Photo Friday #18

Climbing out of the car, I headed towards the footpath and away from the main road. Less than a minute of walking brought me away from civilisation, and into a colourful meadow, buzzing with life. Bright flowers could be seen in every direction; bees steadily making their way around, dipping into the sweet nectar on offer. Butterflies flitted around the meadow and, upon closer inspection, lots of little insects darted between the grasses.

Making my way through the tall vegetation, spiders scuttled away from my feet as I headed towards the river. Once out of the meadow, I was surrounded by trees. Bird calls were louder and more frequent here, the high pitched warning of an intruder ringing in my ears. I walked quietly and slowly, looking into the trees along the riverbank, hoping that the birds would get used to my presence. My goal? To find a kingfisher. I had seen the striking, blue bird twice before – both times, the bird simply being a flash of blue as it flew past me and down a river. I had heard that there was a resident kingfisher here, and had seen many photographs from other people. Having had no luck on my first visit, I was hoping this would be the special one.

As I neared ‘Kingfisher Gate’, something caught my eye. Sitting on a small branch, hanging over the river, was a very plump looking object. I snapped a quick photo, realising that yes, it was a kingfisher!

Slowing down, I kept my eye on the bird as I made my way around a huge bush, hoping that I would get a better view from the other side. I was not disappointed! This bird was eyeing me, though not showing any signs of distress, as I made my way forwards getting as close the the river’s edge as possible. I sat down, pushing vegetation out of my way so I could get a clear view. Sitting still, I watched and happily snapped away, not believing my luck. I believe it was a juvenile, though possibly on the older end of the scale! Whilst it’s coat was a lovely, bright blue, it’s feet were very dull and you could just see a little white on the end of it’s beak – both signs of a young kingfisher.

The sound of small feet padding along the floor disrupted the silence, and the kingfisher flew high up into the trees. Once the dog had passed, I spotted the kingfisher again, this time nearer and easier to photograph. I managed to watch for a little longer, before it decided to move on and settle somewhere else.

Wandering back down the river, and towards the meadow again, I reflected on just how lucky I had been. I did not expect it to be so easy. Coming home from university for the summer, and hearing about this place, I had set myself a goal to photograph a kingfisher. It is June, and that goal is complete! Now I will just have to go back, again and again, in the hopes of getting to watch more behaviours and capturing them. Until next time…

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Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #2.

imageAfter visiting Martinselkosen Eräkeskus Wildlife Centre, we headed towards the Boreal Wildlife Centre. There was a two hour drive between the two, with this place being further South. This meant that there was less snow in the area and more green forest! This place was really pretty.

On the first day/night, we just explored a little and relaxed. We were actually so tired that we slept quite early, and set an alarm for 11pm to get some night shots! I really wanted to do a timelapse but it just didn’t work out. I’ve just never managed to get a good quality timelapse… How do you do it?! Anyway, this night was brilliant. We ended up seeing a tiny glimpse of the Northern Lights! It was only a bit of green in the sky (which was hardly visible to the eye but could be seen in camera) but it was so awesome. Green, purples and pinks… The sky was pretty!

Our small glimpse of Northern Lights!

The next morning we did some more exploring. Walking in the woods and just taking in the beautiful scenery. I took so many tree photos here.

Also managed to see and photograph a red squirrel and brambling. The red squirrel had funny colouring! Body mostly grey, white chest, red tail, red paws and red face/ears! It was cute though.

After lunch (3pm in both of these centers) we headed out for our first night in the hide. This hide gave us a very wide an open view – a lot different from the trees and the swamp in the first place. We were waiting for 4-5 hours for the first bear to appear but, once one had arrived, two more quickly followed. There was one bear that had a white patch on it’s back and I think it looked awesome! Whilst we were waiting for the bears, we just had lots of ravens in sight.

The area had lots of left over animal bones…

And lots of ravens.

Now for the best bit… The morning of our second stay in the hide, we saw two wolves! Yes, wolves! We felt so lucky because the guide had told us that the wolves would constantly patrol their territory and as a result they would only pass through the hide area once every 7/8 days. They didn’t stay for very long, but I’m happy that I managed to get some photographs! It was an incredible sight.

