Sunday, 30 October 2011

Small is beautiful.

Not a lot of photography since my last post. I only managed to do a bit of macro stuff. That doesn't mean that I haven't been out and about. I have seen some nice stuff. I saw a pair of Jays in the field near my house, both were looking splendid in their winter plumage. I had a sparrowhawk come down into my garden a few days ago it was a female and she's visited a few times recently, presumably after the numerous House Sparrows that are frequenting my garden feeders at this time. The Sparrowhawk landed on my decking and stood for about 30 seconds or so, it wasn't until I moved, trying to get to my camera some 10 feet away that  she flew off. The Nuthatches are still visiting the feeders too.

Belmont pools have been providing me with some interesting views of the small and beautiful referred to in the title of this post. On one walk with Roxy I counted six different colour variations of Harlequinn Ladybird. Unfortunately when I had the opportunity with the camera I could only find three.

Also present was a large number of Larvae and pupa.

I'd never seen the larvae before, they are so completely prehistoric looking aren't they?

There were also a couple of Spiders, I recognise the first as a Garden Spider, but have not identified the second as yet.

I also found this snail in my garden, I quite like this different shot of it.

So all in all not a lot to report but I live in hope. Its also getting very near to Slimbridge time of year so a trip there can't be far away. Check out Brian Williams cracking shots of Water Vole from there on his blog (in my links).

Also if you want to see some cracking shots of stuff local to the Forest of Dean don't forget to check Bob Bushell's Blog, also in my links.

Come back again soon.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Missed chances and grabbed opportunities.

The lovely weather we had recently saw me longing for a trip up to the Elan valley. The Elan valley and Rhayader are one of my favourite places and I like to try and get at least one visit in every year. I knew it was getting a little late in the year for many birds but I was hoping to try a little landscape photography if there wasn't much about.

I wasnt able to get up there before Sunday 2nd, other commitments kept me at home till then. I checked the weather and it was still forecast to be bright sunshine everywhere execpt the very north. I set off in the dark hoping to get some very early morning shots and everything was going well on route.

I stopped a few miles from Rhayader and got this shot.

It promised a lot, but unfortunately it never really delivered. The sun came out for about 20 mins once dawn had fully passed but then it clouded over completely.

I saw many Red Kite this trip, more than I have on any other single trip. A few more miles further down the road towards Rhayader I saw four sitting in a tree together. This adds credence to my belief that whilst Gigrin farm has done a marvellous job in the re-introduction of Red Kite it is now being a little counter productive. I honestly believe that the Red Kite are not speading away from Powys as well as they should be because they know that there is a ready supply of easy food at Gigrin. I know that there are a number of residents in the area who view the Kite as a pest, I would not say I agree with that but I can understand their concern. I saw a Countryfile or Country tracks programme recently where the Owner of Gigrin stated he has up to 600 birds attending his feeding sessions. With that many one would have expected the spread to be further than it is, but how often have you seen a Red Kite away from Powys? I have only ever seen one in South Herefordshire.

Don't get me wrong I think Gigrin has a lot to be thanked for. Without their efforts the Red Kite would still possibly be high on the endangered list. I recently commented on their website that they should consider not feeding so often in the summer, but unfortunately this was not well received. I fully appreciate that Gigrin put a lot of the money they make back into the birds but it must also be a great source of uncome at a time where farming in general is suffering. I wonder now if they have other things in mind than just the welfare of the birds. I will leave you to discuss your thoughts on this.

I did not get any photos of the Kite I saw, nor of the half dozen Buzzards or the 4 Ravens that came close enough to warrant getting the camera out. I didnt get to do any decent landscape photography either. These were two examples of how the weather was not condusive to it.

Imagine how much better these shots would have been if the sun had been out. I did get a few shots of some fungi. The first is taken with the flash as the light was still not great. The second is the same Fungus but a few minutes later.

Its very pretty don't you think?

Unfortunately that was the best of my trip to the Elan. I was very disappointed.

Back at home and back to work we had an unexpected visitor to the Workshop. This poor little thing flew into one of the office windows and stunned itself.

I'm happy to report that this gorgeous little Goldcrest sat on the pallet where I put him to rest for about 30 minutes or so before opening his eyes and eventually flying off, seemingly non the worse for wear. I have never been so close to a Goldcrest before, but I can definately say they are truly tiny little birds. It proved to be an interesting little distraction from the day's toil.

