The camera never lies… Or does it !?!?…

Animals

Hopping Off


Pony Pandemonium

More from our recent holiday in the New Forest… oh, and a touch more about the ever so friendly wildlife too…

So you may recall that I mentioned the free roaming New Forest Ponies and Donkeys in my “And We’re Back” post, and how they are even free to roam in to your cottage if you leave the door open… Well as a bonus, here’s a shot of said Pony… The big one that is, and not the smaller one you see in the background… (more…)


Karma’s August Rainbow Challenge

Well here are my entries for the Rainbow Challenge… Fortunately due to a fairly pleasant summer most of the shots are all entirely new and “kinda” summery… but I had to throw a couple of old favourites in there too..

Red – and I have to confess to struggling to find any decent red shots, so you’ll have to make do with a nice little red Ferrari Dino 246 from our summer hols… Not mine unfortunately, but it was in Beaulieu Motor Museum that we visited during our summer hols, so it counts… Oh, and one of those red things from the garden too (not my garden though)…

(more…)


World Photography Day

I know… Two birdy posts in a row… Well, as it’s apparently World Photography Day, I figured what better opportunity to dust off one of my very own personal favourite photo’s ever taken by me… back in 2006… and as much as I hate to admit it, with an *ahem* Nikon… S’cuse me !!… An old E8700 semi compact… (Actually, it is a real good little camera, even now, just don’t tell anyone I admitted that… ‘k)… BUT, if you look at this one large, and compare it to my previous Red Tailed Hawk viewed large… Well, you’ll see the “real” difference between this old shot, and what I’m using now.. ;)

NO !!.. You Can't Have a Straw... Do it like this...


She Said WHAT !!…

So, one of the aforementioned stories from our recent holiday… Kids can be so embarrassing eh…

We were heading though a small village in the heart of the New Forest, which for reasons I’ve not yet investigated was the “Witch” capital of the New Forest… full of lots of little souvenir shops selling.. well.. witch and wizard and dragon based souvenirs… So I informed my ever so gullible youngest daughter that this was where ALL the witches live….

*Side note*.. Did you know that the word “gullible” doesn’t actually appear in any dictionaries !!..

Well she had a semi freak out until we told her they were good witches… lol… Anywho, we continued through the village and arrived at a Raptor Centre (hence the photos). As we were walking from the car to the entrance, a woman exits the centre and heads for her car…. As we cross paths my youngest points directly at her, and from literally no more than 2 feet away (and at full volume) asks the following question…. “Dad, is SHE a witch ??”….

Ooooops…. Kids… Gotta love em… ;)

Click the pics to view large… They won’t bite… much… :D


And We’re Back…

…with shots a-plenty, and a few stories to boot… Well, when I say shots-a-plenty, what I actually mean is I took plenty of shots, have discarded most of them as they’re not “quite” good enough (or I’m bored with them already), and I have now narrowed the list of some +700 shots down to just “a” postable shot… or maybe two… lol… Yeah OK, maybe I have a few more than that, but what I don’t post over the next few weeks may very well end up in the back of my digital closet… ;)

We’ve spent some quality time recently in The New Forest, which is a beautiful 220 sq mile tract of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest, where wild New Forest Ponies and donkeys and cows (and sometimes pigs) are free to roam wherever they please… ummmm, even in to your cottage, if you accidentally leave the door open… which will be one of the stories… ;)


Birds of a Feather

and all that stuff… A few weekends ago I took my daughter to a very local RSPB nature reserve, home to thousands of wading birds both native and migrant, and some quite rare breeding birds of prey too, such as Marsh Harriers and Hen Harriers and Hobbies… Far too many species to mention here…

My daughter loved it, armed with her binoculars and bird book, and note book too to make note of all the different species she identified… She managed to list somewhere in the region of +25 different species, which included a pair of Marsh Harriers and a Hobby, and a bus load of Avocets…

I naturally went armed with a long lens and trusty DSLR… and here’s a few of the days fluffier highlights…

Sedge Warbler

Swallow - Ready For Take Off

Yellow Wagtail

Pied Wagtail

Meadow Pipit

Btw… I have been messing about with an idea for a shot, that didn’t exactly turn out as planned, and during editing took on a rather macabre twist, unlike anything I’ve posted in the past… so I’m taking votes on if I should post it ??… Do you wish to see something decidedly less fluffy ??… ;)


