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Monday, 27 August 2012

Something Different

As it's that time of year when the bird's go quiet and there isn't much around to photograph I thought I would try something different.  What I didn't know is that you have to get up at silly o'clock in the morning to photograph butterflies.

The alarm set at 3 am I was up early and the weather forecast was good so I headed to meet Ken.  We arrived whilst it was still dark but by the time we got the gear together the sun was just coming up.

It didn't take us long before Ken spotted the first Butterfly, we continued to search and there was plenty.

When the sun first came up it gave us some really nice yellow early morning light.

Chalkhill Blue

It was a steep learning curve for me on the different type of species there and it wasn't all that easy to spot them at first.  

As the sun continued to rise we spotted more and more butterflies present.

Brown Argus

 Small Heath

Adonis Blue

Ken had warned me that the grass would be wet and tall in places so I am very glad I put on the waterproof trousers because by the time I had rolled all around the floor taking pictures I was soaked through.

As the temperature warmed up the butterflies became very active and more or less impossible to photograph so we called it a day.  The best thing of it all was we had bagged up by 8.30 am and ready to go back home.  

With a successful day behind us we opted to try again the next day with John but this time down Oxford.  

YES another 3am alarm was set and I was driving south to meet the clan.  This time we were not so lucky as it was very windy which meant the butterflies stayed low in the grass which made it more or less impossible to find.  After several hours of searching all I managed was another Brown Argus and a Grasshopper.

Brown Argus


Hopefully the weather is good next weekend so I can try again, but for now I am glad for no more 3am alarms.  

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Quick visit to the Highlands

I had been waiting for this some time now and was really looking forward to it.  After seeing some of the Osprey pics from a new hide in Aviemore it was decided we had to visit.  Due to work and holidays it was decided we would make the 7 hour drive up north early Saturday morning and then return back home Sunday evening, "YES" we must be mad.

Early Saturday morning Ken and John arrived at my house where we loaded the car and headed north, the roads were quiet for a change and the weather was also good so we made good time and was in the Highlands for midday.

There were a few species I really wanted to see and if possible get some shots of, these included Red Grouse, Divers and of course the Osprey's.

We called into a few of the local lochs but there wasn't really much around apart from a pair of spotted flycatchers.  Our good friend Pete had told me about another Loch not too far away so we headed off there in the hope of some Red Grouse.  On arrival we spotted a Cuckoo perched on the wires but the heat haze was just too much to get any really nice pics.  It wasn't long before we spotted three divers in the loch but they were a long long way off, after watching them for a while and taking to a birder with a digi he pointed out that they were Redthroat divers.  Great to see although they kept their distance.

As we started to turn around at the Loch we spotted out first Red Grouse.  We all managed to get some shots but again we were really struggling with Heat Haze.

We headed back to Aviemore where John knew a location for Red Squirrels.  The reds showed well but the back ground and set up wasn't great so I didn't really get anything special but did manage one shot I liked.

It was now getting early evening so it was time for some Pub food.  After eating we met up with Gordon so he could show us the Osprey Hide in advance of the early morning start.  The hide looked great and I was now really excited.  

A very early morning alarm went off at 3.45am :( to get ready for the Ospreys.  By 4.30am we were at the hide where we met Gordon and two other photographers.  By 5.10am the first Osprey was flying around above us so all was looking good.  Ten mins later another Osprey turned up and and made it very clear he was going to dive and some point soon.  The only big problem was it was still dark and even with ISO 1600 I only had a shutter speed of 1/40 :( 

The Osprey dived and I tried for a few shots but as soon as I heard the slow shutter I knew they would be no good.  Oh well it was still very early and the light was getting better every min so we just had to wait for the next one.  A hour past and we hadn't seen another Osprey and nor had Gordon whom was on the look out from the car park.  Whilst waiting I decided to take a few pics of the Grey Wagtail catching minnows from the pool. 

We continued to wait several more hours and still nothing :( looks like they were just not feeding today.  By 8.45am Gordon called it a day as he had not even seen another Osprey flying around.  We couldn't believe it, this was the first time Gordon and his hide had not produced several hits in morning session, trust it to be me.

We were determined not to go home empty handed so after speaking to the other two photographers they told us about a location for Red Grouse.  Looking at the map it looked like a little de-tour which we could take on the way home.  We packed up the gear and headed off in hope of some Red Grouse.  As we drove down a single lane and crossed a bridge, Ken shouted stop, "it was a Otter".  We quickly pulled the car to the side and got the camera's but by the time we looked again it had gone.

Once we arrived at the Grouse location it didn't take too long before I spotted the first Red Grouse, well actually there was a family of about seven of them.  We all got shots and continued to drive slowly and again within 5 mins we spotted more.  This continued for the next two hours so in the end we all got plenty of shots .

It was now time to head home so off we went on the 8 hour drive hour :(

The Highlands is a great place and I will be visiting again in the near future but next time it will have to be for longer than just a weekend.