Nearly but not quite

  • December 6, 2014 2:12 pm

Someone very wise once said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It’s true, and that’s what we do as wildlife photographers. We visit the same spot again and again, hoping for that one moment when it all comes together. The light, the subject – we wait for that one moment. Well that’s what I’ve been doing for several weeks now. Waiting on the Fen, for a special subject. This morning was a beautiful frosty start to the day, the first thing I see slinking through the crystallised grass is a Fox, sleek and handsome he stares at me when I squeak, and then bounces away as I try to turn the camera towards him. The frozen ground crunches underfoot, and the first golden light pours over the glistening white frost. The hedge is full of chattering Fieldfares, a pair of Swans glide overhead and two of the resident Roe deer watch shyly as I walk by.

Great reedmace, Typha latifoli, Bulrush, frost, Winter, Suffolk, December

 

Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum, covered in frost, Winter, December, Suffolk

 

I reach the spot and wait, an hour or maybe two goes by with nothing but the most fleeting of glimpses. I move on, and then there,  a movement. Two more, quite close, a flutter, a whistle, they flit on the top of the reeds, the birds I’ve been trying to photograph for weeks.

 

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Bearded tits. Not very well named really, they’re not a member of the tit family, and the male wears a rather dapper moustache rather than a beard. Anyway, they are special little birds, a regular, though elusive Winter visitor to the Fen. So here’s my nearly but not quite photo, they decided to perch momentarily on the same reed, meaning I couldn’t get both in focus, then they moved down into the reeds to feed, not allowing any other chances to get a clear view. Nearly, but not quite. I’ll keep trying!

 

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Painting the sky with birds

  • November 30, 2014 8:55 pm

The rush of air in wings, a thousand birds swirling through the sky in perfect synchrony. At this time of year you can witness one of natures most spectacular events as thousands of Starlings flock together to roost in safety. Across the country great clouds of birds gather at dusk, dancing through the sky together before pouring down into the roosting site. These murmurations occur in many different places, one of the most famous being Brighton Pier, but they also happen over reedbeds. There’s normally a small murmuration on the fen every year, so I set out to photograph it. I wasn’t particularly successful on this occasion sadly, but hopefully I’ll get a chance to go back soon.

Whilst I was there though, with the light fading fast, I turned my attention to the equally spectacular Rook and Jackdaw roost. The noise is the first thing that strikes you, the combined voices of hundreds of Rooks and Jackdaws becomes an overwhelming cacophony, as the birds swoop through the sky. Not in synchrony like the Starlings, much more a chaotic ballet as each birds searches for the perfect roosting spot. With the sun now below the horizon, the birds pour into the trees. With barely any light to shoot with I manually focus on the birds already in the trees and keep my finger on the shutter button. Each flying bird leaves a ghostly trail through the sky with such a slow shutter speed, and the camera captures the very last glimmer of light in the sky. After I take this image, a trembling hoot from one of the local Tawny Owls echoes out from the wood, and I know it’s time to head home.

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Now on Facebook!

  • November 23, 2014 5:18 pm

Just a quick note to say Dawn Monrose Nature Photography is now on Facebook!

Head over to https://www.facebook.com/DawnMonroseNaturePhotography and ‘like’ my page to keep up to date with all my latest adventures. I’ll still be sharing my photos and the story behind them here on the blog, so keep checking back here, or use the ‘Follow’ button in the bottom right corner of your screen to receive blog updates straight to your inbox.

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Autumn

  • October 20, 2014 8:09 pm

The golden season. Hedgerows heavy with fruits lead me to the earthy scented forest. Fungi, like this Fly Agaric push through the dark, damp soil. A Jay flies overhead with a beak full of acorns, and a Squirrel scampers up a tree to watch me walk by.

Fly agaric, Amanita muscaria, in woodland, October, Norfolk

Away from the forest into the open parkland now. Gnarled old trees stand steady, how many Autumns have they seen I wonder? A roar cuts through the mist, a Fallow deer buck lets forth a deep, powerful bellow, and waits for a reply.

Fallow deer, Dama dama, Buck under oak tree, Autumn, October, Suffolk

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Jiminy Cricket

  • October 4, 2014 6:18 pm

Down at the bottom of the garden there’s a chirping coming from the hedge, but it’s not a bird, it’s a Dark bush-cricket. He suns himself on a plant pot, before boinging back off to the hedge.

