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Cornucopia of wildlife at Ouse Fen 02
07th August 2017 - 0 comments


Part two of my little expedition to Ouse Fen Nature Reserve, which finds me on the lookout for its smaller inhabitants as they hide in undergrowth, doing their best to keep out of my way as I trample through their habitat.

Which makes it sound like I'm engaged in some sort of wanton destruction of their little homes, and in a sense I am, and I'm glad. No of course I'm not, but there is so much happening in the shrubs and the grasses, that just the act of walking among them reveals a bounty of wildlife, as they scurry or flap their way to safety.

So a keen eye allows you to follow their journey, and hopefully snap them as they temporarily rest among the brush, it's actually a very absorbing way to spend some time, as it engages you completely. No wonder grasshopper is the name of a yoga position.

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Cornucopia of wildlife at Ouse Fen 01
06th August 2017 - 0 comments


Another visit to Ouse Fen Nature Reserve, a place I can’t seem to keep away from at the moment, mainly thanks the plethora of insect life that throng the flower meadows this time of year.

So cue some close up images of moths, butterflies, ladybirds, wasps, crickets, grasshoppers, skippers, spiders and dragonflies.

I’ve stuck half of them in this post and the rest will be in the next one, so check back in a couple of days for more colourful insect goodness.

Let the show begin…

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Unusual trees at Hayley Wood
26th July 2017 - 0 comments


One of the many important woodland sites managed by the Wildlife Trust in this part of the country, is the always interesting Hayley Wood. I took a trip over there recently, with my camera in tow, to get a few shots of the interesting trees that it contains.

A large wood in this area of the parish was mentioned in the 1068 Domesday Book, but by 1251 it had been split into two: Hayley Wood and Littlehound Wood. Agriculture in the area declined after 1350 and the wooded area expanded, and by 1650, Hayley Wood covered 120 acres and Littlehound 40.

Around 1655, Littlehound was 'new stubbed' and disappeared under cultivation, although its outline can still be seen in the form of field boundaries. Hayley Wood however, was confiscated from the Bishop of Ely by Queen Elizabeth in 1579 and became privately owned. The woodland was bought in 1962 by the Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Naturalists' Trust, for preservation as an undamaged example of coppiced woodland.

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Here be dragon(flies) and a damselfly
24th July 2017 - 0 comments


Following on from my recent, and relatively unsuccessful trip to get some images of dragonflies, I decided to give it another go, but at a different location. And thankfully it worked out a lot better.

These little beauties were a lot more cooperative, and sat still for minutes at a time in some cases. Which meant I wasn’t left to ineptly flounder about, in a bumbling clownish manner, in an effort to track them on the wing. I could take my sweet time about it, within reason of course.

As an added bonus, there were a few different species about as well, so I could get a bit of variety in the shots. I still can’t decide if dragonflies up close are the stuff of nightmares, or incredibly beautiful, but whatever they may or may not be, they are certainly an interesting subject to photograph, and I was there for a good couple of hours or so, snapping away.

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Beautiful blue butterflies
22nd July 2017 - 0 comments


In my recent excursions to photograph the insects that are about and about in abundance this time of year, I have had an eye out for blue butterflies, but I’ve not actually come across any, and the more I didn’t see any, the more I’ve been hankering to discover some.

The common blue would be the species I’d most likely find, as it is the most widespread of the blue butterflies in Britain, and as the name suggests, it is one of the most common butterflies in Europe.

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Insects and abstracts at Ouse Fen
19th July 2017 - 0 comments


In my continuing quest to photograph some of life’s smaller participants, namely the multitudinous variety of insects that are scampering and buzzing about this time of year, I took another trip to Ouse Fen Nature Reserve, predominantly in the hope of encountering some dragonflies.

In fact I took a couple of trips over there, as although I managed to get a couple of dragonfly shots on my first attempt, it was a challenge to say the least. I had found myself a spot at the side of a large lake, among the tall, green stems, as I knew from experience that it was a popular place for the dragonfly community. But because they never settled, my only option was to try and catch them on the wing, and they do not hang about.

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Holme Fen Butterflies
09th July 2017 - 0 comments


Last weekend I paid a visit to one of my favourite places, namely Holme Fen Nature Reserve. This beautiful woodland oozes atmosphere, and is a beautiful place to visit any time of the year, mainly thanks to its dense forest of silver birches, which have to be one of the most charismatic of all the UK trees.

I won't go into the history of the Holme Fen, as fascinating as it is, and although there are a smattering of pictures in this post of the woodland, I have taken plenty more through the various seasons, all of which can be found here, here, here & here.

No, I was off to get some images of the summer wildlife that abounds in this Natural England run nature reserve, in particular, the various butterflies that call this place home while they are on the wing.

There were thousands of these colourful little flappers galavanting about the place, twirling around each other and flitting hither and thither above my head, and sometimes on it, if I was standing particularly still, trying to get a picture.

Below are a selection of images taken that day, when the butterflies were at rest, or sipping nectar, predominantly from the blossom of blackberry bushes, of which Holme Fen boasts an impressive number.

