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The View

National Diving and Activity Centre

The View

…from a perch at the top of the flooded quarry at Chepstow, home to the National Diving and Activity Centre.

This is my entry for the weekly Fotospeed challenge.

And now a view from the bottom of the flooded quarry…. a perch!

Perch

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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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Blue Monday: Fruitful

Blue Tit and Bountiful Berries (Cornus kousa var. chinensis)

Blue Monday: Fruitful

My offering for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge is an image taken on a short but fruitful visit to RHS Wisley Gardens last week. I only had about an hour and a half before closing time but I had really needed a bit of time-out! It was perfect. Sunshine, song birds and solitude. Well it was quiet enough that the only other person I came into contact with was another local visitor, and keen photographer, also enjoying the tranquility. After the warm and sunny Spring this year the fruiting trees are absolutely laden with produce! Much of this will be food for the Wisley wildlife as we head into the winter months. There’s a well stocked larder waiting for the migrating birds that will soon be heading our way. For now, our garden birds are having a fabulous feast all to themselves! I love this particular Dogwood (Cornus kousa var. chinensis) that can be found at the bottom of the rose garden near Weather Hill Cottage. Covered in white flowers in Spring and these fabulous red and orange fruits in Autumn. There are a number of these dogwoods around these parts of the garden but this one in particular is always spectacular. I spotted quite a number of blue tits flitting in and out of the small tree. I then spent a rather glorious half an hour sat near the tree, watching the birds going to and fro, the tree seeming to quake as they busied themselves under the dense foliage. Occasionally one would pop out between leaves to feed on one the visible fruits allowing me to get just a few photos. They were so fixated on feeding that they seemed to forget about my silent presence after a while. I had birds flying so close that I could feel the wind from their wing-beats around my head! Much of the time I just kept still, leaving the camera be and enjoying the precious time with nature. Today’s image is one of only a few taken while I was there. You’ll just have to pay the gardens a visit, while there’s still fruit on the trees, to experience this encounter with nature for yourselves!

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Araneus

Spider

Araneus

My Fotospeed challenge entry this week is of the humble garden spider, araneus diadematus. Our garden is almost overflowing with them at the moment! Fortunately I’m not afraid of spiders, they genuinely fascinate me. I’ve been meaning to try focus stacking for macro images for quite a while now. This spider was in a sheltered spot on the back door, keeping nice and still for me to get close with my 30mm and capture 20 frames, handheld, manually adjusting the focus. I combined the images in Photoshop, using masks to brush away the unfocused areas and reveal much more detail of my subject than I would have been able to capture in a single frame. I have a long way to go to get to where I’d like to be in this area of photography and processing techniques, but I feel like I’ve made a relatively good start. Lots to learn and even more equipment to acquire! Any advice would be gratefully received.

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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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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 😉