Pewsey Vale, Wiltshire

Pewsey Vale, Wiltshire

Pewsey Vale shrouded in mist, Wiltshire

I feel I’ve had a bad run of luck lately. I went to Richmond Park in the snow to photograph the deer and saw not a single deer. I was down to Dorset and set the alarm to catch Corfe Castle shrouded in mist, but despite what looked like the right conditions the night before there was not an ounce of mist to be seen. I then went to the Old Pier at Swanage to find a bright red boat moored at the end of it, which thwarted any chance of getting the kind of shot I was after. Then to top it off we were heading back to Poole, the kids starving and with the promise of Macdonalds, when the most glorious sunset started to develop. I raced to the Quay as quick as I could to find something, ANYTHING, that would make a decent setting but just couldn’t get there quick enough and missed the best of the colour. Things weren’t going well.

So it wasn’t with a great deal of optimism that I set the alarm for 5 o’clock when mist and fog was forecast the next morning. Top of my list for 2013 was to capture a mist filled valley. Peter Hulance and Phil Selby had taken some great shots at Pewsey Vale, which looking on the map seemed within relatively easy reach. It was, I discovered, quite a tedious journey but I still managed to make it to Martinsell Hill within plenty of time. Thankfully, being February, sunrise was still at a reasonable hour (7.18) and I’d given myself plenty of time so as not to end up giving myself a coronary to get there.

Pewsley Vale, Wiltshire

The pre-dawn colours were quite pleasing and a thin mist was developing.

I was glad to see that there was a little nice mist hanging in the valley so I wasted no time in setting up and began shooting. Not long after I’d arrived another photographer turned up, and sure enough it was Peter Hulance himself. Together we enjoyed the drama that unfolded before us.

Pewsley Vale, Wiltshire

As the sun rose in the sky we had some lovely colour.

Peter and I had been flickr contacts for a while, and I was a big fan of his work, so it was nice to finally meet. Peter was very modest about his own achievements, and a thoroughly nice chap to boot! I’m quite sure we’ll bump into each other at Pewsley again.

Pewsley Vale, Wiltshire

The trees stood out as bold silhouettes as the sun lit up the mist.

Mist, Pewsey Vale, Wiltshire

Mist anybody, mist?!

And what a location it is. Breathtaking. As the sun rose and broke over the bank of cloud the mist increased and the colours were beautiful. It’s amazing how mist can transform a scene. Photographic heaven!

Three Trees, Pewsey Vale, Wiltshire

To the right of the valley stand these three trees, which looked great with the rolling green field in the foreground, and the mist separating the background. It was too good to let go.

Pylon, Pewsey Vale, Wiltshire

Pylon, Pewsey Vale, Wiltshire

I returned home with that satisfying feeling of knowing I’d got some lovely shots, and thanked my lucky stars I’d made the effort. Special mornings like these restore your faith and enthusiasm.

The Birds of Newland’s Corner

Marsh Tit, Newland's Corner

Marsh Tit, Newland’s Corner. Nice to finally put this perch I’d half inched from Tomlin’s Woods to good use, and nice to get the bird I came for.

Just before Christmas in the middle of the cold snap, I’d made the journey to Newlands Corner, hoping to get some landscapes covered in hoar frost. It looked great on the Hog’s Back and I figured with Newland’s Corner being so high up I would see more of the same. Sadly, when I got there it was disappointingly ice free. So I thought I’d have a little look by the feeders and get some snaps. The light wasn’t great, but I was delighted to see there was a Marsh Tit in the area. Their population has been in steady decline, and I’d certainly never seen one before, so a first for me. I also spied a very colourful Bullfinch, and behind the Visitor Centre I saw a couple of Tree Creepers. I resolved to return on a better day and try my luck.

Great Tit, Newland's Corner

Just a Great Tit I know, but I really like this shot, especially the detail in the lichen!

Chaffinch, Newland's Corner

I don’t really get Chaffinch’s round my way, so always good to see and photograph such a colourful bird.

I returned fully equipped with a couple of lichen and moss covered perches, as well as a plentiful supply of nuts. At first there was nothing but the usual Great and Blue Tits, but after a little while the Marsh Tit came in, and fortunately for me, wasn’t at all shy. More than can be said for the Nuthatch. Although I’ve photographed them a few times I’m still yet to get one I’m entirely happy with, but today I got perhaps my best yet.

Nuthatch, Newland's Corner

I find these really difficult to photograph. They’re really quick, and really quite nervous, so unless you’re already focusing on the spot they land on you don’t stand a chance.

