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Blue Monday: Ghost Of The Machine

Ghost Of The Machine

Ghost Of The Machine

An underwater apparition from the flooded quarry at the National Diving and Activity Centre (NDAC). Simon and I went up to the centre, near Chepstow, on Saturday to get in a couple of freshwater dives. This British Aerospace Jetstream 200 has been one of the attractions at the site since 2006 and can be found at the north end of the quarry, at a depth of eleven metres. Visibility is usually better than the five metres, or so, that we had this weekend. I rather enjoyed seeing the various wrecks appear, like ghosts, from the gloom ahead of us though. Taken using the Olympus Tough TG4, this image is my entry for Wex Mondays this week. Good luck to everyone taking part!

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Blue Monday: Fruitful

Blue Tit and Bountiful Berries (Cornus kousa var. chinensis)

Blue Monday: Fruitful

My offering for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge is an image taken on a short but fruitful visit to RHS Wisley Gardens last week. I only had about an hour and a half before closing time but I had really needed a bit of time-out! It was perfect. Sunshine, song birds and solitude. Well it was quiet enough that the only other person I came into contact with was another local visitor, and keen photographer, also enjoying the tranquility. After the warm and sunny Spring this year the fruiting trees are absolutely laden with produce! Much of this will be food for the Wisley wildlife as we head into the winter months. There’s a well stocked larder waiting for the migrating birds that will soon be heading our way. For now, our garden birds are having a fabulous feast all to themselves! I love this particular Dogwood (Cornus kousa var. chinensis) that can be found at the bottom of the rose garden near Weather Hill Cottage. Covered in white flowers in Spring and these fabulous red and orange fruits in Autumn. There are a number of these dogwoods around these parts of the garden but this one in particular is always spectacular. I spotted quite a number of blue tits flitting in and out of the small tree. I then spent a rather glorious half an hour sat near the tree, watching the birds going to and fro, the tree seeming to quake as they busied themselves under the dense foliage. Occasionally one would pop out between leaves to feed on one the visible fruits allowing me to get just a few photos. They were so fixated on feeding that they seemed to forget about my silent presence after a while. I had birds flying so close that I could feel the wind from their wing-beats around my head! Much of the time I just kept still, leaving the camera be and enjoying the precious time with nature. Today’s image is one of only a few taken while I was there. You’ll just have to pay the gardens a visit, while there’s still fruit on the trees, to experience this encounter with nature for yourselves!

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Blue Monday: Simply Beautiful

The White Door

Blue Monday: Simply Beautiful

A bit of horticultural minimalism for Blue Monday and this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. I shot this image of agapanthus and nerines at the RHS Wisley Flower Show last week. The clean lines and soft tones of pastel-blues within the planting, set against the small garden shed, really drew me into the display from the Hoyland Plant Centre. They are the holders of The National Plant Collection for agapanthus , tulbaghia and nerines. This small and understated display showed what excellent growers they are and drew many visitors eyes away from some of the more vibrant and complex show gardens. I’ve tried to capture the essence of their garden in my composition. In short, it was Simply Beautiful!

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Blue Monday: Otherworldly

Other - Alison Moyet at Weyfest 2017

Blue Monday: Otherworldly

Alison Moyet headlined the main stage at Weyfest Music Festival on Saturday night and she was brilliant, beautiful and mesmerising. I was photographing the festival on behalf of the organisers this year. Weyfest is a fantastic, family friendly festival, with something for everyone on all the stages and around the grounds of the Rural Life Centre in Tilford, where it is held each year. I wanted to capture the dreamy, soft quality of Alison’s music in my photographs of her. The lighting crew must have read my mind during the second song! The quality of the light through the smoke created the perfect ambient backdrop. It made me think of the title to her latest album, Other. Otherworldly and ethereal!

“Some of us have always felt ‘Other’.
I no longer wish it were otherwise.”
Alison Moyet, March 2017

I’m also posting this image as part of the weekly Fotospeed challenge. Good luck everyone!

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Blue Monday: A Warm Welcome

Cottage Garden at RHS Wisley Gardens

Blue Monday: A Warm Welcome

It took time and patience, with all the visitors to RHS Wisley Gardens yesterday, to get the four images I needed to create this stitched panorama of The Cottage Garden. This is my favourite time of year in these gardens, which are almost overflowing with soft grasses and flowers. It’s a haven for bees, butterflies, birds and visitors alike. I love the view as you enter through the arches, looking across the water feature and through to the rose garden on the other side. It’s such a warm and welcoming design! The blue skies and a brief return to warmer, summer weather completed this quintessentially English country-garden scene. I’m posting this for the Wex Mondays and Fotospeed challenges this week as well as Blue Monday. I hope it brings you all a bit of sunshine wherever you are in the world!

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Blue Monday: The Eye Of The Beholder

Robyn the Hooded Vulture

Blue Monday: The Eye Of The Beholder

This is Robyn, a beautiful hooded vulture belonging to the fantastic Xtreme Falconry team from Dorset. Xtreme have been putting on Bird Of Prey events at RHS Wisley Gardens for many years now and always draw a crowd. Many, like myself, return time after time to see these wonderful birds! This is my Blue Monday post for that startling ring of blue around Robyn’s eye that is distinctive of this species. Hooded vultures come from Africa where they are currently declining in numbers at an alarming rate. They are now listed as a critically endangered species. Much of the decline is from poisoning. Trappers, hunters, poachers and misinformed farmers are all gunning for these shy carrion birds. This is tragic in more ways than the obvious! Vultures are not the only creatures that will be drawn to a carcass that has been poisoned. Lions, hyenas, leopard, cheetah and hunting dogs will all feed on carrion if they are hungry and haven’t got a fresh catch. Not only that, vultures and other carrion feeders are responsible for clearing away the dead animals that when left can rot and spread disease among both local animal and human populations. There is so very much to love about vultures, if you didn’t already find them beautiful and fascinating, I hope you do now!

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Blue Monday: Grebe On A Glassy Lake

Great Crested Grebe

Blue Monday: Grebe On A Glassy Lake

I took this photo of one of the grebes at Thorpe Lake before my swim there last week. The reflections of the sky were so beautiful. Open water swimming is just the best physical and mental exercise there is! I get to watch these glorious birds, along with all the other residents of the lakeside, while I swim through those smooth waters every week. The simple pleasures in life are the best. I shall share this pleasure with everyone as part of Wex Mondays this week. Good luck to everyone entering!

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Blue Monday: Hang On A Minute!

Nuthatch

Blue Monday: Hang On A Minute!

Nuthatches are wonderful birds to watch! It’s not often I can get close enough to show you the detail of their feathers and the beautiful slate-grey and blue colouring. I spotted this one clinging to the trunk of one of the trees near the birdhide at RHS Wisley Gardens. First came the panicked retrieval of my long lens and actually fitting it to the camera body. Then I had to try to creep down the stairs to get closer. Stairs and I don’t get on well at the best of times!! The whole time I was whispering, “Just hang on a minute!” and he did. He actually clung to the trunk for quite a while, watching the other birds coming and going from the feeders. Look closely at the image and you can see the really long toes and claws of this expert climber! I love the texture of the bark on this trunk. It’s a feature that helps the nuthatch make really good use of this tree for climbing and feeding on insects within the crevices of the bark. Among all my wonderful wildlife finds last week, this image really stands out for me so I’m putting it into the Wex Mondays challenge this week. Good luck to all those entering!