Monday, 24 September 2012

Up On The Downs

With cricket called off for the August Bank holiday weekend, but the weather fairly indifferent, finding something to do. A trip up the Bourne Valley, a nice spot of Lunch in the Jack Russell Inn at Faccombe, highly recommended followed by the search for Red Kites on the large open fields heading towards the Gibbet at Gallows Down.

The weather was pretty indifferent all day, so we headed off up the Valley around lunchtime hoping that it would brighten up for a walk in the afternoon, just prior to turning off for Faccombe I made a pretty swift pull in on the roadside as a field full of blue / purple flowers greeted us. I only had the telephoto with me so I couldn't take a shot, and was a little unsure as to what it was. But I thought to myself I'll pop back one night in the week with the smaller lens and some better weather.

With an outdoor pub lunch scuppered by a pretty heavy rain shower and a hasty retreat indoors we pondered the plan of action for the afternoon, Faccombe Estate covers a large acreage on the North Hampshire / Berkshire border and is a variety of Wooded copses & plantations, large open arable ground and grassy downland. Perfect terrain for Red Kites, throughout the afternoon we saw 9 all within a couple of miles of one another soaring high on the thermals. As we headed higher up the valley 3 Kites were being mobbed continuously by crows who were soon joined at the top of Gallows Down by a pair of Buzzards a Kestrel and numerous Ravens. All too far away for a decent photograph and when straying near enough the sun just happened to appear and make conditions way to bright for photography. 

I did however manage a shot that I was really pleased with, as the sky filled up with dark clouds in preparation for another downpour, some wispy white clouds blew through on the stiff breeze, highlighted by the rapidly disappearing sun. Quickly I had to find a foreground subject, thankfully a rather obliging Sheep posed in front of the sky for me.

Gallows Down Ewe
After disappearing back to the car before it poured down, we checked the map and realised one of Berkshire Wildlife Trusts reserves at Inkpen common was only about 2 miles down the road. Having missed another heavy shower, we headed for a wander around the small heathland reserve. However other than the colourful shades of the Heather and Bell Heather not a lot to be seen. As the sun returned a couple of butterflies did emerge for a photograph. 

Speckled Wood
Meadow Brown
As promised I did return up Netherton Valley one evening in the week when the sun was shining, and managed to get a couple of shots of the mysterious blue flowered field, which having researched when I got home concluded was Phacelia Tanacetifolia which Wikipedia says It was originally native to the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico, but it is now used in many places in agriculture as a cover crop, a bee plant, an attractant for other beneficial insects, and anornamental plant. It is planted in vineyards and alongside crop fields, where it is valued for its long, coilinginflorescences of nectar-rich flowers which open in sequence, giving a long flowering period. It is a good insectary plant, attracting pollinators such as honey bees. Whatever its use Im sure you'll agree quite the colourful sight.

With my Grad filters in the bag I thought I'd head back up on to the downs for some sunset shots looking back towards Andover, had a play with the Red filter which worked quite nicely on the Setting sun. Also a HDR effect that I hadn't really tried before but I think works quite nicely.

Phacelia Tanacetifolia
Phacelia Tanacetifolia
HDR Sunset
Red Filter Sunset Up to date pictures and sightings, prior to me getting around to writing these blog posts, Look out for a free give away soon as well.
I would be more than grateful for any 'Likes' or Comments on my FB Photography Page too so feel free to comment or criticise about anything.

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