Light levels still weren’t great, the clear skies that had been forecast didn’t really materialise, so I was pushing a high ISO with exposures between 1/200th anf 1/400th of a second. Having recently upgraded from the 500D to a 7D I feel I can get away with it a little more, but it’s not ideal. I’d still rather get a good sharp shot with a little noise though, than a noise free but blurred bird.

Robin, Newland's Corner

A Robin, doing what Robin’s do best, trying to bully all the other birds away.

After having lured in the birds with the nuts, I then noticed that the Marsh Tit was feeding on the nuts on the ground right in front of me, so I returned to the car and got my mossy ground perch out, laid it down, and covered the area liberally with nuts! It worked a treat, not only did the Marsh Tit pose nicely on it, but the Nuthatch was becoming increasingly bold and landed right where I wanted him. Even the Jay got over it’s shyness and came right in.

Marsh Tit, Newland's Corner

He wasn’t more than 9 feet from me here, and cared not a jot.

Nuthatch, Newland's Corner

So glad to finally get this kind of shot. It took a few failed attempts, but I think this was about as good as I could hope for.

Jay, Newland's Corner

I’ve never got this close to a Jay before. The main problem was fitting him in the frame. Very greedy he was, I had to stand up to shoo him off before he nicked all the nuts and left nothing for the others.

Part 2

I returned again in mid March, keen to get some more of the nuthatch. It was far brighter second time around, and with shutter speeds of around 1250th sec I was able to freeze the movement of the nuthatch completely.

Nuthatch, Newlands Corner

Nuthatch, Newlands Corner, looking great in their breeding plummage.

The Marsh Tit was still around but not quite so bold this time, but a Pied Wagtail paid a visit, a nice bonus.

Pied Wagtail, Newlands Corner

Pied Wagtail, Newlands Corner. So full of character.

I promised myself no photos of Robins, Blue Tits and Great Tits, but the Robin looked so good I couldn’t resist.

Robin, Newlands Corner

Robin, Newlands Corner. Far easier to photograph than the nuthatch.

I think I’ve finally got the nuthatch out of my system now, so I can move on!

The Waxwings are in Town!

Waxwing, North Camp Station

Waxwing, North Camp Station

Ever since Chris Packham plotted the Waxwing invasion on Autumnwatch a couple of years back I’ve been fascinated by these beautiful birds. If the berry crop fails in Scandanavia then they’ll make the pilgrimage across the North Sea and feed on our Rowan and Pyracantha. I didn’t think I’d be in with a chance of seeing them, but then around January/February my brother told me they were feeding off the apple tree outside his house! For whatever reason I was never able to get over to photograph them, but then not long after they turned up at the end of my garden. It was just a passing visit unfortunately, but I did manage to get a couple of shots a little later, in March, when I was photographing Grebes at Basingstoke Canal. They were high up in a tree, so the shots weren’t great, and ever since I’ve been keen to get some decent ones in the bag.

Waxwing, North Camp Station

Waxwing, North Camp Station

Last year there wasn’t much of an invasion, but this winter seems to be far better. Reports started showing up on the Surrey Bird Club site of them making an appearance in Ewell, then it was Woking, and then finally in Farnborough, at North Camp Station. It seemed too good to be true to have such an exotic looking bird in that most unlikely of wildlife havens that is ‘Norf Camp’.

The week they arrived the weather was, for the most part, pretty awful, but on the 30th the rain stopped, the sun came out, and I made the five minute journey to the station. When I got there around 30+ waxwings were feeding off the berries, but they very soon departed, and then the rain came in. With a little time on my hands I was prepared to wait this one out, along with around a dozen or so other photographers all with their long lenses and tripods. When I got talking to them it turned out a couple of them were photographers I was familiar with on flickr, namely Aaron Gee and Mark Slokey, so it was good to finally meet them.

Waxwing, North Camp Station

Waxwing, North Camp Station

The rain passed off, and not long after the waxwings returned, and this time they stuck around for an hour or so, perching high up on a tree on the opposite side of the road, before all flocking to the berry trees to feed. They spooked pretty easy, and all quickly returned to the safety of the opposite side, but the lure of the berries was too much for them, and every time they flew in they were greeted with the sound of a dozen shutters all firing off continuously!

Two Waxwing, North Camp Station

Two Waxwing, North Camp Station

Waxwing, North Camp Station

The contrast of the black hoarding works well here to separate the bird from the background.

