Monday, February 25, 2013

Badger and Fox on a Trail Camera

Whilst out in the woods on Friday evening looking for Tawny Owls, I stumbled upon (nearly stumbled in, actually, as the holes were so big) a large Badger sett. This is only the third sett I've found, and all within the last few months, so I must be getting my eye in. Anyway, I went back on Saturday evening about 6.30 and put my trail camera in place nearby, sprinkling a few peanuts down to tempt any passing wildlife. Here's a compilation of one night's footage, taken on the 23rd/24th:

The first Badger appeared about 7.30 p.m., only about an hour after I'd left the area, and the last one retired for the day at 6.30 a.m., so they are pretty nocturnal at the moment. The Foxes (which may be sharing the same sett), however, were active before dusk and still active at 10 a.m.
Not sure if this is one Badger, or several different ones passing through; but, judging by the size of the sett and the number of holes, I'd say the latter. I can't wait for the warmer evenings to come, when I'll hopefully be able to spend some time watching them in person!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tawny Owl Calling

I was out a few days ago, trying for another star-trail shot, when I heard this Tawny Owl calling from the direction of Clyne Woods. It was gone midnight, so there few cars about, and its call carried quite a way. I decided to leave my camera unattended to do its thing, and headed over towards the owl to see if I could get  a sound recording of its hooting. I pointed my Olympus Pen camera towards a nearby road, which was the only thing bright enough to register in the darkness, and pointed a directional microphone towards where the owl was hooting (I couldn't see it). For a first effort, I'm quite pleased with the quality:

For non-lovers of star-trail shots, you'll be pleased to know I dropped my wide-angled lens the other day, necessitating an expensive repair which I can't afford at the moment. So no more star-trails for a while (probably)!

Monday, February 18, 2013

YET Another Star-Trail!

I know I promised I wouldn't, but the sky was so clear and starry on Sunday night that I couldn't resist leaving out my camera in Clyne Woods for a few hours - whilst I relaxed at home watching the snooker on T.V.! Unfortunately, the night was very windy, meaning that all the trees' branches are blurred when viewed on the original large version - even the trunks (the main tree in shot was swaying alarmingly above me!). However, hopefully it doesn't look too bad on this small version:

It seems like a good spot for this sort of photography, so I'll try it again when the wind dies down.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Another Star-trail

Apologies for posting another of these star-trails, but as we had an unexpectedly clear sky on Thursday evening, I left my camera out on a tripod in Clyne Woods for a couple of hours whilst I relaxed at home. Sixteen ten-minute exposures (for a total of two hours, forty minutes) merged into one gave this result:

Will try to post something other than a star-trail next!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I spent an hour or so a few days ago chasing Turnstones around on Swansea beach. It was slightly frustrating, as most of the small group seemed to spend most of the time semi-hidden from me behind stones:

Eventually, I managed to catch a few out in the open, and obtain a few reasonable shots:

I wish I'd had my video camera to capture this one splashing around:

My favourite shot was probably the last one I took:

There was also a group of four Redshanks lurking nearby, but they cunningly remained just out of camera range.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Woodland Star-Trail

I confess to having a bit of a Waxwing fetish: who can resist these beautiful birds? There was an influx of these into the Cardiff area back in December, and another flock of 20 or so a few weeks ago. All my visits to photograph them coincided with deadly dull weather, so I haven't bothered to upload any pictures. Yesterday, I thought everything had finally come together: another small group of Waxwings had been sighted in Cardiff, I had the afternoon free, and the weather was gorgeously sunny and bright. Even better, on arriving in Cardiff just before noon, I checked the internet to see that the birds had been seen on Canada Road at 10.30 that morning. Everything was going according to plan for my upcoming award-winning snaps! Until, that is, I arrived at the location at 12.30 p.m. - and the Waxwings were not there! I wandered around the area in vain for an hour, but the birds had obviously seen me coming and scarpered. Damned rude of them, after I had gone all that way to see them.
I headed back to Swansea with my tail between my legs, and arrived back under a clear and starry sky. The perfect night for a star-trail shot, I thought. I remembered an isolated tree which stood atop a hill above my house, and thought it would make an excellent foreground for a star-trail picture. I headed out after dark with my camera gear, convinced I was about to get the best star-trail shot ever taken. I was not! A local farmer had blocked off the previously-public footpath leading to the hilltop - bastard, I thought! I was determined to get at least one photo out of this so-far-disastrous day, and so I set up my camera in a small wood and pointed it at the stars, before heading home to watch the football. On going out to collect the camera afterwards, I was relieved that the lens, for once, didn't seem to have fogged over. Of course, something was bound to have gone wrong, and it had: the battery had run out! However, it had completed about a 75-minute exposure, so here it is (the yellowish light on the trees is caused by the nearby street-lights):

Hardly worth all that bother (and all that unnecessary waffle I've just written) for one crummy picture!

Monday, February 04, 2013

Singleton Park Jays

The normally-elusive Jay has become quite tame in my local park this last few winters, and a handful of peanuts thrown down to the ground are all it now takes to lure a pair of these beautiful birds within camera range.
Here are a few recent pictures, all being full-frame shots taken with a 500mm lens:

I quite like this one, where the bird is peering out of the shadow and into the sunshine:

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Clyne Woods Star-trail

Continuing the theme of not sleeping very well, I woke early on Saturday morning, and couldn't get back to sleep. Seeing a rare clear sky outside, I decided to head out into my local woods and try for a pre-dawn star-trail shot. I pointed my camera through a gap in the trees, towards a patch of sky with plenty of stars, which turned out be looking roughly north towards the pole star. I had time for three ten-minute exposures before the lens clouded over with condensation, so this is a total of thirty minutes' star movement:

It was a rare treat for me (not being much of an 'early-bird'!) to be out at dawn listening to several Tawny Owls calling to each other around me.
However, as the day dawned, the peace was soon shattered by the arrival of several noisy dogs and their owners!