My Autumnwatch Appearance

November 10, 2014  •  4 Comments

Monday 27th October 2014

On Monday 27th October I woke up at 1.30am as we were going to set off early to travel up to Lancashire which is roughly 5 hours 20 minutes drive from my home. The reason for leaving early was so that I could get to RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve for first light in hope to photograph the wildlife in the early morning golden sun. Unfortunately upon arriving at about 7am the weather was not as I hoped for, all overcast and light rain. The weather wasn't going to put me off so I got all my equipment together and headed off into the reserve. As we entered the reserve through the side gate, we were greeted by a jolly and very helpful lady called Annabel who worked there. She told us what wildlife had been spotted recently and which hides to see certain animals.

The first hide we went to was called Public hide and this is where Bittern, Water Rail and Otter had recently been sighted. After sitting in the hide for about 20 minutes, I was looking through my spotting scope when all of a sudden an Otter popped its head up out of the water and began to swim across the lake and dive back under the water every so often, the only problem was that the otter was too far across the lake for photographs and film even with my 500mm lens. We continued to sit in the hide for about 30 minutes to see if the Otter would come closer or the Water Rail or Bittern would appear. Everything was quiet when this loud pig like noise sounded, I knew it was the call of a Water Rail, but we only managed brief glimpses of the bird as it dashed across the reed beds.

We left the hide and headed off to the other hides on the reserve, unfortunately the weather wasn't great and not much wildlife was out in the strong wind and rain so we headed back to the visitor centre as I needed to meet a lady called Deby to talk about the plan for Tuesday and what time I needed to arrive and what I would be doing. On meeting her, she informed me that she had arranged everything for Tuesday.  I also spoke to Brett Westwood who was going to be interviewing me on the Autumnwatch Extra red button show. The time was about 3.30pm so we left and headed off to the hotel where we were going to be staying for the night. ving we booked in and then headed up to our room. The first thing we did was to make a cup of coffee as we were really thirsty. We then all had a sleep as we were very tired after getting up early and travelling a long distance. 

Once we woke up, we found a local Chinese in the leaflet so we decided to go there for dinner.....the food was lovely.  After dinner we drove back to the hotel and decided to go to sleep as we were tired out and needed to be up early the next day for breakfast.

Tuesday 28th October 2014 

We woke up at 6.30am, got dressed and started to get everything packed up ready to leave. At about 7am we headed off down to the restaurant to have breakfast.  I had sausages, bacon, egg, toast and a mug of coffee and my parents had the same. The food was again lovely and I would certainly recommend the hotel to friends and family. Once we finished our breakfast we went back up to our room and watched the Autumnwatch live webcams on red button where Richard Taylor Jones was doing his morning show.  Richard is one of my favourite cameramen and I like the style of his work.

At about 10am we left the hotel to travel back to Leighton Moss Nature Reserve to spend the day with the team before doing my live interview on the red button in the early evening.  During the day I spent time with presenter Lindsey Chapman and cameraman Jez where we filmed some behind the scenes footage about what goes on - they were both helpful and gave me some good tips.  The weather was very wet so we had to dodge the showers throughout the day.

At about 4 pm I headed down to Lillians hide and waited until my mum and dad returned from shopping.  Once they arrived, both myself and my dad were then called into the studio to commence our interview.  The interview took place with Brett - he played my video first which showed the red deer rut at Richmond Park and then asked me very good questions and I began to overcome my nerves and started to relax more.  To see the interview in all its glory - visit youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91ymdXcnPQw&list=UUyPlSCehhpcGIpDrizoxoNg.  Later in the evening we were invited to stay and watch Autumnwatch featuring Chris Packhan, Michaele Strachan and Martin Hughs-Games.

At 9 p.m. we were standing in the Unsprung studio where Nick Baker was doing his live show - Brett was one of his guests.  If you look closely you can see me appearing in the audience.

Rather than stay in a hotel for the night, we decided to travel towards Norfolk so that we could get an early start the next day filming and taking photographs of the seals.  When we were nearly there, we stopped to have forty winks - unfortunately none of us got much sleep due to the traffic and the church bell constantly chiming at every hour.

Wednesday 29th October 2014

Morning soon arrived and we traveled for about an hour and a half until we reached our destination and parked the car.  We slowly walked up the hill until we came to the beach.  The sea was crashing and the tide was in - seals could be seen bobbing in the water, but none were on the beach itself.  Whilst photographing some Turnstones, this man came towards me and told me that there was a large group of seals further along. 

I quickly grabbed my equipment and headed off leaving my mum and dad behind - the walk seemed to take ages, then all of a sudden there they were.  Hurriedly I set up my camera and tripod and started filming - there was a group of at least twenty plus adults and two pups.  I managed to take lots of shots and also video footage and the pictures can be seen below.  

An end to a fantastic trip - please tune in again next month for another blog.

Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Liam-Filtness-Photography/1389178297964180

Twitter - https://twitter.com/FiltnessLiam

Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyPlSCehhpcGIpDrizoxoNg/videos

 


Richmond Park Red Deer Rut October 5th 2014

October 09, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Richmond Park Red Deer Rut 5th October 2014 
 
I woke up at 4am to get my equipment ready and made the flask of coffee to take with us. We left our house at about 5.20am and traveled for about 1 hour until we reached Richmond Park at roughly 6.30am. They don't usually open the gates until 7am, but we were lucky this time as we just drove straight in because they opened them early. We headed up through the park and found a car park not far from Ham Gate, so we decided to park there. There was already lots of vehicles even at that time of the morning. 


