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Thursday, January 5, 2012

My best pics of 2011

Here we are then 2 days into the new 'leap' year 2012, the designated year of sustainable energy to all, the international year of 'co-operatives', the year of the London Olympics and according to the Mayan culture the year the world as we know it will end (on Dec 21st apparently!) ...... best not think about it!

As is the the tradition at the end of one year and the beginning of the next I thought a spot of reminiscence should be in order, bit late (that's my own tradition) but here are a few of my favourite photographs from my first 9 months in France, some of which have found their way into other blog posts but mainly these are unpublished.

I arrived here in March just as trees were beginning to bud and took a series of photographs of garden birds out of the back of the barn, these 2 of blue tit and goldfinch were amongst the best.

Later in the month I went over to the coast at Isle De Oleron and although seagulls are maybe not the most photogenic of birds, these couple of Lesser Blacked Backed Gulls negotiating the incoming tide made for some good shots

In April we, that's me Jane & Mark, spent a week or so down in the Pyrenees. They wanted some chillout time from the barn restoration project and I just fancied a trip somewhere to celebrate my retirement. Some half decent landscape photographs of La Pic de Ger and Le Pont D'espagne here plus one of Mark after an evening of fine wine tasting and singing and one of me the day after looking decidedly hung over (but still smiling!)


The bird pics are of Red Kite ..... one of a pair that hovered over us one day while we were camping high up in the mountains and Griffon Vulture of which we saw many patrolling the skies

Later on that month, back at La Macherie I saw a Western Whip Snake on the road as I was walking Balloo ....not seen one of these before and at the time wasn't sure if it was one of the poisonous ones so kept my distance and kept the dog away, still managed a couple of good shots though (the close up is with the zoom!)


Into May and peak breeding season for birds, stacks going on of course but here's just a couple of my favourite memories - first a pretty good overhead shot of a migrating Osprey in the Limousin (right) and below are 2 of many close up pictures I got of a pair of Black Redstarts that were nesting in the barn and that I tempted into using a home made perching post just outside .....judging by the huge array of food they brought back to the nest, if I'd taken more I could have compiled a half decent pictorial record of all the insects in the garden!

June saw me down in the south of France and although I somehow managed to time my trip down to the Camargue with some of the heaviest and most violent electrical storms certainly I've ever witnessed there were enough bright interludes to allow some good photographic opportunities.

Flamingoes are photogenic at the best of times and the good numbers on the Camargue allowed many good shots. I've also picked out a good shot of a Kentish Plover I took from the car and some excellent dragonflies that came out in the sun after yet another downpour.

At a nearby location (Plaines de La Crau) I managed this cracking good shot of a Black Kite (right) along with a speciality bird of the Mediterranean area, the splendidly exotic Roller

July and August were quiet months but this photograph of a Grey Heron and Little Egret squabbling over food was memorable for the interaction alone whilst coming across a family group of white horses walking towards me and then having them follow me on my local patch was one of those encounters that was both quaint and disturbing in equal measure!

Autumn here was marked by plenty of late summer sunshine with temperatures of 30 degrees C not uncommon well into October. Goodish rather than spectacular bird migration with late warblers, redstarts, whinchats and a half decent passage of Red Kites coming through providing daily interest in terms of birds but a high flying wandering Black Stork (right) over the barn spotted by my mate Mark was a highlight for me.

Blooming wild flowers in the meadows and  almost into November! (pic left)
Short Toed Eagle on passage nr Montmorillon (pic right)

Nice and pretty lucky shot of a Marsh Tit in flight in the Autumn sun here ..... been looking for an opportunity to showcase this pic!

More bird passage in November with masses of Common Cranes flying south over the village but equally impressive to me was the Wood Pigeon passage with big flocks in the early winter sunshine looking splendid (pic right)

Into December and still relatively mild with hardly any frost yet, I had Common Cranes still migrating south on Boxing Day with 35 south over the village and this picture of a Ewe with lamb (pic below) would normally be unremarkable had it not been taken on Dec 17th!

Ok folks that's my year with some of my best pictures. It seems fitting to end the post with an end of the day shot and here's a nice shot of reeds at my nearest wetland habitat, L'etang de Beavoir.

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