Sunday, 22 April 2012

Malvern hills with Gillian , 15th feb 2012

Sorry ,just haven't had time to write this one!    its an old one.  But a trip to remember :)

Gill asked me to take her on a trip, she was a little Down this week !  so we ( she ) decided Malvern Hills would be a good idea , and there was a Deer park within walking distance!  but she didn't tell me about the walking part until we where there!   Arghhh  i thought i would just drive there!!!!  Lazy Git!
  should take more notice of what she says next time!
So after picking her up,  an hour late! Ooops !  She wont let me forget about that:(  after i took wrong exit and had to do a huge detour around the m42!  Arghhhhhh   We then drove all the way to Malvern, About 45 minutes i think it was.  we parked up, and it was COLD!  really Cold!, and i couldn't find my scarf, even though i did have it coming out of the house!!!     Yes Gill found it quite funny as usual , but after only 10 minutes walking i was quite warm, and she was quite Hot!  haha .   the light was basically rubbish!   so photo opportunities were not that good, we climbed up above the small reservoir , where 2 days previous it was still covered in ice and snow!   it is an interesting area , but would need nice early morning light to make it worth while!

This is British camp reservoir

Walking along to the top of the Hill on the right hand side of the above image we came to a wonderful spiral set of steps ..   all that was needed was some nice light!!!

Gillians plan was to walk over to Eastnor Deer Park , i thought ok , will be great to photograph the deer.  little did i know what would happen later!
Off we walked heading for Hangmans hill, which was the nearest landmark to "The obelisk " which was built in 1812 in memory of Edward Somers, whose family owned the castle and estate at Eastnor. from here it was easy to find the park!

 the sky was quite overcast , but did give a few breaks to give small light shafts across the Malverns

WE eventually stumbled upon what turned out to be "Cutters Cave"  which was superb location for a portrait shoot :))

Gill had earlier said  "in her words "

" Eastnor Deer Park is within walking distance so fingers crossed i might get time to visit (aka: drag Phil over there whether he likes it or not!) :)     "

So after fun in the cave we carried on walking, and walking, and walking!!!!!  all the way to Hangmans hill, where we discovered no way to get to the obelisk!  Arghhhh   , so backtracking and taking a path through News wood we almost came to the Obelisk! well, we could see it! but still couldn't find the path to get to it!!!    Eventually we managed to get there , but struggled to get a good image with the bright back lighting!

From here there was an easy path leading down to Eastnor park!    we came across this amazing looking old dead tree!

                                 At this point we could see "the deer park"  and Eastnor Castle  

Just after i shot this we came to the park itself, the clouds briefly cleared to clear blue sky!  and it was   Amazing to see loads of Buzzards suddenly appear circling in the sky, up to 11 counted all in a small area!  i managed this image, hard to get detail in the birds but it does show what a great sight it was!  and even now it is hard to believe how blue the sky was for just a short space of time!

                        and momentarily the sun lit up the trees! Before the clouds came over again!

  Now where would the Deer be Dear  ?  i asked the "Deer Expert"  "must be somewhere " was the reply!   any how, 2 hours later , after looking all over the "Deer park"  NO DEER!!!!!!!!!!    I was not amused!   Gill then said , after looking on the map on her i phone, the other side of the high bank ( in above image)  is also part of the park, they must be over there!   so of we went again, over the small bridge by one of the lakes and started to climb the steep hillside ( or rather Gill did )   i sat down as didn't think she was correct!!!   lol          She got to the top  and after a few minutes i noticed her waving her arms!!   she must have seen them i thought , so i made my way all the way to the top!!!!!!!!  to find " NO DEER" !!   i was not happy i can tell you!
After a quick search on the other side we sat down on a bench to eat lunch, i was just scanning the area through the lens and suddenly spotted DEER!!!!!!!  BUT, they where in a fenced off enclosure near to a farm house which we could not get too!  Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh

                         So!  this is the only image of Deer to be shot All day in a " DEER PARK"
                                                      You can just about see them LOL

Gill then said, that fence will not stop me shooting a deer!  Off we went to see how close we could get to them,  the answer was "Not very close! " lol   they spooked as soon as we got within about 400 yards.