Karma’s Scavenger Hunt – June

I unfortunately really never had time to get any shots for this months Karma’s scavenger hunt, apart from one purple flower thingy wotsit, so I’ve pretty much had to trawl through my archives… But in an attempt to compensate for my lack of time and effort, I’ve included a couple of shots for most of the required themes…

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The themes were…

A Colourful Bird
And as I wasn’t allowed to post a “proper” Ladybird.. lol… Well… I had to just plump for a few old pics of some colourful birds…

A Grad (of any sort)
So we have Peppa Pigs Class of 2010… and they DID all graduate… Honest… ;)
We also have me graduating in the basics of simple science, thanks to the teachings of Aswirly, and YES, I DID graduate… Honest… ;)

A Dad (of any sort)
Well I was going to plump for an old fave Swan shot of mine, but I’m thinking that it’s likely a Mother and baby, and as I’m not sure how to (or brave enough to) determine the sex of Swans… well… I went with an old clone shot of Me(s) and my Daughter(s) and Cat(s)…

Something Purple
Well this is the one shot I actually did manage to take for this month… and it’s one of those flowery type things… The PointyPurplePettalus… I think..
Oh, and one of my favourite “purple’y BLUE” shots, of The Lloyds “inside out” Building in London

A Butterfly
Well this was “nearly” a shot from this month, but it was from a trip last month to a wildlife centre with a tropical butterfly house, and unbeknown to my youngest daughter, one of the largest of the BF’s in the house landed on her hat… and sat there for some time, happy to just ride around, much to the amusement of everyone except my daughter (who couldn’t see it)… Oh, and a couple of other butterfly shots for good measure..

A Funny Face
Well, you can’t beat a cow at close quarters for a funny face methinks… especially as close as this shot was… This is a pretty old shot, and using the wide-angle lens I was, I had NO idea exactly how close said cow was… That was until the tongue came out and covered my lens in cow spit… Which was nice… lol.. And as a special bonus, there’s the shot a friend took of me capturing the cow spit shot…

A Cow
Well if the first two cow shots don’t count, then there’s an additional one of some cows on a rather moody day in the Lake District… This one was captured without having to endure additional cow spit, but if you look at the sky, you might be able to figure I got pretty wet shortly after taking this shot…


Freaky Beaky…

Well for some of these, I think that’s probably the most apt title… with faces that only a mother could love… ;)
Recently we visited  Arundel Wetland Centre, which is 26 hectares of naturalised landscapes and wetland habitats, home to kingfishers, water voles and many hundreds of wildfowl. Funny story about the Water Vole, but more on that later… ;)

And this one has to be a prime candidate for the coveted title of Freaky Beak of the Year 2011… It’s a Ruddy Duck… but does look strangely cute, in a duck kinda way… ;)

Nothing too freaky here, but you’ve gotta love the creepy golden eye of the… ummmm… Goldeneye….

Speaking of freaky eyes though, the Pochard is definitely one duck that features high on the list of creepy looking with that bright red peeper staring at you…

HAD to include this one in the mix, but not because it’s freaky in any way…. but the kids and I spent quite some time watching these little Long Tailed Ducks scooting around… They’re diving ducks, and seemed to be having so much fun… The thing that appealed to me the most though was their call… Here’s a link to listen to, but to me it sounded as though they were saying “Oy !!, Are you alright ???….. Arrrrrgh !!!”….

Now THIS is DEFINITELY a face that only a mother could love… It’s a baby Coot

And who’d ever believe they’d grow up to look like this !!!… Mummy Coot and Baby Coots learning all about… well… probably how NOT to be picked on by all the other much more appealing baby ducks… “Just get back in there and hide in the bushes until you look like me”

And lastly a White Faced Whistling Duck… for no other reason than… well… I thought I’d best end on one that you gotta love… :)

Now for the Water Vole, which unfortunately we never saw…. The Water Vole had almost been wiped out by Mink, but there’s a concerted effort underway by a lot of various wildlife trusts etc to reverse the decimation (at the expense of the Mink)… and at this particular wetland centre they have successfully re-introduced back in to the surrounding wetlands about 400 wild breeding pairs… Now obviously this is something they’re quite proud of, and readily advertise their success with Water Voles with various display boards around the centre… We were walking past one such display with a big picture of a Water Vole on it, and my youngest daughter stopped… looked at the picture, and exclaimed “Awwwwwww…. Look at the cute little WATER BOWL”…. LOL… And with her, once she HAS a name in her head, then there’s very little you can do to convince her otherwise… Haha… It was even funnier though when she tried to correct one of the guides (who was showing us here we might spot a Water Vole) that it was a Water BOWL !!!… Kids… Gotta love em… almost as much as ducks… ;)


