Saturday, 27 January 2018

From Riverbank to Wetlands

After yesterday's wander along the River Stour at Blandford and the resulting two hour game of hide and seek with an Otter it was time to move on. The wetlands of Weymouth were calling and the RSPB sites at Radipole and Lodmoor did not disappoint, even though the Sun did not break clear of dark looming clouds until the end of the day. It is difficult taking photos when the light is not right, it is as disappointing as it is frustrating and the results always make you wonder just how good you would be if conditions were better.
All of a sudden, and after I had more or less decided to call it a day, the clouds cleared bathing all of the birds in beautiful golden light. The water was still, the birds were a keeping their distance but they were just about close enough and I had time to click away. Along with flocks of Lapwing and Black Headed Gulls were Shovellers, Teal, Mallards Ruff and a few very photogenic Snipe.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Tales From the Riverbank

I had been watching the forecast all week, waiting for a break in the weather to give me a chance to get out with my camera. As soon as the dogs were walked I was off to my first port of call to spend a little time by the river hoping I would be lucky enough to see an Otter. Now most wildlife photographers around here will know that Blandford is the best place to see Otters and even then it can be hit and miss. When I arrived at Blandford the river was in flood, flowing fast and full of mud, and the Sun was struggling to do what the forecasters had promised.
Standing on the riverbank, looking out over water filled with eddies and bubbles, it seemed that the only wildlife around was a couple of Swans, beautiful in themselves of course but not what I had come for. It is easy to become despondent in these circumstances, but I have been doing this sort of thing for long enough to know that it can take hours of waiting and many days with an empty lens, I was ready to watch and wait, bide my time and prepare myself for disappointment.
So I was quite pleased when, after literally a minute of scanning the far bank, an Otter appeared and spent he next two hours putting on a show with the only issue being the lack of sunlight. I would have loved to tell you that it took incredible tracking skills and hours of patience to find her but that is how it goes sometimes. 
From then on the only thing I had to do was watch and enjoy myself! Well, to keep track of lines of Otter bubbles in a river full of bubbles. To predict where the Otter will surface once the bubbles have stopped. To spot, focus and press the button before the speedy little thing dives again. Easy! 
A bit of Sun would have been nice though! 

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Early: Just Before Breakfast

For a while this morning, as a rising Sun shone brightly between a growing cloud bank, the light was just about perfect.
They don't call this the Golden Hour for nothing and along the Purbeck cliffs all seemed to glow.
On a ledge not too far away was a pair of Peregrines that sat for a while checking out the breakfast menu. As I got closer one flew away to follow a flock of Pigeons but the other seemed to tolerate my intrusion and just wait.
I can't think of any other place in the country where you can be treated to such incredible views of this iconic bird.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Windblown and Wornout.

It was always going to be blowy, the weather forecast was clear about that and you could see white horses leaping from the waves in the bay. So it should have come as no surprise that this morning’s walk to St.Aldhelm’s Head was not going to be a stroll in the park. The road from Worth to the cliffs is completely exposed and offered no shelter from a wind that careered across the fields and cut through me as easily as it cut through the hedgerows. In the distance the chapel and coastguard cottages that sit at journey’s end seemed a long way away, much further than the mile and half or so that I know it to be.
Apart from the Wrens, Robins and other little brown birds that flitted from twig to twig, wildlife was thin on the ground and the deer that I did see kept their distance. There was also a Hare that was hunkered so low in a tractor rut that it almost looked like a clod of mud and would have been ignored but a second look costs nothing but may be worth a great deal. Even a glimpse of these wonderful creatures is a treat, especially on a day like this.
As we reached the cliffs the wind, that had been such a factor up until now, took an even more starring role and it was clear that this cliff top was not the place to be today. So, following a quick photo and with the wind at our backs, we re-joined the path and headed back to towards Worth.
The walk was over quicker than I would have wanted but with slippery paths and a wind this strong, spending any more time at St.Aldhelm’s Head would not have been clever. There are safer places to watch the sea and I’ll be visiting them later.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

A Tale of Two Views

Whichever way you looked this morning you were greeted with a different sky. Dark looming clouds skirted the Isle of Purbeck to the south but the sky seemed clearer and less threatening to the north.
On the second photograph I used a much quicker shutter speed to emphasise the difference between the light and dark sky, so it wasn't really quite as dark as this looks but the sky was no less impressive.
What happens, wheather-wise, over the next few days is going to be a bit of a lottery but it was nice to see a bit more of our coastline this morning after a few days of low, grey cloud.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

A Little Bit of Colour

Another grey start to the day meant another walk without the camera but it is good to see a little blue struggling through the clouds now that I have got home. I will be framing all afternoon for The Old Stables and The Grand Hotel in Swanage so I must really stay focused on not going out again. It is for that reason (as if I really needed an excuse) that I thought I would post a few shots of one of my favourite birds to add a little colour to the day.

Friday, 12 January 2018

From Grey to Blue

There is no escaping the weather and early walks are really suffering at the moment, with fog closing in all around there is little difference between sky and sea and all colours are muted and dull. The walks are fine though, as they always are, but without the camera it feels like I have left my right hand at home.
Now all this means is that as soon as the sky clears and views return the call to be out and about is too hard to resist. Winspit was on the list for a wander the other afternoon for no other reason than I hadn't been there for a while. The views along the cliffs towards Anvil Point lighthouse are superb on a clear day and there was still enough of a swell to make the waves climb the cliffs. 

Apart from that, on this sunny but chilly January day, it was good to play hide and seak with the local lizards, I enjoy this far too much and am never ready to leave until I have a photo or two..

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Thinking Time

Sometimes a good walk is needed to clear my head and try to make sense of what is going on in the world, for me it is a kind of therapy that I can’t get anywhere else. This morning’s early wander was one of these and it was made easier by a beautiful sunrise and the kind of clear blue skies that we have been missing over the last few days.
Now I am not saying walking the cliffs will solve all of your problems but for me it tends to put things in perspective and helps me concentrate on what is really important.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

It's All About the Wind

The moon was still high in the sky when we reached the cliffs this morning and for once you couldn’t hear the waves as they crashed onto the rocks of Durlston Bay. You couldn’t hear the gulls calling as they circled above white capped waves either but this was not to say that the morning was a haven of peace and quiet. The overriding noise was caused by a wind that forced a path through the tree tops, sounding like a jet engine one minute and shifting sand the next, it drowned out almost everything else. I say almost because somewhere in the darkness of the undergrowth was a Wren, a fine little bird with a big mouth, that was winning the loudest noise competition at least for a little while.
Further along the cliffs a Peregrine suddenly appeared, effortlessly lifted herself high on the updraft and disappeared behind the trees. There were not many other birds close to land but far out to sea Gannets soared just above the waves looking impossibly white even against the breaking water. Far below, white horses were being dragged from the tops of waves and sent spraying across the water before they too were carried up the face of the cliff and into the sky.
On this clear blue sky morning, without a cloud to be seen, you could feel the spray as it fell like fine rain and that wasn’t a bad thing at all.

Quiet but never silent.

I missed the Sun this morning, not because I was late but because the early wander was done and dusted by the time the clouds cleared. When...