Absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted for this years British Photography Awards Macro section with this photo of a Six spot Burnett moth and a Soldier beetle taken at Bigbury! There is a public vote so if you like my image please help me out by clicking the link below and voting for my image beneath the description.
At the beginning of February 2018 I placed a trail camera in an area of untouched woodland located in the South of Dartmoor Natiaonal Park in England. This was a new experience for me and after a careful search I managed to find a suitable spot on a tree overlooking a rock and out into a worn looking clearing of woodland.
The owner of the land told me that there was a lot of Deer around so I thought this may be a good place to capture them. Well a month passed and in March I returned to retrieve the camera. The camera had been through a lot as the weather had been terrrible in South Devon with storm Emma bringing heavy settled snow and high windspeeds. Never the less I opened the camera and was shocked to find 678 files had been stored! With this in mind I took the camera home excitedly and analysed the video and photos. The next part of this post will be a breakdown of basically what wildlife the camera found within the month in the South Dartmoor area so please carry on and enjoy 🙂
The first sighting!! A cheeky little robin at night. Im quite impressed with the clarity of the infrared imagery.
Aha some Fallow deer. The owner said they were around but he rarely sees the Stag . These guys are widespread across Europe and there coats lose all their spots in winter.
I set the camera up to fire 3 photos then a 10 second video clip . I used a medium shutter speed as I wanted the photos to be crisper in low light but to get a better shot of a Deer in movement like this I would set a faster shutterspeed on the camera, which would sacrafice the quality of the low light images but make this shot alot crisper.
A cheeky Grey Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis. A usual suspect and if you didnt know already the immigrant Grey Squirrel has displaced our Red squirrels in many parts of England and Wales
A nice close up of a female Fallow deer ,Dama dama.
More Fallow deer! Just need a stag now.
Oh of course the camera would catch Pheasants. They are released nearby for a local shoot.
The infrared video at night on these trail cameras is great too. Fullscreen the vid and check out the little mouse on the rock in the right hand corner!
This would of been an amazing picture of a Great Tit, Parus major. However the trail cameras are more for locating wildlife and cannot focus quick enough . Maybe if I set the camera to a faster shutter speed it may have captured a clearer image but its highly unlikely.
This is what I was hoping for a Lovely Buck Fallow deer. There was a few pictures of the Male Deer Stags and on closer inspection I think there may have been 2 different ones.
A Couple more deer..
If you look closely you can see a Fox lurking past the rain
A Redwing, Turdus iliacus. A small thrush which feeds on berries in the winter. Happy The camera could tolerate the extreme temperatures of Storm Emma though. Even though it only shows -1 degrees celcius here it got to double minus figures!
A Jay in the snow, Garrulus glandarius. These are naturally quite shy birds so I was really pleased to capture this one on camera.
Another Fallow deer Stag this time at night. This shows the deer are actively foraging all times of the day.
So thats pretty much it! Over the month the camera peformed incredibly and im really impressed! As spring is coming I shall definitely be looking for badger sets and fox dens to set the camera up at so keep your eyes peeled. I hope you enjoyed some South Dartmoor wildlife. For now I shall be uploading my sightings to ispot a really useful and easy to use rcording site which adds data of wildlife to a national database. In the meantime I willl leave you with these pictures and video of a mystery creature I captured. Possibly a fox but not sure! let me know your thoughts!
If you fullscreen the video below and look in the background behind the hedges you can see the animal running past is it the beast of Dartmoor, a big cat like a Puma? who knows. Probably a fox 🙂
People often fear when taking photos around this time of year, that the weather’s not great or the conditions are not quite right. With Macro photogrpahy this is especially true. A light breeze can cause enough blur and fuzz in a picture to ruin it , the rain and cold mean many invertebrates are nowehere to be seen. However, the weather is not always as bad as you think. Yesterday the skies cleared slightly and the drizzly March rain stopped just long enough for me to finally get around to shooting some pictures (I have been waiting a while!). You do not have to go far to take pictures of invertebrates and even living in the city there are lots to be found as they are attracted to many garden plants and envrionments. On this occasion I went into my backgarden in the heart of the City of Plymouth.
The first thing I spotted as soon as I left the house was this Garden-Cross Spider (Araneus Diadematus). These guys are very common in gardens and the adults can be seen throughout the year but most commonly between May and November.
This particular species remained particularly still due to its sheltered position from the wind. I thought I would try using my extension rings and reversed lense for greater magnification. As you can see in the picture below the Spider has caught some prey which is most likely a small fly.
Even when the flowers are not fully out and your garden is in the midst of being re -landscaped , with the right fieldcraft (or back-garden craft if you wish.) and a keen eye you can still find subjects to take pictures of.
These were some of the only flowers in the garden thatI could see so I started looking around the shrubs near them. At first there was nothing but then on closer inspection I spotted this species of Rove Beetle (possibly Philonthus Marginatus). These guys feed on the grubs of flys and other insects in the decaying vegetation.
As I was taking this picture this tiny White Fly landed on the leaf next to him but I didn’t get a chance for a better shot.
On further exploration of the garden I decided to look around an old tree stump that had been cut down and to my suprise I found this Globular Spring Tail. A first for me as I have never seen one before apart from in the BWPA Macro awards book. They look so cool!
Finally I found this Green Orb Weaver Spider setting up his trap. I got the picture then headed in just as the rain was starting again.
I try and do my little bit for wildlife in the UK by adding them to recording schemes such as www.ispotnature.org or putting them in a Facebook group such as Insects of Britain and Northern Europe .Not only do these communities help with identifying creatures you do not recognise but the data adds to scientific records and can help track and monitor populations of species . It’s so easy to do and if you ever have any pictures you should upload them and do your bit to help protect Britain’s wildlife.