The sounds of nature draw me to the outdoors just as much as the sights! During the Autumn, one sound that absolutely captivates me is the red deer stags, booming out their challenges across the Royal Parks. This stag was at Bushy Park last Wednesday, just outside the Woodland Gardens. I had to answer his call and left the enclosed gardens to see him set against the golden afternoon light on the bracken. Just magnificent! It’s really important to keep a respectful distance from the deer during the rutting season and I would urge other park visitors NOT to approach, or try to feed, the deer at this time. Stand back and enjoy the show! This image was taken using the Fujinon 100-400mm with 1.4x teleconverter so that I could keep that distance.
I think this is my favourite image from last week! Firstly, it’s a butterfly, secondly it’s on a seed pod and last but not least, this was the moment the sun came out after a pretty wet and miserable day. I love this time of year, the sunlight has become golden again, the plants are all coming into their Autumn colours and structure. I’m really enjoying having a decent macro lens again, allowing me to get up really close to my favourite things. Have a great week everyone!
Dragonflies are usually quite short-lived, maybe only a week. Often an over-mature, older individual will be fading in tone and colour. This is an over-mature female black darter dragonfly found yesterday at Thursley Common NNR. It was resting on the sand, soaking up warmth for energy. Unlike many of the other dragonflies seen yesterday, this individual allowed fellow photographer Paul and I to get up really close with our macro lenses. I believe it stayed put for so long as it’s trying to conserve as much energy as possible in it’s old age. What a privilege though!
I was instantly struck by it’s fragility and faded colours. Black darters are our only truly black species and mature males are very striking, deep black with a few flashes of yellow. They’re also our smallest species of dragonfly! This individual had become parchment-like and translucent. The blacks had faded to blue-grey and brown tones while the eyes had become much lighter in tone and were strikingly beautiful. There really is a haunting beauty in the ageing of many winged insects that strikes a chord with me. It made me think of the Visage song Fade To Grey:
Feel the rain like an English summer Hear the notes from a distant song Stepping out from a back shop poster Wishing life wouldn’t be so long
Male Migrant Hawker dragonflies are on the wing, defending their territories. I love watching them! They have a flight pattern and favourite areas to hover. That’s the trick to photographing them in flight! Of course they don’t always stick to the pattern exactly so it can take a bit of patience. Of all the flight images that I’ve captured over the weekend, this shot taken from above is definitely my favourite. It’s a perspective that I haven’t managed before. Standing on the boardwalk at Heather Farm allowed be to get above this particular dragon. It was late in the day so I used a slower shutter speed than normal (1/200th) in the fading light, but it gave a really pleasing effect to the wings.
I spent a delightful bit of time watching this very vocal wren balancing on the tops of bracken at Bushy Park last week. The best way to find a wren is to listen for them chatting a territorial call in scrub, grasses and bracken. Watch for movement of the leaves and stems that can indicate where the wren is. They’ll come to perch at one of the higher points of the scrub to chat and sing. Watching them bobbing about and singing is such fun! They’re so tiny but have big characters and an even bigger voice.
My favourite wildlife sighting from last week was this dear little owl (ickle wol) in Richmond Park last Thursday! This is the first time I’ve managed to see them in the wild since I was a kid. Thank you to various members of the Surrey Bird Club for posting about the general location near Pen Ponds. A blessed if brief sighting!
It was truly delightful watching this juvenile robin sunbathing, dust-bathing and preening last week at Polesden Lacey! I had a tough time choosing my favourite images from two wonderful days out with my best friend, Rachel and her boys Nate and Dan. We had quite an adventure at both Polesden and Wisley Gardens. Even managed to find the female grass snake that likes to sun itself near the rock gardens! Her eye is a blue-grey tone indicating that she is about to shed her skin.
The other treat waiting for us at Wisley was the little grebe pair on the Glasshouse Lake, who have finally nested and managed to hatch a couple of beautiful little humbug-striped chicks. This is the third year that I have seen little grebes nesting on the lake and they really are wonderful to watch. The parents carry the young chicks on their backs on the water, until they are old enough to start fending for themselves.
Heather Farm, a wetlands centre and SANG (Suitable Alternative Green Space) on Horsell Common, was absolutely brimming with butterflies after my return from Kos last week! What an absolute joy to behold. This small skipper was one of the few resting in the shade on a warm and sunny day. The lighting really lent itself to a more muted and soft image of this delightful little butterfly. I felt that it was quite perfect to show off the features of the skipper that I am so drawn to! Those huge eyes and furry face are quite simply adorable. It was very hard to leave our beloved Kos, but I did feel welcomed back by these beautiful butterflies!