 

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A Very Hungry Caterpillar

  • September 13, 2014 6:16 pm

Firstly, apologies again for the blog silence. A number of things have been holding me back recently, not least a bad shoulder injury. (Think: a dog, on lead, and a rabbit, with ‘Carry on dog walking’ style falling over due to the lead wrapped round my legs, all followed by a three hour visit to A & E, and you’ll get the idea.)

Much better now though, and as I was visiting the compost bin in the garden the other day, I realised there was something watching me… I did a double take in fact, as the creature perched on the plant next to the compost seemed to be watching me intently with large dark eyes. Only it wasn’t, it was quite happily munching away on the Great Willowherb, safe in the knowledge it’s olive green colouring and extraordinary markings would frighten me off. It did, but only for a few minutes as I went to grab the camera.

 

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This is an Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar, a rather spectacularly large (about 8cm long) animal that will, next spring, turn into a beautiful bright pink hawkmoth that will sip nectar from the honeysuckle flowers in the hedge.

There were 5 caterpillars in all, and they have now gradually started to move away to find a safe place on or under the soil to wrap themselves in a cocoon to overwinter, before emerging as moths when the weather warms up next year.

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The King of the River

  • June 15, 2014 1:53 pm

The Norfolk Broads, a watery wonderland that has to be one of my favourite places. At dawn and dusk it’s a magical wild world, that huge Norfolk sky reflected in the mirror still surface of the river, giving you the impression of being held suspended in an infinite space, immersed in the bluest sky, surrounded with glowing clouds.

So still and peaceful on the surface, but busy with the flow of life. It’s a place so rich in wildlife, around every corner there is something new to watch. A Marsh Harrier drifts across on steady wings, a White Owl hunts the meadow beyond, a splash comes from a jumping fish chased by the sleek Otter, a perfect, delicate Swallowtail Butterfly flutters from thistle to thistle at the waters edge. Piercing through this all, the piping whistle of the King of the River, often seen only in a flash of extravagant blue, so difficult to spot when perched still, waiting for the next little fish to swim by, but here he is sitting in front of me, calming bobbing his head, as I breathlessly squeeze the shutter. The Kingfisher.

Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, perched on mossy branch, Norfolk Broads, June

 

 

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A is for Avocet

  • June 4, 2014 6:39 pm

Had a wonderful weekend away in North Norfolk, great weather, great company, and a bit of photography too of course. To start my ‘Big 30′ project I concentrated on photographing the Avocets at RSPB Titchwell. I must admit do seem to have a lot of favourite birds, but the Avocet is definitely up there with my top choices. Such a delicate and elegant creature in perfectly patterned monochrome. With the light overcast but bright and the water still, I saw an opportunity to create a ‘high-key’ image, a photographic technique that creates a simple graphic portrait, which I hope does justice to this beautiful bird.

Avocet, Recurvirostra avosetta, ruffling feathers, Norfolk, May

 

 

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A Big Year

  • May 30, 2014 4:56 pm

This year is a big year for me. Not in the same sense as a bird watchers ‘Big Year’, where they try to see as many different species as possible, but because today I turned 30. So in a fit of ambitiousness I decided to set myself the challenge of photographing 30 different wildlife events and species. By this time next year, I hope to bring you a portfolio of 30 amazing images of British nature. I’ve a few things in mind, Kingfishers for example, but I’m open to suggestions!

If you want to follow my progress with this ‘Big 30’ project, please take a moment to ‘Follow’ my blog – click the link in the bottom right hand corner, enter your details, and you will receive an email every time I post here.

If you have any suggestions for what you’d like me to photograph, please post a comment below!

 

Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, male perched on riverbank, Suffolk, May

 

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New kids on the block

  • May 21, 2014 9:09 pm

It’s that time of year when you might start seeing some strange new birds in your garden. Newly fledged youngsters often look very different from their parents. This baby Starling for example looks totally unrelated to the dark, glossy, iridescent adult birds. Yet they fly together in formation, adults leading their offspring to the feeder and showing them what to do, the youngsters chattering and squawking, eagerly awaiting a titbit offered by it’s parent.

Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, juvenile perched on bird feeder, Norfolk, May

 

 

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