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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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Caracara With Plenty Of Character!

Sparky The Caracara

Caracara With Plenty Of Character!

Meet Sparky, a wonderful caracara who has more character than one image alone can express! We watched in awe as Sparky performed to the crowds at RHS Wisley Gardens, with Martin Ballam and Peter Warne from Xtreme Falconry, on Saturday afternoon. The caracara is an unusual bird of prey from the Falkland Islands. You can look up more about the caracara here, but I shall hint at why they are so unusual by telling you that there aren’t any trees for them to roost in or hunt from! I love Sparky so much that I’m sharing this as my Fotospeed challenge entry this week and adding a little video I made of the show on Saturday. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did šŸ˜€

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Butterfly And Bokeh

Butterfly And Bokeh

Butterfly And Bokeh

Spotted this lovely green-veined white butterfly on seed heads at my sister-in-law’s house yesterday. Finally some sunshine enabling us to spend time in the garden after a lovely family Sunday lunch! Only two butterfly visitors to the little suburban garden. This and a gatekeeper. I was surprised as their garden is absolutely filled with plants for pollinators! There were lots of bees all enjoying the lavender and borage. The garden is also a haven for lots of sparrows, dunnocks and the occasional parakeet. It really goes to show how wildlife friendly small urban and suburban gardens can be made! This is my entry for this week’s Fotospeed challenge and a reminder that there’s still a week left to go for The Big Butterfly Count. Citizen science in connection with Butterfly Conservation UK!

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Ready For The Close-Up

Dragonfly Macro

Ready For The Close-Up

I suspect that this dragonfly, at RHS Wisley Gardens, had only recently emerged when I found it yesterday. I wouldn’t usually be able to get this close to one! They have incredible eyes that take up most of the head, allowing them to see almost all around them and in higher definition than we mere humans could ever hope for. This is my entry for the Fotospeed challenge this week. Good luck everyone!

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Hitching A RideĀ 

Hitching A Ride 

This young terrapin in the pond, at Plaka nature reserve, on Kos made me laugh on Saturday! I would have taken to the water quite happily in the heat of the day but it persisted in hitching a ride off the adults. It’s the first time I’ve seen young terrapins at the pond. Plaka is a beautiful forested area with a stream and natural spring water. My next few posts will feature a few more creatures found in the reserve. This image is my entry for the Fotospeed challenge this week. Good luck to all taking part! 

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Greetings From A GrouperĀ 



Greetings From A Grouper 

The dusky grouper we encountered during our dive on Saturday seemed to be quite fascinated by me! I was practically nose to nose with this character for quite a while. 

We did two dives from the boat off the coast of Kos with Arian Diving Centre in Kardamena. I can thoroughly recommend joining them for a day if you’re over here! 

Diving is one of the best things I have ever learnt to do!! I feel so free in the water. There’s so much beauty in the landscape, plants and wildlife. I will definitely write a longer blog about our experiences when we get back to the UK but I only have my phone with me to process images and post blogs at the moment! 

I’m posting this for both the Fotospeed challenge and Wex Mondays this week, along with a gallery of a few other groupers! Enjoy šŸ˜€

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Pretty Little Things

Cygnets

Pretty Little Things

It’s lovely seeing cygnets on the Basingstoke Canal again! The swans on the Byfleet and New Haw stretch have four cygnets this year. I couldn’t resist this shot of two of the babies seeming to be admiring their reflections, or in a conversation with each other. I think it would make a rather lovely print so I’m entering it into this week’s Fotospeed challenge.

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Marsh Warbler Maybe?

I think it's a Marsh Warbler

Marsh Warbler Maybe?

Despite an injury to my neck I managed a little bit of weekend wildlife watching and photography! This sighting at Heather Farm Wetlands Centre has me very excited, as I’m almost 100% certain that it’s a Marsh Warbler. The markings and the song seem to fit. It can be very hard to positively identify some warblers from one another! I hope that the good folks at the RSPB and BTO can help me out. I couldn’t bring the 500mm lens out with my neck injury so can’t actually read the identification ring on the bird’s leg. There’s a nest deep in the shrubs close to the fence post and the fledglings have been popping in and out but not when I was close enough with the camera! The adults were very busy darting in and out of the reeds around the water’s edge. Such a joy to watch! I also managed to get close enough to identify and photograph another resident, a reed bunting. This was another first for me! Nature is most definitely the best remedy for any ailment. I will share this little bundle of joy for my Fotospeed entry this week and hope it makes others smile too šŸ™‚

I think it's a Marsh Warbler

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Swanage Serenity

Still Waters at Swanage Pier

Swanage Serenity

When the bustle of activity around the dive centre on Swanage Pier has finished for the day, all that remains is the calm stillness of the waters and a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, now that Simon and I are fully qualified PADI Open Water Divers! This is my entry for this week’s Fotospeed Challenge. It’s from a four second long-exposure of the old pier struts, next to where the dive boats moor during the day. Despite the overcast skies I didn’t have enough filters to get a longer exposure! I will have to get some Lee Big Stoppers before our next dive there.

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Singing In The Rain

Jessica

Singing In The Rain

The rain didn’t dampen our spirits at Phoenix Rising, our free community music festival, in Woking Park yesterday! Young Jessica’s face has such a sunny disposition that says everything about the spirit of the Phoenix Cultural Centre and all the brilliant people involved in organising, performing, volunteering and promoting the project. Jessica was at the side of the bandstand watching her mum, the talented Anna Neale, perform to everyone sheltering under trees and brollies in the park. I love her expression of happiness here and felt that this would make a good image to share for Fotospeed’s weekly photo challenge! I hope she makes everyone smile šŸ™‚