Here's a compilation of some clips of Grey Seals on Worm's Head on the Gower Peninsula which I filmed on September 4th. There's a female, and a huge bull, and a baby which appears after the four-minute mark:
There are some more videos on my YouTube channel HERE. Feel free to subscribe to it!
Just to show I'm still alive (just about), here's a shot from Monday evening. It was taken on the hill above my house, looking west. The sliver of water in the distance is the Burry Inlet, which separates the Gower Peninsula in the South from Carmarthenshire to the North:
Whilst I was up there, I noticed a half-dozen Swifts and a couple of Swallows flying around, which reminded me that I've hardly seen any of these birds this year. Anyone else noticed a shortage of Swifts and hirundines this Summer?
Much of my free time lately has been spent at a Badgers' sett I discovered about three months ago. After spending some time just observing them, I've set up a camouflage net near a couple of holes which are being used by a sow and her two babies. This is giving me great close views from only two or three metres away. They are now coming out before dark, generally around 9 p.m., and this clip was filmed at about 9.20 p.m. on June 1st. I took it on my Canon 7D with a 90mm lens:
I've been a bit 'under-the-weather' lately, and this evening was the first time I've been out with my camera in seemingly ages. I've got an almost-permanent pain in my lower back, no doubt caused by lugging this heavy gear around for so long, so I just wandered down to the beach with my Canon 40D and newly-repaired 17-40mm lens, hoping a nice sunset might develop.
These were the best shots I could come up with - some pics of the River Clyne, a small stream which flows into Swansea Bay here at Blackpill, with the sun going down in the background:
While I'm on the subject, here's a little video of the same river I took about a mile upstream last Summer:
Today was the first day, after a long, cold Winter (by our standards) that felt truly Springlike round here, and it was appropriate that I should finally get to see (and hear) my first Swallows of the year, as a small group twittered overhead on my walk down to the shore.
A pair of Foxes seem to be sharing the sett with the Badgers. Although one seems to be healthy, I would guess this individual has probably come off worse in a collision with a vehicle, and looks as if it is also suffering from mange:
This was filmed on March 22nd to 24th, some of the daylight footage being captured around midday, which is a strange time for a Fox to be active.
I haven't seen it on the camera since, so I can only guess at what's happened to it.
I was in the park this afternoon, trying for a few photos of birds and squirrels. As I was leaving, I spotted this plant, which I think is Skunk Cabbage, Lysichton americanus. I rested my 500mm lens on my camera bag for these two shots:
What an unattractive name for such a good-looking plant!
I've been continuing to monitor, with my trail camera, the badger sett I found a few weeks ago. Here's some footage of a couple of badgers gathering bedding material. Quite funny to watch them slithering backwards into their burrows clutching a bunch of leaves:
On a totally different note, have a look at THIS ARTICLE in the Daily Mail. The buffoon featured is my brother (at least, I'm told we're related).
It was a clear night last night, and I just had to try out a star-trail shot, even though my wide-angle lens is away for repair. This was taken with my next-widest lens: a 50mm f/1.8. It's a three-hour exposure in total, consisting of 36 five-minute exposures taken automatically by the intervalometer attached to the camera. I was indoors in the warmth while it was all going on:
It would've looked better with a wider angle lens, but my wide-angle should be back soon, so look out!
Whilst photographing the Song Thrushes in my recent post, I spotted a Blackbird with an abnormal amount of white in its plumage. I went back to the same spot last Saturday to see if it was still around, and it was. It seemed a little more elusive than the 'normal' Blackbirds, but eventually I was able to obtain a few reasonable shots of it:
This was in the same area as a Blackbird I photographed here two years ago. Not sure whether it is the same bird, or whether it is a descendant sharing some of the same leucistic genes.
