Robin Hoskyns Nature Photography – Blog

Images and stories of nature, science and conservation.


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Morning at Bradgate Park

I have been neglecting this blog a little in the past few months however one of my resolutions for next year is to write more and show more pictures. Whether or not this will actually occur will be decided on the reliability of the internet connection in Madagascar where I’ll be spending the first half of 2015.

Here are some images from a trip to Bradgate Park last weekend. The first time I’ve been out with my camera in a few months due to working a “real” job in the lead up to Christmas. I am now free and have plans for Scotland and Morocco before preparing for Madagascar in February.

We arrived at Bradgate before sunrise with the aim of photographing Red Deer whilst they still had their antlers, preferably with the golden rays of morning sunlight lighting up plumes of breath. The light was great, the air was cold and there was very little wind however the deer did not cooperate.

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A pre-dawn Red Deer stag. A little far away but a good test tof the 5D3’s high ISO capabilities.

We managed to locate a Red Deer stag very quickly and with the sun not yet up we had a while to get ourselves into position and let the animal get used to our presence. Being a nice morning forecast, no sooner had we located this individual then it seemed as if half the dog walkers and joggers in Leicestershire also turned up. The stag we were watching quickly moved across the flats and over to the side of the river where the public are not allowed. A photographers pass can be purchased for this side of the river in the rutting season however we had not done this.

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A pair of conspiratorial young Fallow Deer.

We spent a little while wandering about looking for another Red Deer stag however we only succeeded in finding a dead one. It was very fresh and although we considered standing it up in a nice position and just photographing it like that we decided against it. The sun was well on it’s way up and the light was perfect so we settled for a herd of Fallow Deer under some old oak trees close by so at least we would make use of the light.

The Fallow Deer at Bradgate Park are extremely tame and although they keep an eye on humans that stop and stare they are generally completely unfazed. We spent a while with this particular herd making the most of the great light. I liked the overhanging old oak branches so opted for some more habitat style shots.

These three images are all the same individual in the same spot and I’m not sure which is my favorite yet however I like how together they show my compositional thought process:

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After a while shooting into the light we moved around so that we were shooting with the light instead of against it. I love back-lighting and nice light in the UK is sometimes a rarity however it’s always nice to try to get a variety of shots of your subjects if possible.

With the next shot I waited until these two Deer moved into a patch of light and set my camera to under expose slightly to try and get the light coloured deer properly exposed with a dark background.

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Although the light was still ok we decided to leave this heard alone and have another quick look about for a Red Deer stag before heading back. A lot more people were starting to arrive so we thought our chances would be slim, unfortunately we didn’t see any more reds as quite sensibly they were probably the other side of the river. Whilst walking back we decided to photograph the Black-Headed Gulls on the stream as I wanted to practice some in-flight shots as I haven’t really put my 5D3 though it’s paces since I bought it in the summer.

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All in all it was a very pleasant morning and I was very happy to be out and about again with my camera!

Thanks for looking.

www.robinhoskyns.co.uk

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From the Garden…

A few fairly recent macros from the garden!

If you enjoy these like my Facebook page and visit my website: www.robinhoskyns.co.uk

Thanks!

Green Leaf Weevil (Polydrusus sericeus)

Green Leaf Weevil (Polydrusus sericeus)

Green Leaf Weevil (Polydrusus sericeus)

Green Leaf Weevil (Polydrusus sericeus)

Rosemary Beetle (Chrysolina americana)

Rosemary Beetle (Chrysolina americana)

Rosemary Beetle (Chrysolina americana)

Rosemary Beetle (Chrysolina americana)

Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis/rufa)

Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis/rufa)

Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis/rufa)

Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis/rufa)

Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis/rufa)

Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis/rufa)

Blue Mason Bee (Osmia caerulescens)

Blue Mason Bee (Osmia caerulescens)

Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis)

Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis)

Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis)

Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis)

Bumble Bee (Bombus hortorum)

Bumble Bee (Bombus hortorum)


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Bees!

Hairy-Footed Flower Bee

Hairy-Footed Flower Bee

There have been steadily more and more bees frequenting the flowers in my garden and as these are some of my favorite macro subjects I have been spending a lot of time chasing them about.

Bees are very temperature sensitive (especially the solitary bees) with cooler temperatures slowing them down and even semi paralysing them therefore the best time to photograph them is on a cool intermittently sunny and cloudy day. It needs to be warm enough for  them to be active but when there are fast moving clouds bees can get caught out and won’t be able to fly off or move much until the sun comes out again. Often they will all just disappear but you just have to look very hard for the one or two that didn’t make it back home.

When these bees are cold they are very easy to manipulate onto a nice flower or stem and set up with a good background. They will often sense your body heat and try to climb on your finger where they will sit for a while until they have warmed up enough to fly. This makes photographing them much easier than trying to chase after them when they are active!

At the moment I have several species of bee including a few of the bumble bees, hairy-legged flower bee, red masonry bees, a couple of mining bees including only one tawny mining bee so far and a couple of nomada cuckoo be species.

I also spent a day building a “bee hotel” which should provide places for masonry bees and leafcutter bees to lay their eggs. It’s very easy to build your own bee hotel and I just used some old scrap wood and old bricks that I found in the garden with a few bamboo canes cut to the right size. If you are going to build a bee hotel there are plenty of good guides on the internet but the important things are to make sure that it faces south, receives full sun as early as possible, is sheltered from the elements as much as possible and is off the ground.

Whilst moving the bricks for the bee hotel I found about 7 Smooth Newts which I will post images of soon!

My Bee Hotel! Needs a bit more bamboo to fill the gaps.

My Bee Hotel! Needs a bit more bamboo to fill the gaps.

 

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed making them and please like my facebook page or visit my website for more pictures! 

www.robinhoskyns.co.uk

Robin Hoskyns Photography Facebook Page

 

More Bee pictures:

A Mining Bee, probably an Andrena species.

A Mining Bee, probably an Andrena species.

A cold wet Mining Bee on my finger for warmth.

A cold wet Mining Bee on my finger for warmth.

Hairy-Footed Flower Bee closeup

Hairy-Footed Flower Bee closeup

Red Masonry Bee

Red Masonry Bee

Red Masonry Bee

Red Masonry Bee

Bumble bee

Bumble bee

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