Nature photography is like....


.....making love to a beautiful woman

What you don't want to do is go wading in there waving your 800mm in the face of mother nature because she sure ain't going to give out to that sort of treatment. No you have to ease yourself in gently. Start around the edges. Just ease your fisheye in there nice and gentle. Then you can see what there is to offer. She likes to keep her veils on for just long enough for you to get all excited about what might be underneath. The occasional flash of feathers and flesh. But the harder you try the more she will keep covered up. You have to just let her take control. Let her ease herself out of that moist foliage Sit back and relax. She'll give it to you all in good time. Once she does you can start using that 800mm to your hearts content. Then ,if it floats your boat, you may like to really get to the nitty gritty and stick your 100mm macro into her bushes. She wont mind.............

Ahem! Ok so that's how you take nature pics. Meanwhile back in the cold light of day on Saturday it was bloody hot! James couldn't make it so I had a surrogate in the form of the one and only and in his own words "Successful" nature photographer Mr Robin Morrison whom I'm sure many of you are familiar with. He's the one who kept posting pictures on the SOS when specifically told not to. Tut tut. He's also rather adept at getting his pics in the press.

But enough of that and on with the big day.

The plan was to meet up at Canada Hide at about 10:30. I made my way and stopped off at the usual places along the way. The Aqueduct Bridge was looking splendid

I got my fisheye out on Aqueduct Bridge

Hamwall along with most of the reserves and natural areas are pretty quiet this time of year. You have to head east to catch all the migrants departing. Both VP1 and 2 are over grown with anything that is there well hidden. There were four Great White Egrets there but you could only see there heads!

One of the Great White Egrets that did show itself

The Tor Hide did give some interesting things though. The reeds are looking wonderful with their deep purple seed heads.

Bit of excitement as a Black Headed Gull caught a fish right in front of the hide

Eaten on the wing within ten seconds of being caught

Sparrow hawk a long way off

The most amusing thing was at the edge of the reeds down one of the channels. Quit slowly a bunch of reeds bent down like a drawbridge opening. Sitting on this bunch was a Bittern. It seemed almost deliberate. He sat there for a few seconds then flew off low over the water to the other side.

I have to say at this point that due to my auto focus not quit kicking in quick enough I missed a peach of a pic. It was the Bittern above, wings fully down almost touching the water. A perfect shimmering reflection. Oh well.

It was time to move on. I passed the Scrape at Shapwick which is very very low indeed. Here's some Godwits etc

A White Throat near one of the benches at the Scrape

Due to the fact I haven't been to Canada Farm for quit some time I actually missed the right hand turning at the end of the track to the hide. I carried on for a bit and stopped before the Hawk and Owl bit. One of the fields that looks over to Catcott Heath had just been mown and the gate open. There were a pair of Deer rutting far off on the opposite side and a very noisy young Buzzard that wouldn't stop calling on a tree

I had only taken two bites of my apple when the door opened at Canada and Robin came in. He'd been over at Catcott looking for Otters and had managed a few Hobby shots. We settled down and prepared for a Kingfisher or two. What we got was an incessant young Great Crested Grebe calling to be fed by its parent on the raft nest  not far from the hide. It only stopped for a moment or two when it feigned a fish hunt by sticking its bill in the water for a few seconds before turning and calling at the parent again. It actually looked like they were having another brood. They were gathering more nesting material and sitting on eggs. Bit late but they know best.
Far off on the right hand bank we managed two Bitterns in flight. First I've seen here. It was a pleasant sight indeed.

Bittern poking its head out of the reeds

Needy child and very patient parent.

Canada farm Reserve

Second Bittern making a landing

More of the reserve taken with the 50mm Tak

Water lily textures

We spotted what we first thought was a Hobby on a stick. We now think it is a Peregrine. No red underside and too big and chunky

Peregrine on a stick

We moved on. We both fancied a bit of macro so where better than London Drove at Westhay. We talked of the Marsh Harriers that patrol close to the entrance and what we could see along the drove.  Bizarrely I heard a cry from Robin as we cycled under the pylons that span Westhay. He had felt an electric shock as we rode under the crackling megaliths!! I don't think there was any permanent damage. We disturbed a Buzzard who was sitting in a tree in the drove itself. In a panic it tried to perch on another branch. It snapped and fell.

The branch the Buzzard had tried to perch on.We tutted and thought how terrible these horrid birds were for destroying our wonderful woodland. Should we persecute them for this? Discuss....

Yay! Macro time. Robin clipped on his 100mm Canon L with its red ring. I clipped on my Yashica 100DX Medical. Then clipped on the Battery pack, then clipped on the remote triggers on the hot shoe, then switched everything on but not before letting the national grip I was about the flip the switch. I can only use this thing for an hour or two otherwise Trawsfynydd will be empty!

Here's my results from our wanderings. I can't wait to have a 'Macro face-off' with Robin. Haven't seen any yet. I'll wait and buy the Telegraph on Sunday. He'll have a supplement full of them!

We had a good chat about what we look for in macro. I talked about looking for more than the insects etc. I look for textures, structures and colours as well as the scary creatures. He prefers the blossoming growth. I like decay and death!! Amongst these pics there are a few examples which I hope say a lot more than words.

We were both looking for Brambles. This is my take. I wanted full ripe fruit from the height of summer. Robin was after a more autumnal effect.

A bit Autumnal in August!

I really like this one. Almost a bouquet

Not a good picture but cool colours

This Butterfly was very accommodating

And for the record Robin I was a bit over optimistic with that washed out flower pic. It stayed washed out!

Little Egret in the private lake adjacent to the Reserve

After another cup of tea at Eco-friendly bites it was time for home. It was a great day with Robin. A good laugh and knows his birds. Not only identification but also habits. He knows how Otters work and what makes Kingfisher tick. He keeps a close council but is happy to share if asked.

We had spoken during the day of another wise and sage gent. Mike Tout. Robin knew him by sight and I hadn't seen any sight of him or Jacquelyn or Scamp for that matter.

So who do you think I saw coming out of the new car park at Hamwall. Yep non other than the motley crew themselves. Mike immediately pointed to the handrail on the bridge and declared I should get my macro out. I dutifully obliged and snapped this little fella.

Mike was so impressed he wants to buy one. He'll have to buy a proper camera (Read Canon) if he wants to use it Hee hee.

I met them a little later at VP1 where this windswept Heron was the only entertainment

These Greater Spotted Woodpeckers where having a great time on the dead trees at the far end of Hamwall

The final icing was this Kingfisher at of all places the Aqueduct Bridge. Right where I started. Quit ironic since we sat at Canada Farm with its stick sticking out especially for Kingfishers and didn't even hear a peep never mind saw one.
It was a good day, bloody hot but a good one with a good friend of the EFRS. Here's to a few more of these in the coming months.

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