Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Canoeing Over Low Force Waterfall

 With the recent rains the upper reaches of the river Tees have provided some great conditions for experienced canoeists. This was Low Force Waterfall on Saturday.

05D-8278 Canoeist Tackling Low Force Waterfall in High Flow Conditions River Tees Bowlees Upper Teesdale County Durham UK

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Autumn Colours are Fading Fast

With the high Pennine hills sporting a covering of snow autumn certainly seems to be giving way to winter. Last week I spent a pleasant morning near Low Force capturing a few images of the remaining beech trees that still had some colour. Yesterday I visited Gibson's Cave and it was clear that the recent wind and rain has stripped most of the trees of their leaves. A cloudy sky and flat light however made it ideal for capturing some long exposure shots of the various waterfalls on the beck. The fallen leaves giving just a hint of autumn and adding just enough colour to transform an otherwise bleak scene.

05D-8176 Ferns (possibly Male Fern Dryopteris felix-mas) Growing Beside Woodland Stream Teesdale County Durham UK
Ferns (possibly the Male Fern Dryopteris felix-mas) growing beside the beck just downstream from Gibsons Cave

05D-7971 Autumn Leaves and Waterfall on Bow Lee Beck Downstream of Gibsons Cave, Bowlees, Upper Teesdale, County Durham UK
The dead leaves provide a little colour but autumn is certainly giving way to winter.

05D-8133 Summerhill Force Waterfall and Gibson's Cave Bowlees Upper Teesdale County Durham UK
Most of the trees have lost their leaves. Summerhill Force with Gibson's Cave behind.

05D-8119 Summerhill Force Waterfall and Gibson's Cave Bowlees Upper Teesdale County Durham UK

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Autumn Colours

A few autumnal shots of the beech trees on the banks of the Tees near Low Force Waterfall in Upper Teesdale. No Photoshop jiggery pokery has been used with the colours, neither was any used to create the abstract, which was simply done using a longish exposure while pulling zoom at the same time. In fact nothing much more than the effort of an early start, some low autumnal sun and those wonderful autumn beech trees - Mother Nature really is something special.

05D-7838 Beech Fagus sylvatica Leaves Catching the Morning Sun in Autumn Near Bowlees in Upper Teesdale County Durham

05D-7751 Autumn Beech Trees on the Banks of the River Tees Near Low Force and Wynch Bridge Bowlees Upper Teesdale County Durham UK

05D-7755 Autumn Beech Trees on the Banks of the River Tees Near Low Force and Wynch Bridge Bowlees Upper Teesdale County Durham UK.

05D-7798 Abstract of Autumn Beach Tree Leaves with Rays of Light Passing Through Them Teesdale County Durham UK.
Thanks for the visit

Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Little Gentleman in Black Velvet

The poor summer weather in the northeast of England certainly seems to be affecting some animals and plants in a negative way. This year many Horse Chestnut trees as well as others such Rowan and Beech are failing to produce much in the way of fruit and animals such as the European Common Mole Talpa europaea are having large areas of their usual habitat flooded by rising water levels. With significant areas of farmland and woodland becoming waterlogged you are much more likely to see moles on the surface as they try to avoid the flooding. Surprisingly they are excellent swimmers and will if necessary swim in order to reach higher ground. This movement however can create conflict with other moles if they enter an established territory. In such circumstances they will fight each other and may even fight to the death. Despite these natural hardships the greatest threat still comes from humans in the shape of farmers and gardeners who spend considerable time effort and it has to me said money trying to control their numbers.

05D-6376 Close Up View of the Front Feet and Nose of a Live Common Mole Talpa europaea Held in a Gardeners Hand UK.

Until recently I didn't have any mole pics in my portfolio at all, but fortunately the other day I got an opportunity to photograph one that had just been captured on the surface in a wooded area maintained for wildlife. The mole incidentally was not destroyed and after grabbing half a dozen images continued on its way.

05D-6384 Close Up View of a Live Common Mole Talpa europaea Eating a Worm While Being Picked up by a Gardener UK
Hungry and happy to eat while being handled

There are many stories and myths surrounding the mole but my favourite has to be the role they played in the demise of King William III in 1702.

It is said that Stuarts in exile toasted "the little gentleman in black velvet" after the horse of King William III stumbled on a molehill and he was thrown. He died shortly after in 1702 from complications caused by the injuries he sustained. I quite like the fact that a thug hell bent on power and using religion as an excuse to destroy lives, actually met his end as a result of such a tiny animal.

A Few Mole Facts
Colour black although there is some variation from brown through to silver. Lives in an underground tunnel system. Male 11-16cm with females slightly smaller. Weight between 65g and 130g. They have 44 teeth and will bite if handled roughly.

Food - Insectivorous and feeds mainly on worms and slugs as well as small insects such as beetles, centipedes, millipedes etc.

Habitat - Woodland, fields, gardens and high ground up to around 1000m in the UK. In the Alps they have been found up to 2000m. They are capable of digging up to 20 metres of tunnel in a single day.

Average lifespan - around 3 years (can live as long as 7 years)

Mating/breeding - takes place from February - June, although there are variations due to latitude and animals in the north will mate around a month later than in the south.

Litter Size - around 3 or 4 young but can be as many as 7.

Predators - Humans are the main predators (there is some suggestion that their pest status is probably exaggerated). Natural predators are Fox, Weasel, birds of prey such as Kestrel, Buzzard and Owl and Heron.

There are also high mortality rates as a result of environmental factors such as drought, flooding and a lack of food which leads to starvation.

Further reading
Macdonald D. and Barret P. 1993. Mammals of Britain and Europe, Pub Collins.