Category Archives: Hartsholme

Hartsholme Park – Last weekend of March

I haven’t been to Hartsholme Park here in Lincoln for some time so I thought that I would pay it a visit; it would also allow me to test my new lens out. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to this on Saturday it was late afternoon so the Sun was in completely the wrong place. For this reason, some of the harsh lighting made getting some of the shots I wanted difficult. That said it was a good first try of the lens which is very sharp if the subject wasn’t moving too fast (my shutter speed was too low lots of the time) and I nailed the focus. There is certainly room for improvement from a technique point of view but the amazing reach of the lens especially when combined with the 1.4x teleconverter allowed me to get shots that were previously too far away.

The first two shots of the Canada Goose and the Crow were taken from the bottom of the lake (at the 6 o’clock position) where there is a large “viewing area” of most of the lake and the central island where the Heron’s nest ever year.

As I ventured clockwise around the lake there were many black-headed gulls intermixed with the usual ducks and geese that normally in habit the lake. What was surprising were the fact that some of the gulls had their winter plumage whilst others had their spring/summer plumage??

A little bit further around was a single black headed gull with its Summer plumage (i.e. the entirely head is covered in black feathers):

This Mallard duck was looking directly at me:

Even with the reach of the lens and teleconverter combo the Grey Herons that were flying around required some serious cropping, this isn’t a great shot:

If you get to the 9 o’clock position of the lake (past the bridge) you can see the west of the island and here are about 5 or 6 Heron couples making and maintaining nests:

This Grey Heron was bringing back a large twig for its nest:

If you look carefully at the bottom-left of this picture you can see a very young Grey Heron chick that has already been born:

The final three pictures required little to no cropping and show how sharp the lens can be:

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Hartsholme Park – October 2016

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It’s been a while since I last visited Hartsholme Park and posted some photos; however, I managed to go last Saturday (just over a week ago) and try out my new Fujinon XF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 F LM OIS WR lens which I recently purchased from WEX Photographic for a considerable sum less than it now costs, even with the current cash-back offer taken into account.

I planned to visit the park at the weekend (to try out the new lens) and mentioned this to Richard who I work with, he hadn’t been for a while either and mentioned that he would join me if he could. A quick look at the weather forecast meant that Saturday (15th October) would be the better of the 2 days.

Saturday came and I was up early (to drive my Mum to work) and after getting ready and a good breakfast I headed out to Hartsholme Park, it isn’t a long drive and I arrived around 08:00. I set up the tripod and gimbal tripod head with the lens and camera and took this into the park, I tried a few photos of the Grey Squirrels on the way to my usual spot who were very active on Saturday, but these didn’t amount to anything usable. I ventured further into the park and tried taking a few other photos and noticed that the light levels were very low, I turned up the ISO to as high as I dared (6400 mostly) and this gave me enough light with a high of enough shutter speed to freeze any action or camera shake (even though the tripod helped with the latter of these two).

After about 45 minutes or so at my usual spot I was joined by Richard with his larger (than my) Gitzo tripod, Nikon D800 and Nikkor 300mm f2.8 lens. Although we managed to take a few photos of wildlife on the lake it seemed that there was more action happening behind us what with the squirrels, a curious crow and a few other birds like Wood pigeons and Moor Hens. Unfortunately, with the very high ISO I had to use a lot of my shots (particularly those that needed quite a bit of cropping) didn’t come out too well. I was however quite lucky that a relatively large number were OK enough for me to process and post on my blog. You can also see one of Richard’s on his blog here – at least he got these Canada Geese in focus, I wasn’t quick enough.

My favourite pictures are as follows (all taken with the 100-400mm lens @ 6400 ISO):

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Hartsholme Park in September

Back in September I went to Hartsholme Park to see what was going on (on the wildlife front). The young Common Coots had left their nest but there were a lot of young ones swimming around all parts of the lake. In addition to the Coots we also had a family of swans who enjoyed being fed bread (not the best food for them) from passers by. The grey Squirrels (who do not hibernate) were ever present and always present a good photo opportunity too.

We also had a large number of young Great Crested Grebe swimming around and diving form time to time for food.

