Sunday, 28 October 2012

27th October, Snow but not the sort I expected!!

The forecasted Arctic blast arrived, a covering of snow did not though and I set out on an early morning woodland walk at Low Wood near Riddlesden. It was certainly chilly and I was well wrapped against the freezing wind. My first circuit of the woods revealed little, a few birds were chirping invisibly in the treetops and well out of range for my camera.

I decided to check the canal to see if there was anything of interest, luckily the wind dropped to a gentle breeze.

As the photograph shows at least the sun was shining and it was much warmer here, the usual mallards were about.

We usually get an influx of canada geese and I soon encountered a large group, obviously newly arrived judging by their nervous and twitchy behaviour. A closer look revealed a stranger in their midst...a beautiful snow goose.

These birds have probably flown from Alaska or Canada to winter here, the snow goose often travels with other geese according to my books.

I returned to the woods for another circuit...

It was bright and pleasant now and devoid of photographic subjects! A  lengthy perusal through the binoculars brought me distant views of jay and great spotted woodpecker, attempts at getting near enough to photograph them were laughable, I had my clumsy feet on!

I was on the verge of packing it in for the morning when a jay appeared from the undergrowth, it was feeding on acorns on the ground.

A grey squirrel offered me another opportunity...this too was partially obscured by an offending twig!

Time for home now, our lovely grand-daughters were joining us for the afternoon and evening and we had decided to take them to the pumpkin hunt at Bolton Abbey.

I dropped them and Mrs Wildlife off at the turning to the Cavendish Pavilion and drove down to Barden Scale to park the car thus avoiding the dreaded and extortionate estate parking charges. The plan was for me to walk downstream to meet them and then we would walk together back to the car.

The autumnal shades on the mature trees were beautiful...

I soon found the team and they were enjoying the hunt, the witches were not too difficult to find!
The pumpkins were numerous and not too hard to locate, gaps in interest were filled with leaf kicking battles and lots of laughter:-)
What a grand way to spend an afternoon!

Monday, 22 October 2012

21st October, A sunny walk by the canal

We had a late start this Sunday, both a bit weary after the long day with the deer and some jobs to catch up on. Mid afternoon all tasks were completed and we took in a walk by the Leeds Liverpool canal, the sun was shining and the sky was blue.

I promised the chance of seeing the kingfisher as we strolled, I had been on my own for the previous sightings, pretty soon we spotted the little beauty peeping from a bush..

Unfortunately it flew a good distance away before we could get a better view, luckily it went in the direction we were heading.

This moorhen provided a lovely reflection..

We then approached the area we had seen the kingfisher fly to, walking cautiously and carefully, above all hoping no-one else appeared!!

We were in luck, first a slightly bashful look from the kingfisher before a more classic pose:-)

Eventually the inevitable happened, cyclists approached and off it went..

We did track it down again, a long distance zoom and not a great shot..

A lovely couple of hours in the warm sunshine, a good look at the kingfisher for us both, what a super walk.

The golden autumn leaves on the trees just added to the beauty:-)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

20th October, Boredale, Cumbria, red deer

So it is birthday day for Mrs Wildlife, suggestions of a posh meal meal out were discarded swiftly in favour of a day to witness the testosterone fuelled red deer rut. Our best chance lay in the Lake District on the eastern side of Ullswater, down through Martindale and up to Boredale Head.

There is room to park a few cars but get there early!

I love the structure and build of these old barns...

We spotted deer on the lower slope of Place Fell, between Hawk Crag and Black Crag. A hint of a path by the stream led us up the lower slopes..

After enduring a very steep off path walk and scramble I poked my head above the rocks to be greeted by my watcher, their sense of hearing and smell is way, way off our scale..

The stag then emerged to show his full size!

Not the biggest stag we have seen but a magnificent sight...and smell? Their urge to mate is getting stronger by the day, they urinate every few seconds, salivation is regular...the tension builds.

We tracked back down the hill carefully, a steep fell and wet grass!

The view back to Hallin Fell was entrancing...

A lovely chaffinch posed in a shrub on the way down, nearly got the focus right!

After a refuel at the car we headed up Boredale, the lower western slopes of Beda Fell held many herds, lots of calling and aggressive behaviour but no skirmishes.

The stags root among the bracken....

And occasionally the bracken sticks:-))

The bellowing was almost deafening at times..

The drive back was great, the view from the Coomb up Ullswater was superb!

One last warning, don't try to impersonate the stags...this may happen..

So I had their attention, but it was time to leave.....

Thursday, 18 October 2012

18th October, A powercut and a kingfisher!

Late this morning there was an unexpected power cut at work, telephone calls via private mobiles meant we could report the fault, reasonable daylight presented the opportunity for tidying desks and getting the filing up to date.

An early afternoon call revealed that a fix was not likely for a few hours, I chose to leave early with the option of making my time up at a later date. An opportunity to check the kingfisher site was on my mind, the light had dulled so sharp photographs seemed unlikely but the chance to study this beautiful bird again could not be spurned.

Soon after leaving the car I had one shot safely in the camera!

The little beauty then flew off as usual, I followed slowly. The next half an hour followed the pattern of Saturday, sight then flight, the causes were the, bikes and dog walkers, I remained patient.

Another good look came soon enough, I just could not get the sharp focus I wanted...

It then became clear that there were two kingfishers at large, the one I was tracking flew past a gate...on the gate was a kingfisher!!

The one on the gate took off only to land on a lower rail, I attempted a flight shot with a laughable result, practice needed!

I stood at a distance at which I know does not alarm them and waited until it became comfortable with my presence, moving ever so slowly I inched closer.

This is obviously cropped heavily and the sharpness suffers...another version -

This one is cropped slightly, even with a 35 x optical zoom ( equivalent to an 840mm lens) with built in stabilisation device, getting a really close shot is oh so difficult.

Here to end is the original photograph, completely untouched to demonstrate the scale of difficulty, demonstrating the quickening of the pulse, the adrenalin rush and the satisfaction when one achieves a half decent kingfisher shot I will leave until I find the words:-)

Thanks for taking a look:-))

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

14th October, RSPB Fairburn Ings

We decided on another trip eastwards through Airedale on Sunday, RSPB Fairburn Ings is only a short drive for us and we enjoyed our previous visit.

We were no sooner out of the car when a plaintive peep from a bush disclosed a young dunnock, a sweet and much loved little bird.

I prefer to photograph birds in a natural setting wherever possible, the feeders by the hide behind the centre had a very disorderly queue of birds waiting for a go on the various feeders...goldfinch, greenfinch, great tit, blue tit and tree sparrows all vying for their turn...

We spent quite a while at the kingfisher wall with no luck, maybe I had used all my good fortune the previous day!

There were a few dragonflies about, this darter was basking in the warm autumn sun.

The various lakes were lovely in the sunshine, resplendent with swans and coots numerous..

One of our favourite water birds is the great crested grebe and we were lucky enough for a juvenile to come near enough for a photograph.

A large series of ponds at the eastern end had evidently been popular with kingfishers earlier in the day, there were none evident when we reached them despite a lengthy search.

As we strolled back towards the centre a strange and unexplained commotion in the water drew our attention. There was nothing visible until this young great crested grebe appeared through the water with its tasty catch!

A pause by the river to photograph the splendid bridge and our lovely day was over....