So after spending about two & a half hours being dragged all over the place by Gillian looking for Non existent Deer !  

 I just could not take it any more!  there was only one thing i could do!!!!!!!

  "KILL  HER"  !!!!!!

So here is  " DEAD GILL"

SO FUNNY!  we couldn't stop laughing for ages after this!!!

After all this fun , it was starting to get late, the sun was slowly setting but i could see the clouds splitting apart and could tell that might have the chance of a good sunset!  and what a sunset it turned out to be!   after a steady climb back up to near Hangmans hill and" Cutter Cave" we shot an amazing sunset with the "obelisk" silhouetted against the sky!




And while Gillian was shooting the wrong way!  haha  the sky was starting to turn a wonderful shade of orange!  
I Shot this!

                 So a disappointing start, an interesting fun middle and a superb end to a great trip! 
                             We always manage to have a really great time with loads of fun :)

                                                                       Thank you Gillian :)

                                        Images shot with canon 5d2, 17-40L , 70-300 is f5.6

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Cumbrian Mountains Haystacks & Fleetwith Pike April 15 2012

Sundays trip was Special!  i finally went up to Alfred Wainwrights resting place "Innominate Tarn" just below the summit of Haystacks:)  
This is a long photo blog, loads of images :D
The plan was to look around Grey Knotts area where the Mountain Ringlet butterflies will be in June/July, then cross over to Haystacks and then Fleetwith Pike. a long walk!  lol
I parked at Honister slate mine car park at 9.40am , only a few cars there surprisingly as the weather was looking great!

Wonderful blue sky as i set off up the ziz zag road track on the left :)

 Gaining height rapidly getting a great view back down Honister pass to the mine.

                      The track climbs steeply as you can see , and then levels out  at Drumhouse

At Drumhouse, the path splits left towards Grey Knotts which is one of the "Wainwrights" at 2287ft .  Here is where the Mountain Ringlet butterflies will be found along the north facing slopes of Grey Knott and the surrounding area.  they will emerge in June through early July, cant wait to see them. one of my target species for this year:)  i make my way along this track up onto the slopes of Grey Knott!  a nice steady climb in the warm sun:)

This is hopefully where i will see the Mountain Ringets in a few months time:)

       Now i am on the slopes of Grey Knotts, the views are amazing!!!!!!!!  looking down the Buttermere valley towards Crummock water. i can see Scotland very clearly in the distance.  The piles of stones are called "Cairns" most of the summits have them and also at various other high points:)

        Here i am :) with  Buttermere valley behind! in an area called "piles of stones" 

                                             traces of snow still on "pillar" in the background.

        Another shot with frozen pools in foreground, still very cold up here, no sign of any butterflies :(

Now from higher up on Grey Knotts, from one of cairns !  What a view!

Now i turn down to head towards Haystacks another of the "Wainwrights" at 1959ft ,the dark peak in deep shade on the left in the previous image.  down the steep valley with Blackbeck tarn just to the right of Haystacks .

                  I get a superb panorama view of the Ennerdale/Buttermere valleys   View Large

Getting past the bottom of the valley, across a few small streams and a lot of boggy ground!   think i missed the path actually ! lol,    to the left of Blackbeck tarn and start climbing up towards Haystacks i came across a small tarn.

          I soon came to an amazing view across to "pillar" on the left ,  and looking down Ennerdale water with High Stile and Buttermere on the right View Large

Its 11.45 am , At last i come to AWs resting place "Innominate Tarn"  so special to be here at last!!!!  sitting here in silence eating lunch with just 2 ducks for company :)))) 

I now make the short climb up to the summit cairns of Haystacks!  before i get there i shot this image looking down Ennerdale valley .

 amazing views yet again from all 3 summits, hard to tell actually how many summits there are!  its so hummocky!

