Hartsholme Park – April 2015

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Last Sunday I visited Hartsholme Park which at the moment is teaming with life as Spring is definitely here and all of the animals (mostly birds) that live there are have either had their young or are preparing for young. So you have a lot of nest building and courtship and mating going on too. I try and visit at least every fortnight at this time of year and if possible at least once a week – today is a wet and cold day and not as nice as a week ago.

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When I got there it was very foggy and I was not hopeful of getting any great shots as this is almost the worst type of weather to shoot in for any animals that are more than a few feet away as any type of haze can seriously deteriorate the sharpness of the photographs you take. However, it was evident that a lot was going on and the best shots come from knowing your cameras capabilities and actually getting out there; the old adage “practice makes perfect” really applies to photography. That said you can never be “perfect” but as long as the quality of your photographs improve taking to account all of the technical, lighting and composition techniques then it certainly is worth it. Also learning new techniques and tips helps improve the photographs too.

Along with the usual crowd of birds that are here all year round were the Grey Herons and the Great Crested Grebes – these two were the most active and I mostly concentrated on them. The Grebes were also a lot closer than usual so i was able to get some of my best shots ever – its just a shame that the haze made them not as sharp as i would have liked.

The following pair kept swimming near each other:
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It was clear that a Courtship ritual was taking place and after I took a couple of photos I also captured a short video too:

The Grebes were very entertaining to watch and got closer and closer to me allowing many more photographs:
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The final shot in this sequence (as well as the top photograph) are clearly some of the best I have ever captured – this was mostly down to their vicinity towards me and the knock-on effect of only needing a small amount of cropping:
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I have already mentioned the usual birds that inhabit the park such as the Canada Geese, this one was part of a pair that were defiantly “flirting”🙂 with each other but they were crafty and I couldn’t get a clear photograph of them before they were finished:
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There were also a lot of moorhens and common coots around although part from a pair of moorhens seemed to all be alone. This common coot swam from the bridge at the far end the lake to near me and the light just fell on the bird at the right time:
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Whilst Mallard ducks are very common at Hartsholme I have never seen a duck like this before:
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I initially thought it was a Mallard cross but it has the wrong colour beak and there is no “tuft” on the tail feathers. I have had a quick search and it could be a “Black-headed Duck”, a “Velvet Scoter” or possibly a “Black Duck”; it might be something completely different or a cross of two different species:
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My final bird photographs are of the Grey Herons. This is a very majestic bird and there is a very large colony of them in the central island of Hartsholme lake. They return every year and for many months are simply great to watch and photograph. Thanks to the haze and my limited focal length my shots are not some of the best that I have taken and maintaining focus on them isn’t easy at the best of times but here are a couple the better ones:
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This second one shows how close some of the nests are in certain part of the island:
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My final shot was taken during my final few minutes at the park and a bit of serendipity, I tried lots of different angles and landscape/portrait orientation to get the best shot and this is my favourite of the bunch:
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All photographs were taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 body using the M.Zuiko 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens and the 1.4x Tele-converter. They were also geo-tagged using the “GPS-4-Cam” software running on an iPhone 6+ as well as the desktop companion application. They were edited in Lightroom 5.7.1 running on an Apple iMac 27″ (latest generation non-retina).

3 thoughts on “Hartsholme Park – April 2015

  1. Jan

    Great photos, Chris x I especially like the last one with the shafts of sunlight through the trees x

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