Wildlife Photographer of the Year! Sounds great, and it was but a complete nightmare followed ... I ended up having a catastrophic hard drive failure and that one image alone was one of about 50 images that were not back up. I know it is completely my fault and it is definitely a lesson learnt.
Now I know exactly what I need to do for next year and I can't wait to get cracking on some projects.
Anyway here is a random selection of images from the last few months when I have been able to go out with the camera.
On Saturday I was round a friend's house, they have a small pond and it was swarming with Damselflies. As I happened to have my macro lens with me I decided to get some shots.
Firstly my attempts were in vain and I really struggled to get close enough to get any images at all. Any slight movement I made the resting Damselflies took off and found a new perch. The ones that were not perched were flying at high speed after their prey, small insects that were also flying around the pond.
I eventually worked out that if I stayed relatively still, as is often the way then the Damselflies would land by me, with small movements I did my very best to get the shots set up as I wanted.
Below are the shots that came out best.
Let it snow!
So the UK has been through a cold spell. The rest of the northern Europe would not even bat an eyelid but of course this is England and everything ground to a halt. I didn't really mind all that much, although I was snowed in I had my camera so out I went into the sub-zero temperatures.
The only downside was that I was actually dog sitting so I couldn't go out all day. I instead made do and just photographed the garden birds, and there were lots of them.
In fact at one point there were over 50 individuals, ranging from the Wood Pigeon and the Great-spotted Woodpecker to the tiny Wren.
I just thought I would share a few of these images with you, I could post lots of similar ones of the same species but I thought these would give you all a taste of the couple of hours I spent in the cold. Actually it was -4, so it was a little nippy.
Anyway some more images will be coming soon, hopefully of some Barn Owls.
The Macro learning curve continues
As many of you may know I recently bought the image stabilised Canon 100mm macro lens, and those of you who shoot macro will know it is a whole different discipline to that of traditional wildlife photography. I have also now acquired a remote control for the camera which makes it all a whole lot easier, hopefully this will make my shots that little bit easier.
I decided that I wanted to try and photograph a millipede the other week. Now, I am usually fine with 'creepy crawlies' but I have to say that I have a fear of millipedes so for me this was a big deal. Don't ask me why I have such an odd fear, all I can tell you is that the legs moving in that wave like motion make me feel ill, even thinking of them as I type makes me shudder. Anyway, so I set about photographing these weird little invertebrates as I have large numbers of them in my log pile but they are extremely hard to get to stay still. After nearly an hour I got two shots that I am rather happy with, as you can see below ...
I have also been on the look out for any insects around my garden and paddock, and I have come up with a couple. Now I don't know the species names, so I will have to do some further research, but I can tell you that the beetle is part of the weevil family and the other is fly which I think is part of the Tachina family.
I also have a population of Slow Worms living in my grass heap, I have only managed to get the one shot so far and it was of an absolute tiddler. Here is the little chap for you.
Finally, this evening I decided to lift a few stones around the garden to see if I could find any amphibians and I was in luck. I found a Common Toad hiding under one of the stones and he moved out into the sunlight in search of somewhere else to hide. I took a few shots of him before placing him back under his stone, where it was nice and damp with plenty of invertebrates to prey on.
The World in Miniature
I have finally got a replacement Canon 100mm Macro IS L now, my first version had a spot of dust internally so I ordered another one. Miraculously the weather has decided to co-operate and I decided to make the most out of it and get out there and get some practise in. Here are a few example shots that I hav emanaged to take since getting the new lens. Macro is a whole new discipline for me but one I think I am going to love!
This rose was in one of my Gran's bouquets of flowers from over the weekend. It was both her's and my birthday so there were flowers absolutely everywhere and I thought I would get some practise in.
When I went outside in search of some creepy crawlies or something a little more interesting to photograph I came across this pair of snails who where otherwise pre-occupied. After getting a few shots of them in the heat of the moment I moved them to the safety of a nearby crack in the wall, away from the many garden birds who might cut their activities a little short.
After continuing my search and upturning a few rotten logs I found a whole selection of little critters to photograph, the only issue was none of them stayed put for long. The only thing that didn't scuttle away was this Pill Louse who got himself stuck in the wood as he rolled into his defensive "pill" shape.
This little fellow is a Common Newt, you may not believe it but this individual is only about 3cm long. I found him lurking underneath one of the many log piles we have around the garden, surrounded by some lovely invertebrate prey, after a few minutes I left him to his own devices and put him back in the shade.
