Richmond Park Trip #3

The plan for this post was to link to my previous post in 2014 on my trips to the park…but I can’t seem to find them…Sorry! (I think I probably wrote the blog posts in my head and thought I’d actually written and published the post but turns out I never did…I think this happens a lot!)

One late October Saturday I made my third trip to Richmond Park, London in the hope of taking some autumnal deer photographs. This time I was meeting some fellow photographers arranged through ‘meetup’.

Compared to my other two trips two years ago it was a rather cloudy, dull day and there weren’t as many autumn coloured trees as I was expecting!

The freelance photographer who had organised the trip had already circuited the park prior to our meeting time at 10am so we knew what direction to head in (this was really handy as the first time I went I walked for ages getting lost before finding the deer – haha). We spent a lot of time photographing the deer under the trees in the more wooded areas as it looked like a more natural environment rather than the open grassland areas. Now I have a confession, two years ago I bypassed completely ignoring the deer in the wooded areas as I just figured it was too dark and my images would end up really grainy! Yes two years later I found it a bit tricky and frustrating as the dull day made it even darker but hey I still came away with some great pictures (not blowing my own trumpet I’m just pretty proud of how they came out). Though my favourites taken on this day are still the ones taken in the more open areas!

I was thinking about the different lighting conditions and challenges over the trips I’ve taken and I must say my favourite set of images comes from this trip! I’ll share a few of my favourites from the day! At some point, I’d love to get some sunrise/sunset shots of the deer!

Here are two links to photos taken in 2014…

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On Location: Drumburgh Moss

For one of my final year university modules we have to do an On Location project. I have chosen to do mine on the pros and cons of grazing feral ponies on nature reserves and for this I am visiting Drumburgh Moss National Nature Reserve in Drumburgh, Cumbria where eight Exmoor ponies roam and graze.

I haven’t seen 5am for a while, but it sure is a tough wake up when it’s dark and cold out. I pushed through getting ready in record time to leave for the bus. Stepping outside I was greeted by a thick fog, covering me like a blanket along with the bitter cold. ‘Gee whizz’ I muttered. Setting off at a brisk walk, I soon warmed up admiring the fog as I went hoping it would stick around until sunrise.

I stepped off the bus at Drumburgh missing the warmth already; I set off down the lane. The droning of the cows drowned out the twitter of the birds I was straining to hear. Not only could I hear them making a racket the smell of cow was overpowering. As I reached the reserve entrance I glanced across a field, a thin layer of mist smothered the ground; the sky had become pink like a sea of cotton candy.

I decided before looking for the ponies, I would have a gander inside the fenced area of the nature reserve where the raised mire is. It was beautiful, from the reflections in the water to the mist rolling off and onto the vegetation to the sparkling water drops, the cob webs twinkled as the orange fireball rose. It was time to move on and get those foggy morning shots I so desired.

No sooner had I rounded the corner I could make out the ponies, clouded in the swirling vapour. As I approached they raised their heads high, their gaze watched my every move checking that I was not a predator. As I neared I started to snap away, the dew laden grass glittered. One watched and posed away, the other two disinterested carried on munching away. He became inquisitive by the noise of my camera and started to approach but in doing this, 4 horses charged out of a little wood behind me. I hadn’t even noticed they were there, only the other two on the opposite side of the path to me. On they cantered towards me, nostrils flared, snorting and prancing. ‘Oh boy, I don’t want to get caught up in this’ I thought. I backed away slowly, making sure I wasn’t going to be stuck in the middle of them, they stopped, observed and one brave pony approaches, a slight wild look in his eye. ‘Steadddy’ I murmured. His ears twitched, slowly he walks on. I moved my arm slightly; he jumps back, spins and runs. Snorting he tries again whilst two others fight just to the left of me, kicking and rearing at each other. This is not the position I want to be in. I edge to my right, slowly making way to give myself a good distance between them again. The inquisitive one follows me, I stop, he stops. Slowly I turn take some pictures, he breathes out, adding to the fog. Shoving his nose towards to the camera lens he sniffs it, deciding I am no threat, he wanders back to his herd. I stand and watch, behind me the golden light softly caressed the land.

The herd move around splitting into their groups of 4, a 3 and a lone one. I think to myself, now then if they would kindly like to stand over there in the golden light it would be beautiful, like the picture I hoped to achieve. What happened next was magical. One pony wandered straight past me, followed by another into the pale orange hue. I stood and gawped. I couldn’t believe it. I snapped away frantically not wanting to miss my chance, in the doing of this, I was joined by a pony stood at my side, looking on he sighed, and nudged me. When I didn’t respond to this he took to grabbing my camera bag between his teeth and pulling backwards, he soon lost interest when this didn’t get a response either and walking into the light.

I don’t know what it is with these ponies, but seemed to love starting a fight right in front of me. For the second time this day I had a pair squeal and rear up at each other. I left them all too it for about half an hour to look around the rest of the reserve before heading back, taking some more photos of the ponies to pass some time before heading to the bus.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday, I took over 700…..and have somehow got to pick ones out for the magazine article and for prints. Fun and games, but please let me know what you think :).

