Friday, 25 June 2010

A mid exam break - Bugs and Birds

Two exams down, 1 to go!

After a particularly brutal anatomy exam, I couldn't go straight back to to the books - With the sun shining through my window, the wetland centre was crying out to me to take a break and unwind a little.

In my eagerness to escape the pit of revision that is my room, I actually arrived at the center 20mins early - there are worse places in the world to have to hang around! Nestled in a shady spot, I did a bit of light dermatology revision to add an extra air of justification to my morning of photography.

With perfect, warm, breezy weather - I felt I was relaxing into a relaxed landscape - birds barely bothered flitting out of my way as I strolled the paths, dragonflies hovered hypnotically between swaying daisies. I almost (almost!) forgot about work!

Sadly, the grebes werent going to be as photogenic as during my last visit. They were paddling off in the middle of their lake - though i was pleased to see the young chick still with them. For the hides were quiet. Nothing particularly remarkable on the bird front - I thought i glimpsed a warbler, and there was rather excited flock of ducks (yes - ducks!) zipping about occasionally - but otherwise I was joined by the usual suspects; coots (angry), lapwings (busy fending off crows), ducks (running from the coots) and a plethora of chicks! Here are some highlights from an otherwise uneventful morning...


Angry, angry coots!

One nice feature of today was the butterflies and dragonflies. Big and small, their vibrant colours were a wonderful feature, flitting in and out of the daisies, here are a few of my better snaps

All images copyright William Bermingham 2010

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Grebes Grebes Grebes Grebes!!

Exams are v v close and revision is v v boring. The only solution to the monotony was to zip to the Wetland as soon as the sun cleared all the pesky clouds away.

Wow was it a beautiful day. Far to beautiful to revise. Far to beautiful to sit in a hide. So, cross legged, I found a comfy piece of grass with a fine view of the Great Crested Grebes.

Talking to a few passer bys, apparently the tale of the grebe chicks is not so idilic as these pictures may suggest. Just 2 days ago there were 3. Herons? Kestrels? Gulls? Who knows. The good news is that the adults weren't going to let this last little chick out of their sight. Tucked up on mum's (or dads?!) back, his little zebra-stripped head would peep out comically from time to time.

So, when I arrived, just the one adult was in view - but not for long! From across the lake, the second appeared with a mighty catch. "Surely," thinks I, "that cant be for little stripy" - Oh but it was. Despite looking to be pretty much the same size as the chick, with a few deft flicks, the fish was upended and wriggled down into his tum.

After lunch, I got another little treat from the grebes. The adults spent a few minutes dancing with each other. Not quite to the extremes of the mating season, but tapping beaks flaring their displays. Smashing.

On a more photography based note - I was thinking today about a comment Linds made about my pictures to date. She pointed out that often I use very plain backgrounds of either water or sky (see my earlier gull photos or my little grebe portrait) and, whilst this may highlight a subject, the shots are very 2D. So, I hope I have improved a bit on this front today - I focused mainly on the triangular reed (seen below) to try and frame the grebes. Along with this, I was also conscious of the wind patterns across the water leading to different bands of colour - so I tried to use these for a bit more depth. Comments/Advice welcome!

(Ive also toyed a bit with this image. Its a bit over done with the reduce quality here on the blog, but I like the vivid colours.)

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Beetles, birds and one very unlucky eel.

Despite exams looming once again on the horizon - I couldn't resist making the most of some sunny weather and heading to the Wetland Centre. A beautiful calm, warm day with only slightly hazy light streaming across the lakes heralded for some good photography.

To kick things off - I cant resist putting this photos first, despite it being one of the last I took today! I find beetles fascinating - something I attribute to a previous life as a 19th century explorer/coleopterologist for lack of better explanation - so when this one buzzed passed me I scampered after him to find where he landed. Beautifully radiant in the sun, I later identified this emerald beastie as a rose chafer. Gorgeous.

For more info on this lovely beetle:

Ok, so back to a more chronological approach. As is my ever developing routine, I started at the Wader Scrape hide. As i settled down, an old friend of mine (see a few posts previous!) started hopping about the luscious greenery right in front of my lens. Feasting on the plentiful bugs, this little wren looked wonderfully content as he flitted by!

Things then became rather calm. The cosy, warm weather seemed to be as soporific on the ducks as it was on me. A little while later, however, I caught a flash of colour out of the corner of my eye. Sadly I wasnt quite quick enough to catch him as he passed close to the hide, but to see a kingfisher is a real treat! This was the best image i caught - he was rather far off by this point so it is rather grainy.

Despite the excitement of the kingfishers, things quickly settled back down at the wader scrape and i decided it was time to move on. As midday approached, activity at the other hides (dulverton and WWF) seemed to pick up. I caught this shot of a starling coming in to land largely by chance, but i love the contrast between his oil-slicked black and the green of the foliage.

Back to bugs, and if there was one type that was really conspicuous today it was the dragonflies. They were everywhere! This is one of my better efforts at snapping some of these little on one of the smaller ponds by the path.

The best is yet to come! Just as I was about to leave and return to the monotony of revision, a eagle-eyeled bird watcher spotted something rather brilliant. A cormorant, who had been cruising around near the hide earlier, was causing a commotion in the middle of the main lake. Amazingly, he had caught a rather large eel and was thrashing around in a duel with the slithery serpent. After a prolonged struggle, the cormorant's sharp pointed beak won out, and without a second glance, the improbably large eel was flicked up and gradually gulped into the belly of the bird. Amusingly, throughout the Coots clearly found it all very interesting and gathered round the cormorant, seemingly as enthused as we all were in the hide!

The only unfortunate detail about all this was the distance. Too far for my 300mm lens, these snaps are heavily cropped - but i think they give an idea of the events!