Sorry for the lack of photos
Over the last month or so the weather in the South of England has been absolutely terrible, as it has across a lot of the country. In fact, the rains arrived only a day or two after it was announced that we were in drought, rather ironic don't you think?
I recently ordered the Image Stabilised version of the Canon 100mm macro but due to the awful weather I have not had much of a chance to use it. So today I went out in the brief spell of sunshine and decided to photograph on top of the garden wall. It looked just like a mini forest and the colour was spectacular. I still need to get to grips with the depth of field as it is incredibly narrow, I think it will take a few months to really get a good feel for this incredible bit of kit.
So as the weather has been so bad I have had to make do with photographing the few Garden birds that are still hanging around the feeders. The most regular vistor has been a pair of Robins and so here are a few images of the cheeky little things.
The image above was actually taken in the Hawthorn hedgerow that runs along one side of my paddock, it was after worms as I was digging in soaked soil.
The other regular visitors to the garden have been the Tit species, although there has been one notable exception - the Long-tailed Tits. The Blue Tits are the most regular with the Great Tits making quick dashes as they dart across the garden.
The Tit species have to be some of the most colourful birds in the UK but they are also one of the hardest to photograph. They never hang around in the same spot for long and once they have landed you only have a split second to get the auto-focus to lock on. I really like to try and capture the inquisitive and cheeky character of the Blue Tit as well as the more mellow Great Tits.
There have been some more unusual garden visitors in the last few weeks, the Yellowhammers have been visiting daily again. It seems they are nesting in the hedgerow in my paddock so they are often picking up the dispersed seeds underneath the feeders. The male is in his prime with some stunning colouring in his pluage.
Hopefully in the next few weeks the weather will improve and I should be able to get a few more shots. A few of the species I am aiming to photograph are the Stoat, the Red Kite, Badgers, Pied Wagtail and Water Vole. I will keep you posted as (or if) I am successful.
Spring is in the air
It seems that Spring is well on its way, some of the trees are now in blossom and the Sun feels that much warmer on the skin. It has also started some Spring behaviour in some of the local wildlife around my work's office and at home too. The birds are visiting the feeders less, except the Goldfinches who are still regular visitors to the Nyjer seeds.
Around the office recently there have also been signs of spring, it is an exciting time and I was extremely lucky on a lunch time walk in the office's garden. Whilst walking along the river bank I noticed a shiny shape in the long grass and to my astonishment, it was a beautiful grass snake, curled up, basking in the warm spring sunshine. After a few minutes the snake decided to move into the grass and out of sight. I made sure not to approach it and let it move on in its own time.
Around the Naturetrek offices we also have a few Little Egret and they are quite often feeding in the small river channels. They are very nervous around people and if they are approached they normally fly off to another pat of the river. This is exactly what happened here but luckily the bird turned around and flew right above me.
In the area surrounding my house there is a lack of a Rabbit population at the moment. Last year we had a large outbreak of Myxomatosis that wiped out our local population of Rabbit and so for the summer ahead I have been scouting new locations with good cover to hide in and good lighting. I think I have now found a good spot and found a Rabbit posing against the light of the setting Sun. All I have to do now is get permission from the farmer.
Canon 400D & a 50D with the Canon EF 300mm f2.8 L IS II USM Lens (7D in for repair)
As promised here is one of the shots taken with my old Canon 400D and the 300 f/2.8. The combination of the two looks absolutely hysterical and entirely useless. Unless you are sat in your hide with the lens mounted on a sturdy tripod that is. The minute my 7D gets back from its repair I can guarantee, I will be out there making the most of it. I also borrowed a friend's 50D to see how that performed on the lens, it was obviously a great improvement over the 400D, the Herring Gull below was taken with this combination.
Today I set up my hide by my garden feeders, I just wanted to see what might turn up. All the usual suspects plus a Greater-spotted Woodpecker showed themselves. After three hours or so, the light started to fade and the temperature started to drop. Without the light I went back indoors and sat in front of the warmth of the fire.
My Introduction to Macro
I recently hired a macro lens and I thought it was a pretty steep learning curve but I have to say I loved every minute of it. It was an entirely different way to looking at the world around us and you can really start appreciate the complexities of the little things that surround us. Here are the results, I hope everyone likes the little critters.