Bluebell Wood, Derbyshire: May 2018

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Spring is sprung

I found a new hide yesterday. Great little find nearby, with so many species frequenting the feeders – including two Great Spotted Woodpeckers at one point! I was excited, it’s true, and spent an hour or so with the camera trying to get some decent captures. However, I was limited in light levels as, by the time I found the hide, it was beginning to darken. To up my shutter speed meant losing depth of field, and I do like my DoF… so I left the camera in AV mode and did my best with low light.

Many blurred images later, I have concluded I need to visit this hide in lighter hours, and use TV mode more for wildlife shots to obtain the really sharp results I want! I managed to get a few sharp(ish) shots, however, and have used LR to adjust the sharpness and shadows in the relevant areas. Here is a small selection – a Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), a Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major pinetorum).

Focus Stack-attack (Invertebrates)

As part of my Advanced Method Zoology module, we undertook some imaging coursework. This involved photomacrography, photomicrography and Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) work. I decided to try the focus stacking at home instead, as I can focus much more in my own surroundings. The subject of my work was Odonata (dragonflies) and I had a few specimens to photograph.

I used the Canon 100mm macro lens, which is quite probably the best lens ever for macro work (biased opinion). I have learnt how to focus stack, kinda, and it’s so much fun. I recommend it!

Bradgate Park

Some time ago we spent a lovely summer’s day at Bradgate Park. It is an historic site having been closed off as an estate for hunting since 1281, but once open as part of the Charnwood Forest and having had bronze and iron age settlements recorded on the site. In 1445 the estate was owned by the Grey family, an influential family in Medieval and Tudor England. The family married into English Royalty, culminating in Lady Jane Grey’s birth in 1537 at Bradgate House within the estate. She was proclaimed Queen of England in 1553, a reign which lasted only nine days. Lady Jane Grey was executed for treason after being overthrown by Mary I.

The estate was passed to the people of Leicestershire by an industrialist who bought it from the then Lady Grey, the estate having grown in size to 1300 acres. Much of the site has since been designated a SSSI.  Bradgate House is an unfortified brick-built country house with modifications added over the years, and it is now mostly in ruins. The extensive land appears to be well managed and protected. There are herds of fallow and red deer grazing on the land which have evidently been preserved as individual genetic lines on the same land for centuries due to the park being closed off from migrating herds. During my time there is saw birds of prey, and many Corvids on the park, along with egrets and various ducks.

‘Tis the season to be rutting.

I went out into the field to try to catch some action shots of the Red deer and Fallow deer in Calke park, Derbyshire, as the males begin to demonstrate sexual fitness in autumn, select mates/mate and defend harems. I didn’t manage to catch any rutting on this occasion, although there were a couple of individuals with obvious wounds from fighting, and plenty of strutting about and bellowing taking place. I did find some sleepy individuals who were obviously not interested and for whom it all looked like far too much drama and effort! Other individuals were busy practising locking antlers with low hanging branches of trees and rolling in mud, and running around a lot looking quite magnificent.