Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Autumn Reds
The main target species for my visit to photograph deer, were the red deer. The big stags are such large impressive animals and always seem to have a 'noble' look about them. As with the fallow deer, most of the rut seemed to have finished although there was still plenty of bellowing males parading around. On first arrival I was greeted by foggy conditions and was looking forward to some nice atmospheric photos as the first rays of sun broke through.
Unfortunately the mist was all but gone within 10 minutes but the cool morning still allowed the capture of some 'breath' images of which this was my favourite.
A classic stag portrait in some early morning sun
This stag brought a smile and was having what may be called a bad hair day.The soft autumn light and colours were great to work with
I came across some stags down by a lake.
To finish off one of those bellowing stags, a primeval sound that will leave long lasting fond memories

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fallow Deer

The main purpose of my trip to London was to get some more deer photographs and hopefully of animals showing behaviour of the autumnal rut. It quickly became apparent on arrival that the majority of the antler clashing behaviour was over. Oh well there is always next year! There are two species of deer that can be photographed in the extensive London park lands which are the fallow and red deer. For this post I will concentrate on the fallows. This is a deer species that is not native but was introduced to the UK a very long time ago. Fortunately on the visit the sun shone providing some great photography conditions when combined with the autumn colours.
Being given the look! I always find it best to keep some distance between myself and a hormonal stag as they can be quite unpredictable at this time of year.Fallow deer show a wide degree of colour variation from very dark...

to almost pure white.I must admit it is then white coloured stags that always seem to catch my eye the most.

The young deer are much more active.
In fact you could say some some have a definite spring in their step

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Capital Birds - Waterfowl

This will be the last bird post from the recent trip down to London, as the next will actually deal with the main purpose of the visit, some deer. As usual my lens ended up getting pointed at some waterfowl. In fact the Egyptian Geese were so friendly I decided to have a bit of fun with a wider angle and dusted of the 70-200mm lens and used it at 70mm. This is a bird which at present seems restricted mainly to the south and east of the country and I certainly have never seen one in my local area.
Incoming goose....
and some 'wide' shots
A coot speeding across the surface caught my eye However, what was real attracting my attention was a small group of Gadwall that were resting through most of the day but came alive as the afternoon sun start to sink. We do not get many Gadwall in the north-west where I live, so I always make the effort to try and photograph some while I am down south. From a distance they are quite a plain looking duck. It is only when you get close that there true beauty is revealed with the intricate patterns on the drake's feathers. They looked even better than usual in some late afternoon autumn sun which produced some great reflective autumn colours on the water off the bankside trees.
Not forgetting the female of course which look very similar to a female mallard.To finish off, one photo of a drake floating on some golden autumn water in the last of the afternoon sun, a perfect way to end a day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Capital Birds - Seeing Green

One aspect I really enjoy of my occasional visits to London are seeing and photographing the ever increasing numbers of ring necked parakeets. We do not see them much in the north west whereas the captial is overrun with them. I did not realise how numerous they have become, until packing the camera gear back into the car at Bushy Park, in the fading light, flocks of 50-150 birds continuely sped past every couple of minutes as they headed to their night time roost. They are noisey and probably competitive with native birds, especially for nest holes, but they are so colourful and show some interesting behaviour that makes for a great photographic subject. However, they can be quite difficult to photograph as they seem to prefer to perch high in trees but with a bit of patience you usually find some lurking down lower.
Checking out nest holes seems to keep them preoccupied. I assume they nest at a similar time to our birds but then again that is something I must look up.
I thought that would be it for green birds but while at the wetland centre during my visit, a rare opportunity arose to photograph a green woodpecker. These birds really are many UK bird photographers' nemesis as they are normally very, very difficult to approach. Given that fact, I was pleased to get the brief oppotunity for a couple of photographs.
As the bird hopped to the lake edge for a quick drink before lifting off and away in its undulating flight.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Capital Birds - Herons

London offers some great opportunities for the wildlife photographer with its huge green spaces and abundance of lakes. I recently took a trip to the south, mainly to photograph the deer rut in the Royal Parks but was faced with an abundance of bird photo opportunities. The weather was kind for a change with some great autumn light to play with. I will post a selection of photos over a number of posts but will start with a bird that I often associate with our capital city, the grey heron. Grey herons are usually very wary but have become accustomed to people in the city allowing for some very close encounters.
Perched in a willow tree on the edge of a lake.
Those long legs always allow that annoying itch to be scratched.
I had a very close encounter with one bird.
The heron stalked through the shadows of the lake margin hunting fish, using the available cover to good effect. It was fascinating to watch how the head is held perfectly still while the body moves. There are certainly lessons in patience and stealth that the bird photographer can learn from herons.
The strike on the fish came with lighting speed.
The perch didn't stand a chance and this spiney fish was quickly handled before being swallowed head first.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Feeding Egrets

The numbers of Little Egrets has been slowly increasing along my local stretch of coast. So last weekend while the sun was actually shining I thought I would pay them a visit. They are always a bird I enjoy photographing although the brilliant white of their feathers and wary nature does create a few challenges. The best approach I have found is to sit in a spot and wait for them to come to you which obviously also invloves a large slice of luck.
They feed in the gulleys at low tide and are entertaining to watch as they dash around trying to catch small fish
As the light was good I decided to concetrate on some feeding photos. Another small fish disappears down that long beak
One bird fluffed its feathers up and looked quite comical for a few moments with the loss of their usual sleek form.
I hoping they will stick around for the winter so I can catch them in some good winter light.


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