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Watch The Birdies!

Green and Gold

Watch The Birdies!

For me it’s one of the best tonics ever, watching the birds. It was my one request to my long-suffering hubby at the end of the weekend, as I started to feel a bit better following a nasty infection. Take me out to watch the birds. I still didn’t feel up to doing much more than sitting quietly in the birdhide, watching and listening to my feathered friends. Simon’s not quite as obsessed with birds (I think it bores him unless it’s birds of prey!) as I am so this was such a sweet gesture from him! There was only a fleeting visit by a couple of parakeets. They’re enjoying the sweet chestnut trees so much at the moment I don’t think they can be bothered with the feeders near the hide! There were lots of blue tits, great tits, chaffinches and dunnocks. I was really pleased to see the nuthatch and a pair of coal tits too. Several robins were feeding on the ground beneath the feeders and I caught sight of a couple of wrens in the undergrowth, moving far too fast to photograph! I’m putting the parakeet into Wex Mondays this week as I loved the glow of the late sun against the still-green leaves and the greens of the parakeet itself. It was uplifting!

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The Imposing Facade

St Paul's Cathedral

The Imposing Facade

I get very used to seeing images of St Paul’s Cathedral from the river, showing the famous dome. It’s truly iconic! There’s so much more to see around this incredible building. This is the facade from the front entrance. I have memories of standing here as a child, beneath the statue of the stern monarch, feeling very small and intimidated. I wanted to try to recreate that feeling of awe within this image. I crouched at child-height beneath the monument to capture the shot and then turned a bright, blue-sky day into a dark monochrome. This is my choice for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. I’ll have a few more scenes from St Paul’s to share soon that show a few more unusual views of this London landmark.

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Autumnal Richness

Pheasant

Autumnal Richness

Late afternoon sun, glowing through the trees and highlighting a foraging pheasant. This scene last week typified so much of what I love most about Autumn; golden sunlight, warm colours and wildlife stocking-up on food ahead of the Winter months. Late at RHS Wisley Gardens and I think I was the last visitor to leave; actually, I admit it, I know I was the last one there as I would have been completely locked in if Christina hadn’t still been working in the membership offices! I love being in the grounds when it’s quiet. Even more wildlife appears! It’s magical. I thought that I would share this captivating scene for the Wex Mondays challenge this week.

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Happiness Is A Pink Balloon

Happiness Is A Pink Balloon

Happiness Is A Pink Balloon

Well, it’s been a truly crazy weekend! It’s always a bit crazy this time of year as we celebrate, first, my sister’s and then both my parent’s birthdays. This year my sister has reached the big four-zero and it’s an even more impressive seventy for my dad! Naturally, we organised a BIG party with family and friends coming, not just from all over the UK but also, from France and Australia. It was a great gathering with possibly the best buffet ever, definitely the best cakes ever (made by Sarah Jane from Flossy Cockles), a number of the very best musicians (from the Famous Five Band) you could hope to gather in one room, and a fantastic group of people to enjoy it all. One important thing was missing though. Dad. Yes, the birthday boy missed his own party! He was greatly missed by all of us there too. A nasty bug and adverse reaction to antibiotics forced our amazing dad to remain at home. It was really hard for us to celebrate without him! He’s the life, soul and comic relief of most gatherings, so we really owed it to him to celebrate in style. Not only that, we still had my sister and lovely mum to toast to! It was great to catch up with so many family members and friends that I hadn’t seen for ages. A few of my cousins brought their kids along and I loved watching them all play together! As always, the best toys to be found were balloons. Such a simple thing, but a child’s delight at knocking a balloon around is a timeless joy that always sucks in a few adults too! My Fotospeed challenge entry is this photo of my cousin’s little girl, Eva, having a wonderful time with one of the large, pink balloons. I think she hugged a few of them too tight and we had a several go bang, it’s all part of the fun though! Eva is the middle of three gorgeous girls and she’s a real pickle. Reminds me so much of my sister at that age! I just love the glint in her eyes and her cheeky smile. I think my dad will enjoy seeing my photos of all the kids playing! Thankfully he seems to be past the worst of it now. Rest, recovery and eventually we’ll be able to have a celebratory toast to his renewed health! Get well soon dad and Birthday Wishes to you and mum xxx

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There’s Light At The End Of The Universe

Cosmos

There’s Light At The End Of The Universe

Please excuse my play on words here! For anyone still in the dark, this flower is called Cosmos. I caught sight of it lifted by the breeze into this natural frame, glowing in the sunlight, a brief moment in time captured for posterity on camera. I live for these beautiful moments, these simple pleasures. How often have you heard the old saying “There’s light at the end of the tunnel”? For me, far too often and usually when the tunnel I’m in has no map and branches into an infinite number of other tunnels! Well, most tunnels have vents. They let in the air and the light. That’s what this flower and the title represent to me, a pause in the daily struggles of life, enabling me to breathe fresh air and soak in the sun. For that limited span, I can be as carefree as the flower, just drifting in the breeze. Time stretches when I’m caught in such moments. I don’t even have to think anymore! Quite a relief really. I often think far too much about far too many things. So I think I will share my moment in time with everyone for the Wex Mondays challenge. It seems most fitting! Good Luck everyone and thank goodness for nature, art and the starlight that made us all!

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Catnap

Catnap

Catnap

The weather closed in on us yesterday and scuppered plans for heading outdoors! The cats were equally unimpressed. Once they’d given up on meowing at us to fix the weather, they headed off for a Sunday catnap. This monochrome image is a soft capture, using my 50mm 1.8f lens, of our Juno snoozing on the bed. Juno and her sister, Luna, are actually quite colourful tortoiseshell and white rescue cats but I decided to go mono with this one to reflect they greyness of the day. Photographing the cats was the sum total of work I managed this weekend, so this is my choice for this week’s Fotospeed challenge. Good luck everyone!

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Bee On Astrantia

Bee On Astrantia

Bee On Astrantia

The astrantia at RHS Wisley Gardens are a late-summer haven for bees, hoverflies and other insects. We’ve just had the hottest August Bank Holiday on record (so the forecasters believe!) and these wonderful flowers were alive with bees. A real joy to see. I’m posting this for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. Good luck everyone!

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Angels Above Me

Tern Triptych

Angels Above Me

I have been watching these beautiful terns at Thorpe Lake, where I do my open water swimming, from the shore and from the waters, wanting to capture their beauty and elegance in flight. I decided that the best way to achieve my goals was to take my toughened Olympus out swimming with me! This pair are nesting on one of the pontoons that divides areas of the lakes. Over the last few weeks I have seen them take to the air whenever a swimmer, or the other lake residents, come anywhere close to the pontoon. I have absolutely reveled in these aerial acrobatics, performed right above me as I glide through the waters. A couple of times I have turned onto my back and floated, gazing up at these angels. To capture these images last week I trod water for a while so that I could turn more easily and track their flight with both hands on the camera. I can’t tread water for long without using up all my energy, so it actually helped that terns fly fast and low! I ended up with three images, that had both male and female in the frame, and just couldn’t pick a favourite to enter into this week’s Wex Mondays challenge, so I created a tern triptych. I will post all three of the images for you to check out individually. Perhaps you will have a favourite?

Common Terns in flightCommon Terns in flightCommon Terns in flight

I’m also posting this as part of the WPC: Ooh, Shiny! Pretty much anything with wings distracts me, as those of you who follow my work, or come out on photography trips with me, know already 😉

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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 😀