Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Back to the Big Cats

Ever since I was a kid I have loved visiting the Zoo, and in particular Chester Zoo. Zoos as a whole have really improved over the years from enclosures that were predominantly caged enclosures, to the stage we are at today were the animals are kept in enclosures that better reflect their natural environment and live a better life in captivity as a result. This is certainly the case at Chester, and earlier in the year Sharon and I became members which gives us unlimited entry, and living so close to the zoo means I can nip down when I have a few hours to spare and concentrate on photographing individual species. Last week I concentrated on one of my favourite big cats.... Tigers... and it was great to see Kirana and her two cubs. Below are some of the shots from the morning. I also got some great Cheetah shots that I will post soon.









Monday, 24 September 2012

Skiddaw.... the view at last

Having climbed Skiddaw in the northern Lake District many times over 30+ years of walking I have never seen the view from the top, I've been up there in all weather conditions but have looked forward to the day when I get the view over Bassenthwaite to the vista of the north western lakes, looking down Derwent Water to the distant Scafells, and from Helvelyn round to my Lakeland favourite Blencathra.
So the weekend before last Sharon and I were up in the Lakes celebrating my birthday, we had intended wild camping besides Scales Tarn beneath Sharp Edge on Blencathra, after we got up with all our gear we just couldn't get the tent up in the near gale force winds, so we retreated and pitched the tent next to the car. The next morning was beautiful, after sorting our B&B for the following night., we decided to get up Skiddaw as it was completely clear and the forecast was good for the day.
We had a great walk to the top via the Ullock Pike ridge, and descended via Bakestall, a Wainwright that I hadn't completed..... only 22 to go!!

The view from the start of the climb onto the ridge


Looking back to the western end of Bassenthwaite Lake


Looking across to Skiddaw


The North Western fells across Bassenthwaite


our route around the head of the valley


Sharon with Skiddaw behind


the route we have just come up


Sharon coming up the steep scree slope to the top of Skiddaw


The view I have longed to see, looking down on Derwent water from Skiddaw


The pair of us on top of Skiddaw


and on Bakestall


one of the local Swaledales in the bracken


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Red Kites - Gigrin Farm

Its been a while since I have had an opportunity to get a blog post on, life getting in the way!!! But at last I've been able to sort through the 1600+ shots I took recently at Gigrin Farm, and those stunning Red Kites. We travelled down to Gigrin Farm, via a morning walk up Cadair Idris to Llyn Cau, the morning weather was a bit murky but as we left the mountain to travel down the afternoon got better and better, with clear blue skies when we arrived. For anyone that hasn't visited Gigrin, I would really recommend it, until this visit I had only ever seen the occasional Red Kite from a distance, but when the feeding begins here there are hundreds of them in the air all around you, and at times I just didn't know where to point the camera, the difficulty being they swoop so quick but the auto focus on the D300S is pretty good when locked on so I managed to get some decent shots, with the bonus of some decent Buzzard shots. I've have posted a selection below
























Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Sunset Walks

The last couple of evenings have been beautiful, and we have taken the opportunity to get out for a couple of walks to take in the setting sun, and for Sharon to do some more painting.
On Monday evening we walked to the top of Moel Famau, our favourite place to be, it was a lovely evening but rather a bit chilly on top and with no jacket or flask of coffee it was a bit cool, but Sharon did a lovely painting of the Jubilee Tower, seen here on her facebook page
And last evening we had a walk along the Offas Dyke path beneath Moel Gyw, this section of the path overlooks a beautiful valley called Plas-Y-Nant, the path is at high level at the head of the valley and is a stunning vantage point to watch what is going on below, lots of Wildlife including one of my favourite Birds of Prey, Buzzards, which we didnt see last night but we heard them calling loudly below in the woods. Again Sharon rattled off a few beautiful watercolours that will appear on her BLOG
A few photos from both evenings below

Firstly from Moel Famau on Monday evening
There are lots of Buzzards in the area, but they never fly low enough for better shots than this record shot


The path up to the top and the Jubilee Tower



Was looking good for a nice sunset over Snowdonia


The artist deep in concentration!!


Lovely sunset over the distant Carneddau


Looking back as we descend Moel Famau


a lovely moon out by the time we got home


And last nights pics from Moel Gyw

Sharon settling down to paint


and this was her view to paint, over to Moel Famau


She has really taken to Plein Air painting, and I get loads of pleasure sat watching and just enjoying the beautiful places we visit


The Heather and Gorse looked lovely in the light cast by the setting sun


Plas-Y-Nant, a stunning valley, we sat and listened to Buzzards calling below


Another beautiful sunset over Snowdonia