The morning was frosty, chilly and misty.  As we began walking the sun was rising  and turned the mist into a stunning golden glow.

 
We headed off down to where we could hear some stags bolving.  After walking through the long wet grass for a few hundred yards, we finally found the stag that we could hear. As I got closer I could see that there was atleast 15 other photographers surrounding the stag, all snapping away and getting shots of him in the golden mist.  Before heading off to find some more deer , I took a few images myself and soon left that stag alone to go and find some more deer away from the groups of people. 

It was still very misty which was making  wildlife very difficult to find, so we decided to stop for a while to wait for the mist to rise a little and to see if any wildlife came to us. After waiting for about 10 minutes we could hear stags bellowing in the distance. It seemed that the mist was going to take a while to disappear, so I decided to walk on a bit further and separate from my dad in order to avoid his camera keep clicking away in my videos as I wanted to get natural sounds of the birds and deer. 

I came across a woodland that consisted of mainly oak trees. The mist was not as heavy in there compared to what it was like out in the open grassland. I stalked up to a fairly large stag that was bellowing away to another stag further on in the woodland. I got within a good distance from him and set my tripod up to get a steady shot, I switched my camera mode on to video and started filming away. I got some nice video of him scenting the ground with his antlers and also using the scent glands at the base of his eyes.

 
After spending about 10 minutes filming and photographing the stag, I decided to head back to try and find my dad. I walked back through another wood and through some long grass before I found him taking some pictures. Both me and my dad then decided to head on over to a fairly open piece of grassland where I spotted 4 decent size stags. We watched the stags from a distance for a few minutes when I saw 2 of them parallel walking. They do this before locking antlers and start to rut. So I walked closer towards them as I knew it wasn't going to be long before they started to rut. I got to a decent spot to film and photograph them and then sat down in the grass and waited. I didn't have to wait long for them to start rutting so I quickly pressed the record button on my camera and started to film them. 

As I was concentrating on getting some good shots of them rutting, I didn't realize that they had got so close to me. I saw the people that were standing behind me backing off as the stags got closer, but I decided to stay where I was as I wanted to get some good shots and also because if i got up I may have disturbed them which could of meant them charging at me. The stags are quite dangerous at this time of year as its when they are trying to be the dominant male and have the most hinds to mate with. Luckily by staying put I managed to capture some great close up footage of them locking antlers and putting in all their force to come off the dominant stag. At one point I was concentrating on filming them that I didn't realize that they were only 3/4 feet away. They carried on rutting for about 5 minutes before one of the stags gave up and run off, which left the stronger stag the winner.

 
I was really happy with the photos and videos that I got so we slowly walked over to the nearby wood to find a log to sit on and have a cup of coffee and something to eat. We was sitting there and I heard something scratching on the tree above us ,  I looked up and could see 3 Ring Necked Parakeets sitting just a couple of feet above our heads - I quickly grabbed my camera and took a few images before they flew off. Both my dad and i finished off our coffee and food so we discussed where we should go next. We wasn't very far from one of the large ponds so that is where we headed off to. 


At arriving at the pond we could see that most of the waterfowl was at the other end, so we walked along the length of the pond and found a nice spot to photograph the ducks etc from. We sat down on the bank and set our cameras up. The ducks, geese and swans all came very close to us which enabled us to get some nice close up shots. The sun was shinning through the leaves on the trees which was turning the water into a nice green color which made some of our images look nice. We had quite a few different species of ducks close by which included Mandarin , Mallard and also Pochard. We spent about 2 hours watching, photographing and filming the waterfowl before deciding to head off back towards the car as it was about 3pm so we were going to go home.

 
As we started walking back we come across one stag laying down, by the time we had got closer he decided to stand up and bellow atleast 7 or more times. I just love the sound that they make. I took a few images of him bellowing and then left him in peace and carried on walking back.


We was nearly back at the car park when I heard 2 stags bellowing, I looked down to my left to see 3 stags out in the long grass. Whilst watching them from a distance I could see them keep chasing each other off, so I decided to walk down closer to where they were and crouched down in the long grass with my camera and tripod setup. It didn't take long before the stags were back to chasing each other off and bellowing at each other continuously. I was hoping that they were going to rut so I sat in the same place for a while. I wasn't keeping track of the time, but when I looked at my phone, I worked out that I had spent about 2 hours photographing them although it didn't seem that long. I took a few more photos before deciding to call it a day as it looked like they weren't' going to rut after all and also by this time I had already taken over 800 photos and a load of videos. So I packed up my camera and tripod and started to walk back up the track. I had only walked a few yards along the track when all of a sudden I heard antlers crashing about, I turned around to see the 2 bigger stags fighting, I thought to myself " Well thats just my luck" . I watched them rutting for about 2 minutes before carrying on with my walk back to the car. I didn't decide to film them as I was happy with the footage I had got of two other stags earlier in the day plus the light was fading to. 

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We got to back to the car park and loaded our gear into the car and set off back home after a very enjoyable long day photographing some lovely wildlife in Richmond Park. 


I hope you enjoyed this blog and I hope to do more about what I get up to over the coming months. Please feel free to share the blog with your friends, family etc and leave a comment on what you thought of my blog :)

 


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