Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion

Long-tailed TitWeekly Photo Challenge: Motion

I think most of my readers know that I love all things winged! My entry for last week’s challenge, Early Bird, would have fit equally well this week. Sticking with feathered wings this week, I’m reducing the size of the birds! My featured image is a long-tailed tit that was flitting about, high in the trees above where Sue (WordsVisual) and I were sitting outside The Glasshouse Cafe at RHS Wisley Gardens. It was pure luck that I caught this image of him taking off from one of the branches and deserving of short accompanying poem!

Do, also, visit Brenda (HeavenHappens) who has a similar love of garden birds to me. This week she has shared some wonderful photos of a dear little long-tailed tit who visits her daily and perches on the door-handle, watching what she’s up to through the glass! Priceless 🙂

My gallery below is a bit of fun from Stover Country Park in Devon. My main aim that day was to capture more natural images of the birds in the trees and shrubs around this bird feeder, which attracts so many of the birds to this particular spot. I couldn’t resist putting the camera on the tripod and capturing a series of images of these birds flying onto and off the feeder! The chaffinches are always the best for this as they will almost hover around the feeder before alighting.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

Barn Owl Flight

Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

The saying goes, “It’s the early bird that catches the worm”. This week we were challenged to get up early and capture the morning light. My challenge while in Devon over Easter, was to get up much earlier than I usually do and catch the birds! Specifically, birds of prey. I’ve been sharing a few of these images with you over the past few weeks, but this montage took some time to compose and get the feel of motion and light that I wanted. The story that I hoped to tell with this image is of the special relationship between the owl and her owner.

This is Pepper, a pure-breed British Barn Owl (Tyto alba alba), flying to her handler, Steve Hopper from South Hams Hawks and Owls. Steve is a falconer who runs a raptor rescue centre and flies his birds of prey for educational displays and photography groups. Pepper was rescued at the age of sixteen when her owner passed away. She’s now twenty one, which is very elderly for a Barn Owl! She’s almost completely blind so can only manage short exercise flights, relying upon the sound of Steve’s voice and the taps he makes on the glove to guide her to him. Watching her short flights was a real privilege. She flies high and, as Steve put it, creates wonderful “angel” shapes with her wings.


Weekly Photo and Travel Theme Challenges: Capturing The Ephemeral Outdoors


Weekly Photo and Travel Theme Challenges: Capturing The Ephemeral Outdoors (9 Galleries of Garden Birds)

I love watching the birds! Fleeting glimpses of my feathered friends is one of the ephemeral delights of being outdoors, exploring nature. Photographing our wild birds is always a challenge but it’s definitely one of my favourite activities. RHS Wisley Gardens is home to a diverse range of bird life and for this weeks’ challenges I have galleries of all the birds spotted in just one afternoon at the gardens. Some of the encounters were very brief indeed!

The most fleeting encounter was with Britain’s smallest bird, the goldcrest. Shy and very fast moving this little beauty was startled from his perch before I could get a good look at his face!

The nuthatches were equally hard to photograph as they were staying so high up in this old tree, feeding on insects in the bark.

The jay was showing off but still very wary of me!

The male blackbirds are all staking out territory and singing their hearts out to attract a mate. The females, themselves are busily feeding in the flower beds amongst the shrubs and trees.

I had the most wonderful encounter with this blue tit that was pecking into the base of the camellia flowers to get at the sugary nectar!

My friendly robins were the most accommodating of all the birds! At this time of year you will get the unusual sight of several robins feeding together, as they pair up for the mating season. One robin was particularly delightful to watch as he took a bath in one of the shallow pools, in the Wildwoods, before shaking himself dry again in the bushes!

I went hunting for thrushes on the lawns around the lake and also found the redwings and a delightful dunnock!

I always stop at the Glasshouse Cafe to have a cup of tea and feed the birds. I had some lovely close encounters with the great tits, dunnocks and the chaffinch. I did catch a glimpse of the woodpecker at the top of the tall trees but couldn’t get a clear shot of him. The ducks, crows and magpies were around too.