Young Common Coot:
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Young Common Coots in symmetry:
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Mute Swan Family:
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Grey Squirrel feeding:
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Great Crested Grebe young:
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Nice Portrait of Male Mallard Duck:
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The birds don’t mind being around others when there’s food on the offering:
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My favourite shot of the day, I have seen dogs look like this when the want the food you have:
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Once the food enters the water it’s a free for all:
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Hartsholme Park – Early June

I try to visit Hartsholme Park at least once a fortnight during this time of year as there is a lot of activity, you can read about my previous visit here. Unfortunately, Richard was unable to join me due to family matters so I was alone like last time, although I prefer taking photographs with a friend it did allow me to go much earlier than normal. I arrived there at 07:45; which was fortunate as I had a lot to do on Sunday. I also had plenty of time to walk around the lake and get more photographs than normal.

Rather than provide a running commentry in chronological order of what I saw I have tried a different tact in this post. I have collated all of my favourite photographs by species and will provide an introductory piece to each one. Hopefully this will make them easier to write and hence get this post out much earlier than I would have – hopefully you’ll be reading this Monday morning. Please let me know if you prefer this style or would rather me revert back to the older way of writing.

Enjoy 🙂

Grey Herons:
During my last visit I thought that the Herons had vacated the central island of Hartsholme Lake but it was clear that there were still a few nests in use as evidenced by my first photo below. There were also a number of solitary Herons dotted around the island like in the second photo. One photo that isn’t here is the one that got away, whilst I was checking the time on my phone, one landed only a few feet from me and before I could put the phone away and take a shot it flew off!

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Greylag Geese:
The Greylag geese were their usual vocal selves on Sunday and did a lot of flying, honking and not much else. I have seen Greylag Geese goslings on Hartsholme Lake in early May this year but not for some time , I wonder where they are?
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Common Coot:
In my previous post I pointed out that there was a Common Coots nest which had the female on the nest and the male bringing twigs and other items to shore up the nest. Since then the eggs have hatched and think that there are now 4 or 5 chicks. They aren’t the prettiest things and look like minature plucked chickens at the moment but they will soon grow and become the back and white-beaked Common coot that is (as its namesake suggests) is very Common on water ways in the UK.

The female was still on the nest trying to keep all of the chicks together and the male was going off and fetching food for them, in a few days the adults will split the young in to two groups and each one look after one of the groups. These birds can fly after 55 days. I apologise for the large number of photos but it was a joty to watch the two birds and the young chicks in action.
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Magpie:
Not far from the Coots nest, this magpie landed and was moving about quite a bit so I decided to take a few photos of him/her as I don’t have many magpie photographs at all. In totals I saw 5 or 6 of them so that’s Silver or Gold!
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Great Crested Grebe:
There are still a large number of Great Crested Grebes on the lake and I am still trying to capture the illusive chick (or chicks) on a mother’s back – no such luck. However this one was relatively close and I do like the action shot of him/her as it plunged out of the water.
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Mute Swan:
Like most waterways there are a pair of Mute Swans on the lake, these were luckier than the St.Marks swan in that they have 3 cygnets (which is still very low), I don’t think that this can be a good year for Mute Swans.
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Canada Geese:
These are the first Canada Geese goslings I have seen this year.
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Mallard Ducks:
And at last I have seen some young ducks although I wouldn’t call them ducklings any more
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I had a good time at Hartsholme Park today but I must watch the ISO a lot more; some of the shots I took are unusable as they are very noisy thanks to the very high ISO setting. to help combat this in the future I have adjusted my auto ISO setting so that it doesn’t go quite as high.

Hartsholme Park – Late May

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Last Sunday (a week ago today) I went to Hartsholme Park in Lincoln to check out any changes since my last visit in early May, you can read about that visit by clicking here.

One of the first things I noticed (apart for the 3 Grey Heron sitting on the branch at the centre of the central island) is that the Herons for the most part have gone, I could see no evidence of any of their nests being used, considering when they were hatched this is not unusual.

There was also strangely no evidence of any young birds either, no goslings, ducklings, cygnets or other young birds. There were a lot of Greylag Geese and few Canada Geese as well as the Black-headed Gulls.

On my way to the Common Coots nest (more on that below) I noticed this Black-headed Gull, he was standing his ground and warning off any other gulls:
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A few times he would also fly around his area to warn them off:
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In flight:
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However after watching this bird and taking a few photographs I arrived at the Common Coot’s nest, there wasn’t much to see as the female was asleep on the nest:

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Not far from the nest another Common Coot (I suspect the male mate) swam off into the lake and after a few minutes came back with a twig in its beak:
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When it got to the nest it passed the twig to the female which was then used to sure up the nest, I didn’t see how many eggs were laid nor any evidence of any chicks yet:
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On my way back to the main part of the lake I noticed this Grey Squirrel:
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He was quite curious about what I was doing and posed for me which was nice:
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After a while he hopped off and although I managed to capture a few more shots of him these two are the best photographs.