Phew, that was a long one, wasn’t it? Next Friday post up is Rovaniemi!

Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #1.

Well I guess it’s time I started talking about my expedition to Finland, right? If you’re new or just passing by, you may be a little confused here. I’m in my second year of university (and it’s almost over!) and for one module I had to plan an expedition. Now this could be anywhere in the world, but due to finances, we chose Finland. I say that as if it isn’t an amazing place but it was, and is a brilliant country to visit. I’m really happy to have experienced the things that we did, and I would definitely go back! Just next time it would be cool to see the summer or the winter… The spring is a relatively quiet season, with not much happening for visitors! As you may have realised from the title, I’m going to do this in three posts.

The journey from London to Helsinki was pretty uneventful. Once in Helsinki, we had a long 5 hours waiting time ahead of us as our next flight to Kajaani was in the evening. A lot of this time was spent wandering around the airport, trying to figure out the floor system and finding the supermarket and cheap food. We managed to find a pizza place (first meal in Finland was a cheese pizza – I know…) and then settled back down in front of our gate. The flight to Kajaani was also uneventful. It was a small plane, and when we arrived at Kajaani airport it was a little strange! The area where we picked up our bags was tiny. The airport only actually had one gate I think!

Our first port of call was Martinselkosen Eräkeskus Wildlife Centre, located in Suomussalmi. We were picked up by the guide and another visitor, and then driven two hours up north. It was nearing midnight at this point, but we were looking out of the car windows, trying to stay awake, and managing to see a few Arctic hare on the journey as well as getting a tiny glimpse of green in the sky! It just felt so surreal.

The place itself was really pretty, and I took a lot of snowy tree photos! On the first day we managed to explore a little before heading out to the big hide. The area in which we were staying was very deserted – no houses around and lots of forest. On site, we saw plenty of bullfinch, chaffinch and tits, as well as a few woodpeckers and a red squirrel. We also spotted some big paw prints on our walks, but obviously no sights of the bears during the day 😉

I have never seen so many Bullfinch in one place!

How cute is this little cabin?!

To get to the hide we went in a 4×4, and then on a snow mobile ‘sleigh’ for the final bit. I’m not going to lie, that bit scared me! First impressions of the hide were that it was huge! I knew it had bunk beds in, but it really was huge. We had been inside the hide for less than 5 minutes, and the guides were still putting food outside, when the first bear turned up. It was ridiculously easy this night… Overall we saw four different bears and even managed to see them all at once. It was incredible, and as I said, super easy. It kind of felt too easy…

The bear on the right was definitely the most photogenic…

Pretty river!

I really loved all the forest around us.

The second day was also spent exploring. We managed to find a really pretty river, which looked very strange against all the white snow. In the evening, we went into another hide for a night! This hide was a lot smaller, and was meant for two people. We had three of us squeezed into it! Fine for the evening, but sleeping was something else! We were very squished and had extremely sore hips the next morning… Anyway, this time we were waiting for at least 4 hours before we got our first bear sighting! Very different to the first day’s experience, right? We also saw four bears on this night, and I’m guessing that they were the same ones from the first night – we were actually only a few hundred metres away.

Mr Photogenic again 😉

That was our time at Martinselkosen Eräkeskus! The next part will show our time at the Boreal Wildlife Centre and I will post it next Friday!

Photo Friday #16

(Photo by Louise Groom!)

Since getting back from Finland, I haven’t had much time to sort through all of the photos. I have an exam on the 6th so my main priority is revision at the moment! Once that’s over, I still have two assignments to complete for the 16th May, so if I get time I will post some Finland photos up! They will appear eventually…

Anyway, here’s a preview! Click the link at the bottom to see it on my 500px page.

Photo Friday #14

It’s Friday already?! Today I’m heading back up to Carlisle for my last weekend at work before I go to Finland. Just 4 days until I’m heading down to London for the flights!

Here’s another guest Photo Friday guest post – I’ll get right into it!

