Wildlife Photos in the Garden

It’s been a while since I posted, and for several good reasons. One, my parents needed help and live 120 miles away, so travel was necessary, taking me away from the computer and time to write. Two, my son had a birthday for which I did a party involving people travelling and staying with us and three, we’ve found a house we love and are frantically promoting the sale of our current residence so we can move. The new house is a bay fronted semi, backing onto fields. It has 120ft long garden where I can grow food and flowers, encourage wildlife and have some peace and quiet, something in short supply in my current home. I can’t wait.

Gardening organically has already had its rewards for me. I’ve had plenty of birds visiting for years, but I’m delighted to introduce you to Jimmy, my resident hedgehog. He/she (they’re not easy to sex) first appeared at my feet when I sat out in the garden at  midnight one July night after returning from a trip. I thought I was very lucky to see one close up for the first time in my longish life. What I didn’t expect was to find he’d moved into the garden and taken up residence in a garden sack of clematis prunings I’d put aside for the next fire. He’s made a cosy nest in there and now comes to my back door every night for his supper before going off foraging. Of course, I had to get some photos of him and here he is.

Jimmy the Hedgehog

Jimmy the Hedgehog

He didn’t mind at all that I was laid on the ground right in front of him and using flash. He just carried on munching his supper. When we move, I’m taking him with me. The estate we’re on now is surrounded by busy roads and lots of big dogs. Where we are going he’ll have the run of my garden and all the surrounding gardens and fields, never needing to go near a road. As hedgehogs are now endangered I hope this will help just a tiny little bit.

We’ve had other wildlife in the garden, too. I try to photograph it whenever I can. It’s great to see diversity coming back to what was once a patch of scrubby couch grass and not much else. Earlier this year I had a plague of blackfly. It didn’t take long, though for the ladybird brigade to turn up and help me out with them. I’ve never seen so many ladybirds before on one plant. These two obligingly posed for me on a nice, still day.

Ladybird Friends

Mother and son?

It’s great to see so many friends in the garden. Hedgehog eats the slugs and snails, ladybirds eat the blackfly and hoverflies of course do a similar job.

Hoverfly

Then there are the ambitious spiders. They seem to want to catch a human. Each morning we have a new web across the back door. It’s a good job I quite like them or I’d never get outside! They of course do their part in keeping pest numbers down, are beautifully marked and quite fascinating to watch. No wonder King Arthur burnt the cakes!  This one made a web on the washing line and I couldn’t resist trying for some shots, despite the breeze, which made the whole thing quite frustrating, but worth it, I think.

Spider

So I don’t have to go far to find friends, photographic subjects and bags of interest to keep me going as long as I keep on gardening. So many advantages from one hobby. Organic food, money-saving, photographic subjects, the satisfaction of doing my little bit for conservation and my own enjoyment – all from one plot. what more could a woman ask?

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Birthday Wanderings into Beauty

Weir 1

It is my partners birthday today. We decided to take time out from computers and visit a previously unexplored local haven, Watermead Country Park near Leicester. What a gorgeous afternoon! The first thing we saw when entering the park was a weir, and I had to play. So I’ve given you three of the shots taken each with a different effect in mind. They are abstract shots, and all I changed between each was the shutter speed, then a little curve readjustments to get the effects I have done. On the last shot of the three, you can see the swirling water in front of the weir.

Weir 2

Weir 3

We watched herons fly overhead and glide down onto a lake, saw cormorants (I think) roosting in the trees and a beautiful sunset. We had to wrap up warm, but just look at the colour for this time of year! Imagine my delight, too when we found catkins. Looking up at them the contrast with the sky was stunning, so I had to show you. So today is all about winter wonder and my partners birthday.

Catkins

Gorgeous sunset

Watermead Country Park

Sunset at Watermead

We came home and had a lovely meal, candlelit of course. He’s now busy blogging, so I’m taking a moment to get this post out to you. I’m investigating some nifty websites with Photoshop tutorials. When I’ve finished going through them I’ll pass them on to you. Photoshop is and amazing programme that seems to have endless possibilities, and for those of you who, like me, want to do more with their photos than just shoot and post, I’m hoping to find some new ways of using Photoshop to enhance or even transform the humble photo.

