An Uninvited Guest Arrives

My sister started to jump up and down, gesticulating wildly as she ran out into the garden this morning. She was virtually squealing as she ran down to the pond.
I'm glad to say that this isn't her usual behaviour... but she'd noticed a heron had landed near her pond. After restocking her fish recently after last years greedy heron visitor, she was not prepared for this new chap to indulge in her new Koi Carp.
I was thrilled to have my camera on hand to capture him being shooed off.
I didn't take a photo of my sister flapping and running down to the pond... because basically she'd kill me if I did that.
He didn't manage to eat breakfast this time, but he did try to come back three times during the morning.
There's wire zig-zagged across the pond as a deterrent to keep him from entering which seems to be working for now, but he seems determined.
I'm linking up with Mersad's Through My Lens

My Sunday Photo... swallow

(Experimenting with this photo... loading from my kindle. Hence no usual frame as I haven't worked out how to do that yet)

Look what flew right into our house.
 It's the first time it's been warm enough to leave the garden door open... and this is what happened.
We have many swallows swooping around the house and even have a couple beginning to nest in our woodshed. 
I don't know who was more in a flap... me or him... to get out of the house.
Thankfully, my hubby gentle got hold of him and we released him back outside.
I'm linking up as usual to

Have a great Sunday everyone.
Happy Bank Holiday

Wildlife Photography Workshop at Haddo House

I've been browsing through my many folders of photographs when I realised that I never got to share with you my participating in a wildlife photography workshop at a Scottish National Trust property.
I remember visiting Haddo House many years ago, but unfortunately I was on a mission this time, so didn't get to revisit inside the house. 
That will have to be for another day. 
Pretty spectacular isn't it?
(The above and below photographs are courtesy of the Haddo House website. I stayed in the grounds of the property so didn't really get to see the house or get a chance to take my own photos of it. If you'd like to visit Haddo House to check out all what's happening and there's always something going on, it really is worth visiting or if you're interested in it's history then click here.
The house was originally designed in 1732 so there's a lot of history!
Anyway more about the house perhaps on another day...we're off to join the intrepid trackers for a photo shoot of wildlife and to explore the extensive gardens and country park. Did I mention that there's also a tearoom in the old stable block too? 
That was where the group of enthusiasts met one Sunday morning back in May. 
Our professional wildlife photographer and cameraman was the delightful Cain Scrimgeour, who has filmed wildlife around the world - from Botswana to Peru. 
(He's produced films for the RSPB, Northumberland National Park, English Heritage, The Natural History Society of Northumbria. He's also worked as a specialist camera operator for ITV’s Tales of Northumberland with Robson Green so he's got quite a pedigree) 

After an initial introduction over a cuppa aided by some of Cain's fantastic photography we stepped outside. 
Here's Cain sharing some of his story's and showing different hides for experiencing nature up close and personal. 
As you can see it was not only informative but also a relaxed enjoyable workshop.
The thumb belongs to one of the group who very enthusiastically volunteered to demonstrate one of the hides. 
I hasten to add that I was not in fatigues or camouflager gear but did pass the initial talk about what was appropriate clothing to wear to get the best out of the landscape and not frightening everything within a 10 mile radius of my camera. 
So let's begin...
Bluebells... ahhh
I got slightly carried away here (click, click, click) then realised that although I'd thought to buy a complete new memory card for my camera, which would have allowed me to take gazillion's of pictures, unfortunately I hadn't thought to buy an additional battery. 
Is that the cardinal sin for a photographer I wonder, because if it is I'm guilty but I did my penance by feeling extremely foolish and totally embarrassed. 
I can promise you it'll never happen again that's for sure. 
But in the meantime, it was only a red flashing warning light... I still had power and I wasn't afraid to use it! 

Surprisingly to me there are rules (which Cain kindly explained) to follow when trying to obtain that perfect shot and I was far from the mark, but when your model refuses to co-operate and time is of the essence, then click that'll have to do for now. 
I enjoyed what I did take and surprisingly was quite pleased with my results. 
I'd like to nip back early one morning because although it was quite quiet and the wildlife seems to be quite relaxed with everyone around, it would be better with less people. 
As in the bluebell wood, this wild garlic patch held us captive for quite some time. 
I have numerous photos with bee's and insects etc in various angles of activity, but none unfortunately that are in focus. I was playing with all the various switches and dials on my camera 
(I know I should know what the technical terms are for all these things, but that just highlights that I point and shoot without all the theory behind me and hope for the best) 
I really must go on another photography course to get to grips with all these delicate maneuvers and technical terms. 
All I know is that at this stage the red battery low light was flashing...argh! 
Which believe it or not is slightly distracting. 
I have a soft spot for pheasants and actually did meet one at the gatehouse on the way into Haddo House, so when I saw this building that in it's past was devoted purely to housing pheasants I couldn't resist to take a snap.

At this stage I wanted to crawl under a stone myself, but the very kind and generous Cain handed me his camera to use!

Can you believe it. 
He's a fantastic guy and truly generous with not only passing on his knowledge, tips and ideas but his equipment too. 
Hero of the day.
I felt like I was being handed the crown jewels. I was so nervous to really put it through it's paces, although it was good to have a tinker of another make of camera. 
I was hoping like riding a well schooled horse in a riding stables that knows the ropes, the camera would just take the most amazing shots because that's what it knows best... not having some novice man-handling it as in my case. 
You could almost hear it tut! 

