Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Season Draws Nearer..... Slowly!

With work seemingly dominating much of what I do at the moment, I have not been out that much apart from a few brief outings to the Stour Valley. A check of my new pond in the past few days revealed a number of damselfly nymphs surviving well and I am optimistic that come the warmer months I may be able to get a few photos of them emerging, all within a few metres of the back door and plenty of warm drinks available. I recently purchased a small glass tank which is in the conservatory which has a few damselflies in as well as a small Emperor Dragonfly nymph, about 12mm in length. Iv'e spent a bit of time watching it go about its business but still await the time when I actually see it in hunting mode. I'm hoping with some good light that I can maybe get a few photos of the nymphs under the water but I may have to find a way to get them nearer the glass for this, maybe a conveniently placed thin stick may do the trick. Anyway with no adults to look for at the moment it has occupied some of my time and there has always been something different to watch and learn about these really under watched insects. Tomorrow brings us February and another month nearer to the dragonflies emerging. With my purchased Canon 7d, I am more than eager to start the season off and see if I can build on the quality from last year, a tough order I think but I'm sure with some practice this camera can deliver the goods. Like the first Swallow of Spring, the past few years I have been really excited about seeing the first Hairy Dragonfly of the year, our first dragonfly to emerge in this country. My first encounter last year was on the 17th April at Shuart, just east of Reculver where I found a few freshly emerged males and was able to watch them patrolling the hedge lines and resting up where I was able to get a few pleasing shots.

Male Hairy Dragonfly

A week or so later a female perched nicely for shots at Westbere Lakes. I would like to think that I may be able to find a few emerging Hairy Dragonflies at Nethergong campsite this year if I make a few visits after dark.

Female Hairy Dragonfly

A definite target this year has to be to capture the complete sequence of shots from a few species leaving the water as a nymph to the adult emerging and flying off. It may involve a bit of night time photography to achieve this but its another challenge to take up. Hopefully the days will pass quickly and the season will soon be upon us, in the mean time I will try to capture some photos of the nymphs in my tank to keep the shutter button in training. A look in the next post to our first damselfly to emerge, the Large Red Damselfly with hopefully some accompanying photos.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Barn Owls - Done!

With a number of shots still to get through and the weather not looking that good outside, this gave me the opportunity to have a look through a few and do some up. I have waited many years for views like this of Barn Owls and to be able to get a number of shots of them has been very satisfying. Having borrowed a flash for the past couple of sessions really helped out and with advise from Chidders, I think I now have a good set of photos of this stunning Owl to be proud of. I think at the moment its mission accomplished with the Barn Owls but hopefully I will return later in the year for some more action. Weather permitting Its back to Reculver next week where my year list needs a big boost and hopefully I can continue to have success with the new camera which so far I am very pleased with.

Barn Owl

Saturday, 17 January 2015

A Step Up In Quality?

With some clear skies and light winds forecast and a few new tricks up my sleeve to try out on the Barn Owls, I made my way out last night arriving at an undisclosed site at 7.15pm where I spent 3 and a half hours watching and photographing the Barn Owls. I had borrowed a Jessops 360 AFDC flash which I hoped would give me a little extra light to play around with. Whilst I have been been very happy with my shots the past sessions I was looking for a bit more quality in the shots and hopefully some better lighting and feather detail. A few initial shots seemed to work well and after a few adjustments I was able to set up at f8, ISO 320 and a speed of 250. I spent the next 3 hours watching up to 6 Barn Owls with 4 in view together on the posts allowing me to fire off a number of shots. I occasionally had to put the camera down and just watch these beauties at close range hunting from the posts, the views are just awesome. With the added bonus of not having to get out of the car, the heating on and a good flask of coffee to have as the frost set in, this again ended up being another good session and I think looking at the shots of which no doubt more will be posted, the change in settings certainly has made for a better quality shot. Around 11pm I left for home and hopefully the next session will not be too long away!

Barn Owl

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Awesome Owls!

With dark mornings and dark evenings dominating most of my time at the moment I thought I would post a few more shots of some of the Barn Owls I saw last weekend. Hopefully I can make another visit back at the weekend to watch and photograph these iconic British birds.

Barn Owl