I spent much of my birthday on Thursday at Thursley Common NNR, near Elstead in Surrey. I went in search of dartford warblers, curlew and lizards. The lizards managed to evade me, although other visitors did spot a couple on the boardwalk when the sun came out! The curlew flew over me twice which was a treat to see and I found my dartford warblers at the far end of the boardwalk, near the dragonfly sculpture. Other signtings included stonechat, chiffchaff, goldfinch, redpoll, great and blue tits, greylag geese, mallard, wren and a bit of smoke on the horizon.
After the recent, devastating wildfire on Chobham Common, the sight of smoke on our heathland is a bit worrying! It was soon apparent that this was a small contained fire, most likely where the ranger was doing some land management. 325 hectare of woodland, peat bogs, heathland, ponds and ditches is a huge area to manage so the ranger, James Giles, organises volunteer workparties to maintain this precious resource. The wispy smoke created a atmospheric haze through the distant pines. Once I knew it wasn’t a concern, I was able to sit back in my wheelchair and marvel in it’s uncommon beauty.
Thanks to Fotospeed’s new competition rules, I can now enter an image taken at any time in the last week, so here’s one from last Monday in London. I had been at Guy’s Hospital and got out in time to get over to Hyde Park to enjoy some afternoon sunshine before heading home.
I wasn’t actually planning to stay for sunset but a text from my hubby informed me that the trains were completely mucked up! There was no point in going back to Waterloo and hanging around in rush hour chaos with delayed and cancelled trains so I decided to stay put for a while.
I’m so glad that I did! Watching the sunset turn the waters of The Serpentine gold and red was magical. The birds were calling as they gathered and headed off to their roosts. The herons came to perch on the pilings by the island, silhouetted by red skies and golden water. It was really peaceful!
When I got to Waterloo, chaos still reigned as South Western Trains tried to get services running around a broken down train at Surbiton. The train I got took three times the usual journey time, but I didn’t mind as I had some lovely images to look through on the camera.
It’s been really hard to pick an entry for the Fotospeed challenge this week! I keep being drawn back to this distant shot of the barn owl at Papercourt Meadows from late on Friday. Having got stuck in traffic I only arrived at the meadows at sunset. There was just enough light to still watch the barn owl hunting in the grasses. Too dark for flight images but he popped up onto the fence post close to the River Wey that runs through the meadow. There’s lots of context in this image though. Sometimes you can tell the story of your subject better by showing the environment in which it lives.
This land is managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust and is a local haven for barn, short-eared and tawny owls. It was great fun staying to watch beyond the sunset. Although the light was too low for any more photography, the wildlife really came alive! I stood with another lady watching the deer suddenly start bounding and bouncing around the next field with all the joys of Spring in them! We were laughing in delight at their antics. They reminded me of my two cats having a funny five minutes at 3am! So lovely listening to the tawnys calling to one another and seeing the silhouettes of birds in low flight. Pheasants can glide quite some distance!
It’s the first proper week of the WexMondays challenge and for this week only we can include images from throughout the festive period! I thought I’d focus on the light installations that I went to at both RHS Wisley Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. They were both beautiful, but I was most definitely inspired by the incredible artists who created the various installations at Kew! The experience of both sound and light working in context with the surroundings was simply stunning. My favourite pieces were from artists at Ithaca Studios in Brighton and TILT from France.
I’m leading with a piece that captures elements of the final display at the Palm House at Kew. It’s a multiple exposure created from four different parts of the display, blended together using Nik Analog Efex. From across the lake a story of Wintertime enfolded before our eyes. Illumination of the glass Palm House, laser beams and a jaw-dropping projection onto a screen of water from the fountain in the pond, all accompanied by seasonal music and a bit of a crowd sing-a-long to Let It Go from the film, Frozen.