Feels like Autumn

There's a real feel of Autumn in the air, trees in the garden are starting to colour up and it's getting colder, and even more birds are coming to my feeders
I've been working on my posing perches for  bird photography and setting up a water feature, a sort of avian infinity pool is what I'm aiming for.
I  haven't got that quite right yet and I need to work out a way of stopping the Blue Tits from wrecking the moss edge in their search for spiders.
Birds also eat a lot more than they drink so I inevitably get distracted by something like a Chiff Chaff in the conifer just as a Dunnock decides to bathe.
After a foggy start it rained, that doesn't put me off sitting in my hide, I just put my plastic mac on the camera lens, up the ISO and carry on.
Here are some of the photogtraphs I took today, and a couple of sunshine ones from yesterday.

 Blue Tit on the water feature

Chaffinch reflected

Great Tit in the rain

Chiffchaff looks for spiders, dark legs help the ID (thanks Alison)

Dunnock, perhaps not as exciting as some but one of my favourite birds

Greenfinch, they always seem to have a messy beak.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, this is a young male still showing some of his red cap but getting the red patch on the back of the neck. Doesn't seem bothered at all by the pouring rain.

Garden set up, the red nut holder on the fence has to go and in the winter months the fence gets covered with a camo tarpaulin.
The pole has a nut holder out of sight and it's on a matal stake so the rat can't climb it.
The log on top of a log has a groove for Meal worms.
As the winter season progresses the number of feeders and posing sticks will increase, I also have feeders away from this hub for the shy birds who don't want to be film stars :)


Let there be light

My alarm calls are getting later, 5 o'clock this morning almost a lie in for me.
I could see a big band along the horizon with clear sky above it , I felt like a walk, so off I went heading east along the Military Road, now my starts aren't as early there';s a lot more traffic on the roads.
Probably people off to prepare breakfasts at the hotels and B&B's.
That dark band I saw through my bathroom window was in fact fog and, the further east I got the thicker it became, so I turned around and headed to Birdoswald.
As I pulled into the car park there I could see the Wall clearly but by the time I got my camera and tripod out, the fog had closed in.
I wandered around the open area to the back of the Roman Fort, heavy dew on the grass had me wishing I'd put my wellington boots on, there's nothing comfotable about wet feet or water percolating up your trouser legs.
Some nice views to the west over Horseshoe View.

Horseshoe View.

 With the sky colouring up I turned to see Michael's sheep on sentry duty, standing  out well against the morning sky.

On Sentry Duty at Birdoswald Fort.

Sunrise is moving south for the Autumn so it's rising almost in line with the Wall and, because it had to get up above the fog layer, it was big and bright.

I liked to rays of light coming through the tree.

Let there be light

I headed back to the stretch of Wall, pausing at the old oak tree to take another photograph. A few years ago tree surgeons cut this tree right back and I was so upset but in fact it has recovered nicely and looks healthy.

Oak Tree at Birdoswald, just outside the walls of the Fort.

Hadrian's Wall disappearing into the mists

The fog diffusing the sunlight gives some amazing effects and colours, spreading the light around.

View North over Temple Mount

Eventually the Wall appears, it was alive with Pippits fluttering about like butterflies as the early light caught their wings, beautiful to see.

As I was standing there a flock of 30+ Fieldfares flew overhead, birds I usually associate with Autumn, hope that's not a sign that summer is over.
Took this last photograph then headed home for a toast and honey breakfast  - and some dry socks.


Storm clouds gather

Weather hasn't been as good as it should for August.
Torrential rain and really cold, even when it wasn't raining it was overcast, so I haven't been out for sunrise since the beginning of the month.
I've been wanting to get some stormy sky shots, hard as it maybe to believe it's difficult to get the right cloud in the right place, the geology of Hadrian's Wall Crags and the North Pennines seems to push cloud parallel to the Wall.
On Sunday there was enough cloud to go right round and I've just got some new waterproof boots that needed breaking in so I headed off to Cawfield Crags.
Through the day, and especially a Saturday or Sunday, it's hard to get photographs without people in them and you can guarantee that just as the light comes right someone will stand slap bang in front of the camera.
One young man came up to see what I was up to as he approached he said, 'Hello, nice day', we stood watching the way the light danced across the land and the changing clouds. I was in an expansive mode and was saying it was like a great orchestra with clouds the percussion section, waving grasses the violins and the dancing light, flutes and piccalo's.
I turned to see what he made of all this and with a big smile he said.... 'Hello, Nice Day' and I guess that was as much English as he knew :)
Never mind we enjoyed the moment.