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Hello I’m Louise and I currently study Wildlife and Media at the University of Cumbria. I have a keen interest in horses and wildlife and after university I hope to join an existing equine photography business, photographing wildlife in my spare time, working my way up to start my own business. Here are a selection of my equine and wildlife photos:

1. Great Spotted Woodpecker – I took this photo last summer when at home when I spotted an active woodpeckers nest very close to a children’s park. As we walk the dog past this tree every afternoon I saw the pair of great spotted woodpeckers regularly and even saw the young poke there heads outside! I spent ages looking up at the trees fascinated by the close encounters with these woodpeckers and I hope to see them around again this summer.

2. New Forest Foal – A photo from last summers day trip to the New Forest! This picture was taken in Lyndhurst and I only came across it this year (after picking out a few favourites from the 200+ pictures I came home with last year). The foal didn’t seem to fussed at all by my presence just dozed the whole time!

3. Natural Environment – Again a photo from last summers day trip to the New Forest! This was taken in Beaulieu and was the first stop for the trip, one of my first pictures from the new forest…happens to be one of my personal favourites.

4. Early Rise – Taken last summer, I was out the door at 4am in the morning for this and am very pleased I managed to see about 4 foxes this morning! Certainly gets the adrenaline going, this is my favourite from the day, I heard a rustle coming from behind the bushes so stunk up on the fox…snapped a picture held eye contact for a couple of seconds and then off popped the fox….I then turned around to see another fox behind me, caught me by surprise anyway!

5. By the sea – Taken at Maryport in Cumbria on a day trip out whilst family were visiting me at university!. I spotted a large group of oystercatcher by the seas edge and couldn’t resist laying down and shuffling closer to get a few snaps.

6. Seal – Who could resist this face? Taken on a day trip to the Farne Islands, this seal popped its head out the water and kept its eye on the boat (either posing or wondering what the hell we were all doing). I used a 5DMark 2 borrowed from the university for this photo along with my own 300mm.

The majority of photos are taken on my own Canon 500D with a f.4, 300mm.

If you like my photos feel free to check more out at either : http://www.louisegroomphotography.co.uk or http://www.facebook.com/louisegroomphotography

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So yep, Louise is on my university course and well, aren’t these photos awesome!

(Interested in doing one of these posts? Contact me!)

Photo Friday #7

This week is a post of ‘firsts’. There are so many different animals in Britain, but obviously some are more abundant in specific areas and you may not actually see them all that often. Since living in Cumbria, I’ve seen so many different species that I never really noticed back home. The main one being the otter – I don’t believe they are in my area back home as we don’t have a big enough river close by. (Being, in my little town!) Anyway, the animals here are ones that I can find back home, but I’ve just never managed to get photos of before. I finally managed to do so this week! None of the photos are ‘brilliant’ but I’m pleased with them.

The common frog… As I was walking to university one day, and walking through the park, I noticed a splashing in the corner of my eye. Closer inspection showed a few frogs in the small pond. I went back the next day to get some photos! Really pleased with these, though I do want to go again to better ones!

Photograph Frog. by Katie Halsall on 500px

Photograph Peeping. by Katie Halsall on 500px

Another one is the Dipper. They’re great to watch! It’s quite funny to see a bird in the water, and swimming around like a duck… Unfortunately my photos of that were focused on the water and not the dipper…

Photograph Dipper. by Katie Halsall on 500px

Photograph Dipper. by Katie Halsall on 500px

And finally, the Blackbird… Strangely enough, this is my first photo of a blackbird in which it looks recognisable. I find them really hard to photograph as they move so quickly! They seem to be more wary of humans than other birds I’ve photographed…

Photograph Blackbird. by Katie Halsall on 500px

Introducing Charlie…

I heard about a competition that Pet Health Info were running and well, I just had to join in! Writing a post about my pet and why I love them? Easy!

All images taken from my instagram/facebook so I apologise for the bad quality in some…

So, Charlie is my very fat cat. On my first day of Year 7 I came home to see a tiny little kitten, hiding behind anything he could. We couldn’t decide on a name for a few days, flicking between Harry and Charlie mainly… Thankfully, we settled on Charlie. Not long after, Charlie went for his ‘op’ and we discovered that he was actually a she. Can you imagine a girl kitty called Harry?! At least Charlie was fairly unisex!

In September this year we will have had her for 10 years – that’s making me feel old! Her birthday is the 4th July, and I think I only really remember that because of the American Independence Day…

Anyway, here are some of the things that make Charlie, Charlie.

