Rare chance to Photograph Baby Birds

While on our travels this summer, we visited Porlock in Somerset. It’s a lovely little place with friendly people, a picturesque village and a visitor centre. Imagine my surprise when I saw a swallow flitting in and out of the  porch there, looked up and spied these swallows.

swallows

At least that’s what I think they are. Of course, if you know different…let me know, please! Here’s a close-up picture of the babies. All I could do, technique-wise, was steady the camera, point in the right direction, get someone to tell me when mum (or dad) was coming in and shoot with fingers crossed.

Baby Swallows?

Next Blog…Drowned forest at Porlock bay.

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Wild Flower Poster Hits the Press

I’ve been very busy with wild flowers lately. I’ve always been a conservationist, and now have the skills and marketplace to spread the word. So I spent several hours putting together a wild flower poster for Zazzle that I think everyone will love. It would work in the classroom as a teaching aid or as a pretty poster at home. It would even look good on the office wall and maybe encourage others to grow wild flowers in their gardens, thus helping our native wildlife and conserving our plants for the future. I know I havent been blogging as much lately, but without pictures there are no blogs, and without pictures there isn’t even money for internet access, so I’m afraid I’ve had to spend time elsewhere. But my friends on here have not been forgotten. I will try to catch up with you all soon.  Here’s the poster.

Happy gardening!

Spring’s Spectacular Displays

Tulip Tarda Macro

Hyacinth Macro

Primula Denticulata close-up

Fritillaria Milleagris

Bee Fly

Spring Finally arrived, bringing colour and life into my garden. Hooray! It’s hard NOT to be dazzled by the sheer exuberance of spring flowers. They shine out even on the gloomiest of days, announcing their wares to the insect world. While taking my photos of these glorious blooms something caught my eye. I thought at first it was a busy bee. I tried to capture its image on a hyacinth, but it didn’t stay put long enough and I chased it around the flowers until it landed where I feed the birds. Here it sat, grooming itself as I watched it through my Zoom macro lens. I found out later it’s a bee fly. They sip nectar as adults, but lay their eggs in solitary bees nests, where the grubs hatch out and feed on the bee grubs. Gruesome yet fascinating. Everything seems to have parasites, once you look closely enough.

Anyway, it hasn’t deterred my enthusiasm for spring. I wish I had the energy to jump up and down about it. Writing and taking photos and smiling like a Cheshire cat will have to do. Happy spring, folks everywhere. What’s blooming in your garden?

Sad Goodbye to Rats

dusk

It was a very sad day on Tuesday. I had to say goodbye to my lovely, tame, friendly, personality-filled rats Dusk and Tilldawn. We’ve both been suffering sinus and chest problems since a bug at Christmas, and after a break away realised it was rat dander causing my partner’s recently resumed asthma attacks and aggravating my sinus problems. No amount of hoovering, dusting and cleaning helped. So, we took them to a re-homing centre having failed to find a new home ourselves. They were great and will find a good, loving home for them. Still, I miss them running to the cage door every time I went close, and playing with them on the sofa. They loved human company and I enjoyed theirs. Now I just have tropical fish and the wild birds that come to feed in my garden. Sigh!

Dusk

Tilldawn

Before they went I had a last photo shoot with them, so here are some goodbye shots of them. I apologise for not posting as often recently. Things have been a wee bit hectic, and that coupled with poor health has made it hard to keep going never mind catch up. But I’m going to a 65th birthday party this weekend in Yorkshire, so should have some new photos for you and a tale or two on my return. The birthday boy is a photographer, too, so we’re going to spend some time swapping notes and going out for a shoot if the weather’s dry enough to get out.

Tilldawn

Bye, my freinds

Macro Extension Tubes. A New World

I’ve been very busy for the past week. My elderly parents who live 130 miles away needed their garden sorting out. So I spent two days travelling there and back, slept in my camper for four nights and worked with my son on their garden, in the rain. I believe it looks great now, but I didn’t get to see the finished results as it was dark when we were finishing up. The sun only came out the day I was driving home. So I haven’t one single photo and I was so caught up with family there was no time to blog. We (my son Richard and I) fell into bed after midnight every night absolutely shattered! I’ve asked my sister to send me some pictures. I returned home to flowers from Valentines day that were still looking good and some fresh flowers from my partner to welcome me home. So today I had a less strenuous time doing some macro shots with my new extension tubes, and as I’ve had some practice with them this set seem to have come out pretty well. Alstromerias are stunning. I didn’t realise how stunning until I saw these shots, though!

Alstromeria macro1

Alstromeria macro2

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alstromeria macro3

alstromeria macro4

It’s worth clicking into these shots and seeing them full size. Proof that extension tubes really can do the business.

snowdrop_macro1

Snowdrops were a little more tricky. As my lens is a zoom macro, I need a distance of about 2ft. To see up into the flower I would need to be led on my back on the floor or have the flower dangling from the ceiling. So I severed its head and used blu-tack to fix it to a background canvas just to get a close-up peek of the inside. Amazing detail!

snowdrop_macro2

I will get photos of my parents garden, but it will be May. So the early flowers will have gone and the later spring stars will be on the stage. I’ll post them when I get them. For now, happy early spring and sorry for neglecting my blog. My parents are thrilled that their garden is now tidy, the casualties of winter removed and the power washing of the walkways all done. They are now safe to go out there and are no longer in danger of slipping on the moss and sludge winter left behind.

Revived by Nature–a visit to Little Ponton Hall gardens

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Yesterday was lovely. gorgeous! Spring before spring. Promise of longer days and shorter, warmer nights and, above all, colour! Colour and light. The day was well chosen and the weather forecast was right. We had a lovely day of broken, light cloud, sunshine and the best display of aconites I’ve ever seen. Little Ponton Hall is open only under the National Garden Scheme to raise money for charity for this one weekend. What an opportunity it was.

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The snowdrops and aconites were the absolute stars of the show, and left me breathless. Each time the sun popped back out from the intermittent clouds I grabbed another opportunity for a shot. I get tired quite quickly, but managed two hours of shooting with a short tea break in between. I’ve posted a few of the results here. I hope you can see how gorgeous it was, and I hope it encourages you to get out there every chance you get to enjoy what nature can do for the human spirit. Don’t forget your camera!

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I have a Photographer’s Dilemma

gardenflowers 118

And here it is. One pretty small garden, illness that often keeps me at home and my passion for photographing (and growing) flowers. Colour. I love to grow things that attract wildlife such as bees and butterflies. I support birds with food water and nest boxes all year round and have hedging plants that bear winter berries for them. The garden should be alive. Even the mice are allowed to steal a little food, and get caught live and released near a pond if they seem to be growing in numbers.

nasturtium

Yet we are now bombarded with news about food shortages, and I’ve just planted new perennial flowers where I had veg last year. Do I carry on with my plan to get more butterflies and bees and hoverflies in the garden and squeeze the veg into tubs? Do I backtrack on my plan and move the plants out again? In such a small space I could grow a few spring onions, a couple of runner beans and a tomato plant, but when we realise just how overpopulated the world is and how tough things are getting, maybe we all should be doing what was done in Britain during the war and turning our gardens into vegetable plots.

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Perhaps we wouldn’t be in such a state if people wasted less, but I’ve composted everything I can for years. I do mean everything. Cotton T-shirts, waste paper baskets made of wicker, rat bedding, shredded paper and of course all kitchen waste that isn’t meat. We throw away very, very little. Compared to our neighbours, our bin collection and recycling collection is tiny. So what would you do? Food or flowers?

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