On the way up Cawfield Crags

Looking west over Thorney Doors (the gap in the Wall)

Family out for a Sunday walk on Cawfield Crags

Cawfield Crags on the way to Caw Gap

This and the above shot were taken a few minutes apart, showing how quickly things change

As well as the dark clouds we got glimpses of blue sky as well.

And one photograph taken on Saturday evening, looking down onto Winshields Farm Campsite from Winshields Crag with the rising moon.


If only

I was awake when TT got up for work and 4am so I decided I'd get up, drop him off at the farm, then go and takesome photographs.
It looked foggy but with a nice sky above the fog so I headed for the highest point on Hadrian's Wall, Winshields Crag.
Got to the top in plenty of time but nothing much was happening, some lovely colour in the top third of the sky but it was dull and grey in the bottom two thirds, not ideal.
Decided to give it up as a bad job but then I wondered if the Little Owls would be around at Cawfields and pulled into the quarry car park.
A Dabchick was diving up and down in the water and a Heron took off as I crossed the grass from the car.
Still lots of fog but some of the ducks took off and I grabbed a photograph.

Mallard through the mist

Then I spotted the sun coming up through the fog, amazing what a difference a bit of light makes to a photograph, and I took several shots before the sun was swallowed up by cloud and fog.

Let there be light

I headed up towards the Crags, figuring I was out anyway I might as well get a bit of exercise.
Took my camera and tripod but left my filters behind.
Cows were grazing right next to Hadrian's Wall, they huffed a bit as I approached, I don't think they like the fully extended tripod for some reason, but they moved off the path and I passed by.
One of the Buzzards I photographed last week took off and called above me, crows and swallows swooped and yet again the sound of the farmers quad bike as he checked his stock.

Hadrian's Wall on Cawfield Crags

Took a photograph of the Wall and then one of the brown cow before heading back to the car and home.

How now Brown Cow

Tree in the mist

The fog was still thick at Gilsland, I stopped to take a picture of trees in the fog.
Not one of those WOW mornings but then if they were all great there'd be no challenge to get up and go would there?

as always the photographs used on the Blog are copyright of Joan Thirlaway and cannot be used without written permission.


Kielder Water

Kielder Water is the largest artificial lake in the UK, opened by the Queen in 1982, surrounded by Kielder Forest and marketed as a holiday destination.

 It is also the site of England's largest hydro electric plant.

It's some 16 years since I've been to Kielder Water, and it's another of those places that's just an hours drive from Gilsland, so when  a friend suggested we meet up there it was a good opportunity to check it out.
It's heavily advertised with a super website and lots of sporty things to do, fishing, sailing, mountain biking even a Kielder Marathon.
Ospreys nest there along with other birds of prey like Goshawk, but it's a huge area and chances of seeing anything has to be quite slim.
There is a Bird of Prey centre at Leaplish.
It will be great for star watching and there is an observatory.
However, it's not a great place for photographs despite all the sales pitch and after all these years it looks just what it is, a reservoir in a commercial forest so I'd guess it will be a long time before I go back.
But if you're sporty it might suit you so please read the brochure.
It's a notorious place for midges but strangely on Monday there weren't any, lots of big black flies but nothing biting.

 The Osprey Ferry waiting to take people on a tour of the lake

Lots  of boats

Opportunities for fishing and sailing

 Young Pied Wagtail at the waters edge


Lake District: Buttermere

Another of the English Lake District lakes, Buttermere.
For a change these photographs were taken in the middle of the day when TT and I decided to have one of our 'away days'.
It's a flattish walk around the Lake and if you're energetic, with good knee joints there are lots of footpaths to take you up to the tops of the mountains surrounding the Lake.
The Buttermere Pines are oft photographed but, as I discovered, don't really stand out very well when the trees around them have leaves.
Never mind it's a nice run from Gilsland, with a variety of routes to chose, though the very narrow roads are perhaps best negotiated during the daylight hours.
After the walk we retired to the pub for a very welcome lunch in Buttermere - no shortage of places to eat there.
The photographs are all taken on the circular walk.

Looking back towards Buttermere Village

 Looking towards Fleetwith Pike

 Fleetwith Pike and the Buttemere Pines

A swimathon across the Lake, most of the swimmers were wearing wet suits, very sensible as the water in  these deep lakes will be freezing cold. The canoes were shepherding the swimmers

 The ridges on the west side of the Lake are High Style Ridge and Haystacks

 Light on Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks

 Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks and High Stile Ridge
The footpath around Buttermere.

as always the photographs used here are copyright of Joan Thirlaway and can't be used without written permission