Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A Local Walk

I decided today to take an opportunity to escape the computer screen and go for a walk. I chose to stick to my local area to save the fuel in the car. Armed with my binoculars and fuelled by a KitKat I strolled along a path that follows a strip of woodland and a stream that runs between a quiet residential area and a small industrial estate. From there I ventured onto Midhurst Common, gazing upwards into the heights of pine and birch trees, and down into the depths of flooded sand pits at the base of steep sand 'cliff' edges. I searched the lake edges in vain for the halcyon blue of Kingfisher but although no sight of this beautiful bird could be found, I saw many other species along the way. The rest of my walk took me alongside allotments and past a lake where a pair of herons nested last year and then home via the farm track and industrial estate. In total I saw or heard 22 bird species, including Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Coal Tit and many many Robins. Common or Garden birds they all were, but they were a pleasure to watch and the songs and calls were wonderful too: indeed, I did more birding with my ears than my eyes!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Shades of Grey

Brighton, February 2012

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Frost and sunsets

The weather is now very cold, with a sprinkling of snow over the weekend. People have been stocking up their bird feeders and bulk buying bread and milk to fill their freezers. The pale grey, featureless clouds reflect the weak winter sunlight in an odd way, making the day seem brighter than it is, playing havoc with auto-exposure settings on the camera!
Never the less I have been continuing my attempt to capture the effects of weather and season, focusing on a row of ancient Oaks which stand along a field boundary near my home. From the best vantage point, I face south and west, a direction that should reveal scudding clouds and looming weather fronts, the full majesty of golden sunsets, and a blue shadowy background of rolling downs. Cows occupy the field over winter months, their breath fogging in the cold air, feet churning sodden ground to thick mud. The early morning sun glints off their backs and the frost which lines the rim of the feeders. As the months warm, the cattle will be moved on to greener pastures, the field will be ploughed and cultivated and rows of green shoots coaxed from the soil. The green haze of spring soon develops into maturing plants, which by summer form dense blocks of maze, growing taller than my head hight, to be harvested come September and stored as feed for the next winter's cattle. A strip along the field edge, between the cultivated land and the woodland which lies behind me, is fenced off and left fallow. In summer it is a wildlife haven of grasses, dock, wild-flowers, and a multitude of buzzing and flying insects. Some years the whole field is left fallow, the tall grasses feeding the caterpillars of Meadow Brown and Gate-Keeper butterflies, purple flowering vetch twining its tendrils around grass stems, and white daisy-like Mayweed flowers dancing in every breath of breeze.
For now however the field is still in it's winter stage; brown mud, brown cows and grey clouds, mornings of diamond frost and evenings of fiery sky.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Lesson 1...Always carry a compact camera in your handbag!

You never know when there might be an opportunity to capture a photo or two, like these I took today of sun and shadows at Cowdray Ruins, Midhurst.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Blashford Lakes, Woodland birds and Woodland deer

As January passes into February, clear skies and a north east wind have sent overnight temperatures plummeting. It is pretty cold during the daytime too!! We have not seen much really cold weather so far this winter and everybody seems to be feeling the chill. The frost and ice doesn't seem to be bothering our pair of garden Robins however, who after some territorial squabbling over the past few weeks, seem to have sorted out their differences and now forage through the seeds and crumbs on the bird table and hanging feeders side by side quite happily. Sometimes one will be singing quietly from a hidden spot in a nearby small tree whilst the other feeds. 
On Monday I, and my folks, visited Blashford Lakes near Ringwood in Hampshire, a nature reserve managed by Hampshire Wildlife Trust. As is often our luck we managed to pick the one day this week, without a clear blue sky and frosty morning but instead drove into rain, and then snow, and even when that cleared, the clouds remained. Nevertheless we had a wonderful visit. My personal highlight was the fantastic close views of Redpoll and Siskin, along with many other woodland birds, on the numerous feeders and from the one-way windows of the hides. A small group of roe deer also bounced past the hide. one young male paused just long enough for his photo to be taken.
Despite the gloomy weather I got a few shots which I was quite pleased with.