It's been a while since I went for a bimble over to Whiteley Woods so Sunday afternoon armed with the camera I off I went. Part of the woodland runs alongside the local golf course and although a bit thick in places I decided to follow a used wildlife trail just inside the woodland.
Along the way I found two Fox kill sites, one was a Wood Pigeon and the other a Duck that I assume originated from the golf course.
I stopped for a sit and a drink of water when a Squirrel popped out of the edge of the woodland and started foraging in the grass. As I took a few shots of him he acknowledged that I was there, posed for a few pictures and carried on about his business.
I sat there for 10 minutes taking in the surroundings when I heard a faint tap,tap,tap coming from just inside the tree line. Using the cover of the smaller trees I made my way to a large Ash tree where a Nuthatch was busy tapping away at the top of a branch. I stood and watched for a while and a soon as it moved off I carried on along the trail.
As I reached the end of the coppice the edge was so thick that it was nearly impossible to break out into the open. Using the same exit as the wildlife I came out onto an open space opposite a track. Once again I decided to have some water when in front of me a large Roe Buck appeared from the other side of the track and strolled across in front of me and off into the adjoining woodland. So it was time to put my tracking skills into practice. As I started off down the track to pick up the bucks trail another young buck appeared. I stood perfectly still and slowly raised the camera for a few shots. I could very clearly see that its right eye was damaged looking bulbous and white.
I let a few minutes pass and decided to try and pick up the trail of the buck that I had seen earlier. Now over Whiteley you don't often see many deer prints let alone some very defined prints with dew claws showing.. But due to the recent very wet weather I saw more Roe prints in that one visit than I have seen in all my time visiting Whiteley.
I slowly followed the trail untill it disappeared just into the woodland. Remembering back to the Woodlife tracking course that I had attended I engaged some speculative tracking which brought me to the end of a track. As I looked up the track, just around the corner there was the Buck. He was just sat there on the track chewing on some grass. I sat there for a good 10 minutes just watching and taking a few pictures. There wasn't really any way to approach him without being seen so I simply stayed low and made my way towards him. It was inevitable that he would see me at some point and when he did he stood up and checked me out. At this point I raise the camera to try and get a few shots.
Now I am no stranger to deer barking but what I was about to experience still makes me tingle now when I think of that moment. He gave off two almighty barks whilst staring straight at my face. Wow! It was loud and it sent a shiver down my spine, not in a scary way but in an awe type of way... It's hard to describe but a moment I will not forget!
He stood his ground for a little longer then took off up the track, even then he stopped once again and gave off another couple of barks before disappearing into the woodland.
I had seen Fox near this spot a couple of times before and after successfully calling in a Fox using the back of my hand to make a squealing sound I decided to try out a plastic Fox caller that I got for a couple of quid from the internet. I didn't see any Fox but it attracted a Magpie to me and a Green Woodpecker also seemed to take an interest sitting in a tree in front of me calling back.
So enough excitement for one afternoon, the sun was getting lower and the temperature was dropping so I decided to take a slow walk back to the car. Now normally at Whiteley your doing well if you see a couple of Roe but today was to be an exception. Yet another buck just off to the side of the track. I very slowly made my way pass him only really making direct eye contact with the camera, he watched me watching him as I passed him without incident and made my way back to the car and home.
One of the reasons for taking the camera was to practice shooting in low light. With the long lens it can be difficult to get good focused shots without the use of a tripod. So a lot of the shots I took were with an ISO of 1600 & 3200 all handheld. The issue with this is that the pictures are very noisy. I recently discovered a very good filter / plugin for Photoshop elements called Topaz Denoise that greatly reduces the noise but doesn't affect the sharpness of the picture. This opens up the light range in which I can use the lens. If your into wildlife photography bearing in mind that some of the prime time for wildlife is in low light conditions then this plugin is a must.