A bit further on I could see Blackbird with a worm; the phrase “The Early bird gets the worm” came to mind. The bird was some distance off so this is cropped quite a bit and the exposure could have been better:
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As a side note, if this was taken with the OM-D instead of the D810 it would have been an unusable shot, I’m just saying.

As stated earlier there were a lot of Greylag geese around, some were very active like this:
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Other Greylag geese were quite happy to have their picture taken:
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So apart from the fact that there were no young birds to see it was a good morning’s shoot. At first glance I thought that I had hardly any decent photographs, however waiting a few days before I went through them certainly showed that it wasn’t as bad as I first thought. I hope to visit Hartsholme again soon.

I was planning on going today but I decided against it and this was the right call as the weather is not very nice today.

Hartsholme Park in Early May

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A few days ago (on Bank Holiday Monday) I visited Hartsholme Park to see any young birds that might be present after all of the various mating that had been going on. I took the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the excellent 40-150 f2.8 lens with the 1.4x extender attached. Fortunately for me the sun was behind me giving me the best chance to get decent pictures although the intensity varied quite a bit as the various clouds in the sky moved in front of the sun from time to time.

When I arrived at the water-front the first birds that I saw were the three Grey Herons almost mid-centre of the island near the water as per the image at the top of this blog post.

I took various photos of the usual inhabitants of the lake such as the Black Headed Gull now with its Spring/Summer plumage which shows how this bird got its name:
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We also had a number of Moorhens in the area too (I saw no pairs though):
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And the Great Crested Grebes were swimming and diving a lot of the time, I have never seen so many as per the last few weeks:
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With all of the different birds around they seemed to largely ignore each other, just like this Grebe swimming past the aforementioned Grey Herons:
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However, after all of this activity I did see a pair of Greylag Geese with 8 goslings, I do love watching groups of young and adult birds swimming together:
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As the Geese and Goslings swam out of view I moved around the lake towards their direction to see if I could get a better look. As I ventured around there were a number of Mallard ducks sleeping at the edge just like this female:
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As I was getting myself into a better position to get some photos of the Geese (being careful not to disturbs the ducks), I noticed this squirrel scurry in front of me and perch on top of a tree stump. I couched down and took few photos such as this one:
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There were at least two Greylag Geese families; in addition to the parents with 8 goslings there was another family with only 2 goslings, they warned each other to keep away:
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After watching the geese for a while I started to go back to my starting place and saw a rabbit scurry away. As usual they are very quick and shy and this was the best photo that I could get. This is what is known as a “butt-shot” but you can see that this is rabbit and it is the best one I have taken at Hartsholme:
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Just as I was about to venture around the corner not far from the rabbit I noticed two small birds hopping around the ground and fence, one was a robin on the fence:
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The other is a bird that I am not sure of, it looks a bit like a “Dunnock” but it could be female from another species:
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After walking around another way to the water-front (my starting position) I took a few photos of the Herons in their nests. There must be dozens of them on the island:
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As I was watching a magpie retrieve food from a bin and taking some mediocre shots a squirrel came within a few centimetres of me as I was crouching down. I suspect that he hoped I had some food, I managed a few shots even with the tele+extender combo on the E-M1 – the close focus distance of the lens came into play here. This photo isn’t great but it shows how close he was:
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What I was hoping to capture were some ducklings but I didn’t see any around in the near vicinity but I did see a family of them (I think) swim from one end of the lake to the other to the far right of my current position. So I decided to head in that direction to see if they could be found. Unfortunately when I got there they were nowhere to be seen, other birds were there such as adult Mallard ducks and Common Coots:
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After a while another Moorhen showed up and started to wade through the vegetation at the water’s edge as follows:
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So I decided to head back to the car and I noticed something that I must have passed (and not noticed) on my way to my last position. Not far from the edge of the path in the water was this Common Coots’ nest. On the nest was one bird positioning various plants, twigs and leaves around the nest as well as another Coot that had been collecting them in its beak and passing them to the other coot for the nest, it was joy to watch:
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I took one final photo as I left:
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It was a great session at the lake and I look forward to my next visit there. I took a few videos and I might put them up on Youtube when I get some spare time. This post has taken far too long to create and publish.

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).