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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 ūüėČ

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Blue Monday: A Warm Welcome

Cottage Garden at RHS Wisley Gardens

Blue Monday: A Warm Welcome

It took time and patience, with all the visitors to RHS Wisley Gardens yesterday, to get the four images I needed to create this stitched panorama of The Cottage Garden. This is my favourite time of year in these gardens, which are almost overflowing with soft grasses and flowers. It’s a haven for bees, butterflies, birds and visitors alike. I love the view as you enter through the arches, looking across the water feature and through to the rose garden on the other side. It’s such a warm and welcoming design! The blue skies and a brief return to warmer, summer weather completed this quintessentially English country-garden scene. I’m posting this for the Wex Mondays and Fotospeed challenges this week as well as Blue Monday. I hope it brings you all a bit of sunshine wherever you are in the world!

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Dark Angel

Dark Angel

Dark Angel

I was so entranced by beautiful Robyn, the Hooded Vulture, that I was inspired to create this piece of digital art AND write a new poem! The plight of these incredible birds is not one that makes the headlines. They’re not as cute and fluffy as some other critically endangered species! You can read more about this in my earlier Blue Monday post. To raise awareness of the decline of the Hooded Vulture, I’m sharing this image for Wex Mondays this week.

Dark Angels

Dark angels
Navigating stormy skies
Scanning the vast landscape
With steely eyes
Seeking out the
Earthly remains
Of departed souls
Laid out upon the plains

Angels descend
A winged canopy
Encloses the carcass
Last rites in ancient ceremony
Feathered funeral cortege
Gathers without
Regret or remorse
Guardians of the dead
Carry away the corpse

Angels ascend
Rising on broad wings
Circling above the expanse
The wind sings
Of their passing
Above the clouds
Dark and heavy with rain
That shrouds
Their dispersal amongst
The heavens

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Blue Monday: Grebe On A Glassy Lake

Great Crested Grebe

Blue Monday: Grebe On A Glassy Lake

I took this photo of one of the grebes at Thorpe Lake before my swim there last week. The reflections of the sky were so beautiful. Open water swimming is just the best physical and mental exercise there is! I get to watch these glorious birds, along with all the other residents of the lakeside, while I swim through those smooth waters every week. The simple pleasures in life are the best. I shall share this pleasure with everyone as part of Wex Mondays this week. Good luck to everyone entering!

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Blue Monday: Hang On A Minute!

Nuthatch

Blue Monday: Hang On A Minute!

Nuthatches are wonderful birds to watch! It’s not often I can get close enough to show you the detail of their feathers and the beautiful slate-grey and blue colouring. I spotted this one clinging to the trunk of one of the trees near the birdhide at RHS Wisley Gardens. First came the panicked retrieval of my long lens and actually fitting it to the camera body. Then I had to try to creep down the stairs to get closer. Stairs and I don’t get on well at the best of times!! The whole time I was whispering, “Just hang on a minute!” and he did. He actually clung to the trunk for quite a while, watching the other birds coming and going from the feeders. Look closely at the image and you can see the really long toes and claws of this expert climber! I love the texture of the bark on this trunk. It’s a feature that helps the nuthatch make really good use of this tree for climbing and feeding on insects within the crevices of the bark. Among all my wonderful wildlife finds last week, this image really stands out for me so I’m putting it into the Wex Mondays challenge this week. Good luck to all those entering!

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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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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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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.