Although the blue skies didn’t return I wasn’t too bothered, I was very happy to get to photograph them at such close quarters. It was sod’s law that the next day, New Year’s Eve, it was a clear day with blue skies, but unfortunately I had a prior engagement. I was still tempted to make a quick diversion, but decided my marriage was more important! Still, at least I’ll have something to aim for next year…

Redwing, North Camp Station

Redwing, North Camp Station. Although I was there for the Waxwing, I think this shot is probably my best from the day. Another attractive visitor from Scandanavia that we only see this time of year.

2012 in a nutshell

London Skyline from the Hogs Back, Guildford

London Skyline from the Hogs Back, Guildford. The Shard was on my hit list for this year but I hadn’t imagined a shot quite like this. I had no idea London was even visible from here, until I pulled out the long lens to focus on a line of buildings in the distance!

If 2011 was a great year then 2012 has been out of this world! The highlight was of course receiving the Runner-Up Award in the Landscape Photographer of the Year Classic View, a long held dream that finally came true. My main aim was just to get in the book, so to receive a runner-up, and then Judges Choice from Charlie Waite, was just incredible. The awards evening was very special, and I got to shake hands with Charlie. A couple of weeks later Joe Cornish visited my neck of the woods to do a talk, so in the space of a month I saw two ‘Galactico’s’ of photography! It’s fair to say Joe has been a huge influence on me over the years so it was great to finally see him.

The Pier, Weston Super Mare

This was my other shortlisted entry in the Landscape Photographer of the Year. Didn’t make it all the way, but I wasn’t complaining.

I was also shortlisted in the British Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards with a couple of images, but sadly neither made the final cut. It would’ve been fantastic to have got into both books, but not to be. I’ll keep trying though!

Red Deer Stag, Richmond Park, Surrey

I was quite surprised this was shortlisted over a couple of my other Stag shots that I personally felt were better, there’s just no accounting for judges’ taste!

Great Crested Grebe with Chicks, Basingstoke Canal

My other shortlisted entry in the British Wildlife Photography Awards. Note to self – more cute pictures in future.

Just to round the year out one of my images appeared on BBC’s The One Show, on the 13th December. Matt Baker and Alex Jones had John Craven in the studio and so asked for viewers to send in images for John to judge. Not one to miss an opportunity I sent a couple in and to my astonishment they displayed my ‘Stag Breath’ shot!

Stag Breath on the BBC's One Show

Stag Breath on the BBC’s One Show, 13th December 2012.

Then as a final send off for the year Hampshire County Magazine used one of my shots from Longstock on the cover of their magazine, January 2013 edition. In mid December. Never quite understood that.

Hampshire County Cover

Hampshire County Jan 2013 Cover Photograph.

Goals in 2012

Looking back at some of the goals I’d set myself at the end of last year, I have managed to get through quite a few of them. I finally managed to get a couple of decent shots of the Long Tailed Tits in the garden, and an extra bonus was the arrival of the Redwings for a couple of days. They’d been visitors at our old house for a couple of winters but I hadn’t managed to get any decent shots, so it was great to finally get some. The Blackcap still eludes me though! Further afield, I made a few trips down to Papercourt Meadows to shoot the Short Eared Owls, and although I got one semi decent shot, I don’t really feel I’ve done them justice yet. I was hoping to get down to Papercourt again this winter, but so far it appears they haven’t visited, but you never know.

Grey Wagtail with Mayfly, Frensham Little Pond, Surrey

Grey Wagtail with Mayfly, Frensham Little Pond, Surrey. This was a finalist in the White Lion Walk Photo Competition, but lost out to a shot of poppies.

I also managed to get some decent shots of a few species on my wanted list, namely Lapwings, Little Grebes, Swallows and Grey Wagtail. I entered the Grey Wagtail shot in the local White Lion Walk photography competition, where it made it to the final, but no cigar on this occasion! This year I discovered the delights of Wisley Gardens, and whilst there was lucky enough to photograph a family of Little Grebes with their 4 chicks very late in the season. Having barely a sighting of a Little Grebe last year, this year they appeared to be just about everywhere I went! Wisley is also great for seeing Goldcrest, another that I hope to tick off the list in 2013.

Little Grebes, Wisley Gardens, Surrey

Little Grebes, Wisley Gardens, Surrey.

