Saturday, 7 June 2008

Sussex Summer Photographic Safari

Worried sick about Zebedee, but leaving him with Miles who was to look after him and take him to the vet's, I went out on a Sussex Summer Photographic Safari "course" of Sussex Wildlife Trust. We were a group of 12 people and were taken by photographer David Plummer to four different locations in Sussex to shoot butterflies and very small orchids. Well, that's what it turned out to be. I have to admit that as it was a Wildlife Trust outing, I was expecting to see more wildlife! Especially as the course description advertised: "Travel via minibus to various superb wildlife sites across Sussex". It also said: "photographic tuition given throughout", which kind of made me feel like we would be given lots of wildlife photography tips, but basically it meant that David was there available for questions. And I've always been really crap at asking questions. I did ask him what kind of lens he would recommend for butterfly photography, and he said "macro lens". And I also received another tip during the day: when you shoot butterflies, get close slowly and carefully, approaching the butterfly straight-on rather than moving from side to side, as butterflies will notice the side to side movement, but not the straight-on movement that easily, as it means that the "predator" gets gradually bigger in its field of view, rather than moves from one position to another.

The course also made me check the definition of the words 'safari' and 'wildlife'. 'Wildlife' does mean what I thought it meant, i.e. only wild animals; not plants. So when they advertise that we'd be taken to "superb wildlife sites", I feel that the wording should have been 'superb butterfly sites', as butterflies were really the only wildlife we saw (well, apart from a couple of kestrels up in the air and one skylark-like bird that I forgot the name of as I wasn't familiar with it). Then into the word 'safari' - I found this definition in Wikipedia:
"Touristic usage - Although the word safari came to popular usage in reference to hunting and touring expeditions in East Africa, it is now used generally to mean any long or adventurous journey or expedition, e.g. whale watching safaris, photography safaris, eco-safari etc."
OK, so maybe I shouldn't have expected to see rhinoceros, giraffe or the red panda (huh?). Or maybe I shouldn't even have expected to be shown were badgers live or learn anything about any animal species that I hadn't been aware of living in Sussex...

In any case, it was a very enjoyable day, and I did get quite a few photos of butterflies. And learned where to find them should I fancy getting back to take more some day. AND learned from someone in the group that Malling Down is a great place to take your dog out for a walk.

So this was the first site, Mill Hill, where we saw the common blue. (This one's a little tattered.)

Next we went to Anchor Bottom, and saw adonis blues mating.

Adonis blue. (Distinguished from the common blue most reliably by black lines which extend across the outer white fringe. It is also more vibrant in colour than the common blue.)

Brown argus.

And the small blue, which doesn't actually have much blue in it.

A couple of bee orchids.

They are supposed to look like bees, but I think, straight-on, they look more like a laughing Pikachu.

Greater Knapweed.

Overview of the site.

Next we went to Devil's Dyke to shoot common spotted orchids. They are quite varied in shape and colouring, but all have spotted leaves.

Onto Malling Down. There weren't any orchids there (well, in truth, David spotted three, apparently - common spotted ones), nor did I see any butterflies. According to David this site has been the most reliable for orchids, but he hadn't checked the site prior to the day of the course and thus wasn't aware that there was nothing there this year. Well, the view from the hill was very pretty anyway.

...and I decided to take the fisheye lens out and see what the site looked like through it.

Can't wait to get a Canon EOS 5D soon, so that I can record the full sphere of the view through a fisheye lens! I've paid someone for a 5D about two weeks ago, but still haven't received the camera! He claims that he has sent it, but how do I know he's not lying? He's asked me to wait until Monday and then he'll either get me another 5D or give me a full refund. So tomorrow I will see whether I need to contact eBay about him or whether I will get my money back, and can go ahead and buy a 5D from someone else and actually get it this time! Don't think I'm going to do it through eBay this time. Or use eBay ever again for that matter!

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