Just Another Castle…

Oh, and a few birds thrown in for good measure too… as you know we do love our birds… Especially our Ladybirds !!… ;)


Hmmmph

OK, so this shot has virtually nothing to do with the post itself… apart from it pretty much expresses how my weekend went… lol…
So… Virus’s !!… I mean, seriously… WHAT is the point ???… Why do people spend time and effort annonymously creeating something that has no use whatsoever ???… for which they can hardly take credit for… They should work in Government I think !!!… ;)

Anywho.. Last Friday my wife kindly acquired a free no money back guarantee virus for her laptop, despite that is having virus software installed… Trouble is, when you get a pop up that asks “Do you wish to install this Virus” and you click “OOOOH YES PLEASE, INFECT ME NOW !!”… then no amount of virus software is going to help !!!…

Yeah OK, maybe it wasn’t quite so obvious a request to infect her laptop, but even so… Now my wife is unfortunately NOT very pc literate, and I have lost count of the times I’ve said “If anything comes up asking you to run something / install something / update something…. then DON’T !!, until I’ve checked, and said it’s harmless”….

Anyways… I was sitting there quietly minding my own business on Friday, when my wife who was merrily surfing away said “OH !!… Brian, I think I’ve got a virus !!”… YUP.. She had… and WHAT a virus it was too….

She was on a website, and it threw up a window that said “Your System is Infected !!.. Please run this system scan to ensure your system is protected”… Sure I can see how it’s an easy mistake, but it was on a website AND I was sitting no more than 6 feet away…. but she silently clicked the “Do your worst, I’m not scared” button anyway…. Urrrrgh…

This was a nightmare of a virus (System Tools 2011, for those wondering)… It shut EVERYTHING down… Turned off the firewall… turned off the virus software… disabled task manager… prevented ANY software from running, apart from Internet Explorer… Changed the wallpaper to a very poorly worded virus warning about protecting your boss, children and wife !?!?, and every few seconds or so it threw warnings from the system tray about files that were infected… Oh, and it also ran it’s own false virus scan software, that you had to “purchase” to clean the system properly… Yeah RIGHT !!!… lol…

Well I did some digging, and found a site detailling keys that needed removing from the registry.. but the virus prevented regedit from running…. So I had to resort to Safe Mode… Unfortunately the virus was cleverer than that, and the defined regstry entries weren’t there… Virus 1 : Me 0

So I was given a tip off on some software that was supposed to be pretty successful (Stinger)… but unfortunately I couldn’t install or run it in the standard windows environment, as the virus wouldn’t allow any other software to run… Managed to overcome that though by doing it all in safe mode… Virus 1 : Me 1

Stinger ran overnight, and found and removed 1 trojan… Virus 1 : Me 2
Got up real early to check Stingers success, but the virus itself was still there… Virus 2 : Me 2

Found some more software (Maleware Bytes) that suggested it was capable of removing the virus, but unfortunately I couldn’t install or run that either in standard windows, as the virus wouldn’t allow any other software to run… Overcame that in safe mode, but it couldn’t update the definitions as safe mode didn’t allow connection to my wifi… and the virus was still there… Virus 3 : Me 2

So I then got sneaky, and re-named the executable for the maleware software to “iexplore.exe”, in an attempt to fool the virus that it was actually running Internet Explorer… That worked, and in standard windows I was then able to run the maleware software, and update it… Virus 3 : Me 3

Started it running, and went back to bed… Got up to find the computer had re-satarted… and was STILL infected… Urrrrgh… Virus 4 : Me 3

Before using the laptop as a frisbee though, I decided to run the maleware software one more time… as it was the ONLY software I’d found that suggested it was capable of eliminating this virus… So I did…. and sat there waiting… About 10 mins in to the maleware scan though, a warning appeared from the virus, stating that the virus / scan software was out of date, and the computer needed to re-boot !!!…. Obviously as I wasn’t there during the initial scan, the virus rebooted the system itself !!!… hence it never actually got chance to remove the virus… Double sneaky on the virus’s part… This time however I prevented the reboot, and continued with the maleware scan… It ran right through, and found numerous infected files… which were removed.. Virus 4 : Me 4

Rebooted the laptop… crossed fingers… closed eyes… crossed eyes… and anything else available… and prayed…
The laptop re-started… No warnings… No infection notifications… No system tray pop-ups… No virus warning wallpaper… No seeping puss filled boils… No rabid hate filled fluffy bunny rabbits… Nuffin’… apart from a fully functional virus free system…

