GARDEN 73 – A WONDERFUL ENCOUNTER 2

 

 


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Robin in our front garden.  Another image, and the full story of this encounter, are here (opens in a separate window).

The composition here is a little awkward, but I do like those leaves up in the top left corner!

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – certainly recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 3200 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Landscape v2 profile; south Bristol; 22 Sept 2020.
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GARDEN 72 – A WONDERFUL ENCOUNTER

 

 


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Out doing a bit of gardening, cutting our “front lawn” (aka The Dandelion Patch – I like Dandelions!).  And I kept getting the impression out of the corner of my eye of something darting swiftly by – until at last there came a beautifully warm red-orange glow from the bottom of a dense bush, and there was a Robin, a fairly small type of thrush.

And as I raked the grass and so laid bare more and more food items for him, he darted out more and more and dutifully gobbled them all down.  And knowing birds a little, I kept fairly still and started talking to him in much the same way that I talk to cats – quietly, softly and low.  And, looking up at this giant towering over him, he came closer and closer, to within a couple of inches of my feet I suppose, and I did wonder whether he might hop up onto the top of my shoe.

But he hopped away again, though not far away – and I started thinking about a photograph.  So, very quietly and slowly, keeping my eyes on him, I backed away into the house where I knew the Z 6 with a telezoom attached and a charged up battery were ready and waiting.  Creeping back out into the garden again I was sure he’d have disappeared – but no, he was still there, looking me.  So I carefully braced myself against the wall of the house and managed a few pictures.

Trouble was, I’d hardly used the Z 6 since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March – I’ve been almost entirely photographing with the Olympus TG-5 – and so I’d forgotten exactly how the ***** Z 6 works!!! >>>> and so to several failed shots!

But a couple of the frames came out ok – and so to a record of a really wonderful close encounter, just the thing in fact to lift the spirits in these very sad and trying times.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – certainly recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 3200 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Landscape v2 profile; south Bristol; 22 Sept 2020.

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GARDEN 71 – ROE DEER

 

 


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We are lucky to have a long back garden, which I have let go largely wild, and which backs out onto even wilder woodland.  This makes for a wide selection of wildlife, often in plain view from our kitchen window – and it was this wonderful natural space that kept me sane when I returned to Bristol from leading wildlife safaris in Kenya, 30 years ago.

We are lucky in seeing deer in our garden, and mostly these are Muntjacs, which are an exotic species, originally native to the Far East, and I’ve posted on these several times – the most recent post is here .

However we have also (far more rarely) seen the larger Roe Deer, which is native to the British Isles, and which is not unusual – if only locally – in Bristol’s leafier outer suburbs.
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And so to 28 May, when a cry of “Large deer in the garden!” brought us to the kitchen window, and the sight of this Roe stag, fully grown antlers and all, beside the garden path.  Cameras and binoculars are always to hand, so I grabbed the Z 6 – forgetting I’d left it in APS-C format – and started photographing.  Opening the kitchen window would almost certainly have scared him off, so the shots were taken looking quite steeply downwards through double glazing – but that’s life! >>> and the basic premise that imperfect shots are always better than no shots at all!

And, taking off the rose-coloured glasses for a moment and looking at the Natural World full-on, there are other living organisms pictured here too – for the two dark spots on the deer’s neck are ticks – ectoparasites – which live on the animal’s bodily fluids.

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 232mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral v2 picture control; our back garden, in south Bristol; 28 May 2019.
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GARDEN 70 – MUNTJAC

 

 


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Muntjac stag relaxing at the bottom of our garden.  We have a long back garden.  This green space is largely “natural”, that is, untended,  save for occasional forays with a voracious petrol lawn mower lovingly known as The Destructor; and other forays with other vicious blades when the various trees and shrubs threaten Total World Domination.  But, other than that, the garden is left much to itself and, as it backs out onto a suburban wilderness, the bottom of our garden is largely a quiet, secluded, sheltered place.  Badgers and Foxes call in, and we often see tiny (roughly Fox-sized) deer called Muntjac, that have been introduced to the UK from China.

Muntjacs are mainly active at night, but during the day they are also to be seen in secluded places – and we are happy that they consider the bottom of our garden such a safe spot during the hours of dangerous daylight.  On Sunday, a pair were resting in the tangles at the garden’s end.  The doe was largely invisible, but the stag more in view.

Sitting beside me, I had the D800 camera attached to the love of my life, the 70-300 Nikkor zoom, and the more I looked at this distant deer looking back at me, the more I thought “photo!“.  The small animal was for sure a long way off and semi-obscured too, but because the D800 has so many pixels, its possible to use its sensor reduced to APS-C format, which still provides enough pixels for a reasonable image – whilst multiplying the focal length of full-frame lenses by x1.5.  So the long end of my zoom, 300mm, became a very useful 450mm – times 9 magnification – and, handheld, I was in business!

I opened the lens aperture to its widest and ramped the ISO up to 6,400 to try to avoid camera shake and, bracing myself against a wall, started taking pictures through the closed kitchen window. The camera’s autofocus became confused by the vegetation’s tangles – and so to manual focusing.  But although recognisable, these images were softened by the light’s passage through the window’s double glazing.  These deer are notoriously timid and flighty and opening the window seemed unwise but, very carefully, slowly and quietly I did it – and the stag remained still.

And here he is, with his small, swept back antlers.  He has little tusks on his upper jaw too, but even if the bottom of his face were not obscured, these can be hard to see.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 450mm; 6400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; Bristol; 7 Jan 2018.

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GARDEN 69 – ANGRY MORNING

 

 


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I was making a cup of tea in the kitchen, which faces due east, and being struck by the ferocity of the winter sunrise over to the southeast.  A wild morning, an angry morning, the sort of morning that has an undeniable wild beauty, but which takes some strength of resolve to get outdoors and get to grips with.

And in front of me an oak tree that I have watched grow up from a naturally sown acorn – perhaps buried and forgotten by a squirrel – over the past twenty or so years.  And although it does not know it yet, an unfortunate oak, a healthy and burgeoning tree that because of its close proximity to the house will have to be cut down in the near future.

But back again to that fierce, early light, which was transfixing as it radiantly backlit the few of the oak’s leaves that had managed to hang on during the recent gales.  The camera was to hand, and so to spot metering … and the wonderful luminosity of those last few leaves.

And although it is a rather underexposed caricature of the original, below is an idea, just an idea, of the angry sky that was producing this beautifully fierce, hard and cold light …
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Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); spot metering; Lightroom; Bristol; 8 Dec 2017.
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GARDEN 68 – FOX

 

 

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Fox (aka Red Fox) at the bottom of our garden; 7 March 2016.

Not a great shot – just about sharp enough and taken through our kitchen window in difficult cross-lighting – he was sitting down having a good scratch and, catching a glimpse of me, abruptly looked up before returning to his toilet.  Here is another creature whose visits we value highly, and who is no doubt at least partly responsible for hoovering up the food scraps that we leave out on our back lawn overnight.

Bristol is well known for its urban foxes, but they have been decimated by outbreaks of mange, a skin disease caused by parasitic mites, over the years.  Another individual that came through our garden last month seemed to be affected by mange, but this one looks healthier.

Years ago, it could be 15 or 20 years back, I used to feed dog biscuits to a female (vixen) and we got to know each other a little.  On seeing her in the garden, I’d tap on the window and she’d sit down on the grass and wait for me to appear with the goodies.  I’d then put the biscuits down beside the path, retreat 10 feet or so and sit down, and she’d come and eat them – and I’d talk to her about anything that came to mind.  Later she re-appeared with cubs, which were delightful.

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 1600 ISO.
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GARDEN 67 – MUNTJAC STAG

 

 

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This image should be viewed enlarged – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window.

Male Muntjac deer enjoying the pale winter sun in our back garden; 20 Jan 2016.

His horns are short and broken stumps, seen just right of his ears.  And, on a day with a chill wind from the north, he is enjoying the sun’s slight warmth sheltering in the lee of a tall, south-facing bramble hedge.

There is a little grass in the foreground, but most of the ground is covered by last year’s dead oak leaves, which are always left covering our lawns over the winter.  A lot of small creatures spend the winter under this leaf carpet, and many thrushes – Blackbirds, Robins, Song Thrushes and Redwings – love to spend time tossing the leaves aside to get at the goodies below.  Then, in spring, our roaring motor mower (affectionately known as The Destructor) reduces this leaf debris to powder, which decays into the lawns.

There is another image in this series, and more context, here.

D800 used in DX format, with a 70-300 Nikkor giving a 450mm telephoto; 1600 ISO.
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GARDEN 66 – MUNTJACS, GROOMING (MONO)

 

 

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A pair of Muntjac Deer, grooming below our kitchen window, in the weak winter sun; 20 Jan 2016.

This is a very close crop, not intended to show these animals’ surroundings at all but, rather, to produce a tight, somewhat graphic composition that virtually fills the frame with their bodies, while positioning their heads at opposing corners of the frame, across a diagonal. 

Although there is very little context here, I’m grateful for the two thin strands of Bramble that fall down either side of the female (the animal in the foreground) – they introduce another, quite different component to the composition and, I think, help give a greater impression of depth.  Restoring their green colour would ruin the shot.

These little deer are not native to Britain, having been introduced here from the Far East.  But being small and unobtrusive, they are now widespread.  Our back garden is very secluded and quiet, especially at this time of year, and these little creatures can often be seen delicately feeding; they have been accompanied in the past by an absolutely delightful fawn.  But they are extremely nervous and flighty, rushing off at the slightest alarm, and so all pictures have be taken through closed windows, which is not ideal.

Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset.
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GARDEN 65 – BRAMBLE (MONO)

 

 

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Bramble in our Bristol garden; 8 Aug 2015.

The tip of one of this invasive plant’s exploring branches, swaying innocently just above our lawn –  soft little leaves and each longing with all its heart (if leaves have hearts)  to inch further down, touch the ground and firmly take root.  In the warmer months, patrols with a stout pair of garden shears are the order of the day!

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window.

D700 with 105mm Nikkor; 1000 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Fine Art High Key preset and adding a split tone.
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GARDEN 64 – DEAD LEAF, SUNSTRUCK

 

 

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Dead leaf – sunstruck – in our garden; 8 Aug 2015.

Death in a garden, made bright by the rising of our star.  A last remnant, holding on, still beautiful, defying Earth’s incessant pull.

And I killed it.  Why?  Well, that’s a sharp thorn on the stem just below the leaf –  this a the branch of a bramble.  And were I not to keep these barbed bushes in check, our garden would soon be overwhelmed and impenetrable, to us at least.

And do we – “us” – merit this slaughter, or should we just let Nature takes it course?  This is a question that I sometimes wonder about.

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window.

D700 with 105mm Nikkor; 400 ISO.
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