Blog catch up time

  • February 1, 2017 10:07 pm

I realise I’ve really neglected my blog recently, instead I’ve just been adding recent photos to my Facebook page, but I’ve been missing writing, so it’s time for a quick update. Since my last blog in late Summer I continued photographing the bees, and had the pleasure of photographing this beautiful Common Carder bee, a species I had previously overlooked, but one that proved very photogenic. I hope to continue with the bee photography this year, once the weather gets warmer of course!

September - Common Carder Bee

In November I visited the fine city of Norwich to catch up with the wonderful Waxwings, a rather irregular Winter visitor from Scandinavia, always a real treat to see these punky birds with their stunning plumage and beautiful bell like trilling call. They are still around in a few places so watch out for them near any berry bushes you might find.

November - Waxwing

In December during a quick visit to the coast I found this lovely Grey seal, who was gently rolling down the sloping sand of the beach with each sleepy breath, rather comical but very peaceful to watch!

December - Grey Seal

Just lately I’ve been back on my local patch over at Redgrave and Lopham Fen, the Bearded Reedlings seem to have done very well this past year and there are lots around. After many years of trying I’ve finally started to get some nice images of them, so I’m really chuffed, it’s a real privilege to photograph these shy birds.

 

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The Roe deer are still around, and I had a wonderful chance encounter with this handsome Roe buck, notice his antlers are now in velvet.

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Thank you all for reading and for your continued support, I really appreciate it!

 

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Roe deer day

  • December 29, 2014 1:46 pm

Beautiful morning out on the fen today. I love this place in the winter, the sparking white blue of the frost contrasts with the golden morning sun on the reeds, always stunning to see. It wasn’t long before I came across lots of Fieldfares, and a trio of Roe deer grazing in the field adjacent to the path. I settled down in the hedgerow to watch them, a real treat to observe them simply going about their business.

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Interestingly the buck has just one antler. They cast them at this time of year, so their new antlers can grow throughout the winter in preparation for the breeding season next year.

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And finally, those Bearded reedlings are still giving me the run around! I don’t mind though, it’s always a pleasure to watch these little birds, even if just for a brief moment, before they flit away through the reeds.

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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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Bearded Tits

  • November 18, 2012 2:32 pm

Out in search of the Bearded tits again this morning. It was a frosty start and the fen was shrouded in mist. I walked along past the oaks, not a good year for acorns it seems and consequently there are very few Jay’s around. A small mottled brown bird darts silently out of a tree to a cacophony of alarm calls. He perches on a branch ahead and bobs up and down – a Little Owl, he turns and glides away through the trees. Rounding the corner I come face to face with a Roe deer buck, for a few tense seconds we stare at each other. Then he barks and bounds away into the fen. As I walk through the area of cut fen two Snipe rocket out of the low vegetation, they are so well camouflaged I never see them before they see me. A few steps more and a trio more whisk away into the sky.

I set up in the same place as last week, but it’s quiet and again, I can’t help wondering if they’ve moved on. I hear some distant ‘pings’ in the reedbed behind me, was that an answering call to the reeds in front? I wait. There’s a group of three flitting around, but they’re distant and seem skittish. There’s a lot of Carrion Crow activity this morning, maybe that’s why they’re being extra shy today.

They pop up for a moment, then fly off together. Time for another long wait. An hour later, they flit over the reeds towards me, one flies high above to join it’s comrades out in the fen behind me, but two, a male and female remain.

 

The male poses for a couple of shots before they fly off together. A frustrating morning for me, though I didn’t come away empty handed, better luck next week!

 

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Autumn Fen

  • November 11, 2012 1:56 pm

A stunning morning on the Fen, a crisp frosty start and delicious golden light. The Konik ponies look so at home here, they were warming up in the sun at the edge of the wood.

On in search of the Bearded Tits, but all was quiet in the reedbed. I can’t help feeling a bit disappointed, but that’s wildlife for you. I guess they’ve moved on, or maybe they’re out somewhere on the open fen. I decide to stick around for a while just in case, and amuse myself with a little art photography.

Created simply by panning the camera vertically during the exposure, the end result is always a surprise. This technique seems to work really well with the reeds and really captures the lovely warm light.

Wandering on a little further, a movement in the reeds catches my eye – a tiny Wren flitting around the stems. Then something else flutters, a glimpse of Autumn coloured feathers and a striking black stripe, it can only be – the Bearded Tits!

I manage one shot before he pings away into the reeds with the others. A long wait later, and there they are again. This time perched in the open on stems of Reedmace further down the path. *Please stay there, please stay there*! I hurry along the path towards them, as close as I dare, and to my surprise they stay.

 

I guessed around 6 in total, males and females together. They are such charismatic little birds and it’s such a treat to have them here. The photography is getting better (the above shot is approx 50% full frame), but there’s still a long way to go, I really hope they stick around this winter.

Walking back happy, a trio of Roe does prance across the path and the woodland looks stunning in it’s Autumnal splender. Down in the wet wood a Buzzard launches itself from a tree as I approach, surprising both me and the local Carrion crows, who mob and chase it away. I’ve not seen one so close around here before, they certainly see to be getting more common. A piece of dead branch shaken loose by the Buzzard’s hasty take off thuds down beside the tree, time for home and a cuppa.

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Back to the Fen

  • October 13, 2012 10:54 am

My first visit to the Fen in a long time, it was great to pick the camera up and get out again. The reedbeds are quiet now that the warblers have departed for somewhere warmer, and everywhere has a gentle autumnal glow. With little going on I pick out a Reedmace head to photograph, and two Grey herons flap lazily overhead.

 

Walking on I hear the unmistakeable ‘ping’ of Bearded tits in the reeds, are my ears deceiving me? I can’t see anything, so move on and find the cows. Just like the ponies, the cows graze the fen keeping scrub down and opening up the ground.

 

 

Turning away from the cows I spot the luxuriant brush of a fox bounding into the gorse. She stops and looks at me. I carefully unfold the tripod legs, but as I open the final one, *creeeeak*, I flinch and she bounds away. Two lessons learned: the sound and smell of the cows hides my presence, and my tripod needs oiling…

Out onto the open fen now, and there’s that sound again, a musical ‘ping’ bouncing around the reeds. I see a movement and spot them, a flash of blue, a flash of russet. Bearded tits! I can see three but hear more, they call to each other, exchanging ‘pings’, the sound is amazing. I can’t help smiling, the last time I saw Bearded tits here must have been around five years ago now. It’s great to see them. They fly together over the reeds and I estimate ten of them. That’s fantastic! I take a couple of shots, but they’re too far away. There’s some potential here though, and suddenly my enthusiasm for photography is re-kindled.

 

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