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Foxy Encounters

06/09/14

Last Friday I decided to get up at 4.15am to look for foxes like the summer before, only having luck once, on one of my outings last summer I wasn’t expecting much. Though I have borrowed a Canon 5D Mark 2 ii for the summer I hoped to achieve this at some point during the summer to get better pictures.

Already at 4.30am in the morning it was fairy sunny and warm, I stepped outside the door and heard a cuckoo calling in the forest quite close to my house. I thought mm maybe I should go to the forest instead…but I continued with my plan.

Walking silently and keeping my eyes and ears peeled I walked to the park, walking by the pond the geese and goslings swam over squeaking away. I continued and not long after a fox darted out in front of me, watched me hiding behind a pile of twigs, on hearing the camera shutter off ran the fox into the woods.

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I walked the same walk that I walked last year, I didn’t find any further along than the entrance to the park but I did see the two herons (which I haven’t seen for ages). As it was gone 5am and rather light, people heading for the train, dog walkers etc I turned around to head home. So there I am bim-bling along the path at the bottom of this road this fox is running towards me, I gasp and just stare wondering whether to fumble around with my camera or not, the fox soon saw me and diverted its path very quickly. I near a bench and wonder if I should hide somewhere and wait for the return of the fox. Whilst stood there contemplating what I should do, I heard a rustle looking up just across the stream is a fox leaping in the air trying to catch a blackbird! I managed to get a few snaps before the fox disappeared.267271

I walked home grinning away.

11/06/14

Again I awoke early this morning for the foxes, a bit groggy I went back bet thinking maybe I should just go back bed, suddenly wide awake I was like what am I thinking…

Grey Heron

Once outside on I walked to the park, same route as Friday came across the first fox of the morning same place as last time (Déjà vu?) but this time it had saw me before I saw him, so off he shot in a flash.  Saw the heron again by the second pond and heard the woodpeckers but no foxes here. Heading back the goslings and geese are going on their morning stroll, I passed them and saw a orange flash of a fox just across the road, It stopped looked at me, I thought that’d make a nice picture out the open…vrrromm car came =fox grunted and ran.IMG_1011IMG_1018

So there I am walking along this path again, being very quite camera is at the ready. I hear rustling from my right; I peer through a gap in the bushes and to my delight 4 fox cubs rolling around on the floor and play fighting with the parents watching over them, one on either side. I watched intruding on this moment with a big beam on my face. They soon moved on and so did I, to the clearing bit though only parent comes out into the open for a short spell.

The fox picture below made me chuckle, I didn’t realised I was being watched and when I noticed (the second time I walked past) I laughed to myself because of the fox peering out checking if I’d left. I was also being watched by a jay.

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This evening I headed into the forest for a walk hoping to come across a deer, fox or an owl. I didn’t have much luck here (especially getting attacked by flies). I decided to do a loop back home and walk through the park just in case there was a fox. Well let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed! At the clearing there they were, the fox family. I crouched down hiding behind the nettles and just watched the cubs rolling around again; a fox went to jump the creek but saw me and decided against it. The cubs went back into the thicket but one fox remained just lying on the floor, I photographed this one for awhile, he/she didn’t seem fazed with me at all. Soon fed up of the limelight the fox strolled off.IMG_1037IMG_1056

I walked up the path a bit and saw a fox playing on a chopped down tree trunk. I hid here for awhile until I couple walking their dog spotted the fox, well the dog saw the fox first and started yipping at it, and the fox shot off like lighting back into the undergrowth.IMG_1054IMG_1052

I must say during this evening encounter I got bit the hell out of by the flies, I have 15-20 bites all painful and itchy but I must say it’s worth it! And the funny looks I get off of people that see me crouching on the floor.

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Not all the pictures are amazing but hopefully will improve over the summer; I also took some short (shaky) film today which can be seen here: http://youtu.be/iJAQSwbmu_g

Exploring Carlisle

Seeing as I am in a different house this year at university I have started to explore parts I didn’t last year because of the convenience of them being closer and I am not so worried about becoming lost as much as I was. I took out a canon 7D from the AV at university to play with for a week to get a feel for other models rather than using my 500D. So over the weekend I visited the cemetery as after speaking to a local couple a few weeks ago they told me where to find the red squirrels and what else was around wildlife wise in the area. The only graveyard/cemetery I have ever been to are the really small ones next to churches and wow was I stuck when I stepped through the gates. It was beautiful and very well kept and what was nice as well they had conservation areas for wildlife within the cemetery too! After a bit of wandering around a man asked me what wildlife I was looking for and he pointed me in the direction of the red squirrels and a few minutes later he came running to find me to say he’s just seen one and to show me where :). I came across the feeding area just around the corner and saw more reds along with plenty of birds. I explored more and chatted with more people who told me about the wildlife they have seen in the cemetery.

Just before I left going over a bridge I watched a red squirrel scurry about, drink from the stream and then leap over to the other side to forage for food.

As odd as this sounds, but I think I’ll be spending more time in the cemetery!

