Sunday, 30 November 2008


Haven't really been that inspired to get out much recently, grey days and all that. Still I have been getting the odd redwing in the garden, but it looks as though the pile of leaves carefully stacked up by the hedgehog have been blown to the four corners of the garden and the little pile that is left looks sodden. I haven't prodded whats left in the vain hope that hedgie might still be there but I don't really think so. To cheer myself up I have started a blog that allows me to reminisce and dust off my old slide collection. Before I went digital in 2005, most of the photos were taken with a Pentax P50 and then in 1990 I upgraded to a Canon EOS10. My selection of lenses was a little limited as I used a Tamron 500 F8 mirror lens and tamron 28-300 zoom, great fun.
My other blog can be found at

Friday, 7 November 2008


Over the winter and spring I've set myself a personal target to try and get some photos of brown hare in Kent. I've read in a few places that the track to Elmley can be a good place to see them so I headed in that direction over lunchtime today. Certainly the access to the Isle Of Sheppey has changed with the new bridge now spanning the Swale but to get to the entrance for the Elmley track you still have to go over the old bridge and travel the old but now much quieter road onto Sheppey. Today I noticed a good sized flock of fieldfares and redwings in the hawthorn that ran alongside the track to the clay pigeon shooting site to the right of the Elmley track and decided to try my luck with an odd photo or two. The thrushes were very flighty around 150 fieldfares and 30 redwings and even using my car as a hide it was difficult to get very close. Annoyingly I had taken the wrong tripod mount for my camera so handheld shots it had to be or nothing. With the subject being back lit I had to compensate by setting the exposure against a more neutral colour even with spot metering. Greens and greys are useful for this so I exposed against the green hawthorn leaves and hoped to luck.

Certainly both the fieldfares and redwings were feeding on the hawthorn berries and even drinking from a puddle in the road but these were just to skittish to enable a photo. I think fieldfares are one of the most handsome looking of thrushes and I have been lucky enough to see both fieldfare and redwing close up in the hand on the Orkneys. Certainly a redwing in the hand would not be a good advertisement for the merits of bird ringing as they make one hell of a racket, anyone passing by would think the bird was being murdered. On the contrary a fieldfare in the hand is totally passive, or at least the ones I have seen were. Anyway, I then went back to the start of the track up to Kingshill Farm and the Elmley RSPB reserve. The area looks just fantastic with grazing groups of cattle, flocks of lapwing, feeding curlews and the odd marsh harrier and kestrel but no sign of any hares. As I approached the car park at the farm I noticed a brown lump in a short cropped field just off to my right. Looking through my bins I confirmed that the lump was in fact a hare. At this time a helicopter decided to fly over and I took my eye off the hare for a moment. When I looked back into the field I saw two hares running toward me and across my front. Their turn of speed is just so impressive and they accelerate with such ease. I couldn't believe my luck when the two just stopped on the dirt track in front of me. I was still in the car and slowly poked my camera lens out of the car window expecting them both to race off but they sat there for a few moments.
Brown Hare

They then ran off into some thicker grass and I lost them. I certainly hadn't expected to see two hares in quite this way, what a treat. I turned my car around and headed back down the track to wait and see if they would re-appear. Eventually one did appear in the thick longer grass and a few more photo opportunities presented themselves. If only I had a more powerful lens.....still I'll have to save up for one but in the meantime a few more visits over the winter to hopefully see more of these wonderful animals.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Longfield - Garden & Awards

The other week I glanced into the garden just before heading off to work and noticed a medium sized hedgehog wandering along the raised flower bed. Excited in having one in the garden I took my eyes off it for a few minutes to alert my wife, by the time I looked back in to the garden it had disappeared. I then saw it again wandering around the base of a spirea in its mouth was a load of dry leaves and a few berries. I wasn't sure what to make of it and thought it had been foraging and the berries and leaves had got stuck in its mouth. I then got distracted and by the time I looked back there it was again in the same spot this time with a new set of leaves in it's mouth. It then dawned on me that it was building a nest between the spirea and some pine logs that I have in the garden. This was confirmed when it appeared from beneath the pile of leaves to a well earned breakfast of cat food much to the indignation of our rather large tabby.

Given that I do have two hedgehog houses in the garden, they are either occupied or the decor is not to the liking of this particular individual. Either way it was an exciting and unexpected garden event. I'm not sure just how long the hedgehog had been building its winter home but it must have taken it quite some time to build the pile of leaves, pictured here in the centre.

Since 2005 I have been entering the joint run Council and KWT gardening for wildlife scheme and have been successful in winning a highly commended and two silver awards for my efforts. This year was the icing on the cake as I managed to get a gold award, I am so pleased and I have volunteered to be a garden assessor next year.

Also this week I received an award from the KWT for two photos that I entered in their wildlife photography competition. I was 'amazed' that I won first and third prize in the flora category with the following entries as it was all very spur of the moment.

1st Prize Winner in the Flora Category - Ox eye Daises at Yockletts Bank

3rd Prize Winner in the Flora Category - Bee Orchid Queendown Warren