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.

Big and Small

Its been a funny old week really, from eerie storms, to waterfalls and back to my mini beasts. Its hard to know where to begin, the best place probably being the first event that kick-started it all.

Weather reports had been threatening thunder storms since the beginning of July, it was very easy to assume they would never happen, as none of the previous predictions had been fulfilled.

Until one silent evening last week. There were no loud claps of thunder, no rumbling to make the ground vibrate, just enormous, looming clouds filled with lightning. There was no accompanying rain, no sound, it was quite eerie but a fascinating spectacle to observe.

Of course, I made a dash out with the camera, this was an opportunity not to be missed. I had to wing the settings, recalling on my own memory for any information I may have read about regarding capturing lightning.

I went with the long exposure method, in hopes to catch a few strikes in one shot, unfortunately due to lack of experience I left my ISO too low. I still managed to capture a few shots I am pleased with, I cannot be too hard on myself, this is the first time shooting anything like this. Next time I will be more prepared.

The storm lasted a good hour, all the time silent with glorious bursts of light. Such a change from the usual thunder and lightning, I wander with the continued hot weather, if these electrical storms will become more prevalent?

It went quiet the next couple of days, returning to my macro in the garden. Small world nature has really taken my interest, there is so much that happens in the garden that you don’t realise until you stop and really take notice.

I had the privilege to see a robber fly hunt. There had been some small flies feeding on the yellow daisies in the flower bed. I noticed something that at first I mistook for a hover fly, circling the same flowers. I originally thought it wouldn’t land as these flies were feeding, eventually I saw this “hover fly” was not interested in the free flowers, instead it would lock onto a fly, hover almost vertically above and then dive onto the fly.

I had managed to capture a video of this behavior as I saw it happen a few times as the “hover fly” had been unsuccessful each dive. Thankfully, I have a friend who helps me with IDs, who I had sent the vide to and they said that it looked like a robber fly.

Unfortunately I no longer have this footage, I would have loved to share it with you but I managed to delete it. Even I don’t know how?

It just goes to show how much of our nature we are not aware about. Another case from my week; I photographed a bee, I had no idea what family group it belonged to. I post most of my wildlife/nature pics on INaturalist (an app to document wildlife/nature), this usually helps with IDs before I pester my friend.

The app at this time was not helpful, so again I went to “bug” my friend, who helpfully pointed me to the lasioglossum bee family. Before macro I just thought (naively) bees were just bees, wasps were just the yellow and black variety and flies and such were boring, I was very, very wrong. There is so much to discover and learn about. Its such a shame that I have neglected it previously, I’m doing my best to make up for lost time though.

The weekend brought with it a visit to Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfalls in Wales. This place was beautiful, the falls looked as though Tolkien had written it off the page, that elves or hobbits would be found getting water.

I was lucky to get there when it wasn’t busy, I could appreciate the falls on its own basis. I am still working on my landscape shots, hopefully getting better each time.

The final set of macro is from a walk at Wilden Marsh, a Worcestershire Wildlife trust reserve. This place is untouched and a hard find if you didn’t know where to look. This all adds to its charm, a proper place to get back to nature. This is a place I will try to revisit often, to see what else it has to offer.

I hope your weeks has been a good one, until next time, take care.

Weekly Watch

5th-11th August 2019

They say time is relative, this week I have completely understood this concept. It only seems like yesterday that I had posted my latest weekly and now I am typing my next one.

I really don’t know where my time has gone, I’ve constantly felt like I am trying to catch up with myself all week (am I making sense?). Work commitments, family life and a new camera may have contributed to this but it could also just be one of those weeks.

There is a grand total of two photographs for this weekly, one House sparrow and one juvenile Robin (I think; correct me if I am wrong).

Although they could be classed as just “common birds” I find them fascinating, I am very thankful to have so many reside in this area. They are such fun to watch; constantly jostling for the best position on the feeder.

It doesn’t matter how many times I photograph the same species I always manage to see something different, something new.

Talking about “something new” (yes that is a cheesy link!) alongside this blog; in pushing the boundaries of exhibiting my photography, I entered a local “fete” in the wildlife photography category.

Even though I didn’t place; it was a huge positive step for me. I am always unsure of my own shots, I’m hoping this pushes me to improve and maybe re-enter next year! I will include the two entered photos with this weekly.

I hope you enjoy them and fingers crossed for more wildlife next week.

Weekly Watch

29th July – 4th August 2019

This week has been a mix of joy and sadness.

Lets begin with the good, the Goldfinches, Nuthatch and the Vole that had visited the bird feeder for the first time last week have returned to my delight. I was worried I’d never see them in the garden again. (No photo of the Vole, it was too quick for me this time.

I did manage this week to capture a lovely moment between a House Sparrow and their young. It doesn’t matter how many times I photograph the same species I always get something different. They are never dull.

Then to the sadness, I received some horrible news this week that a family friend had passed away suddenly and without warning. It has been devastating and a huge shock to all those who knew them. Life really has a cruel way of putting things into perspective.

My first photo I am sharing is that of a Robin, I dedicate this photo to our friend.

Growing up I was told of a superstition where Robins were a symbol connected to grief. They are meant to carry the souls of those we have loved and lost. If one were to visit you, it was meant to be your loved one; trying to reassure you that they are OK. I cannot admit that I am a big believer of such things, I can only hope that there is some truth to it.

Weekly Watch

When first thinking about what content I wanted to add to my blog, a gallery of what I’d seen around my area each week was top of the list.

It combines my photography passion and being able to share and discuss what I had seen. I’ll always try to name what any species shot and where they had been located; more often than not in the garden.

22nd-29th July 2019

This past week has been excellent for garden wildlife visits. Whether this has anything to do with the warmer weather; I am unsure. There have been many first-time visitors to the garden, the biggest surprises were the Field Vole and Nuthatch.

I posted the Vole photograph initially to my Instagram feed; I had identified it as a mouse. It never would have crossed my mind that it could be anything different. I was asked “is it a mouse?” which made me start to dig a little more into its identity. I had a small mammal with an identity crisis!! With a bit of help from the comment section and google lens, we got the identity in the end. I mean I still would have been happy if it was a mouse, but I don’t think I’ve seen a Vole in the flesh until then which adds to the enjoyment of getting the pic.

The Nuthatch was another lovely surprise, I’ve never seen one in the garden before let alone at the feeder. At first glance I thought it was another Blue Tit, but something made me give it a second look. I’m so very glad I did! It was glorious, it didn’t stay long, and I almost missed the shot, I must have had a bit of luck on my side.

Enjoy!