How Not to Photograph Birds

Well, despite feeling rotten yesterday I forced myself to go out with the camera to our local woods. I decided to go down to the hide and photo the birds, who I reasoned, would be there in throngs due to the frozen ground, and I was right. I didn’t factor in the low light levels at that site, though, so shutter speeds were far too long for good sharp images, and because I was feeling rotten my reflexes were also far too slow. The results are obvious, if slightly amusing! I thought I’d share, so next time you fancy taking shots of birds, you find a good, bright site with lots of light and make sure you’re feeling bright, too.

Blurrrr

Where's it gone?

Then there’s how to do it properly. These were taken in my own back garden while I sat in the lounge, patio doors open and a nice bright day so shutter speeds were much higher and I was much brighter, too.

Mum, feed me!

I'm just busy, OK?

Now all I have to do to photograph the other species that don’t visit my garden is find a better spot to bait wild birds with food, get myself comfy and freeze while waiting with lightening reactions when they arrive!

Fabrika Exhibition Starts Today

Fabrika Independent Arts Organisation, Leicester

Well, having been to Leicester this morning to have some pictures taken of the inside of my head, (they assured me there is a brain in there) we decided to call in at Fabrika. My pictures were sat there, about to be hung. So from today they’ll be on display for everyone to see (and buy if they wish). My partner had his mobile phone with him and decided to take some shots of the building and my photos in the queue.

Three of my photos ready for exhibition

Here’s a lo-res jpeg of the biggest one I’ve put up, and one I have great memories of taking, as I have an affinity with owls. They always seem to appear in my life when things are changing for the better. Plus, when I was little, my mum taught me a poem you may or may not know. So, poem and photo…

Eurasian Eagle Owl

A wise old owl sat in an oak,

The more he saw, the less he spoke.

The less he spoke, the more he heard.

I wish I was more like that wise, old bird.

And even in my fifties, I wish I WAS more like that wise old bird!

Anyway, Since I couldn’t get to the frost this morning  with my camera (had to rush off to hospital appointment), that will be a job for tomorrow. For now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that loads of people see my work and some of it sells. More on that soon, as I’m getting ready for sales from my website.

A UK Farm Celebrating the Past

A happy pig that enjoyed having his ear scratched

A happy pig that enjoyed having his ear scratched

A happy pig with her new family

A happy pig with her new family

I thought I’d digress from my usual meanderings today. Looking at the shots I took on a small farm visit made me quite nostalgic. I’m sure the modern equipment farms use today are essential to keep us all fed, but doesn’t all the old stuff look great? It made me think about what we’ve lost in our countryside due to the pressures of so many people to feed. We can’t blame the farmers, as they simply had to follow policies government set for them to increase production. But having been back to a conservation site trying to redress the balance (see previous post), I simply feel whistful about what we have lost. The meadows full of butterflies and bees (their plight has been well publicised), the cornfields dotted with poppies, and people’s connection to the earth. In my own area, which is mixed private and council housing the kids watched me sprinkle poppy seeds over the grass verges. ‘What’ya doin?’ they asked me, so I told them. ‘Huh, they won’t grow round here.’ Was the reply. How sad that young people have given up before they’ve started, and have so little connection to the planet that supports them.

When I was a kid, I played in hedgerows, brought new ‘pets’ home in the form of caterpillars and watched them grow and change into butterflies. I visited my aunt’s farm at the weekend and fought the hens for their eggs. Now the latest game seems to be all young people are interested in. So my photos for the day look back to a time when less damage was done to the land and machinery was on a more human scale. Animals were treated well and the smithy was an important part of the scene. What do you think? Am I just a sad, aging hippy or should we all be taking more notice of what’s around us?

An old fashioned Smithy

An old fashioned Smithy

Elderly, retired farm tractor

Elderly, retired farm tractor

Spiritual Weekend with a Stone Circle

Jon spinning six feet of flaming kevlar rope

 

Well, I’m back. Health issues are finally improving and stress levels are down. So I made it back to a very special place last weekend. Fifteen or so years ago I was party to a once in a lifetime opportunity. A new stone circle was built in a very special farm in Yorkshire. Only about 200 people in the whole of this country of over 60 million can say that. I feel very honoured to have had that experience.Lime tree farm is now on the map as a conservation site. Its owner, Peter, is a very special man. He sees himself as guardian of the land and its inhabitants. Being there again and spending time touring the site, talking to Peter and the other members of our camp who also helped build the circle has renewed my faith in human nature. This camp came at exactly the right time. Our lives had once again been disrupted by outside influences that threatened our sanity. People who are on power trips, eager to ensure tha they enforce their attitude that their way is the right way and the only way were getting us down. All gone!