One of my favourite garden birds is the long-tailed tit and, boy, is it fast! I have always struggled to photograph the delightful little bird but managed to get a few images of them in the trees, gathering bits of web to build their nests. No if I can only find one of their nests……

Weekly Photo and Travel Theme Challenges: Fantastic Walls

Davies Alpine House

Weekly Photo and Travel Theme Challenges: Fantastic Walls

On Mother’s Day we had a family day out at Kew Gardens. I was originally intending to post about the older glasshouse structures until I this one stopped me in my tracks! This is the Davies Alpine House, built in 2006, it’s walls of glass are not just fantastically beautiful, they are also very cleverly designed to provide the perfect climate for the plants on display. The glasshouse is set at the entrance to the Rock Gardens providing a wonderful contrast between the modern glass and old rock walls. Pure magic 🙂

“The Davies Alpine House was designed to create the cool, dry and windy conditions that alpine plants favour, without using energy-intensive air-conditioning and wind pumps. Its architects employed traditional practices and the latest technology to achieve this.

How the glasshouse works

Although the glasshouse is only 16 metres (50 feet) long, its roof reaches ten metres (33 feet) high. This creates a stack effect that draws in cool air through permanent openings on either side and releases warm air through vents in the roof. Meanwhile, a fan blows air through a concrete labyrinth beneath the ground. The air cools on its convoluted journey and is released into the glasshouse through steel pipes.

The panes of glass are 12mm thick and have a low iron content which allows over 90 per cent of light through. Meanwhile, fan-like shades on the east and west sides of the glasshouse protect plants from the most intense heat of the summer sun.”


Weekly Photo and Travel Theme Challenges: Rewarding Environment

Great Mormon Mating Dance

Weekly Photo and Travel Theme Challenges: Rewarding Environment (Full Gallery Below)

This was the reward for my patience, skills in butterfly chasing, and for having the right environment at the Butterflies In The Glasshouse Event at RHS Wisley Gardens. Witnessing and photographing the wonderful mating dance of the Great Mormon Butterflies was utterly spellbinding. The reward for the female butterfly was a choice of suitors!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule Of Thirds

Big Ben

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule Of Thirds (Galleries From London)

Big Ben – portrait grid

London Lion – landscape grid

River Thames, looking west – Fibonacci spiral or golden ratio


Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry

Mating Harmonia Tigers

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry

When butterflies mate they create a beautiful symmetry, a reflection of each other. I thought I’d share the love with you all for Valentines Day! In many cultures throughout the world butterflies symbolise the soul. Perhaps together they are truly soulmates. In Chinese culture and mythology, two butterflies flying together symbolise love. A male butterfly flutters in the air behind a potential mate, wafting his pheromones over her. She can tell whether he is her soulmate (perfect genetic match) from the scent and taste of these pheromones.

Happy Valentines Day to you all!


Weekly Photo Challenge and Travel Theme: Scale and Details

Blue Morpho

Weekly Photo Challenge and Travel Theme: Scale and Details (3 Galleries)

There are two definitions of the word Scale that I am representing within my galleries today.

The first is to do with proportion and representation:
The ratio between the size of something real and that of a model or representation of it.

The beautiful Indian Leafwing

The second is what you will find in the close-up Details:
In Zoology.
a) one of the thin, flat, horny plates forming the covering of certain animals, as snakes, lizards, and pangolins.
b) one of the hard, bony or dentinal plates, either flat or denticulate, forming the covering of certain other animals, as fishes.

Detailed wings on a Clipper Blue-subspecies

The astonishing, iridescent Blue Morpho


Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth

Longwing Butterfly

Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth

I added extra depth to this photograph of a longwing butterfly by darkening the background and adding a texture overlay.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

Singing Robin

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

The European Robin is one of the few birds in the UK to sing all year round. This is one of the many reasons why I am especially fond of them. In the midst of winter their song takes on a brighter, more urgent tone. I’ve always thought of this as them singing for Spring! In many ways they are doing just that. While reaffirming their territories they are also singing to attract a mate. Robins are such expressive little birds and this is my favourite time of year to watch and listen to them. I’ve adapted a traditional nursery rhyme that some of you may know, Sing a Song of Sixpence, to express my joy at hearing the robin sing 🙂

Sing A Song Of Springtime

Sing a song of Springtime
From your perch on high
Four and twenty robins
Are calling to the sky

And when the sky has brightened
The other birds will sing
And there will be a chorus
That dawn will surely bring