But thankfully the day wasn't spoilt... even with my stupid error of not having an extra battery tucked away about my person. 
It was fantastic and so enjoyable that I can really recommend getting out there with a group of like minded people 
(it's amazing what little snippets and tips you can pick up along the way) 

As usual I'm enjoying capturing anything that takes my eye, trying to remember all that Cain said and will continue to hopefully see some good results.
If you'd like to visit Cain's blog here's the link
I'm hoping to perhaps set up a gallery in my sidebar to show all of my favourite photos taken on my camera. 
That is if I can work out how to do it Emoji
In the meantime here's just a few for now
The fine looking bullfinch below was photographed in my sisters garden but I'm thrilled to say we now have our own pair of bullfinches visiting our garden too.
I hope you'll continue to visit... the kettle's never far from boiling and if you're lucky there might even be some home baked cakes on offer too. 
Until next time have a great day and enjoy your local wildlife.

Not exactly Wordless Wednesday

You're probably not going to believe this but last night I had a bath! 
I know that's a shocking statement to open up with this morning, but it's a big deal in my book. 
A bath is a real luxury for take time out...light a few candles...indulge in smelly's and bubbles etc takes effort and time, which I don't often indulge in, especially to treat myself. 
To shock you even more it's the first bath I've had in this house since returning last July! (Gasp)  Now steady on there before you back up in case of body odour or in disgust, let me tell you for the record that I shower daily. 
For regular visitors, you'll know that we've been having major renovations around here since we arrived back from Australia, one of which has been to bring the bathrooms from the 1980's to present day. It was wonderful to luxuriate in a bath (with ducks even...obviously not live though as I have my water way too hot) and appreciate just how far we've come. 
But we're not the only one's to benefit from the work that's been carried out around here. The birds certainly have become used to good pickings with feed stations dotted around the property. Yesterday I heard a commotion on the roof and discovered this family of swallows which appeared to be on their maiden flight. There were some dodgy flyby's and the odd thud of feathers on glass....but thankfully nothing serious.  But I've noticed that some of my new windows have been christened as did my car sunroof just after Hubby washed it at the weekend! 
I managed to capture some of the feeding.
Obviously our new gutters have full approval too. 
Note their sheen. 

It was amazing to watch the parents agility and I'm please that I managed to capture some of it on camera. I would have liked the better camera but that happened to be downstairs and I've come to learn you have to seize the moment. So many times have to gone to tell someone that we've a particular visitor or to retrieve a camera when the subject matter disappears. It can be so frustrating. 

I nearly managed to capture a Jay on the roof of the bird table yesterday, but he was too flighty for me. He has such amazing colours. Maybe I'll be more successful next time.
We've started to make a list of all the different birds that have visited the garden and we're up to 35. I know I can hardly believe it either. 
The jay is becoming a regular visitor now.
Like these guys...
I know I've tweeted about these guys before, but if you don't follow me on Twitter then you may have missed them. We've had them visit us for a about a month now and have had up to seven on the lawn at once. I've no idea where they've come from or where they go, but it's nice to have them drop in. They're brilliant at hoovering up all of the seed that's dropped to the ground from the feeder. If only I could train them to come indoors to carry on that would be something. 
For the eagle-eyed of you I know you'll have noticed the empty hanging basket hook but have no fear I'll be sorting that as soon as I find the time.
Yesterday I filled two large hanging mangers and I'll post their photo when the sun shines and they've settled in. 
(Another Twitter photo from during the's our Chelsea Flower Show inspired border. I'll let you see how it progresses as the summer works it's magic...hopefully!)  

I was busy working in the garden with Muffy lounging about watching over me (as she does) possibly sulking because I was digging and she gets a such a hard time of it when she tries. But I suddenly became aware that she was missing. 
On the mooch no doubt but nevertheless I started to call and check for her. 
Now she normally ignores my calls and waits until I've worked myself up into a lather before showing her face in some undergrowth, but this time she didn't appear! 
Panic started to rise when I'd done a complete circuit of the house and garden calling all the most successful things that usually work. I needed backup so called my son to come and help find her (this has happened on numerous occasions with him having to pole volt over the barded-wire fence to retrieve her). Anyway as he was getting shoes on etc I heard barking down the lane (unfamiliar barking but a bark all the same) and two cars were parked up. Not a good sign.
I frantically shouted to my son to head down the lane, whilst I checked out more likely spots on the peripheral
 of the garden. 
Just then a car turned into the driveway and a woman popped out to her boot and retrieved a completely oblivious pooch. 
Mufftypup had done a runner!
 Something that we just never thought would happen...had happened. 
Apparently, the woman stopped when she came across Muffy sitting smack bang in the centre of the lane. Muffy had followed a dog walker who's dog obviously must have had longer legs than her because she gave up after about half a mile. 
Too much hard work for a diva! 

The rescuer asked the dog walker if she knew Muffy but then when she didn't she decided to backtrack up the lane and thought our house was probably the best option. 
Nearest for one of little leg!
I couldn't thank the woman enough, hugging her whilst her dumbfounded little wee one's in the back of the car watched such a mad woman basically throwing a tizzy.
I went through all the various sinario's all afternoon and evening after that...she could have been run over, dognapped, dinner for numerous beasties like foxes and buzzards...oh I can feel the panic rising again so I'd better stop now. 
Here's the cheeky wee bissom out on one of our walks...nearly lost in the long grass. 
As you can see we'd have had great difficulty in finding here if she's gone further afield. 

I was going to link to a Wordless Wednesday today but then I'm writing less and less on my blog lately, so I thought I'd just have a natter this morning instead. 
I hope you enjoyed your visit.
Have a wonderful Wednesday...whether it's wordless or waffling!