2021

Since my last post: we have entered a new year, commenced a new lockdown and have been given hope in the form of a new vaccine.

Firstly, I would like to begin by wishing you all a very happy new year, I really hope the festive season has been kind to you all and the new year has started well despite the new measures that have recently been put into place.

As if the festive season was not hectic enough, I added a house move to the mix. A lot of my mental health was tested with packing, unpacking and adjusting to the change.

One of the huge positives from the move is the new garden, which houses an abundance of nature that is well established, I have been reading on ways to potentially attracting more too. A goal for the year. I look forward to seeing if I manage this.

Nature has always been a great remedy for me, if I am feeling anxious, watching the birds at the feeder can be a great distraction. It may not take my worries away, but it allows me time to settle my thoughts, calm and focus.

So in-between of unpacking and settling in, I have been out in all weathers to sit in garden with the camera.

Even out in snow! Which was a very welcome surprise, it generally misses the area where I live, usually favoring higher regions. I find snow so enchanting, I just adore it, almost as much as my pooch. Its the first time Lance has encountered snow and he absolutely loved it, bounding around like a puppy, it was a struggle getting him back into the house.

Bird watching has been a big focus while out with the camera, top of my wishlist for the future is a pop up hide, there have been Jays who I have seen visit, who I am desperate to capture but are too shy to enter the garden with me in view.

A completely new sighting for me which I did manage to get a quick snap of, who is also the UKs smallest bird (alongside the Firecrest) is a Goldcrest. This bird is perpetually in motion, a blur of movement between branches, I was surprised to get any shot that was in focus. I am very excited to say that I have noticed it in the garden a few times, I am hopeful that this will remain the case for the coming months.

Macro was my savior during the original lockdown, unfortunately it will take a back seat due to the colder months. Although I did manage to get a snowflake shot, which is just as difficult as shooting a jumping spider! Bird, wildlife and nature will be my aim to shoot this time around.

How is everyone feeling about the new lockdown?

I have to say personally I am relieved. With the numbers of positive tests and hospital admittance’s on the rise, it makes sense for there to be more restrictions on daily life for the present moment.

There is hope in the form of a vaccine, which over the coming months with be administered to the most vulnerable in society. These times are hopefully temporary. A necessity to overcome these surreal times.

I know the thought of another lockdown can be scary, I can only hope that with the restrictions in place and the jab being rolled out we are on the final, hardest stretch before we can return to a type of normality.

If you do find yourself struggling with your mental health, I can only implore you to reach out, to family, friends, charities. We need to support each other more than ever.

I shall leave you with the shots I took throughout December. As you can see, Robins are a prominent feature. These feisty little birds have been a regular to the garden and have been serenading me since I moved in (nothing to do with defining territories, or attracting a mate).

I wish you all the best, until next time, take care.

A Year.

2020, without a doubt, has been the most surreal year I have every lived through. I think it is fair to say that this will be a universal truth for everybody.

Reflecting over the past year it strikes me just how quickly this year has gone, it doesn’t seem that long ago we were preparing for the original lock-down in March. I cannot believe that in a matter of weeks we will be welcoming in a brand new year.

Personally I have really struggled this year. My mental health has been affected severely by the uncertainty of the year, not only by the world wide pandemic but insidious battles I had thought I had previously won, which have raised their ugly head to add to an already vulnerable year.

At present I am still struggling with the day to day, the self abuse and lack of motivation continues, still feeling withdrawn from friends and family, I keep dwelling on reasons on why I don’t belong here. I apologise for being very blunt with my mindset, I am hopeful that the fact I am very self aware of these symptoms means I am starting the road to recovery. (I hope that makes sense)

I thought to try and focus on something good, I would look back at my year in regards to my photography. So in the gallery of this post are my personal favourites of the year, in no particular order.

This year has definitely been the year of macro!

This genre of photography has really taken my heart. It was my saving grace during the 1st lock-down, giving me a goal each day. I loved spending days in the garden, finding whatever mini beasts I could, trying not to scare them off, while trying to get close and trying to get a decent snap.

