Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Misty, sunny and frozen

Last Friday I took a ride to Summer Leys, for an early morning visit. The idea was to miss any crowds by going early. Well, that worked. Almost missed Summer Leys too; it was shrouded in mist.

I could barely see the hand in front of me, it was that thick. Instead of sitting in a hide, and waiting for the mist to lift off the water, I decided to have a walk round.The spider evidence was everywhere, like threads of silver on the plants,

webs everywhere

and some of the heads of Teasel were almost wrapped, like early Christmas presents.

The sun seemed a long time coming, but eventually broke through, burnt off the mist, and bathed everywhere in its warmth. The birds came out to play; some even long enough for a picture,

but the birds I’d really come to see; waders, were nowhere to be seen. A shame. I was looking forward to an ID challenge. A good bird count of 33 nonetheless, so not a wasted trip.

It was still fairly early in the day, so I stopped off at a place new to me. Harrold-Odell Country Park, just on the border of Bedfordshire.

A large lake, with an island in the middle, and a circular path round, through trees and heath. The sun had brought out crowds of people enjoying the warm weather; joggers, a few walkers, but most were content to sit around the visitor centre, drinking cups of tea. I joined the walkers, and took a slow walk round the lake.

A pleasant enough walk, a few birds and butterflies along the way; ducks and geese on the water, and the not too distant roaring of engines. Santa Pod Raceway just up the road, and it sounded like they were practicing for the next meeting. The potential was there, maybe, for another visit another time.

A lone bird hide looks across the lake, so I settled down to see if I’d missed anything whilst I’d been walking round.

A Migrant Hawker sat resting on the reeds just in front of the hide.

A couple more began hovering a while, then flying off, to return and hover again.
Ok’, I thought, ‘I’ll give it a go’.

I waited. He returned. I fired. Lots.

1/200 and 1/250. The wings were blurred. I wondered if I could freeze the movement of the wings. I waited a bit more, upped the shutter speed to 1/800, and he came back. I fired off lots more.

Almost! He flew off for another circuit, and then disappeared over the lake. I fiddled with the camera settings. I set it to 1/1600, and waited. And waited.

Maybe he’d found a girlfriend?

Maybe he…………..

He came back, circled round in front of me, and then briefly hovered. I fired off some shots, before he went shooting off like the noisy dragsters up the road. I checked the images on the back of the camera.

About as frozen in flight as I’d get.

Pleased with that, I made my way back to the car. Not a dragster, but almost as noisy.


  1. We can't deny it any longer Keith, Autumn is here! Those spider's have been busy and the mist may have helped with the pictures of them

    Congrats on your dragon flight shots - experimenting paid dividends - they're excellent!!

  2. Really nice shots of the Migrant Hawker. I think that is a master of "photoism".

  3. There is nothing to compare with a misty morning to show just how many spiders there are all around us. Great web shots.

    Well done with the 'frozen dragon'. I have found it needs bright light and a really high speed to get that frozen look.

  4. Two super locations, Keith. The pictures are superb, as ever, and I think those of the dragonflies in flight are outstanding. Congratulations.

  5. Beautiful shots. You captured those delicate wings and how you were able to see him in the viewfinder is beyond me.

    Thanks for your visit to my birds blog and your comment about the Brown Thrush.

  6. way back, more than half a lifetime ago, I saw the early morning world of spiders. I didn't own a camera then but the image has stayed in my head as one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. the dragon fly with the time stop information is just great, I will (one day) get up the nerve to try the manual settings on my camera

  7. Cool, Keith!! Those last two are stunning.....you definitely froze those wings in midair, the veining is lovely...stunning! And the first photo of the sunrise with the geese through the mist, incredible...

  8. You never disappoint Keith, all the photos are stunning! The dragon in flight...amazing!! Was the bird a Linnet?

  9. Tricia, thank you. Autumn has us in its grip; misty mornings, shorter days…….nice though lol Certainly shows off the webs on a misty morning.

    Thanks Bob. Appreciate your comment.

    Thanks John. It was good fun practicing on the dragon, and he was so co-operative, just hanging there.

    Emma, thank you for your kind comment. I was really pleased with the last lot of the dragons.

    Abe, thank you. I was lucky that he hovered in one spot for so long lol

    Ginger, thank you. It’s surprising how many spider webs and threads that go unnoticed, till the early morning mist catches them.

    Thank you Kelly. Those geese flew into the frame at just the right moment.
    It was a day when it all seemed to come together.

    Thank you ShySongbird for your comment.
    I’m not too sure what the bird was to be honest. There were a couple flying around, very rich chestnut colours. I thought maybe young Reed Buntings; there are a lot in that spot. I could be wrong though.

  10. Honestly, your pictures are phenomenal. The sun rising out of the mist and the bird were like the covers of expensive greetings cards.