She likes to sit/sleep in awkward places, especially when I am on my laptop and not giving her attention. Many times she has just plonked herself down in between me and my laptop when it is on my knee.


She also likes to sit on me and other people. Myself and my dad seem to be her favourites, but I think my dad wins because he’s the one that feeds her the most…


She will lie with me whilst I read. It’s really comforting, lying down reading and having a cute, snoring, kitty beside you!

Then there was that time when I tricked her with a treat so she would stand up she posed with me.

And of course, it’s tiring being a cat…

image

This has been a cat appreciation post.

Pet Health Info is a website which offers pet health advice and information, at no added cost! There’s plenty of information whether you have a dog, cat, rabbit, fish, birds… the list goes on!

This competition is in conjunction with BloggerOpps and Pet Health Info.

Photo Friday #3

I don’t know about anyone else, but robins just seem to always be around when I’m out. I’ll go out to take photographs and I will very likely get a photograph of a robin. They’re just always around!

Earlier this week I visited Talkin Tarn, and I saw three Robins whilst there. Two on the way up, and one in the actual area. Anyway, I was sat at the feeding area and I heard a flutter of wings very close to my ear. Turning around slowly, I saw one robin standing around half a metre away from me, almost at eye level. I put my camera up to my face – the robin still watching me – and snapped a few photos. It was just watching everything I did, probably deciding whether I was a threat or not… It flew away, and came back again not long after to watch again. I’m really pleased with this photo!

Note: Please do not pin any of these images onto Pinterest.

I thought I would show a couple of other robin photos that I’ve collected over the past few years…

Untitled


Untitled by Katie Halsall on 500px.com


Robin by Katie Halsall on 500px.com

My life lately…

Well I feel like I have had a very busy week, and haven’t blogged in ages… But it’s only Tuesday! In reality, I just really haven’t been online much, and feel like I haven’t interacted in the blogosphere much! I thought I would do a little mid-week update…

Anyway, at the weekend I went home and I got to pick up my Pocket Mode (finally!) so I can start planning my expedition and take part in The Filofax Project. I got plenty of cuddles off Charlie…

For my boyfriends birthday we met with some of his family and just had a relaxed weekend, and also went to Monkey Forest!

Yesterday was my first full day at University this year, and the start of my Biodiversity Monitoring module. I had a good day yesterday, and all the information was interesting! I was knackered though, and ended up in bed at 10pm last night! I have to be out of the house at 7:30 in the morning, and only get back after 6pm so it’s quite a long day!

This morning was also good – we were outdoors all day. First was a Phase 1 Habitat Survey, and the afternoon had us doing a Butterfly Survey. We didn’t see any butterflies… I think I actually walked around 4 miles today.

Looking forward to tomorrow as we’re doing a Freshwater Invertebrate Survey (and finish at 12pm!). And then on Thursday we have Bird and Mammal Surveys and then a Bat Survey in the evening! Friday is another long day – looking at all the mammal traps to see what we’ve caught, and I think we’re doing the River Corridor Survey before finishing the week with a summary. And that’s my Biodiversity Module over… (With the assessment deadline in November!)

So yep, it is a busy week, but I’m having fun so far!

Wilko bargains!

On Saturday, I had nipped in to Wilkinsons to look at wallpaper. As I said in earlier posts, I’ll be decorating my bedroom soon, and I’ve been looking for ‘tree’ wallpaper!

Anyway, I saw a sign in the window that mentioned new stationery sets so I decided to have a look. They’re nice, but not my favourites! I happened to discover sale items, and well, I bought four folder type things for 10p each! I spent a grand total of 40p on all this below!

So the one on the left is a document folder, and the one on the right is a document wallet. The left one is like a box, so it will hold quite a few papers in it! The other is more for small amounts of paper!

This was so cute I couldn’t pass it up! (And I bought two!) These aren’t sold any more, but have a look here as similar items can be found!

I love the different designs!

So if you have a Wilkinsons near you, I would strongly advise you go check it out quickly! New season designs means the older ones are being sold very cheaply!


  • I am 21 years old, currently studying Wildlife and Media at University and blogging about life, stationery, Filofax, fitness and more.

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