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Regular viewers will be noticing all kinds of glitches on the site at the moment. This is because my site was hacked and used as a relay to send 1000s of spam emails and, upon noticing, my host providers took down Wildscenes.com. They helped me out by restoring the conent and recrating the basic WordPress website from a fresh install, but now I have the task of customizing the theme back to how it was. I have made some efforts but I still have a long way to go and my work as a commercial photographer is taling priority at the moment. I may take this opportunity to redesign Wildscnes completely; this is something I’ve been intending to do for a while. I want to show much bigger images on the site.

If you are running your own WordPress website, be aware that the hackers usually get into a site by hacking code of WordPress plugins rather than WordPress itself. I used several plugins on Wildscenes, mostly to provide the frontpage slideshow and formatting text int tables, but I will minimise the use of the plugins from now on.

In the meantime, here’s a bridled guillemot image which I found when revisiting a folder containing Farne Island images from 2 years ago. No idea how I missed it fisrt time around!

bridled guillemot Farne Islands

 

Today we headed down to Lincolnshire for brown hairstreak at Chambers Farm Woods, a well known site for this scarce butterfly and probably the closest site to me. The wind was a constant nuisance throughout the day making macro photography a particular challenge but in the end, we did find a couple of brown hairstreaks that performed. One was high in an oak tree and the other, a female, obligingly fed low down on angelica. We had a good list of butterflies while we there, including purple hairstreak, and also hoverflies and a carpet moth. This is just a selection of images from the day, including a shot of greater bindweed amongst golden rod which I thought made a nice composition.brown Hairstreak chambers woodbrown Hairstreak chambers woodspeckled wood butterflypurple hairstreak Cahmbers farm Woodssmall skipper butterflybrown hairstreak butterfly Chambers Woodsbrown hairstreak butterfly Chambers Farm Woodsbrown hairstreak butterfly Chambers Farm Woodssmall skipperbindweed flower in golden rod

Landscape photography in Brittany, and especially on Quiberon, is relatively easy as there are so many beautiful vistas at every turn and, generally, there is nice light too! The Cote Sauvage on the west side of Quiberon offewrs the greatest potential; there are cliffs, rocky outcrops, large waves and, of course, you are facing into the most amazing sunsets. The downside is that many of the tourists flock there too at dusk! The odd peorson in a phot is no longer such a problem with digital, as often we can just edit them out in post; the real problem is that people (and dogs!) just walk everywhere so, unless you can get there as the tides goes out or is just abiout in, you are faced with footprints in the sand in all your images!. Many of the Cote Sauvage beaches were popular with surfers and couples wanting to romantically watch the sun go down, so it was always a problem to get a good clean shot. The south end of the peninsula was less croweded at sunset and still had the potential to deliver some great skies, as in the first image below. There are standing stones and monoliths (menhirs) all over the peninsula too, but I only managed to find one that was ideal at sunset, even then, the foreground hasn’t a great deal of interest but there’s always sopmething special about being in the presence of these mystical objects. I used the Hitech Firecrest ND filters to do some long exposure photography of around 30seconds a shot but, although the mirror-like sea is effective, I think I prefer using  a shutter to blur the sea a little while still retaining some detail.

landscape photography in Brittanylandscape photography in Brittanylandscape photography in BrittanyCote Sauvage, QuiberonCote Sauvage, Quiberonmenhir on the Cote Sauvage, Quiberon

I thought I’d post a selection of images of Meditteranean gulls and sand martins in Brittany, taken on a recent family holiday around Quiberon (pronounced Kiberon). As it was a family holiday, I didn’t do a great deal of nature photography but I did have the Nikon D500 and Nikkor 200-500mm lens with me so, when I found a colony of Meditteranean gulls at Saint Julienne while cycling around the peninsula, I made sure I nipped back later that day in the car and had an hour or so with them. The rising tide eventually forced them off the rocks and out into the bay but I had a good session with them and there was a good range of plumages too. Most were adults, but there were a few juveniles and second summer birds and, of course, there were also black-headed gulls too and it was good to get some images of both species side-by-side. An added bonus was a sandwich tern that landed on the rocks close by me and preened for around 20 minutes. I’ve only ever photographed ‘Sarny’ terns in flight before.

black-headed gull in BrittanyMeditteranean gull in BrittanySandwich tern on rocks, BrittanyMeditteranean gull in BrittanyMeditteranean gull in BrittanyMeditteranean gull in BrittanyMeditteranean gull on the seaMeditteranean gull on the sea

 

The second stroke of luck came while we were on the beach right in front of our hotel. The beautiful sandy beaches stretched all along the coast in front of the hotel and, in places, had low sandy cliffs fringing the beach. There were lots of sand martins flying over the beach but it was while we were relaxing close to one of these cliffs, I noticed a pair of sand martins beginning to land on a sandy knoll and begin to excavate a nest hole. They must have already bred and this was probably an attempt at a second brood or just an instinctive thing, but they seemd tottaly unaware of people passing close by. As the hotel was only a couple of hundred yards away, I went for he big lens and decided to give them a go. I was a bit worried about going on a beach with a telephoto lens, I was sure folks would have the wrong idea, but thankfully, nobody took any notice of me tucked under the sandy cliffs amongst the rocks. I’ve never really photographedsand martins before, so this was a great opportunity and I tried to make the most of it by concentrating on flight shots. Over the course of an hour, several birds visited the nest hole and tried to excavate or began displaying so I had plenty of chances at capturing them. However, they are incredibly small and very fast so it wasn’t as easy as it looked. I’ve added selection of flight shots below.sand martin at the nest holeSand martin in flightSand martin in flightsand martin approaching the nest holeSand martin in flightsand martin approaching the nest hole

The common swifts returned to our village around about 2nd May this year and within a couple of days, the air was filled with the raucous screaming of these birds, a sound which totally defines summer for me. Each year the swifts nest under the gutters of our Victorian house and this year was no exception with around 5 or 6 pairs there. The chicks hatched around the middle of June and roughly every hour or so, the adults came back to change over brood duties and feed the young. When the do come back, the noise is deafening as the birds whizz low over the back yard and skim past the nest holes. As I sit in my office below, I’m alerted to the feeding of the young by this hysterical shrieking and out I dash with the camera in an effort to try and capture a few flight shots. My aim is to capture the birds with the house in the background but this is far more difficult than it looks. The birds are very fast and fly close to the house giving the AF some real problems. Even trying to get them as they jump from the nest is nigh on impossible. By using the Nikkor 200-500 and the D500 this year, I was able to come close with a few shots. Even though it was a sunny day, I had to ramp the ISO to around 2500 in order to get 1/4000 and above to stop the birds in flight while maintaining an aperture of around f/16 to try and maximise the DOF!

common swift nesting in eavescommon swift nesting in eavescommon swift photographycommon swift in flightcommon swift in flightcommon swift in flight