Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Lang Man O'Bollihope

My original plan had been to head up onto How Tallon for the sunrise, but as the hills were in cloud, I decided to put one of my many plan B's into action and head to a location nearer the road - namely the Long Man, also known as the Lang Man O'Bollihope on the Teesdale/Weardale Border.
Cloud was still a problem here as well, but I did manage half a dozen shots on the rare occasions the sun did manage to break through.

View East towards Hamsterley Forest

One of the Curricks

Heather and Bilberry with the View Towards Raven Seat

Text/images copyright David Forster

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A Close Encounter with Voles

I often see voles sneaking about in my garden, but like most people I rarely get to see them really close up.  Some time ago I did manage to grab some shots of one feeding and identified it as a Bank Vole (Clethrionomys glareolus).

Bank Vole (Clethrionomys glareolus) feeding on Honeysuckle Berries.   This vole was far too timid to photograph close up and I had to use a 400mm lens.

Then the other day I spotted five young voles feeding in the garden. I originally thought they were bank voles as well, but after looking closely at the pics and video I have come to the conclusion they are actually young Field Voles (Microtus agrestis) as they are much lighter in colour and have very short tails.

At first they were not too sure if I could be trusted and would hide under the path, or disappear down their hole. 

After a few minutes they would come back out if I stayed still. 


  Eventually they allowed me so close I could photograph them with a 100mm macro lens

After a while they would even take grass shoots from my hand.

We must be doing something right with our garden.
Text/images copyright David Forster

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Going Bodmin

The Bodmin moors, lair of the Beast of Bodmin.  The story of a mythical wildcat that stalks the moors is of course yet another layer of myth and legend for an area that seems to have more than its fair share of stories. It's hardly surprising I suppose considering the number of ancient sites spread across the moors. Stone circles, burial chambers, ancient cairns, standing stones, abandoned villages and homesteads, all hidden in every fold of the landscape.

The weather too plays its part. Walk these moors in the dark as a heavy mist settles around you and it is easy to understand the folklore that surrounds the area. 

Take this morning for example. As I make my way across the top of Stowe's Hill, strange rock formations come and go as the mist swirls around its rocky Tors.  The normal sounds of cows, horses and sheep floating up from the lower ground sound muffled and surreal, but the most poignant sound for me, and one I will now always associate with the area is that of the Raven.

While waiting for the mist to clear I listen to two calling to each other less than twenty metres away.  I cannot see them, but can't resist calling across to them "Oy quiet".  They do indeed go quiet, but only a few seconds later I hear the rustle of feathers as they fly above me to investigate the mad man talking to them in the mist.

These moors do that to you, especially when you are on your own.  "Going Bodmin or Gone Bodmin" is a phrase used to describe anyone who is just a little odd - not quite barmy mind - just a bit different.  It seems a fair label for a photographer sitting on a hilltop at sunrise talking to Ravens don't you think.

The Cheesewring Stones as the Mist Sinks Back into the Valley.  The Cheesewring gets its name as it looks similar to the Cheeses used during the pressing in cider production.

One of several Rocky Tors on Stowe's Hill

Caradon Hill with its TV masts from Stowe's Hill

Stone Pinnacle and the Cheesewring. 
Weathered top of one of the summit tors. - the mist all but gone now on the west side of the hill. 

The light around sunrise truly is transient and within half an hour the sun was far too harsh.  A further half-hour all this mist had lifted into high cloud.

Text/images copyright David Forster