Last year I spent a lot of time photographing the Great Crested Grebes. This year I decided to concentrate on heathland birds. Surrey is famed for it’s precious heathland habitat, and in my quest to highlight local wildlife it seemed the natural choice. The Dartford Warbler was high on my wanted list, but in the three or four visits I made to Thursley Common it eluded me. Photographing heathland birds was a lot harder than I’d anticipated. Getting close enough was perhaps the biggest problem. I spent 3 or 4 hours attempting to photograph Stonechats, but just couldn’t get close enough. I did manage to photograph a number of new (for me) species, namely Whitethroat, Linnet, Reed Bunting and Whinchat. However, the highlight for me was seeing and photographing Redstart, really quite stunning birds, another high on my wanted list, and a bird that until this year I didn’t even know were found this far south. Now I know where to find them I’ll be back next year to give it a proper go. Another highlight was the Hobby, Thursley is great in May/June for seeing them as they feed on the abundant dragonflies. Seeing them pluck the dragonflies out of the air and eating them in mid flight is highly recommended!

Hobby, Thursley Common, Surrey

A Hobby catches a dragonfly in midflight, Thursley Common, Surrey.

Redstart, Thursley Common, Surrey

Male Redstart bringing food for one of its young, Thursley Common, Surrey. I love these birds, just stunning.

I had planned to visit Gigrin Farm for the Red Kites. I didn’t make it Gigrin, but was lucky enough to get to the Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre near Aberystwyth whilst holidaying in Wales to see the Red Kites there. It had to be one of the highlights of the year for me, absolutely amazing to see so many Red Kites all in one place. Stunning birds in a stunning setting, I can’t urge anyone enough to go there and experience it for themselves. Didn’t make Skomer though for the Puffins, so it’s on my list still for next year!

Come late September/early October I once again made a couple of visits to Richmond Park for the Stag rut and once again got some shots that I’m really happy with. A couple made Flickr Explore, and then subsequently one made it onto the Flickr Blog. My page hits then went through the roof, I had over 4,000 hits on one day in particular, it just went quite mad! I’ve since had a Spanish online publication contact me about running a feature on how I came to make the shot, so I’ll post up a link when it goes live.

Mayfield Lavender, Banstead, Surrey

Mayfield Lavender, Banstead, Surrey. This made Flickr Explore, which was nice.

Rapeseed Field, Gomshall, Surrey

Rapeseed Field, Gomshall, Surrey

Denbies Vineyard, Dorking, Surrey

Denbies Vineyard, Dorking, Surrey. After nearly killing myself running the full length of the vineyard to be in position for the sunset, I lucked out with a nice pink afterglow in the sky.

My Surrey/Hampshire project went well, there were basically 4 shots on my wanted list – rapeseed field, lavender field, poppy field and vineyard. The only one I didn’t manage out of those 4 was the poppy field, so next year I’m determined to nail it. I’d also been keen to get back down to Lepe and Longstock, and managed to tick both of those off the list.

'The Dolphins', Lepe Beach, Hants

‘The Dolphins’, Lepe Beach, Hants

Fishing Huts and Eel Traps at Longstock on the River Test

Fishing Huts and Eel Traps at Longstock on the River Test. This was one of the first really hard frosts of the winter, and the morning light was pretty special too.

The workshops with Doug Chinnery went very well. First up was a Camera to Computer Workshop in Weston-Super-Mare in February, and second was a Long Exposure Workshop in Brighton in June. I’d long wanted to get some shots of the West Pier there, and I think they were my most successful from the day. More recently I revisited Brighton in the hope of capturing the Starling Murmurations. They didn’t really put on much of a show unfortunately, but the sunset was stunning, so it was far from a wasted trip. With the winnings from LPOTY I was able to sell my 500D and finally upgrade to a 7D, courtesy of ebay, and Brighton was it’s first outing. Although I’m still getting used to it, I’m excited about the opportunities it opens up.

Aims for 2013

Seeing some of the winning entries from LPOTY I’ve been inspired to get out and do more landscapes. I loved Alex Nail’s shot of Pen-y-Fan, so I’m determined to get up a mountain or two and attempt to capture some dramatic mountain scenes. Inspired by the work of Paul Keene and Omer Ahmed I’m keen to get out and shoot some frosty and snowy scenes. I’m also yet to witness a cloud inversion so I think I might be making a trip or two to the South Downs in hope. I loved Simon Park’s storm shot, even if he did keep me off the top spot(!), and would love to get some extreme weather shots if the opportunity arises.