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Beauty

So this year at University we do film, so I thought I’d go out and take some videos and put them together to make a short video as a bit of practice as I don’t normally video.

I named this video ‘Beauty’ because its all around us but often goes unseen. I realised this during work this summer and thought to myself sometimes you just have to open your eyes and see it.

If anyone has any feedback/improvements I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Loddon Nature Reserve

A few weeks ago I visited Loddon Nature Reserve which is located in Twyford along the river Loddon hence the name I guess . This reserve is part of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife trust(BBOT). The habitats of Loddon Nature Reserve are wetland and woodland. The reserve was quite hard to find and it took us awhile to see a nature reserve sign and had to drive up and down the road for a while to find a place to park. The species we saw on this visit was the common tern, coot, great crested grebe, grey heron, mallard, mute swan, Canada and greylag goose. Species that can be seen at the reserve according to the BBOT are: purple-loosestrife, yellow iris, blackcap, common tern, coot, cormorant, gadwall, great crested grebe, grey heron, moorhen, oystercatcher, pochard, shoveler, teal, tufted duck, whitethroat, wigeon and willow warbler.
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
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The common tern is medium sized and a silvery-grey with a large black cap and short red legs and a orange beak with a black tip. They are quite noisy and breed on sandy coasts, in dunes and islands but also breed inland on gravelly banks of lakes and rivers. To catch their food they plunge-dive into the water. They are a summer visitor and are threatened by habitat loss, pollution and disturbance.
Statistics:
• Length – 31-35cm
• Wingspan – 88cm
• Weight – 130g
• Average Lifespan – 12 years

Conservation status:
In the UK they are classified as an Amber list species (under the Birds of Conservation Concern Review)

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/common-tern

Coot (Fulica atra)

Coots are a wading bird and are often seen in park lakes, ponds, reservoirs, gravel pits and rivers they are a widespread species. Coots are black with a bright white bill. They spend most of their time in the water and dive to catch for food. They breed in the spring and lay around 6-9 eggs. Even though they are common their wetland homes are at risk from development, drainage and pollution.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 36-40cm
  • Wingspan – 75cm
  • Weight – 800g
  • Average Lifespan – 5 years

Conservation status: Common

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/coot

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

Great Crested Grebes are waterbirds, which feed on small fish and aquatic invertebrates, they dive to feed and also to escape. Because their feet are places so far bar on their bodies they are clumsy on land. The great crested grebe as white cheeks, dark cap, orange ruff and a white neck and dark body. They can be found on lakes and reservoirs. The grebe’s elegant feathers made them nearly hunted to extinction in the UK.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 45-51cm
  • Weight – up to 1.1kg

Conservation status: Common

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/great-crested-grebe

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

The grey heron is one of Britain’s most familiar birds and is often seen standing very still in shallow waters waiting patiently hunting fish. Their diet mainly consists of fish but they also eat small birds & mammals and amphibians. Grey herons have long legs, long yellow beak with grey, black and white feathering with a black eye stripe. They are seen around any kind of water such as garden ponds, lakes and rivers.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 60cm
  • Wingspan – 92cm
  • Weight – 450g
  • Average Lifespan – 5 years

Conservation status: Common

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/grey-heron

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Common at the local pond or park are often quite tame due to being fed by the public regularly. Males have green head, yellow bill and a maroon-brown chest and grey on the body. Females are mainly brown with a orange bill and quite speckled in comparison. They breed all over the UK in summer and winter.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 55-62cm
  • Wingspan – 90cm
  • Weight – 970-1200g
  • Average lifespan – 3 years

Conservation status:

Under the birds of conservation concern review Mallards are classified as an Amber list species in the UK, this is because non-breeding populations are declining. This displays that the survival of some common waterbirds are under threat because of the loss and degradation of wetland habitats.

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/mallard

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

A large, white waterbird. The mute swan has a long, curved neck with orange bill with black at the base. They feed on plants and normally mate for life, often seen on ponds and lakes all over the country.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 1.5m
  • Wingspan – 2.2m
  • Weight – 9-11.5kg
  • Average lifespan – 10 years.

Conservation Status: Common

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/mute-swan

Canada goose (Branta canadensis)

Common across most of the country expect North Scotland. The Canada goose is not native to this country and was introduced 300 years ago from North America. They spread across the UK becoming pests in some areas after the 2nd world war. They are a large goose with black head and neck and white cheek patches.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 55-100cm
  • Wingspan – 1.6m
  • Weight – 4.6kg
  • Average lifespan – 6 years

Conservation status: Introduced species.

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/canada-goose

Greylag goose (Anser anser)

The greylag is the ancestor of most domestic geese, they are the largest and bulkiest wild geese native to the UK. They have short  orange bills, are pale grey with pink legs and like to graze where cattle or sheep are grazing. They are easily seen in lowland areas of the UK all year. Wild ones are found mostly north of the Solway.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 76-89cm
  • Wingspan -1.6m
  • Weight – 3-4kg
  • Average lifespan -8 years

Conservation status:

Under the birds of conservation concern review they are classified as an Amber list species in the UK.

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/greylag-goose