I won’t allow any more of that negativity back into my conciousness. I’ve been brought back to my pagan roots, and now, with renewed  enthusiasm I will resume my life as I want it to be. ‘Do as you will and harm none’  has always been my principle guide in life. Imagine if everyone used that principle. The people at the camp I attended all subscribe to it, and we had a fabulous weekend together in complete harmony. We all try to live life peacefully, to see the beauty in the world and try to conserve what we can of it.

I took a lot of photos. We have some talented people in our group. One of which is Jon, who spins fire on a 6′  length of Kevlar rope, purely for our entertainment. That’s todays photo. We enjoyed singing, guitar, drumming, flutes, singing, comedy and pasta donated freely because we forgot ours. We slept peacefully with our tents and camper doors unlocked. We felt safe. We left our stuff lying around knowing no-one would touch it. That’s the ideal world we should all live in.

On the site, I saw a field of wild, native orchids. Not one or two, but too many to count. They are there because someone genuinely cares. With us on the camp was an eighteen year old young man who had never attended such a camp before. He was very nervous when he arrived, but left with new friends, was accepted for who he is and went home very happy. He’s learned a lot in a short time, and I’m sure is one of the people who will continue to care when us oldies, or elders, have gone. My own son, ages twenty, also came with us. He has been through hell lately, and also learned a lot, shared a lot and found his place building the fire and keeping us all warm. He has a hard time in the everyday world because he’s a bit different. He was totally accepted by the group and had positive feedback from them. In the everyday world he gets nothing but problems and bullying because he finds it difficult to work out who are the goodies and who are the baddies.

Why does the world have to be such a mess of power trippers, ego maniacs and greedy people? What happened to caring, sharing, understanding and making time for others? Why do my beliefs attract such scorn and derision? I’m a peaceful soul. Why does trouble come and find me when I’m hiding away doing my ‘thing’?

Anyway, positivity is back, negativity is banished and photography is King. I’ll carry on trying to point people’s eyes at beauty in the world. I’ll try to lead by example and continue my quest for more understanding and appreciation of difference. Each and every human being deserves to be accepted for their differences. Forget skin colour, belief systems and sexual orientation. Those differences are what make us as a species. Without them we might as well all be snakes, cows or rabbits or any other animal. Even they have different personalities, but somehow they don’t spend their lives trying to make the others in their species exactly the same as them. And if they were, they’d die out. We need individuality. We need all the qualities that combined we have, or we’d still be living in caves and may never have discovered fire. We would have no-one to learn from. We would be extremely boring. I don’t think I’d want to be human if we were all the same.

Crow Circle

Long live difference and banish prejudice. Let’s open our eyes to beauty and be thankful we can all enjoy it.

Patience is a virtue, especially if you like birds

Dahlia

It’s a good job I have a lot of patience. I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve had a 20+ year wait for diagnosis of a serious condition. I’m a gardener, and I have a son with ADHD. All of these things needed a massive amount of patience to get through, which I’ve had ( I’m still here, and my son is 20 and still alive!!). So you’d think getting the photos I’d like of birds would be a doddle, right? Wrong. They don’t mind me sitting watching them, oh, no. They’re in and out of the garden as if they have it to themselves, even when I actually move around gardening. BUT if I go in and get the camera, sit quietly where I always sit, they disappear? Camera shy starlings? Sparrows with a sense of humour? Blushing blue tits? It baffles me. I can’t go far at the moment until my health improves, so you’d think these creatures I’ve kept alive all winter and oblige with food for their broods would do the decent thing and pose nicely!

I’ve resorted to hiding behind the curtain in my lounge and trying to get the odd shot from there, but the light is against me in that position, so all I have are plant photos. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it would be great if I could capture my feathered friends in action. Perhaps a trip to the local park would be better, as the birds there are very used to people. The tree are much bigger, too of course. But then there are always the flowers.

All this got me thinking on a more serious note, though. I’ve also waited patiently for a long time to see the Liberals get some say in parliament, and now, finally, they have their chance. Not that I’m a political animal, I’m not, and couldn’t hold down a discussion on policy of any kind (please don’t ask me to).  But I do know that we’ve needed ‘fresh blood’ for a very long time, and now we have some. And the opportunity is there for reform of the voting system. Hooray! Lets keep our fingers crossed that they actually do make some real, positive changes we can be proud of.

I’ve given you another flower today, as the birds won’t co-operate. It sat still, smiled nicely and will be planted in the garden as soon as the danger of frost has passed. I wonder, what tries other people’s patience?

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