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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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Fastest Food In The World!

Woking Peregrine Adult and Juvenile

Fastest Food In The World!

The Woking Peregrine Falcons have successfully raised five youngsters this year! It’s been amazing to watch their journey unfold on the live cameras situated by the nest box. This is only the second year nesting here for these adults, so to raise all five of their brood is really quite something! The juveniles have fledged and all five have been taking to skies over Woking Town to learn how to hunt at around 200mph. These are the fastest animals on Earth! At the moment the adults are leading their young on high speed chases, baiting them with fresh caught food and trying a few food passes in flight. The adult in this image has a pigeon for the juveniles. This is my entry for Wex Mondays this week as it was just the most incredible thing to watch.

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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 ūüôā

I think it's a Marsh Warbler

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The Dancing Poppies

The Dancing Poppies

The Dancing Poppies

“Through the dancing poppies stole
A breeze most softly lulling to my soul”

                                                   John Keats

From a fallowed field full of wildflowers and wildlife in Pyrford last Wednesday! Farming at it’s very best, providing such an important habitat for native wild plants and the wildlife that is dependent upon them. The poppies were utterly delightful but there was so much more besides! All this led to me finding and watching my first ever whitethroat (a bird of the warbler family)! I shall try to put a post together to show you the full range of wildflowers and the birds that I saw. In the meantime I’m posting these beautiful dancing poppies for Wex Mondays this week.

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Blue Monday: Circle Of Life

Mating Damselflies

Blue Monday: Circle Of Life

It’s been a truly amazing week! Simon and I have been hard at work completing our PADI Open Water Diver courses. Wednesday saw us at Wraysbury Diving Lake, dropping to depths of around eleven metres, to perform particular skills underwater and enjoy a bit of exploration around some of the sunken objects that can be found at this popular dive centre. As a trainee, I couldn’t take my camera down with me but there was plenty to see around the lakeside too! These mating damselflies were perfectly poised to capture the moment that the female (below) accepts the sperm from the male (above), by looping the end of her abdomen upwards, while he grasps her behind the thorax with the terminal appendages of his abdomen. Together they form a heart shape with their slender bodies. This image of love is my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge.

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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 ūüôā

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Eye To Eye

Red Fox

Eye To Eye

I have produced this portrait of a vixen for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. I had the most wonderful encounter with her at Winkworth Arboretum during the week. I’d seen her wandering near the lake on a previous visit but that was fleeting. This week she approached close enough that I could have reached out to stroke her! Somehow I felt that actually would have been a violation of the trust she had given me. She is wild even if she is more used to the sight of people than many other countryside foxes! The most precious part of the encounter was when we made eye contact. She stood right in front of me for several minutes as I, naturally, chatted to her. I think she was mostly intrigued by the odd human in the motorised, moving chair! She stayed put even when I moved the camera to take her portrait. I wasn’t expecting her to lick her face, that was an added bonus! I then carried on photographing the busy blue tit parents, feeding their hungry brood, hidden in the boathouse walls. More on those blue tits soon! The vixen carried on exploring near me, stopping to sit and scratch, then circling all around me again. We chatted some more (you know what I mean!), I took a few more photos of her and then she resumed her patrol of the lakeside. I hope I will see her again on other visits but I will always treasure this particular encounter.

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Giving It The Green Light

Light Through Leaves

Giving It The Green Light

Such beautiful light through the leaf canopy at Winkworth Arboretum yesterday morning! Sharing the joy of this simple pleasure for this week’s Fotospeed challenge. Hope you all have a great week!

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Face Your Fear

Face Your Fear (Box Hill Fort)

Face Your Fear

This rather dark image is my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. This is Box Hill Fort, set behind the visitor’s centre and cafe at the top of Box Hill. Last Wednesday I went out chasing butterflies again and I was looking for several species on the chalk hillsides of Box Hill. The fort was a rather stark contrast to the delicate little butterflies I was looking for. I was really struck by the graffiti on this wall. It’s not the usual splurge of spray paint or some unreadable moniker! No, this is polite, Surrey graffiti. It’s even been written using the local chalk from around the hillside, which means no lasting damage! And it rhymes; GO TO THE DOOR FAR FROM HERE, HOPEFULLY YOU’LL FACE YOUR FEAR. There’s actually no visitor entry to the fort these days as it’s now home to bats, which are a protected species in the UK. So, if you fear bats and you’re by the far door at dusk, I suppose you may well face your fear! In the bright sunshine all I found was a holly blue butterfly, which was more delightful than awful. I’m still not certain why the writer thinks that readers would be hopeful of facing their fear. I find it intriguing and perhaps that makes it art. What do you think?

Source: Wikipedia

The Old Fort is one of 13 mobilisation centres (known collectively as the London Defence Positions) built in the 1890s to protect London from invasion from continental Europe. The six acre site of the fort was originally purchased by the Ministry of Defence in 1891, and construction began in 1896. Box Hill fort was laid out in the form of an infantry redoubt, typical of the period, but also included magazines for the storage of artillery ammunition. Box Hill fort was designed for the use of the infantry only and the stored ammunition was intended for the use of mobile field artillery, which would be deployed nearby as required. A reform of defence policy by the Secretary of War, Viscount Haldane, in 1905 resulted in all 13 centres being declared redundant, and Box Hill Fort was sold back to the estate trustees in 1908.

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Keeping Up Appearances

Grey Wagtail

Keeping Up Appearances

I love watching wildlife along the Basingstoke Canal near where I live. Last week I had a delightful encounter with one of the grey wagtails that live alongside the canal. It’s the perfect habitat for them and they thrive here! I always see them on my short outings but this time I was able to get much closer than usual, getting to watch my little friend preening his feathers and singing joyfully. They’re fabulous little birds, full of character with such pretty plumage. The experience brought me so much joy, I decided that he would be the star of my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge!