BIRDS 117 – EGRETS ON THE SOMERSET LEVELS (MONO)

 

 


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Great White (the two larger birds towards the left) and Little Egrets, feeding in the mud and water of old peat workings on Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels.  (For info: egrets are in the heron family)

Climate change?  I started birding, not too far from where these pictures were taken, in 1967.  And, as a friend from those far off birding days says, if we had submitted records of such a gathering to the Somerset Ornithological Society in those days, we would have been treated with total derision, with doubts about our honesty / mental health probably being thrown in too.  In 1971, anxious to see a Little Egret, my first in the UK, I had to travel all the way to the far west of Pembrokeshire, in Wales, for the treat.  And the Great White Egret has changed its status from being a rarity in the UK late in the last century, to being quite common now.

So, is this climate change?  I don’t know, is the simple answer; although, equally simply, I do believe that climate change is taking place.  But, from my mapping of the ranges of Kenya’s bird species, I know that factors other than climate change can influence bird distribution.  What is certain though, as my old birding friend said on seeing these pictures, is that this is not the Somerset that we used to know, 50+ years ago.

And of course, although we are seeing dramatically increased number of these egrets, numbers of many, many other UK bird species have fallen dramatically over these 50+ years: climate change may have had an effect here, but intensive farming practices are probably a bigger culprit at the moment.

Other recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 .

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 at 300mm; 12,800 ISO; jpegs produced by in-camera processing of raw files, using the Graphite profile; no further processing; Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels northwest of Glastonbury; 25 Oct 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 415 – EARLY MORNING 19 (MONO)

 

 


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A stormy morning, and Westhay Moor Drove – one of the many dead straight roads in this relatively recently created, lowland landscape – makes off eastwards towards the wild sky of the sunrise.

Other images in this Early Morning series – from both rural and urban settings, and from Kenya too – are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 .

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-25 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Acros+R profile; Westhay Moor Drove, Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels southeast of Wedmore; 9 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 391 – FARM GATE

 

 


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Always plenty for a fly to eat on a farm but, equally, always good to keep away from the cobwebs on the gates.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile; Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels northeast of Westhay; 9 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 379 – ANIMAL 6

 

 

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Driving west across Westhay Moor, when a deer ran across the road some way up ahead.  I noted where it had disappeared, drove carefully up to it – and there to my right, out in an open field, was a female Roe Deer.  The Z 6 was ready on the seat beside me, and in one (now quite practiced) movement I raised it, turned it on and flicked it into APS-C mode to increase the telezoom’s magnification.

She was very flighty, making to dash off one way or another, but every time the Z 6’s (really not loud) shutter fired, she stopped and looked at me.  I managed four frames, through roadside bushes, before she finally bolted, and by luck got this one.

This is a female (yes, that’s right, she’s a Roe doe!): no antlers, and with the quite rich brown summer coat.  Looking at her, I’m grateful for the catchlight in her eye and the raised foreleg; I’m struck by the very rectangular shape of her body, from the base of her neck back to her rump; and I see her simply as a creature of grace and beauty.  Her beauty is best appreciated enlarged >>> click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.

Roes are the smallest native deer in the UK, and fairly often seen out on the Levels, early and late in the day.  And they are also not at all uncommon in the leafier suburbs of our towns and cities >>> and so to the stag that I photographed recently in our fairly secluded back garden – you can see that post here .

This Levels’ Animal series started off with portraits of cats at Redlake Farm, on Queen’s Sedge Moor – see this link for the first image in this series, and much context; there are other images from this series here 2 3 4 5 .  Here now is this deer, and next I am going to post some pictures of cattle.  I have a great love of animals generally, and very much like getting close in to them with a telephoto.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Standard v2 profile; Westhay Moor Drove, on the Somerset Levels northeast of Westhay; 12 July 2019.
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ARCHIVE 377 – CORN GROWING IN BLACK PEAT SOIL (MONO)

 

 


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Corn sprouting in the black peat soils of Westhay Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 3 June 2016.

There is another “pylon-scape” here.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 113mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2.

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ARCHIVE 358 – MINIMAL COLOUR: TIN SHED, ROTATED

 

 

 

Corrugated iron shed (its roof on the right) at the former Willows Garden Centre, near Westhay, on the Somerset Levels; 15 Jul 2005.

Minimal colour, not far from monochrome.

Technique: F6 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; Fuji Provia 400 colour slide rated at 400 ISO; image rotated 90 degrees clockwise.

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ARCHIVE 352 – PAINTED LADY

 

 


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Painted Lady butterfly beside the South Drain, on Shapwick Heath, south of Westhay, on the Somerset Levels; 26 Oct 2009.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO.

An absolutely beautiful and highly informative book which I recommend to anyone interested in butterflies and/or wildlife art is The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland, by Jeremy Thomas (a butterfly specialist) and Richard Lewington ( a very skilled artist); 1991; ISBN 0-86318-591-6 – highly recommended.  From this book I learn that this species is probably not permanently resident in any part of Europe, because it does not hibernate and  its caterpillars perish at any temperature below 5 degrees C.  Instead, the Painted Ladies that we often see in parks and gardens and in the countryside have probably bred around desert edges in Africa and Arabia, and then moved north up into Europe in huge numbers – something which I find impressive.

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ARCHIVE 317 – SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BLUE LORRY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Self-portrait with blue lorry, near Peacock Farm, Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 24 Jul 2012.

I’m sitting very upright in the driving seat of my car, using a wideangle zoom to record both the scene in the rear view mirror, and the road ahead as seen through the windscreen.  Back home, I’ve converted the shot to mono using Capture NX2, but retained original colour – and added some brightness too – for the scene in the mirror.

The rows of small dots above the mirror are a device to help prevent dazzle when looking up at the mirror.

Click onto the image to open a (slightly) larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 800 ISO; manipulated with Capture NX2.

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ARCHIVE 274 – RED RUBY DEVON (MONO)

 

 

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Red Ruby Devon cow on Peacock Farm, northeast of Westhay, on the the Somerset Levels; 21 Mar 2012.

A wild face, and one giving the impression of great power and strength.  I am a great fan of The Lord of the Rings, and of Dark Age myths and history generally – so, thinking of the great Beowulf story, could this be the monster Grendel?

Technique: close in with a long (x8 magnification), handheld telephoto, to fill the frame with just a part of the animal.

Technique: D700 with 80-400 Nikkor at 400mm; 3200 ISO; converted to mono, and toned, with Silver Efex Pro 2.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 277 – MOTHER AND CALF, WESTHAY MOOR

 

 

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Cow and her calf, Peacock Farm, Westhay Moor; 3 June 2016.

Ruby Red Devon cattle, always to be seen – and certainly a pleasure to see them – around this farm.

And a mother’s concerned look, interrogative, not unduly concerned but still wondering what the fat guy with the camera is all about.  She’s not the first to wonder that.

X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 3200 ISO.
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