Thursday, 30 June 2011

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum) No 2

Two shots overlooked at the editing stage. See earlier post below.


Help with ID needed

Just wondered whether anyone out there could help me with an ID on this little beauty. My reference books have not left me with a clear conclusion.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800 sec, f/10, 400mm at ISO 800

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum)

During the dog walk this morning, I was standing waiting for a Buzzard to come in low enough for a shot when I heard this Hummingbird Hawkmoth buzzing between the nettle flowers to my right. I gave up on the raptor (the sun was really warm and the bird's distinctive shape was getting smaller and smaller as it rose in circles on a thermal current) and concentrated instead on this summer migrant from continental Europe. I'm glad I did. It's such a beautiful insect and – though tricky to capture – when I did I was rewarded with some worthwhile shots, managing to get that long 'tongue' in sharp detail and the moth's wings frozen in motion. I particularly like the composition of the first shot and the clarity of the feeding action shown in the second.
All shots Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/3,200 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 800




Friday, 24 June 2011

Query Black-lined Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)

I left it too late to hunt for adders today (it was after noon and I wasn't hopeful, expecting them to be active but only deep in the undergrowth). As it was, I caught fleeting glimpses of a solus large female and a male with an infant, not managing to get my camera on any of them in time. I was about to leave when I noticed this dragonfly as it alighted on some bushes nearby. With the light perfect and the dragonfly intent on repeatedly landing, circling and landing again on successive branches, the stage was set for some dramatic images. It was only when I came to edit the pictures that I saw quite how stunningly beautiful this individual was: the intricate network of veins in its wings; the imposing compound eyes; the barbed legs; the alien mouth with multiple pincers; and the bright yellow and black tail. If I'm right about the identification (its abdomen is not as long and slim as those on the specimens in my reference books) then this would appear to be a female or immature male because the mature male has a blue abdomen with a black tip. The Black-lined Skimmer is found only in the south and east of England and is airborne between June and August. I hope you enjoy this stunning insect…

Footnote: I have now been advised that this is, in fact, a Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa), which is common only in the south of England and which is airborne from May to August. This would appear to be a female or immature male. (Thanks Frank – Tim)


Useful link: British Dragonfly Society

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/640 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/2,000 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,300 sec, f/9, 400mm at ISO 800

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 800



Thursday, 23 June 2011

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Not sure why, but I adore this image, shot after a heavy rainstorm. I think – if I had to analyse it – it's because it shows the tit in its natural surroundings, the two kinds of harsh tree bark contrasting well against the bird's delicate feather patterns. The colours, too, are subdued but intense and the late afternoon light is just gorgeous.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/160 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Just a beautifully understated bird posing perfectly.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/85 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500

Time for some grub…

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-300mm IS USM lens, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Small Elephant Hawkmoth (Dielephila porcellus)

I rescued this beautiful moth from the jaws of my cat, but not – I'm afraid – in time to prevent its demise. It had, apparently, been flying around the kitchen and creating quite a stir. You will need to forgive its rather below-par appearance, but I'm not good on moths and the reason for the post is to establish that this is indeed a Small Elephant Hawkmoth. Any observations gratefully received.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Desperate for a break from the computer screen, I took an hour's break in the garden this lunchtime – despite heavy rain. The sky was leaden and the light poor, but I bumped up the ISO and mounted the camera on a tripod. I was rewarded for getting a good soaking with a trio of nice images of Blue Tits at the coconut shell and bowl feeders.

PS: Anyone else having awful problems uploading images today? Terribly frustrating.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/85 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 1,250











Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/85 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 1,250
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/85 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 1,250

Monday, 20 June 2011

By the early evening light…

And here are the last two shots from a thoroughly relaxing hour or so in the garden this evening. I think the Blue Tit image is strong – as with other shots today, the light on the lichen is fabulous. And as for the second picture, well it's always nice to get two birds with one click.


Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Another shot to come out of a wonderfully relaxing hour or so in the garden today. The feeders are hugely popular in the early evening and the tits – Great Tits, Blue Tits and the occasional Coal Tit – are by far the most numerous of the visitors. I just adored the simple but effective composition of this shot, the dramatic background provided by poorly lit foliage and the detail in that oh-so beautiful lichen.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/320 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 640

Female Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

A lot of work to do today, but the early evening was glorious with the 'golden hour' of wonderful light everywhere and so I escaped into the garden for a while. The pick of the shots were these charming cameos of a young female Chaffinch (I didn't see the bird land, so if I'm wrong please feel free to put me right) as she rested on a branch. The gentle illumination of her feathers contrasts well, I think, with the strong light on the tree leaves behind her and on the lichen to her left.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 640
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 640