On the wildlife front I feel I need to broaden my scope and capture a few more species. I would love to shoot the Mountain Hares in the Peak District, but I’m not sure funds will allow it. I think a trip to the east coast might be on the cards to see the seals though. Maybe even otters too, although I need to put in some research. Returning to more familiar subjects, the Short Eared and Barn Owls are still very much a priority, and I’m sure I’ll also return to my favourites, the deer at Richmond Park. I’d love to get some shots in the snow if I can to round out my portfolio. Whatever happens I’ll look forward to what 2013 brings and can’t wait to get out with the camera to experience something new.

Thanks to anyone who’s passed by this year, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 – Runner Up, Classic View

Beech Wood, Surrey

Runner Up, Classic View – Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012

I’m extremely proud to announce that my Beech Wood Panorama has received Runner Up in the Classic View of this years Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards. I also received ‘Judges Choice’ from lead judge Charlie Waite. It’s a dream come true for me, something I’ve been working towards for a long time, and at the moment it feels quite surreal. To receive Charlie Waite’s vote makes it all the more special, and whilst I’d be taking photos regardless, it’s always nice to receive such recognition.

I originally received a Highly Commended, but due to the winner being disqualified, I’ve effectively been moved up. This also means I now receive £500 prize money, which is another nice bonus.

Craig Denford shaking hands with Charlie Waite

Shaking hands with Charlie Waite. I’m not a tall man, but I’m a little taller than the 3 foot 8 I appear to be here. Either that or Charlie is 8 foot 11.

I attended the Private Viewing at the National Theatre on the 12th November. It was a great evening, and very inspiring to see all the winning entries up on the wall. I was relieved to see my print looked great, printed out at a metre and a half wide! Unfortunately it printed out a little dark in the book, but thankfully at the exhibition it was far truer to the original.

Craig Denford at the National Theatre Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 Exhibition

Trying to look inconspicuous, whilst admiring my own print on the wall!

Amateur Photographer magazine published a number of the winning entries in the November 6th edition, and I was lucky enough to get my shot featured in the Highly Commended section. It also appeared as the lead shot in the Royal Photographic Society magazine feature on the awards. Altogether it’s been a great experience and is all the encouragement I need to continue what I’m doing.

For anyone interested in having this shot hanging on their wall you can now purchase a quality canvas print here.

Middle Aged Stag Spreading through Dorset

Avocet Flocking, Brownsea Island

Avocet Flocking, Brownsea Island

First there was the annual membership to the Royal Horticultural Society. Then there was the wearing of green Dunlop wellies without a care. I even started noticing the flowers on roundabouts. Middle age was well and truly here. As if I was in any doubt, the final nail in the coffin was travelling down this weekend to Poole on a Stag Do that was actually a two day birding extravaganza, or to give it it’s proper title ‘Boo’s Big Birding Bonanza’. Ryan had finally decided to tie the knot, and rather than a booze fuelled weekend in Serbia taking in strip joints he instead elected to indulge his passion for birds, along with Euan, Mike, John and myself. Just Mad.

As we drove down on Friday afternoon, the heavens opened and it didn’t look too promising at all, but we hoped that the forecast for sun on the Saturday would hold true. Ryan had booked a great bungalow at Bestwall Park near Wareham, overlooking a lake that backed on to the estuary. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for accommodation in the area, it couldn’t be better positioned, especially if you’re into your birds. Every morning, or at least every morning we were there, a barn owl would fly across the lake bang on 7 o’clock. Walking around the lake we saw a buzzard, a kingfisher, black tailed godwits and a large number of smaller birds. In the evening all the starlings gather on the masts of the boats that are moored there. On the lake itself are many coots, with both Great Crested and Little Grebes to keep the coots honest. We even found a snake under a heavy pipe just outside the back door. You can find out more about the bungalow here.

Brownsea Island

Avocets, Brownsea Island

Avocets, Brownsea Island

By Saturday morning the rain had stopped and after a big fry up we headed to Poole and got on the boat across to Brownsea Island. The weather very soon cleared up and for the rest of the day the sun was out. Our first stop were the hides overlooking the lagoon, and I was hoping to get some more shots of the Avocets. I wasn’t disappointed, there were a number of them feeding very close to the hide and I was able to get a few nice ones. The others had by this time moved onto the main hide that juts out into the lagoon, and I could see a little egret feeding very close to it, so I hot footed it over and managed to get a number of the egret before it flew off.

Little Egret, Brownsea Island

Little Egret, Brownsea Island

We then made our way to the feeders at the Villa to try and get some shots of the Red Squirrels. The Nuthatches were making good use of the feeders, and I was concentrating so hard on them, that I didn’t notice the Red Squirrel two yards in front of me scaling the tree!