Another chance encounter led to another grabbed opportunity. Whilst driving home after work on Thursday I came a cross two men flying falcons over the fields between Allensmore and the Callow. I stopped and chatted to them. They had four birds with them, 2 Peregrine/Saker cross breeds, a Peregrine/ Lanner cross and a Harris Hawk. The Peregrine Lanner was only a young bird and they were training it up. I have very mixed views about captive birds. Part of me does not like the idea of birds being caged. I would much rather see them free. But birds such as these are bred for captivity and in this case it became clear that they were a) very well cared for and b) regularly exercised. The two chaps seemed to know a lot about the subject. They claimed they did not have the birds for any other reason than personal enjoyment. They did work the birds occasionally if asked to help with a pigeon problem by a disgruntled farmer, but mostly they did it for the enjoyment of being up close and personal with beautiful killing machines. I have never been so close to Falcons and Hawks. I was amazed by the way they sat quietly with their hoods on. A trick I wish I'd used on my kids as they grew up.

The Harris Hawk

The Peregrine/ Lanner cross.

Beautiful birds and a welcomed chance encounter.

My last grabbed opportunity for this post is a chance encounter with a Common Toad that has taken up residence in my garden. It was a grabbed opportunity only in so much that it was a clear evening and ideal for a grabbed shot or two of a critter that totally bemuses my dog Roxy. When she finds it in the garden, as she does most evenings, she is totally focused on it. She stands with her nose only inches from it, and gently growls at it. but never once have I seen her try to grab it. She must know that it will cause her no pleasure if she does. I literally have to drag her away from it. I took my opportunity to grab a few shots of it, it didnt want to play though and after getting a half dozen shots I allowed it to hop off the log on which I'd placed it and back into the bushes.

Not sure how I feel about toads. Different though and quite entertaining.

Come back again soon and see what else has taken my fancy.

Friday, 30 September 2011

A day in the Forest of Dean

A trip to the Forest of Dean for my dog Roxy to have her hair cut meant that I had three hours to kill. I was keen to re-visit some of the haunts that I loved when I lived in the forest. Number one was Cannop Ponds, I was disappointed to see that the feeder table was missing. I can't understand why it was removed or by whom. If the Forestry have removed it then I hope they will replace it with something else, I remember that lots of folk used to stop and watch the birds, especially visitors to the forest. The top pond by the feeder station was looking lovely in the changing autumn colours.

Next I decided to visit the fallen tree at the arboretum. On route I was pleasantly surprised to come across a group of four young boar. I was pleased, yet worried by the fact that they were happily feeding/ playing/sleeping right by the roadside. This behaviour, in my opinion, is evidence of two things. One, they pose no threat to humans if approached quitely and carefully but not too closely. Two, they are unfortunately too trusting of humans, and not as wary as they should be.
 I may not be explaining myself too well. I stopped my car approximately 75 yards away from them and approached with my camera, 300mm lens attached. I moved slowly towards them. Initially they were a little unsure, moving 10 feet or so further away from me. But they did not run off and that is the important thing. They could not have known what my intentions were, yet they were not overly concerned about my close proximity. If you think of deer then you immediately think of an elusive and extremely shy creature. They would not let someone within 20 feet of them. They are happily established within the forest, both Fallow and the occasional Roe. They pose no threat and are not thought of in the same way as the boar. If someone walking their dog through the forest was lucky enough to see a deer it would most likely be as it disappeared into the forest having seen or heard them first.
Boar, on the other hand will, more often than not, stand or even approach to investigate a human who it happens across. We shouldn't be surprised by this. Domesticated pigs do not fear human contact, the boar are pigs after all.
There are many stories circulating the Forest of Dean where people have been chased and dogs attacked, this is clearly due to the unfearing nature of the pigs and the mistaken belief that they are dangerous rather than curious. The desire to protect off-spring should not be confused with a desire to attack humans.

I'm waffling and I dont mean to do that.

This was one of the four boar that I saw.

Above are three of the group, they were relaxed enough to lie down and by this time there were 3 people taking pictures of them and numerous cars stopping to admire them. One of the three taking pictures was a chap I'd met before, Alan Hooper. It was nice to meet up with Alan and I spent some time with him. Both Alan and I have had a few problems in our lives and it was funny how we both saw the forest as a tool to coping with those problems. Thanks Alan for a great chat.

There are ongoing wranglings between a group of boar supporters and the Forestry over the culling of boar within the FOD.  A friend of mine, David Slater is doing a lot of good work, along with others, to try and ensure that boar remain in the forest and are managed properly. I can't do his efforts justice on this blog but what I can do is suggest that you all, a) Have a look at his website, see how passionate he is about the boar and admire his wonderful photos, and b) Join his group, friends of the boar. I think there is a link from his blog but if not, try googling it.

I also met up with Bob Bushell at the Arboretum. Bob is a character who inspires me. He has a blog and a website (look in my links for a link). I would love to have the patience and drive that Bob has, If I did i might be able to get photos of the quality he produces. The photos of the buzzard that he has on his blog, the header is one of them, were taken in the FOD. I cannot remember having seen such amazing close ups of a genuinely wild Buzzard, check them out.

