Monday, 30 December 2013

Otters and starlings

MY quest for otters continued today and again I struck lucky - it was too far away to photograph, but I clearly saw it porpoising across a lake on the levels.

I also went on to watch the thousands of starlings come into roost at Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve, but they split into two groups today and many flew straight overhead.  On a quick visit last week to the same site, the starlings all gathered into one enormous group and wowed all of us with their chattering and the swooshing of wings.


Tuesday, 10 December 2013


LOOKING through my photos of the kingfisher on the Somerset Levels, I wanted to share one more - this is where she had just dived and alighted on the posing stick, having successfully caught a small fish.  You can see the water disturbed behind and the bubbles where she emerged.  Also beads of water are still lying on her breast feathers...I quite like it.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

A long cold wait pays off

TODAY on the Somerset Levels I visited a new area - new to me that it is.  This hide is away from the honeypots and takes some finding, however I was amply rewarded with my first sighting of an otter for ages.  He (?) was right in front of the hide (sorry Steve!), but I think that the noise that we made scared him off straight away so it was a very fleeting view.

So I waited with some others for ages and ages for another chance which never came, but focused instead on the other local star - a female kingfisher, who in the bright sunshine came very close....what a cracker!

However we had to wait for the wind to calm down before she fished near us, as the ripples made it hard for the bird to see the prey in the water - well worth the wait though...

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Beautiful beech

SATURDAY morning was clear, crisp and bright, but by the time I was out the early mists had dispersed.  In the valleys, and in the shade of the hedgerows, the ground was still crunchy underfoot with frost, and the fallen leaves coated with ice crystals.  In the sun however, where the trees were still good enough to retain their leaves, they were putting on a great show to anyone who cared to look:

The creamy, white boughs of the statuesque poplars were also spectacular in the sun.

and even the humble hazel looked amazing in the morning light...

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Tweet of the Day on Radio 4

I know that this is a real cheat but I thought that it might be interesting for others to be able to know that all the tweets are available online:

Martin Hughes-Games makes quite a good go of the commentary too for November - the presenter changes every month.

Thanks BBC.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

New Forest Fungal Foray

LAST weekend the sun shone, and although cold, it which meant that we just had to head for the New Forest for a fungal foray...we weren't the only ones interested in what lurked in the undergrowth however...

No ours - but very lovely...

Pigs belonging to the commoners are allowed to roam free to eat panage

A good scratch on the post was a very popular activity

There was a real urgency to their foraging - they were not afraid of people - quite the opposite

Honey fungus?

An amazing lichen

Panther cap Amanita pantherina?

The Sickener Russula emetica?

False Death Cap Amanita citrina var. alba?

Not sure what these species all are however.  The red one I think is a Russula and the white ones with veils probably Amanitas.  Any guidance is very gratefully accepted.

Autmn moves on

ANOTHER opportunity arose this week to photograph the valley near us on the way to work - the conditions were near perfect:

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Autumn mists

ON one or two days each year the colour of the autumn leaves, the early morning light and a low lying mist all come to together to provide wonderful opportunities for photography.  Unfortunately these usually fall on a work day - e.g. Thursday this week.  Although the sun had not quite broken through, I did capture a few quick images...

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Autumn Watched...more than I bargained for

LAST weekend I snatched a visit to the Somerset Levels, to see the delights of Autumn.  It was generally a nice day weather-wise and the sun breaking through the clouds provided some dramatic views.  The birds of note were peregrine, great white egret, marsh harrier, kingfishers and early winter ducks.  I also hoped to be able to photograph some fungi.



I wondered from the path on one nature reserve into a patch of old pasture -woodland where I thought that fungi might be present and there were some.  At one point I ducked under a fallen branch from an oak tree and caught an elastic string from my rucksack (which was on my back) on a knobbly bit of the branch.  This stopped me in my tracks - so I turned and freed it from the trees grasp.  I then noticed a loud buzzing noise and spotted a hornet.  I then realsied that the hornets had a nest exactly where my rucksack had been caught.  They did not seem to mind my presence but I did not get too close when taking the photographs, as they flew sorties around me and off into the wood...!


Autumn bounty

More hornet images: