Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Red Squirrel

The Isle of Wight is famous for its Red Squirrels. These cute creatures have been wiped out in most other parts of the UK, apart from here, Brownsea Island (in Poole Harbour, Dorset), some parts of the north of England, parts of Wales and the Highlands of Scotland, due to habitat loss and, quite possibly, the introduction of the Grey Squirrel on which competition for food and also the lethal squirrel pox has been blamed.
Near me, the nature reserve at Alverstone Mead has a population of Red Squirrels which are easy to see due to their lack of fear of people (they get handouts!). This makes them comparatively easy to photograph, although you only need a wide angle lens because they come close...and I mean close, literally only a couple of feet away. The only problem is the darkness created by the wooded environment and the contrast caused by deep shade and bright light on a sunny day like today. I used my 6D with 100-400mm lens - which was overkill - and had to use ISOs in the thousands, hence some grain in the pictures. Next time, I'll use my 70-200mm f/2.8.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Merops apiaster

Recently, I received a text saying there were European Bee-eaters paying us a visit here on the sunny Isle of Wight (we're having a decent summer so far, so I hope it's to their liking) and they were to be found at Wydcombe Manor near Whitwell. I couldn't do anything about it until Friday - I don't work Fridays - so I went over then. I got distant views of the birds in a distant dead tree but nothing photographable, until I paid a return visit today, as we're off work for a week. The Bee-eaters were closer, although sometimes still in the distant dead tree, and I managed to get a few shots approaching acceptable.

I've done nothing to these photos except apply a MASSIVE crop (chucking away a good 90% of the original file). Click to see the full sized photos, which are 100% crops.

It's great that these birds are on National Trust land and the NT have been very organised about getting birders in to see them, with the location signposted off the main road from Niton to Rookley, and a car park available.