I enjoyed my day in the forest although I spent most of the time chatting rather than taking pictures but it was so nice to be back.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

New Computer is finally here.

Hello. Well here I am on my new computer. I haven't quite mastered all the ins and outs yet, I'm not sure if I have the resolution right or things like that but we'll see.

So I will try it out with just a few pics to start with and I'd be very grateful for some positive feedback, good or bad either through the comment facility on here or an email to my usual email address.

Start with A wood mouse.

This was the little critter I caught in my humane trap.

It was a pretty little thing. I photographed it through the glass of a small fish tank I purchased for the purpose.
Wish I'd had longer to spend with it. Haven't managed to trap anything since so I have to wait for another go.

I mentioned some time ago an experience with a Barn Owl, or to be precise two occasions with two seperate Barn Owls. The first was one I located whilst out looking for Butterflies. I didn't exactly locate it I was unaware of its existence until I was chatting to a local lady and she asked if I had seen the Short eared Owl. It duly turned out to be a Barnie. I didn't get too close to it but I was amazed by how beautiful it was to watch as it twisted and turned over the grass. I'm using one shot I got of it as my header, here is another.

It was a very pale bird even by Barn Owl standards.

The second was a trip to Anglesey and a very lucky chance encounter with what I believe was a juvenile Barn Owl. I was sitting in the passenger seat of my brothers car, had my 300 lens and 1D set up on my lap when my bro spotted this bird sitting on a Welsh Water notice board.

I spent a week a few years ago in Norfolk with Dave S and Chris G during which time we got quite close to a number of Barn Owls, but never this close. It was no more than 25 feet away and whilst this is a crop its not a big crop. When I looked at the pictures on my camera, once I'd calmed down, I thought it had an injured chest but it isn't its the other foot tucked up. A truly stunning encounter. I submitted the pic to Birdguides and was amazed to find it was the only shot of a Barn Owl on the site from Anglesey (at that time).

I have lost my mojo a bit for photography. If I'm honest not just photography. I cannot find the inspiration at this time. However I did get a few other shots, a couple of which were of butterflies.

This first is a Small Tortoiseshell.

The second is a Meadow Brown.

I carry my camera in the car most of the time, I was rewarded with a shot of a Rabbit kitten on the roadside near to my mothers home in Cheshire.

 A cute little specimen

The nicest shot I've gotten over the summer was undoubtedly the easiest. It didn't move the while time I was doing it. A truly wild example of it's kind. This is going to be a marmite shot, you'll either love it or not. I love it. I haven't seen a truly wild one of these for a long time, not in its seasonal best.

It was in theForest of Dean. I love it.

So thats it for this occasion. I hope it was worth the wait. I have to catalogue the pictures that I didnt lose on my old computer onto Photoshop on the new comp. If the weather is kind I will endeavour to get out and about and find something of interest soon,

Thank you for your patience and thanks for coming back and looking at my website.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Hard drive saved.

No pictures this time, I've done no photography for weeks. However I have solved the hard drive problem. Another of those nice geeky men at PC World/Currys told me that the problem was more than likely to be that my hard drive chassis was damaged. He suggested a trip to Maplins as they had none in stock. 20 mins and 30 pounds later I was on my way home with fingers crossed on both hands, not easy driving that way I tell ya.

I duly un screwed the hard drive and popped it into the chassis and boom, there you go, all the pictures were there. However this computer is still playing me up so I am still in the market for a new one. I've had to have my brakes done on the car this month so it may be next month. But I have been looking.

You're not missing anything but drop by occasionally and check to see if I have posted. Dont give up on me, I hope to get my mojo back soon.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Help needed to prevent major disaster.

I have a huge problem, apart from the fact that I'm fat and ugly. Seriously, I have saved all my images over the last 3-4yrs to an external hard drive. I have somewhere in the region of 10k images on it. However when i tried to use it recently after a request from Dave Slater it wont work.

I have tried to use it on two seperate computers with no joy. I am not very computer legitimate, as any of you who know me will agree, but I did ask a very nice Geeky man at PC World who told me that I needed to do. control panel, administrative tools, disc management, locate external hard drive, and repair. However when I get to the locate external hard drive bit and click on that it says "disc not ready" or "drive not ready". I know that I've done nothing so far that can harm the drive as the nice man told me in no uncertain terms not to click on anything other than repair, and I havent got to that bit yet.

Can any of you out there help? I know I have not got many great pictures but thats not the point. to lose the record of my efforts over the last 3-4 yrs would be devastating ( I know I always said different chris but I never expected it to happen).

I would willingly post the hard drive to you if you are expert enough to repair it for me or do any of you know somewhere where I can take it to get it repaired?

Please help if you can, get back to me on 07794 562074 or my email address

Thank you.