I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of macro. I get such a sense of achievement with my macro work, more so than any other genre.

Who would have ever thought, that by the end of this year I would absolutely, without a doubt, love spiders and wasps!

I am usually one of those people that like the colder months, the colours of Autumn , the festive season with cosy evenings in but I am hankering for the warmer months just for the macro season.

One of my aims regarding my macro shooting in the new year, is to source a better diffuser for my flash gun to take my shots to another level. Its a genre I desperately want to improve in.

One of the things I have learnt this year, is how little I knew about insects, bugs and spiders.

Everytime I shot something new it was so exciting finding out what they were, how they lived, giving me a new found appreciation for this small world that we live so closely to but have very little knowledge of (in my case for sure).

A great example of this was my post on the subject of wasps, a creature you think you know. Its such a common insect and usually very disliked by people. The more I researched them the more I realised how needed they are in the ecosystem and what amazing insects they truly were. I wander what under appreciated creature I will learn about next year?

In the times where travel was permitted, I am extremely grateful to have been to some absolutely gorgeous locations. Top of the list for me was the very popular Mam Tor. I had never been to the Peak District before this visit, the views were absolutely glorious, awe inspiring really. I am hoping if we are able to next year, to find plenty more locations in the Peaks, its an area I am keen to explore in more detail.

This year nature and wildlife has reined supreme for me. The natural world never ceases to amaze me and I am never bored with what it offers. This I am certain will continue not only into the new year but always.

I will now take this moment to Thank all of you for supporting the blog this year. From putting up with all my moaning and my mental health roller coaster ride, I truly appreciate the fact you take the time to read my posts. I love writing and I really hope that comes across with the blog, it helps me think differently and try (try) not to always focus on the negative.

THANK YOU SO MUCH! It means the absolute world to me.

I really wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope the New Year finds you happy, healthy and prosperous!

Have you got any aims for the new year? Do you have any favourites shots from the year? I would love to hear from you.

I will probably not blog now until the new year, I am taking time out to get better and start afresh in the new year hopefully motivated and feeling creative.

Until next time, take care.

A New Place To Roam.

There aren’t many things that fill me with as much joy as finding new photography locations. This past week I have managed to find not one but two! The variety of wildlife at both of these locations will give me plenty to capture as the year goes on.

The first location was a relatively local set of ponds, covered with reeds, it housed plenty of ducks, moorhens and even the odd brown rat. Its a place I am more than certain I will return to regularly.

I love feeding the ducks. I would assume most peoples first encounter with wildlife would be feeding the ducks or swans as a youngster. It is something that I will never grow out of, the only difference these days is that I don’t feed them bread, I take seed which the ducks still guzzle down enthusiastically.

At the pond there were plenty of new life, baby ducklings, moorhen chicks and young rats. I really hope to see how these families progress as time moves on.

The second location was a circular walk along the River Avon. Along the river side there were plenty of dragon flies, damsel flies, butterflies and swallows, whizzing past to catch the midges over the water. I had hoped to potentially see kingfishers, so I had favored my longest lens, leaving my macro at home, a decision I would regret with the amount of mini beasts around. Again, as with the ponds, I am very eager to return.

The swallows were fascinating to watch, catching their query along the river, I tried numerous times to get in flight shots but they were just so quick. I did discover that there were a few nesting pairs beneath a railway bridge and managed to capture a shot of a single Swallow perched on one of the steels. They are beautiful birds when you can study them and are not just a blur.

I also saw my first Sedge Warbler, a flit of movement in the reed bed across the river caught my eye. It took a long while to locate the source and even then the picture isn’t the clearest. I am relativity new to birding really, apart from watching garden birds. There are many firsts to be had even with abundant varieties, I look forward to what I manage to capture in the future.

Since the lockdown restrictions have started to ease, I have been trying to look for walks that would not be too busy, for ease of social distancing. I need to be in green space, there is something about being out in nature that just calms my mind. I have struggled this week with extremes of highs and lows, but when I am out feeding ducks or walking along a field, I am level.

I really hope you are all keeping well, until next time take care.