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ShareMondays2019 – Tulip Dreams

Tulip Dreams

ShareMondays2019 – Tulip Dreams

Guildford Castle always produces a magical display of tulips in the gardens of the old moat! I’ve been playing with using in-camera multiple exposures and extra blur from Nik Analog Efex and Photoshop. I love the way it’s been working with the pastels of the Spring blooms! Happy Easter and good luck to everyone entering today’s Twitter comps!

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Be The Canvas, Embrace The Colour!

Amy Turk - Be The Canvas, Embrace The Colour!

Be The Canvas, Embrace The Colour!

It’s the wee small hours of the morning but I just wanted everyone to start their Monday off with the joy of colour, collaboration and art. Amy Turk, you were an absolute joy to work with. This is the final image from the day when all the paint and Holi powder had been (literally) thrown into the mix of our painted canvas backdrop and make-up done by myself and Julia K. Our team was completed by videographer, John Hoskinson and my wonderful hubby, Simon Williams. Turns were taken mixing paint, placing and holding the backdrop, setting lights, making tea, chucking paint and powder about, all whilst looking like a bunch of extras from Breaking Bad or CSI in our blue boilersuits, gloves and shoe protectors! What a BRILLIANT way to spend a Sunday 😀

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Something To Shout About!

Something To Shout About

Something To Shout About!

This resplendent pheasant at RHS Wisley Gardens definitely had something to shout about last Friday! It was delightful to watch him strutting about in the hazy sunshine. All the birds seemed to be enjoying a brief respite from the cold, wet snap we had. April showers have put quite a damper on birding! There’s still plenty of colourful blossom and magnolia to see around the gardens. Trees are coming in to leaf and Spring is well under way!

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ShareMondays2019 – Uncommon Beauty

Uncommon Beauty

ShareMondays2019 – Uncommon Beauty

I spent much of my birthday on Thursday at Thursley Common NNR, near Elstead in Surrey. I went in search of dartford warblers, curlew and lizards. The lizards managed to evade me, although other visitors did spot a couple on the boardwalk when the sun  came out! The curlew flew over me twice which was a treat to see and I found my dartford warblers at the far end of the boardwalk, near the dragonfly sculpture. Other signtings included stonechat, chiffchaff, goldfinch, redpoll, great and blue tits, greylag geese, mallard, wren and a bit of smoke on the horizon.

After the recent, devastating wildfire on Chobham Common, the sight of smoke on our heathland is a bit worrying! It was soon apparent that this was a small contained fire, most likely where the ranger was doing some land management. 325 hectare of woodland, peat bogs, heathland, ponds and ditches is a huge area to manage so the ranger, James Giles, organises volunteer workparties to maintain this precious resource. The wispy smoke created a atmospheric haze through the distant pines. Once I knew it wasn’t a concern, I was able to sit back in my wheelchair and marvel in it’s uncommon beauty.

Dartford Warber

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ShareMondays2019 – Stick With It

Stick With It

ShareMondays2019 – Stick With It

I had a great photoshoot with drummer Andy Gray yesterday! It was a shoot that was testament to the resilience of creatives in the face of adversity. Andy’s bad back and my multitude of medical annoyances were NOT going to get in the way of the creative photoshoot we had planned!

Using the rehearsal space at Firespark Studios with the wonderful Julia K has allowed me to get back to a style of photography that I have always loved. For me, portraiture needs to tell a story. Sometimes a minimalist, subtle image can carry that story in a far more powerful way than a traditional portrait. Andy’s drumsticks are an extension of himself, in much the same way as my camera is now, or my brush was when I was painting.

When you stick with the thing you love, not just what you do, but who you are, the means by which you choose to express yourself aren’t just tools any more. The connection becomes organic. I am my art. Julia is a spark of creativity and Andy is his music!

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Branching Out At St James’s Park

Tawny Owl juvenile in St James's Park

Branching Out At St James’s Park

When tawny owlets are only about five weeks old they leave the nest. They’re not fledging yet, they’re branching! The staff at St James’s Park discovered that tawny’s had returned to the park after an absence of twelve years, when they discovered one of the branched owlets in the back of a tractor. It’s not unusual for branching owlets to fall off their perch. Most of the time they will be absolutely fine and the advice is to leave them where they are unless they are lying down, showing other signs of distress or are in immediate danger. They will sit still on the ground until nightfall when they are known to use their strong talons to climb back into the tree! Even if they don’t return quickly, the parents will carry on feeding the owlet on the ground. Gardeners at the park were actually able to return this little owlet to it’s mother in the tree!