Oh and by the way the purchase of a new bed meant that I didnt get the new computer yet so be patient with me.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Computer is Kaput

I had got some shots that I wanted to bring you today but the computer is causing me horrendous problems. It wont transfer half of my pictures from the camera, it wont let me open pictures in EOS to change them into TIFS, so I can only advise you that a new comp is on the cards for the end of this month. So be patient and come back in a few weeks time.

I've had some lovely sightings too, Grass snake, Wood mouse, Barn Owl just to name a few. Work is still curtailing my photography though so whilst I have some I have actually done very little. Its a good job there are others out there doing some good stuff. Both the Bob's are still producing stuff, Brian W has given us some good stuff from Scotland but Mike Smith, who still hasn't done a website or blog, has produced some cracking Little Owl shots which he has posted on Birdguides ( Michael, I said it on BG and I'll say it again I am truly envious of your Little Owl images, but I know that it is only a result of your hard work and perseverence, well done mate. Hope we can get another trip to Norfolk or maybe Scotland in soon.

So a new comp will be mine at the end of the month and then I promise I will do a catch up.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

From my back door and a little beyond.

I have myself a job now, working 4 days a week, so chances for photography are few and far between. Add to that fact a head cold, very high winds and problems with my 1D mk 3 and you will hopefully understand why I have not got a lot to offer.

However, I hope that what I have got is of a quality that will please. I want to start with a subject that I have mentioned before, the moon. I love the moon, I find it very calming and mesmerising. I spent a while looking at the moon one evening recently and played about with different settings on the camera. I wish I had the ability to read the destruction booklet and learn more about using my camera but as soon as I start reading, my mind goes blank. I got one shot that I'm happy with.

I would love to get better shots, 

Something else that always amazes me are Dandelion clocks. You know the one's that you blow to tell the time, unless you're a 4yr old child and you suck and get a gob full of seeds. I love the delicate nature of the things.

This isn't probably the best shot you've ever seen of one but it shows what I mean.

The birds in my garden are looking somewhat rough, the Blue tits are unphotographable at the moment. The Starling stay for only a second or two and are extremely flighty. The Woodpigeons are great but my dog dashes out to chase them off as soon as they land on the fence. The only birds that are brave enough to ignore her are the House Sparrows.

The best surprise of the week though was a Hornet in the garden. When I first saw it I thought it was dead.

This is exactly as it was. But as i set up my kit it started to move and only then did I actually realise just how large they are.

I can't recall having seen one this close.

I dont think it was well, it found a hole and crawled into it, but I enjoyed the short time I spent in it's company.

I banged my camera this week and have been having intermittent problems with it, now that I'm working I will be able to afford to send it off to get it checked. Thankfully I have the 50D as a back up. so hopefully weather and time permitting I will be able to post again soon. The exposure seems all over the place so best get it checked. I'm also still having problems with the computer, so a new one of those is on the cards too.
Thanks for your patience in waiting for this post. Andy C, you can update your website now.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Mixed bag.

Hello all, I've been continuing with the Macro stuff for the last few days with an hours long lens thrown in, in the Forest on Weds whilst I waited for the dog at the hairdressers.


Large White Butterfly.

Pearl bordered Frittilery.

A Cerposis Vulnerata.

are enough examples of the Macro stuff, the Wood Warbler was very frustrating, I found one who was not too afraid of me but it just wouldn't come low, this is a crop.

Wood Warbler.

One of the most enjoyable opportunities this week came from some more views of one of the Terrapins on the local pond, I have seen two together this week but the one decided it wanted to remain anonymous and plopped into the water just as I got my lens set up.

It is hard to photograph them on their favourite log as the sun is wrong in the mornings and the angle wrong in the afternoon. However I decided to have a go when it was very hazy the other day, I'm pleased with these.



I tried to get the Mallard ducklings that are currently on the pond but the Cob Mute Swan was adamant that he did not want them in the picture, I have never witnessed such unfaltering chasing of ducklings. The Swan did not seem interested in stopping the mother from getting the bread that I had thrown out but it just wouldn't let the ducklings come close.

Mallard and Ducklings.

I hope you will agree another mixed bag of not a lot. But my I've been having fun doing the tiny stuff, its almost given me back my desire to do more photography.

On a sad note, I'm having horrendous problems with my laptop, it crashed the other day and despite getting most of my stuff back I lost a months worth of pics including some lovely ones of my Grandson, I cannot upload pictures to the gallery link, because it say's "access denied" every time I try and the EOS utility programme seems to be working only intermittently. I have problems with Photoshop updating too. I will get it looked at as soon as I can but for a while there won't be any updates in the gallery.

Just for your perusal and because I can I want to show you this shot of my boy, My little Grandson Kenzie-James Lamb, who now can say, Grandad, Car and Keys, and whom I have to allow to drive my car outside his house for 5 mins every visit.

As always click on the pics for larger versions.