Final Score – Virus 4 : Me 5
WooooHoooo…. I WIN !!!… :D

Mind you, I now have to find a way to get my wife to agree to have her fingers removed, to prevent any further unsupervised button pressing… ;)


Birds Or Bugs

Well everybody else seems to be doing it, and I have really needed to make better use of mine, so I’ve given in to a spot of MMM… (March Macro Madness), and given a bit of spring weather this weekend I attached said macro, and went in search of all things tiny…

The real question to me though… and I KNOW given the geographical location of majority of my blog buddies that it’s an argument I’ve already lost regardless… BUT, I’m never one to be defeated so easily…. lol… SO….Ladybirds or Ladybugs ???…

I know I’m right though, cos wikipedia says so… lol… to quote… “The name “ladybird” originated in Britain where the insects became known as “Our Lady‘s bird” or the “Lady beetle”.[8][9] Mary (Our Lady) was often depicted wearing a red cloak in early paintings and the spots of the seven spot ladybird (the most common in Europe) were said to symbolise herseven joys and seven sorrows.[8] Common names in other European languages have the same association (the German name Marienkäfer translates to “Marybeetle” or, literally, Mary-chafer).[10] In the United States the name was adapted to “ladybug”.[10]

SEE… LadyBIRD !!… Ladybug was just an adaptation of the correct name… lol… ;)

I WIN !!… especially as I can edit anyones comments, to make sure they agree with me… lol… :p

View large, and tickle him under the chin if you dare… He won’t bite… much… ;)


‘Ere Be Dragons…

About a month or so back I had an overwhelming inclination to draw a dragon… which I’ve never drawn before, even though I’ve had an interest in all things fantasy for many years… so I purchased a book from an art shop specifically on the subject… just to get some inspiration… and I started the rough pencil sketch you see below…

However, due to one thing or another I never really got hooked by it, and very quickly lost the drive to finish it… That was until last weekend when Michaela (The Daily Click) posted some of her daughters very impressive dragon sketches

Well thanks to inspiration from Michaela’s daughter, I have now completed my first dragon sketch…

This is another first in a number of ways for me… The first Dragon, and my first sketch finished with Artline Graphic Pens, and also the first sketch I’ve also gone on to then “colour in” with artists colouring pencils…

Originally I intended it to just be a shaded graphite pencil sketch, but then changed my mind and decided to use graphic pens instead… and lastly, more as a test, I copied it on to standard paper, and coloured that in…

So what’s your preference ???… Coloured or Graphic Pen ???… Here’s the initial sketch too for those who are interested in how it started off… :)


Winters Call

So this is another absolute first for me…. Pastels that is…. I’ve NEVER used pastels before, as I really didn’t think you could get any detail from them, that was until I saw a picture in a local exhibition that blew me away…. And ever since then I’ve been determined to try pastels myself… And here’s my first EVER effort… :)

Please have a look at my ARTWORK page too, for some more examples of my art… All of which (but one) are from the past few months, when I re-discovered my love of art… thanks to an inspirational friend…


Too Cold for Penguins…

How crazy is that… There was a report on the news this morning that one of our UK zoos has reported that their penguins are finding the weather too cold, and are having to be fed extra rations… lol…

And while we’re on the subject of penguins… as per a request or two for a snowman… and Mrs A’s specific request for a snowpenguin… WELL… Who am I to disappoint, so here’s Mummy and Baby Penguin that my daughter and I built this morning… Baby Penguin was all my daughters work… They’re never going to win any prizes for snow sculpting I know, but at least now I can officially confirm I have fulfilled a lifelong ambition, and licked a penguin… Yeah ok, I’ll admit to having some very odd ambitions… ;)


I Don’t Care What Dave Told You It Was…

I can tell you now, there’s NO WAY you’re ever gonna get a tune out of it…


Whot’choo’lookin’at…

Found this “not” so little fella in my garden the other day… helping himself to some worms and the like… and fortunately he hung around long enough for me to put my real lens on… The head on glare he gave me though did make me laugh…


Squaaawk…

Well, I’ve been marvelling in the expansion of MrsA’s artistic talents recently, with her return to brush and canvas after many years absence… and it has inspired me also to pick up a medium long forgotten… Pencil and paper… And this last weekend I sketched me a preening parrot…

Strangely enough though, what I found most difficult about this was actually trying to photograph it for my blog… lol…

I think one of the reasons I lapsed from pencil sketching, and tend to avoid painting, is that I have very little in the way of patience, and am also overly concerned with detail… Believe it or not I started my first ever oil painting some 10 years ago, and never did finish it… lol…


Me !!.. A Cheater !!..

