Monday, 29 July 2013

Digital Photography Course at Berry Head

Yesterday I was off learning a little more about photo taking and how to use the camera settings. A course came up at Berry Head from the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust where I'm a member.

Mike Langman has been teaching us a little bit more on digital wildlife photography.

In the photos above and below I managed to get depth of field almost right for the first time-hurray! this is something to watch out for when I'm taking these shots again.

It's Berry Head Lighthouse and I've managed to get everything in focus! It's really hard to remember everything, including making a good image as well as settings.....most of the time I forget.

Looking down towards Dartmouth and the guillemot nesting cliffs

I hope I'm going to get better at taking photos although I'm not a perfectionist when it comes to my photos-I like what I take and am happy with the results. Funny that, because there are some things you do where you really want to be so much better (for me it's gardening and singing). I'm really quite hard on myself in these two areas. However for some strange reason I'm not getting obsessive about photography...I just really enjoy it....and that's quite a relief.

Below is a moth-can't remember it's name but it was in the barn where we had our presentations (CT will no doubt be able to let me know what it is). There were two, a male and female and they mated whilst we were working, so we tried to leave them in peace. It's a shame it didn't move further up the bar it's clinging to as the bottom of it's wings were hidden under a pile of leaflets.

We had a presentation and Mike went through the pros and cons of the different cameras. Then we looked at how to use certain settings like depth of field and over and under exposure. A short guide on composition was very helpful with various images to support Mikes explanations.

Off we went for a walk around Berry Head to practise with Mike helping us out with various settings. I found a Wall, lots of burnets, and something no-one could need help here if anyone can identify the butterfly/moth in the second photo below.

Not a great photo of the Wall but it's a very pretty butterfly with a terribly drab name don't you think?

I don't know what this beetle is, but CT you saw this on your walk at Magdalen Hill too.

After lunch we had a talk on using the sports settings and camera speeds and then went down into the quarry where it's more sheltered to try our skills on the hundreds of burnets and the seabirds.

As you can see it was very difficult to catch the burnets in focus when they were flying and the grass was moving, so the image above should give you some idea of what an awful lot of my photos looked like!

 At last I caught one in focus with the blue of the sea in the background...oh it was tricky

I did manage to get some quite good images of the seabirds though and see Fulmars nesting and flying, although ALL of the flying Fulmar images were blurred!

I love the detail of the feathers in the seagull chick photo below

Mike showed us before and after photos using various editing tools, and also identical images taken with bridge cameras v DSLRs. I did find all this very interesting.

Here's a few more photos trying to pick up on things happening around us

Some pretty flowers and grasses on the cliff edges (and some out of focus burnets-of course!)

 A great black backed gull coming in to land on it's rock perch down in the quarry

Now the bird above is a Fulmar and the only image of one that isn't blurred beacuse she's sitting near her nest. They are related to the albatross, from the family of petrels and shearwaters although they look like gulls at first glance. They have a tubular nostril on top of their bill and black eyes with greyish shading around them.

And then a real cutie put in an appearance, the grey seal

It was a great day out and I really enjoyed spending the day at Berry Head. Mike was very good at explaining things and his presentations were simple but effective, and not over technical.

I'm sorry to have put so many flying gulls in but you know how much I like them and they do seem to show themselves very well in their beautiful surroundings.

Hello and welcome to new follower David Turner

More rain on the way for us but we need it now and at least I don't have to water the garden. Our holidays are almost over sadly and back to work tomorrow.
Bye for now

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Butterflies in the garden

Hi Folks I've posted this early as I've just found out there is a Springwatch Special tomorrow at 9pm on BBC2 a Guide to Butterflies and Moths which you might want to catch.

Comma resting on brambles

Gatekeeper on Eleagnus which now has the Passion Flower growing through it

Large White on valerian


I'm fairly sure this is a Peacock resting on the path

.....another beautiful day in sunny Brixham!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Moths, Bees and Bat Watching

Here's a little update from my Brixham back garden in a very warm and dry July.

The red-tailed bumble bees absolutely love the wild bit of meadow grass because it has a large number of wild flowers (or weeds!) that attract it. I've looked them up and they are Cats Ear and Hawkbit and I cant stress enough how much the red-tailed bees love it. I hardly see them anywhere else in the garden.

You can see the bee is covered in yellow pollen in the image below


I have lots of visiting Honey bees on the lavender and on clover in the grass

A rare sight these days a real British Ladybird (not the Harlequins)

My moth invasion - loving all the lavender, valerian and buddleia around the garden. There were about ten or so moths on each group of these plants around the garden. They don't keep still so I just about managed to get these three into one photo.

