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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Calke Unbottled! - late November, 2012

Yes, that's Calke - pronounced 'cork'.

For a couple of years now I've been hankering to spend time exploring Calke Park, which is quite close to my home, and looks very 'owly' from the outside. However, a visit to the park costs £2.20 per person, and I've been too mean to stump up this sum. Furthermore, the annual National Trust (who manage the property) membership of £53 for an individual or £88.50 joint doesn't make sense when we only have two NT properties in our county, and one of those is free to enter anyway. So I've stayed away, and kept my desire to visit bottled up!

Anyway - on 17th November my wife and I took the bull by the horns and paid a visit. We had a most enjoyable walk and I realised that this really was a place I wanted to spend more time at. A few images were obtained that day.

Birds seen were quite commonplace, but enjoyable to see and watch:

Goldfinch - Calke Park

Nuthatch - Calke Park
Greenfinch - Calke Park
There are deer in the park - both Red Deer and Fallow Deer. These are described as 'feral herds', but are contained behind high fencing. The Red Deer stag below was so close that I had to use my phone camera to get an image!

Red Deer (male) - Calke Park
The Fallow Deer here come in a wide range of colours, from dark brown, through 'red', to near white. I am assured that these pale ones are not as a result of albinism.

Fallow Deer - Calke Park
There are, of course, plenty of squirrels in the park.

Grey Squirrel - Calke Park
The following day (Sunday 18th Nov.) I returned (alone), and this is when I found the Little Owl mentioned in my previous post to this blog.

On Monday 19th I'd arranged to go out in the afternoon with my pal Titus. As the weather was pretty foul we headed first to Staunton Harold round car park, strewed the wall with birdseed, and sat watching the birds in the rain. Eventually the rain stopped and so we set off for Calke Park, which is close by.

The first thing of interest that we saw was this distant Green Woodpecker. Unfortunately the light was awful - don't be fooled by the relatively bright appearance - it's amazing what tweaks you can do with post-processing, and I don't know the half of it!

Green Woodpecker (male) - Calke Park
Although another common bird, this Black-headed Gull, surrounded by water in which dead leaves were floating, gave an image with an unusual effect.

Black-headed Gull - Calke Park
The Little Owl was nowhere to be seen, but nearby this Moorhen approached. I sometimes forget how ridiculous Moorhens look out of water with their big feet. They remind me of a cartoon character.

Moorhen - Calke Park
The Fallow Deer were close enough for some photos. The following give more examples of the colour variation in these. I particularly like the spotted ones!




Fallow Deer - Calke Park
Because of bad weather, it was Friday 23rd before I was back again, this time with my wife once more. The Little Owl was in exactly the same place as when I'd previously seen it (far away, behind the deer fencing), but this time it did turn its head rather more, and I got an image that was clear enough to cope with a very heavy crop!

Little Owl - my Site No.31
A couple of rather fine Red Deer stags were also around. I quite like the effect of the back-lighting in the first image.


Red Deer (male) - Calke Park
Another foul-weather day on Saturday kept me at home, but I returned to Calke on Sunday (25th). In order to get to Calke, I pass my Little Owl sites No.01 (not seen an owl here for more than three years), and No.08 (where I possibly see an owl once in five visits). This day I was lucky, as an owl was in the nest tree. I took a safety shot at a distance from on the hillside whilst I was on the same level as the owl, and then tried a stealthy approach. Although I have a little more detail in the nearer shot, this was one of those occasions when the distant shot (in my opinion) is far better as there is too much in the way of obstructions in the closer shot, taken from below with the sky in the background.


Little Owl - my Site No.08
At Calke, I didn't find the Little Owl again,but a few more images were obtained of the more common species of bird. I was, however, delighted to see a Marsh Tit. I last photographed one of these over two years ago. This time I only managed a record shot before the light became impossible, but I shall return in the hope of doing better.

Great-crested Grebe - Calke Park
Robin - Calke Park
Goldfinch - Calke Park
Marsh Tit - Calke Park
Nuthatch - Calke Park
There was also a Fallow Deer stag that was not too far away for a photo.

Fallow Deer (male) - Calke Park
The light was now too poor for photography, so I set off to try and find some owls, but didn't have any success. I'm still very hopeful however! 

16 comments:

  1. Wow you got some brilliant images from Calke Park, the Nuthatches are stunning Richard, well done, I know (myself included) can think NT membership fees are a bit high, especially if you don't have many NT sites in your area, I don't think we have one in Northants except old houses,however I think sometimes there sites are fantastic places, Wicken Fen and Farne Islands spring to mind.

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    1. Thanks Doug. It's a great place to visit, and a bit quieter now that the house has closed for the winter. You're right - they do have some brilliant 'non-house' properties, and the Farnes are a great favourite of mine.

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  2. Amazing set of images Richard,beautifully taken with fantastic sharp detail.
    Superb couple of days out.
    John.

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    1. Thanks John. They did need a fair bit of tweeking however, and several of them wouldn't stand being blown up to A4 size, for example. It's a great place to go, and I'm looking forward to my next visit - just need some better weather!

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  3. A very comprehensive visit to the park, and a very comprehensive account and images Richard....I reckon you'll be of there again at the first opportunity.

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    1. Thanks Pete. I'm hoping to get back there very soon!

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  4. Hi Richard

    Superb images of the Little birds, such lovely light on the Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Nuthatch images. Love the Green WP in such a lovely setting.

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    1. Thank you Christian. I'm hoping that I'll find plenty more photo opportunities in this lovely place.

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  5. Una visita muy completa y unas estupendas imágenes. Saludos

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    1. Gracias por sus amables comentarios. Saludos!

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  6. Really nice collection of birds you have today on the blog. That Grebe is gorgeous....and that owl! Nice shots! Looks like a successful birding outing.

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    1. Thanks Chris. I've really enjoyed my recent visits here.

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  7. WOW!
    What an impressive array of great pictures Richard!
    I envy your Little Owl but also your Goldfinch: although a group lives on the property they never come into the garden... :(
    I am also impressed by the number of animals and birds there are in this Park, it certainly seems the place to be to take photographs!
    Brilliant Richard!
    What is it exactly you would like me to do, regarding a drawing?

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    1. Thank you Noushka. It's a great place, but I now find that I'm going to be torn between spending more time at this location or spending time at a place even closer to home where Short-eared Owl have just returned.

      I've replied to your last question off-line - thanks again!

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  8. Awesome pictures Richard!
    I've seen your blog. It is beautiful! I signed in as a member so I can follow your blog. I hope you will visit my 2 blogs too?
    My first blog:"de mooie natuur" (beautiful nature) and my second blog: "insectenwereld" (world of insects)
    See you...

    greetings,
    Willy

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Willy, for your kind comments, and for signing up to follow. I have had a quick look at both your blogs, and have signed up to both so that I can follow too! I will now go and have a longer look at your posts. Best wishes. Richard

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