Nuthatch, Brownsea Island

Nuthatch at the Villa, Brownsea Island

Red Squirrel, Brownsea Island

Red Squirrel, shot by the Villa, Brownsea Island

Leaping Red Squirrel, Brownsea Island

Leaping Red Squirrel, Brownsea Island

After an hour or so of crouching at the base of the tree I decided it was time to try a couple of other locations so moved on out of the DWT reserve and headed up the trail to see if I could have any success at the spot where I’d photographed them the year before. As I reached the brow of the hill it looked perfect, there was still some colourful heather, all I needed was a squirrel to sit on the brow of the hill and I’d have the perfect shot. And then a squirrel did indeed appear, just where I wanted him. Did I get him? Errr, no. A slight panic ensued where I tried to get him in frame and focus, but by the time I had he’d seen me and was gone. Damn. Despite waiting another half hour or so, he never came back and I had to admit defeat.

As I followed the trail round I came to the opening where there was still some heather in bloom. A peahen and her two chicks were there and promptly raced up to me. A benny hill style chase then ensued as I continually tried to get far enough back to photograph them whilst they continually tried to hunt me down looking for food.

Peahen and Chick, Brownsea Island

Peahen and Chick, Brownsea Island

After all that I felt it was finally time for a visit to the Cafe, so off I went and had a very nice
cheese and chutney sandwich and cappuccino. Whilst on the phone to Euan I spotted another squirrel that had scaled the wall and was heading toward the feeder. I quickly cut Euan short and lay on the grass for the next 15 minutes waiting for the squirrel to come back down off the feeder and across the grass. This was one hungry squirrel, he just stayed in the tree, and once more had to admit defeat and meet up with the others to get the ferry back.

Starlings on the Mast, Wareham

Starlings on the Mast, Bestwall Park, Wareham

I couldn’t complain though as I’d got some great shots and was more than happy. That night we went into Wareham to the Quay Inn and had a good meal, and got treated to Wareham’s finest in the shape of ‘Professional Singer/Songwriter’ Martin Pitt. At least that’s what the promotional poster said. After he’d crucified Phil Collins ‘In the Air Tonight’ we felt compelled to leave and fortunately made it back in time for Match of the Day. The moon was large in the sky and almost orange, so I couldn’t resist getting the camera out when I got back. There was also a beautiful mist over the lake and I began to get excited about what tomorrow might hold. As I walked back inside I banged straight into the glass pane that I thought was the open door and clattered my head hard! One too many methinks!

The Moon

The Moon

The next morning the need to wee was all consuming and when I got up I could see the most beautiful sunrise with a heavy mist over the lake. I quickly threw some clothes on and headed out to capture it. Amazing.

Sunrise over the Lake, Wareham

Sunrise over the Lake, Wareham

Euan and I then headed round the lake and managed to creep along so as not to disturb the Black Tailed Godwits feeding in the morning light.

Black Tailed Godwit, Wareham

Black Tailed Godwit, Bestwall Park, Wareham

RSPB Arne

Thorns, RSPB Arne

Thorns, RSPB Arne

After another fry up and clearing out the bungalow we headed to RSPB Arne. It was pretty quiet and there wasn’t a lot to see, most the action was by the feeders at the car par, with Nuthatches, Chaffinches, Great Tits, Blue Tits and a Woodpecker all making an appearance.

Lichen Covered Trees, RSPB Arne

Lichen Covered Trees, RSPB Arne

After doing a circuit on the right hand side of the reserve we then made our way to the hide, on the way bumping into Simon King carrying a large camera over his shoulder. There wasn’t much to see from the hide so I headed over to the right where there was a herd of Sika Deer. I managed to get pretty close, and although initially they were wary they soon decided I wasn’t a threat and ignored me.

Sika Stag, RSPB Arne

Sika Stag, RSPB Arne. Simon King had disappeared somewhere off to the right.

Sika Stag, RSPB Arne

Sika Stag, RSPB Arne. Think he’d maybe come off worse in a rut, his eye looked in a bit of a sorry state.

On the way back we came across a lone young Stag who seemed pretty chilled with our presence. His demeanour changed when a large Stag ran up behind him, leaped over a barbed wire fence and headed straight for another Stag that was moving in on his harem. He soon saw him off and calm was restored.

After what must’ve been 5 or so hours on our feet we made it back to the car park. By now I was completely spent and promptly had a nap in the car on the way home.

A great weekend had by all, many thanks to Ryan for organising it all, and I’ll look forward to next years visit! Now where’s that Argos catalogue, I need to buy myself a nose hair trimmer.