Friday, 17 June 2011

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Two shots of Black-headed Gulls which I like for different reasons. The first shot has an intimacy, as if we have strayed into the bird's domain and the chocolate brown of the bird's head is nicely echoed in the background. The second image, I think, is made by the quality of the light, the halo effect on the bird's wing tips, the reflection in the water and the apparent concentration in the gull's eyes.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/500 sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 640
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000 sec, f/11, 400mm at ISO 400

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

I find the Curlew a tricky bird to photograph; that beak means that, if the bird is not going to be captured in profile, an extended depth of field is desirable if too little focus is going to be avoided. Get the eyes sharp and too often the beak is out; too much DoF and the entire image lacks drama. I just about got away with it in this shot, but what I particularly like about the image is the (accidental) mimicking of the curve of the bird's beak by the reeds in the background.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Thursday, 16 June 2011

White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)

Two more shots from today's brief session with the bees – these two intended much more as photographic exercises than record shots, majoring (I hope) more on composition, lighting and visual impact.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/2,000 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/2,000 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

B is for…

Bee or butterfly, of course. A selection of shots showing competing species after pretty much the same thing from the same place. I was focused on the female Large White (Pieris brassicae), when the White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) drifted into shot. The butterfly seemed unperturbed, so I carried on shooting until (the final image) it decided to move on.

All images Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800 sec, f/10, 400mm at ISO 400







Greenbottle Fly (Phaenicia sericata)

I have long been fascinated by astronomy, the bewildering vastness of space and the fact that to gaze up at the stars in the night sky is literally to look back in time. But I am also becoming increasingly drawn to the macro world, which can reveal the minutiae of the life going on around us all the time. This isn't a macro shot – the image was actually captured from about 2.5 metres away – but it does provide, I think, an interesting perspective on a scene too often missed.





Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,250 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Labyrinth Spider (Agelena labyrinthica)

I'll be going back to the spot where I found this Labyrinth Spider's web – largely because the resident steadfastly refused to come out. It scuttled inside as I approached and, though I waited and waited, it decided to stay put. Look very closely and you can just about see the bashful arachnid at the foot of its elaborate funnel web. I'll post another (better) shot if I'm luckier next time.

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

A suitably modest shot of a sweet little bird.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/400 sec, f/7.1, 400mm at ISO 800

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Juvenile Blackbird (Turdus merula)

These images have been posted because I wanted to share the detail captured in this young bird's body feathers. I have not said this before on this blog, but these are a couple of images image worth clicking on to see the larger-size files. In the first, the eye is stunning and the neck and breast feather patterning is gorgeous. In the second, every cross-hatching of the breast feathers is there; the scaly legs are beautifully rendered; and the level of detail on the beak is wonderful – even to the extent of including what look like the remnants of downy 'whiskers'. And just a quick technical note: both images are completely unsharpened.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400


Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Monday, 13 June 2011

Female Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

The male Ruff gets all the headlines with that oh-so impressive plumage (see earlier post). But in her own, more subtle fashion the female is attractive too. The feathers on the bird's back remind me a little of those found on a Turtle Dove and – in the right light – they can be such deep shades. With thids image I again went for the widest aperture I could at this focal length, meaning increased depth of field and a nicely blurred background.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/250 sec, f/5.6, 285mm at ISO 400

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

And reference the previous post, here's one of the parent birds taking a break with balletic grace.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Avocet chick (Recurvirostra avosetta)

This captive Avocet chick – one of a brood of three – was, I would guess, less than a week old but, although they don’t fly until they are around 32-35 days old, the young birds are independent feeders within a day or two of hatching. The parent birds will simply stand guard, seeing off intruders and occasionally offering a comforting wing to shelter beneath during rain or when a chick gets chilled. Beyond the fact that the chick is incalculably cute, it is I think the background that makes the shot, the dark green framing the bird's glistening downy feathers beautifully.


Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/80 sec, f/13, 400mm at ISO 400

Hungry Great Tit

Just a couple of sweet little images showing how, throughout the animal world it seems, a juvenile will always want what another has… especially if it's a tasty seed and dad (I think the bird on the right is a male, with the wider stripe down its front) isn't handing it over quickly enough.



Saturday, 11 June 2011

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

I don't know how far juvenile Blackbirds range from the nest in which they hatched, but this individual has become something of a fixture around the feeding station in one corner of the garden. Today – in an effort to get even closer to the action – I secreted myself under camouflage netting and it seemed to work. This chap normally waits for the feeders to be busy with tits and finches before he hops down on to the grass to see what's around and this afternoon was no exception. And the subterfuge seemed to work well; he was content to scurry around just a couple of metres from me, allowing me to get these shots of the bird picking up a mealworm take-away.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/125 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400, tripod-mounted



Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

Just because I adore them and to provide a link to find out more about how to aid their conservation…

Click here to take a look at the Forestry Commission's red squirrel pages

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/80 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 640