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Fen Drayton nature reserve
05th July 2017 - 0 comments


Over the weekend I took a trip to Fen Drayton, to visit the RSPB run nature reserve that can be found there. I was still on a hunt for wildlife and I thought I might find some suitable natural nuggets within its environs.

There wasn’t as much birdlife as I thought there might be, but I made up for it with some shots along the River Great Ouse, which runs through the reserve, and from rummaging through the undergrowth on the hunt for smaller quarry.

The reserve, a 108-hectare area comprised of several lakes formed from exhausted sand and gravel pits, is home to around 190 bird species, many of whom must have been in hiding when I visited. In times of heavy rain and river flooding, the entire reserve goes under water, including car parks and most rights of way.

It is planned that the reserve will become part of a much larger wetland area along the River Great Ouse, linking to the Hanson-RSPB Wetland Project at Ouse Fen, which should become Britain's largest reedbed within the next 30 years. In fact it was at Ouse Fen that the images from my last two blog posts were taken.

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Birdlife at Ouse Fen
02nd July 2017 - 0 comments


Following on from my last blog post where I expressed my disgruntlement at not being able to photograph the myriad birdlife at Ouse Fen RSPB nature reserve. Mainly thanks to the lack of telescopic prowess of my lenses, and where, to my shame, I told the birds to go shove it, for which I wholeheartedly apologise, I decided to give it another go.

My lenses had not suddenly acquired new found abilities you understand, but I was ready to do something I have always tried to shy away from if at all possible. I was prepared to crop my pictures, and boy did I have to crop them. I've always been of the mind that if the composition cannot be found while actually taking the photo, then to leave it be.

But needs as must, and I snapped away with blithesome abandonment, ready to hack away at the images when back in front of my computer, which is exactly what I did. So below are a selection of pictures from that reckless afternoon with the birds, along with a brief description of each one appropriated from the RSPB.

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Colourful insects & flowers in close up
28th June 2017 - 0 comments


A couple of days ago I took a trip to Ouse Fen, an RSPB run nature reserve, in the hope of getting some shots of the abundant bird life that takes up residence there this time of year. It is home to a multitude of geese, ducks, swans, gulls, coots, terns, grebes and cormorants, along with a few herons. Some of which have travelled for thousands of miles to breed on its lakeland islands.

Unfortunately, even though it’s easy enough to get pretty close to the colonies, I just didn’t have the capabilities with the lenses I own, to really get close enough for any meaningful images. So after endless whirling around, trying to follow the birds as they flew overhead, and attempting to catch the terns as they speared into the water on the hunt for fish, I decided that I was wasting my time, and the birds could go shove it

Instead I concentrated on the local insect life, as there were a plentitude of wild flowers about, which were attracting an abundance of butterflies and other arthropods, so I aimed my camera at the ground instead and got a few shots of these colourful citizens of the shrubbery…

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Lynford Arboretum at Thetford Forest
23rd June 2017 - 0 comments


A few weeks ago I paid a visit to Thetford Forest, in particular, to Lynford Arboretum, a beautiful spot located in the North East corner of the forest, and somewhere I’d not been to before, so I was keen to give the old camera a bit of an airing and to see what I could see.

Owned by the Forestry Commission, it is the UK’s largest man made lowland forest and covers over 18,700 hectares, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The forest was created after the First World War to provide a strategic reserve of timber, since the country had lost so many oaks and other slow-growing trees as a consequence of the war's demands.

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Cotswolds tour part two
05th June 2017 - 0 comments


On the second day of my mini tour around the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, I found myself in the early spring sunshine on the banks of the River Windrush, as it slowly ambles through the popular Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water.

The term village of course is somewhat of a misnomer, as the number of permanent residents in Bourton outnumber those of nearby Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford, both of which are considered small market towns, despite neither of them boasting a market. It’s all very confusing.

During peak tourist months, the number of visitors easily outrank residents, which, if you’ve ever visited during the summer, and seen the hordes of people lounging next to the river and milling around the shops, is not hard to believe for a second.

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Cotswolds tour part one
03rd June 2017 - 0 comments


Not long ago, I took a little jaunt around the Cotswolds for a couple of days with a friend of mine who is writing a photography book about the area. We went to scout out a few suitable views that could be included, both the classic spots, and the less visited ones. Which of course gave me ample opportunity to snaffle a few pics of my own, and I took my full English pleasure at such an occasion.

The first stop was the picturesque village of Guiting Power. This charming little place does have its fair share of visitors, as it lies on the path of the Warden’s Way, a popular walking route, but it’s certainly not on the tourist trail, and is never very busy. But with its quiet lanes and quintessential Cotswold stone houses, it is one of my favourite places to visit in this part of the Cotswolds. Plus it has a very decent cafe right next to the village green which doesn’t hurt.

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Bluebells at Waresley & Gransden Woods
17th May 2017 - 0 comments


Following on from my recent visit to see the bluebells at Brampton Wood, I took a trip over to Waresley & Gransden Woods to do the same. I was in two minds whether to go, as there are only so many shots of bluebells you can take in a season until they all start looking the same, so I didn't have high hopes in getting anything new.

