Exploring Snowdonia

I cannot believe I have not posted on here for almost a year now. It all seemed a good idea at the time. The start of a new era , a new home,  a new business and a new life.

A diary seemed a natural progression. However I did not anticipate just how busy life  would get.

With exciting future projects planned in 2016  that need to be shared there is no real excuse for me not make the effort to keep  up to date.

After two years now of living in Snowdonia and finishing some major house renovations we are finally getting the chance to explore the area with the camera.

 

Dyffryn  Ardudwy

OS Grid Ref SH589228

Dyffryn Ardudwy - Burial Chamber (Dolmen) Wales, Gwynedd. UK

(C) Jonathan Need

Just a few miles drive south along the coast from home lies the village of Dyffryn Ardudwy. At the south end of the village is the wonderful site of two well preserved neolithic burial chambers.

If you follow any of my future blogs you will see i love to photograph ancient and historical sites

Apparently also known by the name of Coetan Arthur  (Arthur’s Quoit).

The site is estimated to date to circa 3500BC  although the western chamber is of an earlier date than the eastern chamber.

Dyffryn Ardudwy - Burial Chamber (Dolmen) Wales, Gwynedd. UK

(C) Jonathan Need

Dyffryn Ardudwy - Burial Chamber (Dolmen) Wales, Gwynedd. UK

(C) Jonathan Need

Remains of a cremation burial have been found within the site.

I  find it fascinating that entrances to both chambers face east. If anyone knows why I would be interested to know.

Today we had Snow

The first real covering of snow since I moved to Wales fell today.the weather forecast didn’t mention it.
I was not rally prepared for it. I had ran out of fire wood, and a few basics. The nearest shop of any kind is roughly about 5 miles away and the road out of the village is very steep unforgiving slope.
Lat month for some reason I decided to sell the landrover with the intention of upgrading to a more recent model. For some reason I can’t remember why once it had gone I did nothing to replace it.

So now I find myself having a pleasant day making the most of working at home.

The first half hour of any day when there is snow is a game of footie with Chester. Which if it doesn’t kill me at least gets the adrenalin going.

chester snow 1

I am lucky enough to have a small corner of the paddock where each year in late winter to early spring I can find a few Scarlet Elfcups. Each time I see them I can’t resist taking another photograph although I have hundreds already. They look particularly striking in the snow.

scarlet 1

There are two species in Britain which could be confused with each other. I don’t like common names when dealing with fungi it’s a little  hit and miss but Scarlet Elfcups (Sarcoscypha austriaca) and Ruby Elfcups ( S.Coccinea) are so similar it is only by microscopic examination that you can be totally confident of a positive identification. From past examinations I am confident that I have S. austriaca but sometimes it doesn’t really matter, sometimes it is just about the beauty rather than the science.

For some reason I find it very difficult to get good pictures of Blackbirds. I find them much more  cautious than most garden birds. This one was more intent on finding a morsal of food I in the snow than taking too much notice of me.

black

There are a few lone stems of Teasel left standing in the garden. The Goldfinch have been feeding on the seed heads throughout the late summer and autumn. It only takes a few seeds to be dropped on the dead heads to encourage them to perch for a few pictures.

gold 1

One could not rally spend time in the garden in the snow without a picture or two of a Robin. In return for a mealworms or two the Robin is more than happy to co-operate.

Robin on frasted hazel branch

The Kingfisher

On a recent trip to Southwest Scotland I had the opportunity to photograph one of my favorite birds the Kingfisher.

A friend has set up a hide on the bank of a river near the coast where a number of birds visit each day giving me the chance for some great photo’s. I must admit it was a pretty uncomfortable hide. Being close to the coast at high tide  each day the hide was submerged under water which meant the inside was always cold,wet and very muddy.

However once a Kingfisher arrived you soon forgot the conditions.

Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis. Female bird on moss covered branch

This lovely female was the first to arrive. The male and female can be told apart by the orange color under the bill on the female where as the male has a black or dark bill.

Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis. A male kingfisher on a Private Fishing sign post.

This male made a nice composition on a nearby sign.

After five or six hours in the hide the light began to fade and I was quite pleased to be able to get out and stretch my legs.

Here are a few of the images I managed during the day.

Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis. Male bird on lichen covered branch

Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis. with fish on mossy branch

Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis. on branch

Blue Tit

One of the most difficult birds to photograph at the feeders is the Blue Tit. They seldom perch for long and are so quick by the time you have pressed the shutter on the camera they have moved.

 

blue tit, cyanistes caeruleus on lichen covered branch

One tip I have learnt is to focus your lens  on the branch you expect them to land on and keep your eye in the viewfinder. A quick reaction is the only way. Take your eye off the ball and you will miss it.

Blue Tits as all birds need to be in good condition by the start of the breeding season. The energy and nutrients the extra food at the feeders provide during the winter help keep the birds in good condition so they are able to provide enough food for their offspring.

Here are a few images I have managed to take over the last few weeks.

 

Two Blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus, on branch

 

blue tit,cyanistes caeruleus on mossy branch

 

Blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus, on branch

 

blue tit, cyanistes caeruleus

The Goldfinch

One of the first things I wanted to do when I moved to Wales was to establish a bird feeding station in the paddock to see and photograph the various species that visit.

Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis

I started putting out Sunflower hearts and Nyger seeds along with Peanuts and Fat balls. By far the favorite with all the birds turned out to be the sunflower hearts.

There is now  a constant flow of visitors everything from Blue Tits,Great Tits,Nuthatch,Coal Tit,Siskin,Robin and Goldfinch. The greater number being by far the Goldfinch.

Here are a few of the images i have taken so far.

 

 

Goldfinch- Carduelis carduelis on a tree branch  in the rain

Goldfinch- Carduelis carduelis taking off from bramble stem

 

Goldfinch,Carduelis carduelis in flight

 

Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis

 

 

New beginnings

Welcome to my new blog. Something I have been meaning to do for a while now but never  got around to it. There never seems to be  enough hours in the day.

In 2013 I was fortunate enough to be able to  move to a cottage in  North Wales, situated in the Snowdonia National Park and surrounded by beautiful  mountains and woodlands.

Working now full time as a photographer I hope to share some of my highs and lows along with some of the images I take along the way.