Last Saturday, H.R.H. The Queen was due to come to this city, Swansea; and, as a loyal subject(!), I was dutifully up early, preparing to head over to the Brangwyn Hall with my 'big gun' (that's a lens; I was not attempting an assassination!) to do my paparazzo impression. Double-checking on-line before leaving on the exact time of her visit, and the route she would take, I noted to my horror that the old moo (that's my knighthood up the spout!) had come down with a (probably fake!) case of gastroenteritis, and would not be coming after all. Very inconsiderate of her, I thought, after I had dragged myself from my bed at an ungodly hour, and a morning person I am not. I was particularly gutted as the only previous time I had seen her (that I can remember) was when I was a teenager living in Canada, and she was on a state visit to Ottawa. My dad, who was at work, had given me his camera (which I think was a rangefinder type, with manual-everything controls), and the Queen came over to speak to us after my mum held up a rather-embarrassing banner: "Greetings from Romsey". I knew nothing about photography then (many would say I still don't!), and I managed to 'balls-up' all the pictures - they were all so out-of-focus that the Queen was nothing more than a shapeless blob (rather like my own physique at the moment)!
What has this self-indulgent waffle got to do with nature photography, you might ask? Well, nothing, really, except that I was so deflated after this let-down that I put away my big lens, and, devoid of energy, I only had the drive for a gentle stroll around Brynmill and Singleton Parks with my 70-200mm lens.
Other than seeing a female Goosander on Brynmill Park lake (first I've seen there), and a leucistic Blackbird and the resident Ring-necked Parakeet in Singleton Park, there wasn't much wildlife of note to be seen. I was, however, pleased to see a healthy population of Song Thrushes in Singleton Park, which were so tame that I was able to photograph them with the aforementioned smallish lens, sometimes with coupled with a 1.7x converter. A few pics.:
These pictures were all taken with me lying on the ground and resting the camera on a sturdy beanbag. At one point, I heard a young girl's voice behind me say, "Come and look at this". Interested to see what the fuss was about, I turned around, only to see a whole family of goons gawking at me. I was the 'this' they were looking at. I was tempted to give them a rude gesture, but nobly resisted!
Whilst out in the woods on Friday evening looking for Tawny Owls, I stumbled upon (nearly stumbled in, actually, as the holes were so big) a large Badger sett. This is only the third sett I've found, and all within the last few months, so I must be getting my eye in. Anyway, I went back on Saturday evening about 6.30 and put my trail camera in place nearby, sprinkling a few peanuts down to tempt any passing wildlife. Here's a compilation of one night's footage, taken on the 23rd/24th:
The first Badger appeared about 7.30 p.m., only about an hour after I'd left the area, and the last one retired for the day at 6.30 a.m., so they are pretty nocturnal at the moment. The Foxes (which may be sharing the same sett), however, were active before dusk and still active at 10 a.m.
Not sure if this is one Badger, or several different ones passing through; but, judging by the size of the sett and the number of holes, I'd say the latter. I can't wait for the warmer evenings to come, when I'll hopefully be able to spend some time watching them in person!
I was out a few days ago, trying for another star-trail shot, when I heard this Tawny Owl calling from the direction of Clyne Woods. It was gone midnight, so there few cars about, and its call carried quite a way. I decided to leave my camera unattended to do its thing, and headed over towards the owl to see if I could get a sound recording of its hooting. I pointed my Olympus Pen camera towards a nearby road, which was the only thing bright enough to register in the darkness, and pointed a directional microphone towards where the owl was hooting (I couldn't see it). For a first effort, I'm quite pleased with the quality:
For non-lovers of star-trail shots, you'll be pleased to know I dropped my wide-angled lens the other day, necessitating an expensive repair which I can't afford at the moment. So no more star-trails for a while (probably)!
I know I promised I wouldn't, but the sky was so clear and starry on Sunday night that I couldn't resist leaving out my camera in Clyne Woods for a few hours - whilst I relaxed at home watching the snooker on T.V.! Unfortunately, the night was very windy, meaning that all the trees' branches are blurred when viewed on the original large version - even the trunks (the main tree in shot was swaying alarmingly above me!). However, hopefully it doesn't look too bad on this small version:
It seems like a good spot for this sort of photography, so I'll try it again when the wind dies down.
Apologies for posting another of these star-trails, but as we had an unexpectedly clear sky on Thursday evening, I left my camera out on a tripod in Clyne Woods for a couple of hours whilst I relaxed at home. Sixteen ten-minute exposures (for a total of two hours, forty minutes) merged into one gave this result:
Will try to post something other than a star-trail next!