Don’t think I really need to add anything verbal to this post… Maybe not the best of shots I know, but do they come any cuter than this… :)

And of course I couldn’t leave mum out of the action…


Pssssst… Have you heard….

Could have watched these two baby elephants chasing each other around all day….

Apologies for not having been around at all this past week, but I’ve been away on holiday and have had no time to visit your blogs… It’s been a great week and I’ve done some things I’ve never done before… More on that in another post…. Anywho… T’was a long and fruitful (hopefully) day at the zoo today and I’ve just got home… This is a dump and run kinda hi… but I’ll get round to checking out all that I’ve missed tomorrow…. :)


Eye Eye…

Just a little something light and feathery for the weekend… So Simon and Celia Pelican went out for a nice romantic evening… When the meal ended though, Simon was furious at the size of the bill…. Sorry, had to be done… ;)


Another Keeper

A Castle Keep that is… As I said in my last post, I have not had what I consider much success getting many good shots of our local castle… but I did come across an old set of shots that I’d completely forgotten about, and found a few more that I was reasonably happy with…

I did also mention that we have quite the selection of castles within an hour or so of where I live… Well tonight I did some more investigating…. and can confirm that we have the following… all in varying states of disrepair… Sorry… Lol…

Castles = 29
Castle Ruins = 7
Privately Owned Castles = 5
Forts = 19

And you can see more about all of them here

 


Summers Here

Even if it is a bit late, and only for the weekend.. lol.. Well, it’s been quite the nice weekend at least.. And what better way to spend it than to wander around the odd castle.. Surprisingly though, even though I live within 30mins of this castle, and have visited many times.. I’ve never really captured a nice shot of the place.. Today turned out to be one of the better ones though I hope.. And in addition to the castle, I also managed to find a family of baby peacocks.. Could they be any cuter ??..


Super Furry Animals…

So yesterday I finally had the opportunity to put my new toy through its paces… and I’m glad to say I was rather pleased with the results… So we spent the day at a wildlife park, which naturally was PURELY for the benefit of the kids… and was nothing even remotely to do with me wanting to play with my new lens…Nah-ah…

This is a small selection from a host of images I will be picking from in posts to come hopefully… providing I don’t get bored with them before I post them… Despite the title though I have to include one feathery not furry shot, as there’s a story to convey about this wee feathered friend of mine… I inadvertently pulled a bird…  ;)

This particular wildlife park has some real nice access to many of the animals, from walk through enclosures to open perches for some of the birds… to other animals roaming completely free within the grounds… Well, in one particular area I noticed how friendly one particular bird was as he was allowing himself to be petted… Well never one to miss an opportunity of some petting I decided whilst it was quiet to go make friends myself whilst the rest of the family were… ummmm… seeing to other natural requirements…

I checked first to make sure there were no “This animal bites” signs… but only saw a “Do NOT pick this bird up” sign… so figured he wasn’t in to removing fingers and the like…. Well I was giving him a good scratch behind the ear and under his chin (or whatever birds call their chins) when my daughter returned… and as I turned to look at her my new-found friend took full advantage of my momentary lapse in concentration, and promptly stepped on to my hand, and RAN full speed up my arm and round the back of my neck…. and perched himself firmly on my shoulder, and proceeded to nuzzle my ear and neck…. lol…

My first thought was “OH CRAP !!”…. “How the heck am I gonna get him back on his perch ??”… As from his demeanour I was pretty certain he wasn’t intending to return of his own free will… So a small crowd begins to gather… and I hear one woman whisper to her friend “I’ve seen him do that before, He won’t get him back very easily”…. OH THANKS !!!…. Lol…

And right in front of me is the huge sign “DO NOT PICK THIS BIRD UP”…. Ooooops…. Well it took some patience and cunning, but I finally managed to get him back on to my hand, and then literally peeled him off, and back on to his perch.. At which point my daughter said “Tickle him again Dad”….. NO WAY !!!… lol…

Anyway… I wasn’t the only one… When we walked through the Lemur enclosure there was a keeper in there making sure that people didn’t stroke the Lemurs, but just allowed them to get on with whatever they wanted to do… Well my daughter knelt down to get a closer look at some of the baby ones, at which point one came running up and jumped on her lap, and just sat there looking at her as if to say “Well !!!.. What have you got for me ???”…. lol…


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