It was quite incredible to be able to watch this owlet and one of its’ parents last Friday. They were high up in the trees and it had started raining. I was captivated though! Fortunately I had my raincoat so I was able to observe them for a while despite the weather. It did make it hard to photograph them though. I was using a Fujinon 100-400mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter to watch and photograph. You really do need a long lens or powerful binoculars to see them closely! The owlet has some good adult feathers coming through on the tail and wings but still plenty of downy fluff too. It was stretching the wings a lot and jumping between branches really well. The other wonderful behaviour I was able to watch was the circling off the head as the owlet builds up a full picture of it’s surroundings.

There are also Tawny Owls in Regents Park and these sighting are brilliant news for the species! It’s also a good sign that wildlife conservation and habitat management in The Royal Parks is working well. There must be a good amount of prey species available for these wonderful owls and this owlet certainly seems to be thriving! If you do go to St James’s or anywhere else to watch tawny owls and owlets, please keep a reasonable distance from their tree so you don’t disturb them. They are a protected species and these London owlets are very precious!

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Fetching Fascinator!

Nice Fascinator

Fetching Fascinator!

I just loved the spray of bracken on this stag’s head as he posed in Bushy Park last week! Made me think of the various fascinators that women wear for formal occasions. It really was very fetching indeed! This is going to be my entry for Wex Mondays today. Have a great week everyone.

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ShareMonday2019 – Pop Goes The Weasel

Weasel at the British Wildlife Centre

ShareMonday2019 – Pop Goes The Weasel

Do you remember the rhyme? Could you make the “popping” sound with your cheek? Yes, I do and yes, I still can. And I can’t help doing it when the little weasel at The British Wildlife Centre actually pops up to say hello! I was visiting the centre with my godchildren last week during half-term. It’s a favourite place of ours for a day out and was lovely in the warm sunshine we’ve been treated to recently.

There’s still no conclusive answer as to exactly what these rhyming lyrics mean. It seems most likely that they are derived from cockney rhyming slang Weasel and Stoat meaning coat, referring to a coat being pawned to get money for food.

Half a pound of tuppenny rice
Half a pound of treacle
That’s the way the money goes
Pop goes the weasel

Weasels are closely related to stoats and otters, from the Musetlid family. They’re the smallest British carnivore and you can tell them apart from the stoat, not because they’re stoatally different, but because the weasel has a shorter tail with no black tip! They can be found in a wide range of habitats throughout England, Wales and Scotland but are not seen in Northern Ireland or on many other British Islands. Blink and you’ll miss them though, tiny and very fast! I’ve only seen them a couple of times in the wild myself and not long enough to be able to photograph one.

I really love finding my inner child again, through spending time with the many children in my life! They remind me of all the joy and wonder in this beautiful World of ours and how to enjoy the simple pleasures. Like singing nonsense rhymes, making popping noises with your cheek, all while laughing at the antics of a small and utterly brilliant British mammal! Hat’s off to the British Wildlife Centre for all the wonderful, conservation, education and rehabilitation work that they do.

Sources: The Wildlife Trusts, British Wildlife Centre and Wikipedia

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ShareMondays2019 – Pre-flight Check

Pre-flight Check

ShareMondays2019 – Pre-flight Check

I was driving down to RHS Wisley Gardens on Thursday afternoon when I spotted this kestrel circling the field opposite Wisley Church. There’s a small lay-by that I pulled into as the kestrel approached. I was absolutely thrilled when it took a perch on the cables nearby! I didn’t want to spook it, so grabbed the long lens, wound down the passenger window and managed to get a few images as it surveyed the surroundings, before taking back off to resume the hunt. A magical moment! Often when I spot wildlife from the car there’s nowhere to pull over and be able to watch or photograph what I’ve seen. This has to be my ShareMondays moment and I will add it to the Wex Mondays challenge too. Have a great week everyone!