Tatton Park and Leighton Moss

Last week was a complete and utter write off for me. I felt poorly for more of less all of it. A constant migraine and the accompanying side effects had me out of action all week more or less. I honestly thought that this week I would not have any content to blog with.

Fortunately for me, the weekend brought with it a lovely night away with my partner. A much needed break to hopefully reset.

Like many others this year, any travel plans we had booked previously for this year, had been cancelled, including what was meant to be our very first family holiday. I try not to get too disheartened by its cancellation, as with what is happening all over the world with covid it was the right course of action for the time.

This night away was much needed. A change is as good as a rest, as the saying goes.

The first day out we planned was Tatton Park. I had picked this particular place due to the residing deer within the park land. Autumn always means rutting. I had missed out on the rut last year and was determined that I would not miss it again.

Tatton park has many things to see, we started the day in the gardens and around the arboretum. In particular the Japanese gardens were stunning. A gorgeous early autumn scene greeted us as we ambled around and I could not resist getting a snap.

Then onward to my goal, off around the parkland to find the red deer.

You could hear the bellowing males before you saw them. I have to admit it is not something I had heard before, a deep, almost roar like sound from these magnificent animals.

We came across one specific male that was surrounded by no less than 25 does! At first when we came upon this group the male seemed to be on alert, making sure his harem stayed where he wanted them and keeping an eye on who or what was around.

After a while, he became quite calm and relaxed, considering there were plenty of people walking around the grounds and you could hear other males bellowing not too far off in the distance. Once he had settled, he seemed to take it all in his stride, even lying down with the rest of the herd at one point.

I didn’t get to see any fights for mating rights or territory, but I was so happy to be near them and get pictures, demonstrating just how beautiful they are.

The following day we picked Leighton Moss RSPB reserve. I have to admit I wasn’t sure what I would see there, picking it on a whim as it was close to where we had stayed.

I was pleasantly surprised by the variety on the water and around the grounds.

Leighton Moss is a great place to see bearded tits. Rare and very beautiful birds, there are only approx. 630 pairs currently in the UK. They are usually seen within reed beds feeding on insects and reed seeds. Leighton Moss has the biggest reed bed in the north east of England, you can see why the bearded tits would love it there.

Unfortunately it was not our day to witness them, they have gone onto my bird bucket list. A great excuse to return in the future (like many other places I have visited)

For the lack of bearded tits the day was made up with chaffinches, coal tits, blue tits, robins, dunnocks, nuthatches and my very first sighting of a marsh tit.

I may not be completely over my migraines but the weekend did offer some respite and great experiences to be positive about.

I hope your week has been a great one, until next time, take care.

Fungus, Ducks and a Dog.

Bodenham Arboretum ( http://www.bodenhamarboretum.co.uk/ )

This week I have been on my first photography outing with the camera club I recently joined (and have mentioned in previous blog posts).

We visited the beautiful Bodenham arboretum. A place I had never previously been. My aim was to try and capture the autumn colours and more landscape type shots, styles in which I need to practice.

What I returned with however, was lots of fungi shots! The woodland was brimming with fabulous fungus and I made the most of the abundance.

We were very lucky with the weather, the past week there has been persistent showers but we were graced with a sunny day. The wooded paths offered dappled light and I hope in a few of the photos (in particular the sulphur tuft) you get a sense of how I saw the light on the day.

I have tried my best to identify each variety I have posted, its definitely a skill to know which is what fungus. Researching through various web pages I hope I have labelled each correctly. If there are any that you think I may have misidentified please let me know. Feedback is always welcome.

I have to say google lens was not very helpful, each picture I showed to the app it labelled as mushroom!

I did manage to get one autumnal leaves/branch shot. I like the way the shot looks personally. I find these types of shots hard to gauge on how to shoot them. As I am taking the shot I know in my head what I would like to convey but most times I don’t hit the mark as I review the images on the laptop.

I did take some wider angle landscape shots as we walked around the grounds, but I do not feel confident enough with the outcome to share at this point.

I will keep trying at landscapes but it is definitely one of my weaker styles. I feel that I don’t have the eye for what makes a good landscape. Practise should hopefully help.

At Bodenham arboretum as you walk through the entrance there is a pool (think this is the correct term, it was bigger than a pond but smaller than a lake). I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the ducks. The water was so still at certain times during the day it looked like glass, the colours reflected were glorious.

Now I come to my new friend, the collie joined us on the second half of our walk through the arboretum. Looking for people to play with; this beautiful pup brought us a pine come it wanted us to play fetch with.

So as we snapped and chatted we had a new companion through the woodland and back to the cafe. We assume (as mentioned in the leaflet given to us at the start of the day) this doggy belonged to the farm within the arboretum.

Again who could resist taking a picture of such a lovely dog.

All in all a great day was had by all. I look forward to more dedicated photography day trips to mix up what I shoot and get advice from those shooting around me. To improve in photography, the more shots you can take the better.

I hope you enjoy this weeks offering.

Weekend Outings

For the last couple of weekends I have been determined to go out into the world to scratch my photography itch (so to speak).

Free time is just so rare, with work responsibilities, family /general life, I definitely don’t get out to shoot as much as I’d like to, I think many other hobby photographers feel that way to.

The first stop on my photography tour was Stow-on-the-wold, St Edwards Church to photograph a doorway. You may be thinking…”why? to just shoot a doorway?” Well; this particular doorway is supposedly the one that inspired Tolkien for his door to Moria in The Lord Of The Rings story.

Even if this isn’t true, you can certainly see why people would think so. Tucked behind the back of the Church, the doorway is very unassuming. To be honest, after shooting it, I felt like I didn’t really capture anything to depict the magic of architecture and nature mingled together.

Looking at my uploads back home and playing about slightly with the edits (I try not to mess about to much with what I shoot) the 2 I have chosen to post are to me my best representation. I am happy I did manage to get something! It all goes towards experience.

Next stop was Witley Court and Gardens, more architectural shooting although I did manage to find some nature shots.

I absolutely love the fountain at Witley, for those who haven’t seen it, the statue in the centre show the moment Perseus (atop of Pegasus) defeat the Kraken to rescue Andromeda (I adore Greek myths too, so shooting this was a delight).

Witley itself is a very grand house, gutted by a fire in 1937 the stone structure still alludes to the opulence that once was.

At the moment there is an art exhibition which is is intertwined within the property. One of the exhibits is shown below. Its well worth a viewing if you get the chance. (In Ruins- 12 July-3 November 2019)

As I was walking around one of the pathways, a flash of red caught my eyes. Tucked right under one of the trees, swamped by various foliage. I had found my first red mushroom!

Fly agaric I think it is known officially. I had to off road to get close, it was the only one I managed to find but this one was enough for me. Worth the muddy knees as I got right down to shoot. The things photographers do for a shot!

The final stop for this set of tours is the unmistakable Stonehenge. I had never been before. I had gone full of optimism that I wasn’t going to shoot the cliche shots, the ones you see all the time. The truth is the best ones I took that day were the standard ones.

The weather didn’t help, very flat grey skies and drizzly rain (I forgot to take a cover, which was poor planning really). A lot of my shots were scrapped as had rain on the lens, which could of been completely preventable if I had been more organised. Again more lessons learnt.

The stones themselves are quite intimidating, I was quite naive really. I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to show this aura in my pictures and having played around with some of the shots to monotone I have hopefully given a sense of what I felt that day. Fingers crossed!