  11. Spider web always charms me, especially through sun light.
    I remember I saw the whole process of spinning - marvellous!

  12. It pay off to raise early before everyone else with those stunning misty images. But the winner of that day are surely those stunning frozen dragon in midair. By that time the light must be bright for you got the great image at ISO 160 and supper fast shutter speed.

  13. You are amazing - did you know that? You got a dragonfly - in flight - and caught the detail of his wings!

    I hate spiders, hate them...but I have to admit, the webs did look like delicate silver strands.

    I can't wait for autumn, it's my favorite season. :)

  14. I'm so glad to find out that you were talking about frozen in time and not ice. Beauties all!

  15. The other day I tried to take a photo of a dragonfly and found out what a difficult task it is. What I want to express is that I can really appreciate your shots of the dragon, Keith, the structure of the wings is beautiful. :-)

  16. Brilliant shots of the Hawker Keith.

  17. Valerie, thank you for your lovely comment. I really appreciate it.

    Sergey, thank you. They are amazing to watch as they construct their webs with such precision.

    Tabib, thank you for stopping by and commenting. Early mornings are the best time of day for pictures I think. Hard to get up so early some days though. :)
    When I took the dragon pictures, the sun was quite bright, so I could keep the ISO low.

    Jen, thanks very much for your kind words. Appreciate it.

    Thanks Andrea. Glad you enjoyed them.

    Petra, thank you. He was a willing subject, keeping in one position for me long enough. If only the birds would do the same lol

    Thanks Roy. I was pleased with the results.

  18. Keith your patience paid off those are super stop action shots! That frosty morning shot is also wonderful.

  19. The dragon fly pictures are awesome. My favorite, however is the spider web. It is spectacular! Thanks for sharing, your pictures are inspiring.

  20. Dixxe thanks for your comment, appreciated.

    Thanks for your kind comments David.

  21. BEautiful and lovely shots !! I loved the beauty !! Thanks for sharing..Unseen Rajasthan

  22. Superb photographs. Why are spiders so active in autumn?

  23. Great dragonfly shots. The detail is amazing.

  24. Bharat, thank you for your comment.

    Thanks Adrian. I think we just notice them more when the mist catches their webs and threads, and highlights them.

    Diane, thanks for stopping by, your comment, and following. Appreciate it.

  25. 33 is pretty good! Great shots of the Migrant Hawker as well. They are impossible to focus on when in flight!

  26. Thanks Dev. Turned out to be a rewarding day.

  27. Waders or not it sounds like a successful day to me - superb images.

    Have you heard of the saying: mist before 7, sun by 11? Almost always true and certainly in this case.

  28. Hi,
    This is what I miss I guess, being able of getting up early!!! Here there is now no need for that, cause the light does not come before 8AM and I have then to be at work! yeh I know! Congrats on your dragon fly shots, they are terrific, especially the four last one! Gosh they are perfect! Have a nice week end.

  29. Hi Keith, lots of great shot I always enjoy looking at your photography

  30. Thank you Mistlethrush for stopping by, and commenting.
    I’ve heard a similar saying, substituting ‘rain’ for ‘mist’; and it certainly does seem to be correct. A lot of truth in some of these old sayings. :)

    Thanks for your comment Chris. I find work gets in the way of taking pictures far too often. lol

    Keith, thank you. Appreciate your kind words.

  31. wow! great job on the dragon fly. patience does pay off. love the misty morning shot. adds a little mystery to it all. have a wonderful weekend!!

  32. hello Keith, i miss all your works, need to read back again on all your posts, will do that one at a time, hehehe. thank you for being there still.

  33. Beautiful photos. I really love that first one.

    Shelley @ Shutterbug

  34. Thanks Doreen. :)

    Thank you lolit. Good to see you back.

    Shelley, thank you :)

  35. Brilliant photos of the hawker! I'm totally jealous. I find that male southern hawkers are often attracted by a shiny camera, especially if I fire a couple of shots with the flash on. Never managed to get a focused 'in flight' photo though. Any more tips?

    Apologies if I post this comment more than once - blogger crashed on me. Typical!

  36. wow - incredible! beautiful! mystical! great great shots, all of them! so wonderful to have first row seat to such beauty! thanks for sharing!

  37. Thanks for your comment Helen.
    I've never tried attracting them with a flash, I usually wait till they get close and start hovering, thenhope for the best lol

    Gypsywoman, thank you for your lovely comment.

  38. The autumn has come indeed. Superb places there.

    That dragonfly is a hell of a piece. Very good shots.

  39. Thank you Marius, appreciate your comment.

  40. The fist picture has something remarkable, it transmits a special feeling, I really like it.
    Dragonflies are sometimes really annoying to photograph, when you are ready they are not there ... or vice versa. With 1/1600 you froze really good the "moment".

  41. Thank you Andor for your comments. Appreciate it. Thankfully the dragonfly was really co-operative that morning.