                                                                           View Large

That was Haystacks, really loved being up there! , now off towards Fleetwith pike next , another of the "Wainwrights" at 2126ft , but down to Blackbeck tarn first  with a superb view down Buttermere valley before i get to the tarn.

                                            Blackbeck tarn NOT exactly a pretty tarn is it?   lol

I made my way down the valley following my viewranger app on phone,  the path i wanted to take up towards Fleetwith Pike was not very clear!!!!!!!!   i came to Dubbs quarry with its old slate built buildings

   Heading back towards Buttermere valley and then up the hillside to find the path up to Fleetwith Pike.

                      Eventually i found my way up the slopes of Fleetwith :)  the summit in sight :)

                         And the classic view down Buttermere valley from the summit cairn:)))
                                             Pity its clouded over now down the bottom end:(

Must say Fleetwith Pike was a little disappointing after Haystacks:(   a bit boring actually :D
The path back towards the mines was fairly straight forward,and another small tarn !

a mountain shot on the way back towards Honister pass

                                               the way down through the slate Monuments  :))))

      and looking back up the steep track i have just struggled to come down without slipping!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A train waiting for me at the bottom:D

The end of an amazing walk with views to die for!!!!!!!!!!!!

acording to viewranger , 8.30 miles, 5 hrs 28 mins,total height gained 3,353 ft

all images shot canon 5d2 and 17-40L

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Whixall Moss Bug Hunt April 10

Today i decided to do some macro, not really shot much this year, so off to Whixall moss in Shropshire in the hope of finding something to shoot!   brimstone,orange tip and holly blues where seen last week, but the weather has turned since then and was not looking great for today either.
I decided to take the main path across the moss then walk down the canal towpath where there are plenty of dandelion flowers which always attract bees and hoverflies :)

                                                                     This is the main path

As you can see it is bleak, wide open peat bogs but attracts plenty of bird species along with large numbers of insects!         i didn't find anything along this section so made my way quickly to the canal. almost straight away i found this tiny ichneumon wasp , which happily climbed on my finger presumably to get some warmth!   as it was quite cold this morning.  this was shot at about x4 magnification with mpe-65 and is 3 frames focus stacked to increase depth of field.

Continuing down the canal i noticed dozens of ladybirds, most of the plants had them on, but noticed alot had damaged wing cases, very strange!  this one appeared to be sleeping  lol

       Next to be shot was a tiny Weevil, about 5mm long this one, again this is a 3 frame focus stack

As soon as i came across the first of the patches of dandelion the sun came out and hoverflies were feeding in Ernest:)

                                                          and another one resting on a leaf!

Yet more ladybirds , this one has something on its head , appears to be fungus or something similar!

Just before i went back onto the moss, i found the first of the days Miner bees feeding on a dandelion, it crawled on my finger almost straight away to warm itself :)     they cannot fly when cold !

I took the path back onto the moss to look for green tiger beetles which can often be found down by the old peat workings!   but i looked everywhere and could not find any!  the like it dry and hot to hunt on the  peat .  this is the old works.

Any how, back towards the canal in search of more miner bees :)   look at the sky now!  perfect to bring the bees out to feed!

Back on the canal , a beautiful hoverfly :)  again 3 frames focus stacked .

Miner bee time!   loads of them feeding , so here are a few images , all single frames shot with mpe-65
they are about 6-7 mm in length .

just love this!  even though cant see its head  lol

The clouds were starting to really build now , so a hasty decision to head back to the car!
there is a wooden bird viewing platform , and i noticed this small fly sitting in the warm sun!

I made my way back across the mosses , and just near the carpark, noticed this small miner bee in the shade on a wooden post rail! obviously too cold to fly :)

And finally , i shot it looking up towards the blue sky for the background, using full flash with a higher iso400 to allow more natural light into the exposure to prevent a black background from the flash fallout!
it worked perfectly!  i focused on the jaws as they are the most prominent focal point :D

                                                    The end of another good days shooting :) 

    all shots taken with canon 5d2 and mpe-65 macro lens  ( except landscapes HTC phone )