I spent an hour or so a few days ago chasing Turnstones around on Swansea beach. It was slightly frustrating, as most of the small group seemed to spend most of the time semi-hidden from me behind stones:
Eventually, I managed to catch a few out in the open, and obtain a few reasonable shots:
I wish I'd had my video camera to capture this one splashing around:
My favourite shot was probably the last one I took:
There was also a group of four Redshanks lurking nearby, but they cunningly remained just out of camera range.
I confess to having a bit of a Waxwing fetish: who can resist these beautiful birds? There was an influx of these into the Cardiff area back in December, and another flock of 20 or so a few weeks ago. All my visits to photograph them coincided with deadly dull weather, so I haven't bothered to upload any pictures. Yesterday, I thought everything had finally come together: another small group of Waxwings had been sighted in Cardiff, I had the afternoon free, and the weather was gorgeously sunny and bright. Even better, on arriving in Cardiff just before noon, I checked the internet to see that the birds had been seen on Canada Road at 10.30 that morning. Everything was going according to plan for my upcoming award-winning snaps! Until, that is, I arrived at the location at 12.30 p.m. - and the Waxwings were not there! I wandered around the area in vain for an hour, but the birds had obviously seen me coming and scarpered. Damned rude of them, after I had gone all that way to see them.
I headed back to Swansea with my tail between my legs, and arrived back under a clear and starry sky. The perfect night for a star-trail shot, I thought. I remembered an isolated tree which stood atop a hill above my house, and thought it would make an excellent foreground for a star-trail picture. I headed out after dark with my camera gear, convinced I was about to get the best star-trail shot ever taken. I was not! A local farmer had blocked off the previously-public footpath leading to the hilltop - bastard, I thought! I was determined to get at least one photo out of this so-far-disastrous day, and so I set up my camera in a small wood and pointed it at the stars, before heading home to watch the football. On going out to collect the camera afterwards, I was relieved that the lens, for once, didn't seem to have fogged over. Of course, something was bound to have gone wrong, and it had: the battery had run out! However, it had completed about a 75-minute exposure, so here it is (the yellowish light on the trees is caused by the nearby street-lights):
Hardly worth all that bother (and all that unnecessary waffle I've just written) for one crummy picture!
The normally-elusive Jay has become quite tame in my local park this last few winters, and a handful of peanuts thrown down to the ground are all it now takes to lure a pair of these beautiful birds within camera range.
Here are a few recent pictures, all being full-frame shots taken with a 500mm lens:
I quite like this one, where the bird is peering out of the shadow and into the sunshine:
Continuing the theme of not sleeping very well, I woke early on Saturday morning, and couldn't get back to sleep. Seeing a rare clear sky outside, I decided to head out into my local woods and try for a pre-dawn star-trail shot. I pointed my camera through a gap in the trees, towards a patch of sky with plenty of stars, which turned out be looking roughly north towards the pole star. I had time for three ten-minute exposures before the lens clouded over with condensation, so this is a total of thirty minutes' star movement:
It was a rare treat for me (not being much of an 'early-bird'!) to be out at dawn listening to several Tawny Owls calling to each other around me.
However, as the day dawned, the peace was soon shattered by the arrival of several noisy dogs and their owners!
After not much sleep on Saturday night, a sunny Sunday lured me out into the great blue yonder. I was too tired to lug my DSLR with me, so took my little Olympus Pen Mini EPM-1 with me on my walk along Swansea seafront. Gale-force winds soon blew over some dramatic clouds and squally showers, resulting in some dramatic cloudscapes over Mumbles Head:
Thunder and lightning made occasional appearances on what was a dream day for landscape photography. The combination of heavy rain and sunshine resulted in the inevitable spectacular rainbows over the bay:
Unfortunately, just after taking this shot, the battery in my camera ran out, and I realised to my horror I had neglected to bring a spare with me. There's a moral in there somewhere!
What with the dull and dreary weather we've had lately, I haven't had much inclination to get out with my camera, or post to this blog.
So, here's a little video of the countryside around the village of Rhossili on the Gower Peninsula here in Wales, filmed on December 11th last year. It's a bit long and slow, but it does (hopefully) show the peace and beauty of the place in winter when there is hardly anyone around: