Taken today on Christmas Eve at Speech House Lake. I don't think we're going to get any snow tomorrow, but at least it'll still be white. Merry Christmas to everyone who visits this site (all 2 of you!).
It's a clear day and the sun is shining for the first time in ages. And I'm stuck at home poorly. So I've been digging around some older photos and decided to upload these badger photos from back in August. They were taken at a sett in the Forest of Dean. It was pretty much pitch black - I've never been fortunate enough to see them in the daylight. This particular sett houses 4 badgers. Hopefully February will bring more. Badgers are capable of 'delayed implantation', which means the female can become fertilized in any month of the year, but can 'choose' to begin development of the baby badger at a later date according to food availability and weather, normally giving birth in February.
Another from the badger series taken in August this year. One of the entrances to the sett can be made out to the right of the tree trunks. I arrive at dusk and wait for night to fall - even with a torch, negotiating the forest at night can be very disorientating!
This second image is the result of a bit of fun with Photoshop.
Teasels are easily identified with their prickly stem and leaves, and the inflorescence of purple, dark pink or lavender flowers that form a head on the end of the stem(s). The seeds are an important winter food resource for some birds.
I'm not sure what motivated someone to daub this on one of the thousands of boulders that make up the tidal barrier on the banks of the Severn on the edge of the cow field... unless they were trying to start a bovine revolution perhaps.
Taken near Lydney, between the rain, which is getting boring now.
Bit of a quiet day in the forest today... spotted a few deer from a distance, this being the only capture I was able to manage.
Tried a zoom burst effect on this one, but not using the 'in camera' technique of zooming the lens during the exposure - deer aren't obliging enough to stand still for that! I'm not sure how well it works really, but I wanted to try it.
I was very fortunate to see such a rare treat as this today. He was a very long way away and I wished I had a longer lens, but am still really pleased to have got this. Both images have been very heavily cropped.
The species has great variations in colour, with four main variants, "common", "menil", "melanistic" and "white" - a genuine colour variety and not a true albinistic which is extremely rare. The common form has a brown coat with white mottles that are most pronounced in summer with a much darker coat in the winter. The white is the lightest coloured, almost white; common and menil are darker, and melanistic is very dark, even black (easily confused with the Sika Deer).
I only had about 2 seconds to react to this one as he crossed a very narrow opening in the long grass, and had unfortunately been struggling to manually focus on a close up little bird just beforehand. This was the best I could focus in the time available.
Unlike many canids, foxes are not usually pack animals. Typically, they live in small family groups, opportunistic feeders that hunt live prey (especially rodents). Using a pouncing technique practised from an early age, they are usually able to kill their prey quickly. Foxes also gather a wide variety of other foods ranging from grasshoppers to fruit and berries.
This photo was taken from a long way away and has been heavily cropped.
The Green Woodpecker spends much of its time feeding on ants on the ground and does not often 'drum' on trees like other woodpecker species. It is a shy bird but usually draws attention with its loud calls. A nest hole is excavated in a tree; four to six eggs are laid which hatch after 19–20 days.
Fallow deer can be found in most counties in England and Wales, and there are large populations in pockets spread across Scotland. The species was introduced by the Normans and quickly became established in the wild in hunting forests and chases.
Fallow deer are herbivores and graze all types of ground vegetation. They also browse shrub layers in a wood, and the growing shoots and leaves of holly and beech trees. Fallow deer inhabit woodland both for food and shelter.
Saw some fine stags today, and heard their calls resonating around the forest, but they were either too fast, or in too dark a situation to photograph. This picture has been brightened quite a bit - it was way too dark for good pictures - I mainly only uploaded it because I thought it was funny.
Woorgreen Lake is fed via Foxes Bridge Bog, with the water levels being managed by a sluice. There are different habitats in the area, woodland, heath land, marsh and open mud areas; these support a variety of wildlife and plant species.
I saw a group of four deer and a large heron at the end of the evening, but it was too dark to photograph them.
Woorgreen Lake is found in the heart of the Forest of Dean and is on land that was once used for open cast mining, this mining finished in 1981. The lake and surrounding area having quickly been inhabited by wildlife, now there is an abundance of flora and fauna to be found, being one of the best sites for dragonflies in the Forest of Dean.
This is Stevie Wonder. He's a 2 year old blind wild boar. He's lived in the Forest of Dean for a week so far. He was being picked on by the sounder (group) he was living with in the wild, and was clearly not going to survive for long. He's been kindly brought to the Forest of Dean and given a very good and caring home with the owner of Severnwye Llama Trekking.
Something tells me that Stevie will soon become something of a local celebrity!
This is something I've never tried before... it's a panorama stitched from 6 images in a 3x2 arrangement. I used too much vertical overlap, so the resulting image wasn't as tall as I'd hoped, but at least now I know it can be done. Already thinking about doing some huuuge stitches :)
Spent the afternoon walking Grace (my dog) in the forest, but it wasn't the most photogenic of days really, and none of the deer wanted to pose for a shot today either. The intention here was to try to capture the squirrel 'in flight' between one tree and another, but it didn't quite work out that way in the end.
I took this photo back in June, when I was observing the wild boar in the Forest on an almost nightly basis, which is what led to me getting so close to this chap. He kept a very close eye on me, as you can see, and I kept an equally close eye on him! You can see more pictures of this, and other boar, earlier on in this blog.
This is one side of a large cube. The cube is constructed from an entire oak tree, planted in the 1800's to provide timber for warships, and felled to reveal a glade in the woodland. Made by 2001, this cube is one of many sculptures dotted around the Forest of Dean
The wall of rocks in the foreground is actually an exact replica cast from the cliff face in the background. From the sides, it is completely smooth. Made in 2008, it is one of the pieces that currently make up the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail.
The image on the left is a wild boar nest. It consists of a shallow 'crater' scraped in to the soil, with a mound of vegetation placed on top. After a few days the sow will leave the nest with her young, and the vegetation collapses as it dries out.
In stark contrast, the image on the right illustrates how the Forestry Commission are capitalising on Defra's immunocontraceptive experiments by placing high seats near Defra's feeding hoppers. From these seats the rangers will shoot the wild boar.
The number of wild boar in the forest is believed to be a fraction of what it was last year, but the truth is that nobody really knows how many there are, which makes this policy of killing them all the more concerning. This current 'management' of the population could well lead to the inadvertant (or perhaps deliberate?) eradication of the wild boar once again.
This is one of three badgers I was able to photograph this evening in the Forest. It would be about 6 months old. The mother didn't make an appearance but I can't complain. The little ones were great fun to watch.
I haven't uploaded so many pictures lately as many of my photographs lately have been taken elsewhere in Gloucestershire and beyond. The photos taken outside of the Forest of Dean are all visible at Flickr.
Looking north-east from the edge of the Forest of Dean, overlooking Mitcheldean in the centre foreground of the image. May Hill is behind that (with a small clump of trees on top), with the Malvern Hills and beyond in the distance.