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A few recent shots…

I’ve somewhat lost the thread of blogging regularly, but I have still been out with the camera and have picked up a few interesting images on the way. This is therefore something of an eclectic collection of recent photos that I quite like. I will include some fox updates as well.

The most recent photos were yesterday when I spent an hour or so at Falmer pond. It was very quiet on the bird front, but I did find a nice spot where a couple of rats were playing by the water’s edge. They tend to keep to the runs just under the lip of the edge of the pond, so for much of the time they are hidden from view. I got this shot, which is one of my favourites from yesterday from across a corner of the pond.

rat

Rat perched on a tree root running underneath the overhanging lip of Falmer Pond.

I also quite like this one of one of the rats swimming. The pond is a complete mess at the moment… leaves cluttering it among the blue-green algae and generally looking grubby. But that’s fine for Rattus norvegicus.

rat

Rat swimming in Falmer Pond

This next shot was also taken at Falmer, at the tail end of October on a day where the low sun was creating some beautiful autumn colour. It’s a simple shot, but it took an age for anything to swim across the reflected colour and add a little details. So many thanks to this little moorhen for taking up the baton.

moorhen on golden pond

Moorhen on Falmer Pond as the sun is setting

I’m now going back a full month to October 9th, when I stumbled across a race meeting at Brighton Racecourse (otherwise known as Sheepcote Valley (the track runs across a public access area). It was a lovely sunny day, and I had plenty of time to work out what I wanted to do. As well as plenty of hard ‘racing’ shots I also played around with long-shutter panning shots as the riders cantered up to the starting boxes.

race horse

This is Barrsbrook cantering to the start of the 3.30 race, ridden by Hector Crouch. He finished 2nd.

The horse is Junoesque cantering to the start of the 3.30 race, ridden by Charile Bennett. It finished 4th.

horse race

Some hard racing action

horse racing

The 3.30 race. Horse 6 is Military Madame ridden by David Probert. It finished 11th.

Now to the foxes… As I think I have previously mentioned, the young foxes have crept away as autumn and winter set in. This happens every year, though sometimes one youngster will be allowed to stay close to their birth territory. Last year it was Pretty, who has remained a constant visitor for 18 months or so. She is now the only regular fox we see, though there are others lurking. A couple of nights ago we noticed she had an injured ear. She wasn’t too concerned and injuries are very much a part of the fox’s life. Hopefully it will clear up quickly. It’s possible she has been in a fight over territory, but it is very difficult to keep track of vulpine social organisation. Anyway, the wound is fairly obvious in this shot.

fox with wounded ear

Pretty, with wound to her right ear (left of image). Taken on 7/11/18.

Prior to that she has been on really good form, and back at the beginning of November posed beautifully at the top of our 5 foot garden hedge. It has been some time since she has done this, and the trigger may have been a small cat who sometimes visits the garden.

fox on the top of garden hedge

Pretty sitting pretty atop an 5 foot high hedge

With the other foxes keeping their distance Pretty has been the mainstay of the Fox of the Day page. I try to keep that fairly varied (at least in the style of photo), but at this time of the year it can be difficult so I was delighted when a different fox appeared last night. I have caught glimpses of it before, but it’s very shy and usually has scuttled away before I have any chance of taking a picture. Last night the balance of food or flight played into my hands and so here is the newest fox in the garden.

fox at night

Unidentified shy fox

To bring this right up to date, here’s one more photo of Pretty from which it appears her right ear is healing up nicely. This was taken a few minutes ago in a howling wind and lashing rain. She was fine about the weather but I wasn’t going to stay outside for too long.

fox in the rain

Pretty in the rain. Her wounded ear appears to be improving.

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM or EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens.

Posted in Foxes, horse, rats, Wildlife Tagged , , , , |

Sparrowhawk

I’m falling well behind with blogging. I’m due a fox update and also got a really nice set of horse-racing pictures that I should post (including some nice shots of this year’s champion jockey). But those are being put to one side (yet again) as when I got home late this afternoon a sparrowhawk was on the grass outside our back window devouring some prey (probably a pigeon).

I do occasionally see sparrowhawks come very close to the garden and in 17 years have seen one land on a fence or tree here twice, so being down, in the garden, and with prey was something very unexpected. The shots were taken through the (dirty) double-glazed back door so lack some clarity, but they certainly give an idea of what we spent a good 10 minutes watching. Assuming the prey is a pigeon this is most likely a female.

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk devouring prey in garden

Sparrowhawk with what appears to be a pigeon’s feather

Sparrowhawk with feathers strewn around

We didn’t get to see it finish its feast as it was disturbed by noise from one of the neighbours. But a special few minutes, for certain.

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

Posted in Bird of Prey, Birds, Wildlife Tagged |

Making a Splash

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been spending a little bit of time at Falmer Pond concentrating on the ducks and the gulls. Very common subjects, but I’ve been interested in playing with the light to see if I could get something slightly more interesting. Most of the following shots were taken with the 500mm lens, which I am slowly getting to grips with. Working with a tripod changes how you think about shots. You can’t go chasing them in the way you can with a smaller lens. So it takes more patience, but it’s a nice way to spend the odd hour or so.

My general set-up is to shoot into the light (or at least across it). This tends to darken backgrounds and highlight any water splashes (which is what I’m after). The camera is set to underexpose (negative compensation of between -1 and -2) which ups the shutter speed and reduces the risk of blowing out highlights.

herring gull

A simple shot, showing a nice arc of spray

herring gull

I like the flash of yellow from the gull’s bill and the geometric shape of the spray.

Duck on calm water

This one was picked for the variation in light.

But ducks can certainly make a good splash as well, as in these.

duck splashing with wings raised

Female mallard. Less spray but I liked the colour and light.

Duck splashing with wings raised

A simialr shot to the previous one, but the light had changed which makes for a very different feel to the image.

The final one is actually a rear view of a duck, a male mallard; but it’s also my favourite. It perhaps could have done with slightly more ‘splash’, but the shape of the spray, the reflection on the water and the strong back-light through the wings more than compensates.

Male mallard, with wings extended

Male mallard, with wings extended

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 500mm f/4 IS II USM lens.

Posted in Birds, water birds, Wildlife