So out I went to catch one and this is what they look it s Common Swift?

Here are a couple of butterflies I did just about manage to catch on camera. I also rescued a Comma from the greenhouse. I was still in my slippers and trampled about amongst the flowers to get these two with things crawling up my legs!

I know this is not a great picture as it was windy and the leaf kept getting in the way, but this Peacock butterfly has been visiting the garden for a few days and is very keen on this little buddleia. We have also had Red Admirals about and Ringlets.

I might need some help with this id but I think it's a gatekeeper? It's a very small butterfly, or maybe a meadow brown? We have a lot of Gatekeepers here in Brixham all along the coastal path, so it makes sense that they would come into the garden too.
A few of the flowers in the garden in bloom this month

I really like tagetes, they are lovely en masse like this and I also put them in the greenhouse to deter pests and so far they have worked (second year I've tried this with success)

This is rose Maid of Kent, a present from my friend Kathy. It's doing very well in the garden and starting to grow and spread.

 Quiz.......and what is this large bud?

Answer....the bud of the passion flower (but I'm sure you all knew that). I found this poor plant in the garden almost buried under a huge shrub. I cut it and the shrub right back and have been trailing it through and it's starting to do really well. This year there are quite a few flowers coming out. They are really weird looking!

Bat Watching this month July 2013

So far I have seen plenty of the lovely little Pipistrelles flying into and out of the garden. They fly very close to the house and are no doubt catching some of the moths above. They have been arriving at about 9.45pm and seem to be the first out. I had a great watch the other night when it was particularly warm and still. They seemed to love the wild grass area and flew over it many times for about 10 minutes.
I've had a couple of encounters with the 'big bats' The Greater Horseshoe has actually visited a couple of times (instead of just flying over from east to west). It flew very fast and smoothly round a tree and the bird table towards me and back out down the garden (that was on the 5th July). Not so many now that I can see flying over.

How do I tell them apart?
The Pipistrelle is so small (with a wing span of 19-25cm and weight 3-8 grams) compared to the much larger Greater Horseshoe (with a wingspan of 35-40cm and weight 17-34 grams) so you can see that it's easy to spot the difference as they fly about. They also have a different flight, to me the Pipistrelle flutters more and is slower. The Greater Horseshoe is quite fast and much less fluttery in appearance-more of a swoop and a dive (hope that all makes sense)!

Hello and welcome to some new followers...Tom from Beyond The Riverbank, RabbitQuilter, and Lou Mary from Always Look On The Wild Side Of Life . Thanks for taking a look.

It's baking hot here again today 32.8 degrees. We're off for dinner at the Breakwater Bistro this evening and eating outside (hopefully the thunderstorms will wait until we get home).
Have a good week

Friday, 19 July 2013

Brixham Fish Market Tour

This morning very early at 6.15am we had a great tour of the Brixham Fish Market, a £20 million pound development for Brixham. A fishing fleet of 70 registered boats supply fish of all types and over £25 million pounds of fish is landed each year at Brixham.

Brixham is the biggest grossing fishing port in England

 Here are the buyers at auction time and just some of the masses of crates of fish waiting to be sold

70 % of the catch is exported to Europe and worldwide

 Here is Brixhams Harbour Master Paul giving us the tour and explaining about some of the catches

A little bit of info - Project 50% Brixham Beam Trawler crews agreed to try to reduce the discards by 50%. Trialling their own net designs, it was a massive success with more than 50% reductions achieved. This has been recognised as best practice and is now being adopted in other UK fleets

Scallops being sold at auction

The catch in the blue crates below is from one of the small independent boats-quite a varied catch

The Fish Market is a rather beautiful state of the art building

Here one of the workers is clearing out the ice from the crates and then they go into another building to be washed

Some of the trawlers and other smaller boats moored up alongside the unloading bays

We had a lovely walk outside to see the boats and some of the other facilities-like the deep freeze, after the cold 8 degrees inside the market itself, it was quite nice!

This little red boat is very tough..she spends a lot of her time under huge waves and as she has a closed hull (see next photo) apparently she can take quite a bashing from the waves

 Some of the fishing gear

Another bit of info - Marine Litter Project - Brixham fishermen have been taking part in this Devon and Cornwall wide project to collect marine litter that they catch in their nets. They bag it and bring it back to port. Since 2009 when the project started, the fishermen have collected over 50 tonnes of litter.

Here are a few close ups of things that caught my eye


A look at a trawler through the gear of another just as we finished the tour

...and then it was time for a wildlife tour of the bay with tea and croissants....yummy!

Hope you have enjoyed this tour. It's really worth a visit if you are planning a holiday here.
Have a great weekend