Of ancient origin, having been part of the local landscape for thousands of years, Waresley and Gransden Woods are a 54 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest that contain predominantly ash, maple and hazel, with parts of the wood replanted earlier this century with oak, beech and sycamore. They are home to many breeding birds, an abundance of wildflowers, and over 500 species of moth and butterfly.

Thankfully, my misgivings about seeing the same old views of a broad, flat woodland carpet, festooned with azure flowers, puncutated by slender trunks were not fulfilled. And I'm aware I sound like a growling curmudgeon, bemoaning the view of a classic English springtime display of such winsome exquiteness, that it's practically a treasonous offence. But, I have photographed a lot of bluebell scenes over the years, and it's nice to find something new, that's all I'm saying.

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Brampton Wood Bluebells
11th May 2017 - 0 comments


Last week I took a trip to Brampton Wood, in search of bluebells, in fact I took two trips as it's a fairly large wood, and I couldn't do it justice in just one visit. In fact two trips barely grazes the surface of this fascinating place, but as it was the bluebell display I was after, that would just have to do, for now.

Brampton Wood, at 326 acres, is the second largest ancient woodland in Cambridgeshire, and is at least 900 years old. The first records date back to the Doomsday Book, “woodland pasture - half a league long and 2 furlongs wide”, when animals such as pigs used to feed on acorns. A large earth bank marks its ancient boundary, the bank and ditch barrier were built in the Middle Ages, to protect the wood from invading cattle and to keep pasture animals inside. There are several other minor banks and ditches within the wood, thought to be prehistoric field drainage systems.

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Wicken Fen windmill at sunset
23rd April 2017 - 0 comments


I recently took a little trip to Wicken Fen for a spot of sunset photography, with a view to getting some shots of the iconic wind pump that stands proud amongst this wetland landscape.

The Wicken Fen nature reserve is Britain's oldest nature reserve and is one of Europe's most important wetlands, home to over 9000 recorded species including many rare plants, birds and dragonflies. It was the first reserve cared for by the National Trust, starting in 1899. It includes fenland, farmland, marsh, and reedbeds, and is one of only four wild fens which still survive in the enormous Great Fen Basin area of East Anglia, where 99.9% of the former fens have now been replaced by arable cultivation.

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Grand Pier at sunset in Weston-Super-Mare
20th April 2017 - 0 comments


I had reason to be in Weston-Super-Mare recently, not something you hear often, but that is where I found myself nonetheless. And thankfully I had my camera with me, so I took the opportunity to head down to the beach for sunset, hoping to get some shots of the Grand Pier.

The pier is privately owned and is supported by 600 iron piles, and is 400 metres long. It has been damaged by fire on two occasions, in 1930 and 2008. Following the 2008 fire, which completely destroyed the pavilion, the pier was rebuilt and and reopened in October 2010.

The Grand Pier was originally constructed in 1904, and featured a 2,000 seat theatre which was used as a music hall for opera, stage plays and ballet. After the original pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1930 a new pavilion was built in 1933, which housed a large, undercover fun fair. In 1974 the pier became a Grade II listed building.

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Dorset day 4 - A surprising sunrise and a host of tall trees
13th April 2017 - 0 comments


My last day in Dorset and I wanted to make the most of it, so I was up before the sun, with a view to getting some shots of the headland at Peveril Point. The weather did not look especially inspiring as I made my way through Swanage town and parked in the upper car park overlooking the piers.

Retrieving my gear from the car, my expectations were not exactly emboldened as the rain began to steadily fall. So I decided against taking the walk to the Point, as the conditions, as well as being determined to turn me into a soggy flannel, were opaque to say the least.

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Dorset day 3 part one - Sunrise sort of & Studland nature reserve
05th April 2017 - 0 comments


My third day in Dorset, and I woke to a pretty dismal start to the day, the weather had obviously decided to urinate on my parade, but I was not to be deterred, and I headed down to Swanage seafront anyway, in spite of the dank conditions.

And I was right to do that, even though the sky was awash with thick clouds, the cool, ambient light had created a atmospherically atmospheric atmosphere. I took advantage of it and got some shots looking out to sea, where a thin, pale band of red had begun to present itself above the horizon, which was about as psychedelic as the sunrise got.

I then turned my hawk like attention to the seafront itself, due to the early hour the lights were still ablaze along the waterfront, and from my vantage point I had a good view of them. With the morning tide rippling and plashing over the stretch of golden sand between me and the gentle urbanity in the near distance, it was a peaceful scene, and I was glad I had made the effort to get out into the dawn air.

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Dorset Day 2 - Swanage splashes & Kimmeridge minerals
03rd April 2017 - 0 comments


I woke to much more of a promising dawn on my second day in Dorset, so I didn't hang around and I was soon zooming my way through the quiet streets of Swanage towards the seafront. I got there just as the sun was making its presence felt by throwing a band of colour across the horizon.

Unfortunately there wasn't much in the way of high cloud cover, so the sky wasn't going to be the most interesting I'd ever seen, but I wasn't complaining too much. I was also faced with a similar dilemma as I'd had the previous day, namely I had photographed Swanage beach and it's groynes many times over, so I had to find something a bit different to do, just to keep myself interested.

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