Today was a bright day, the first after many days of dullness, and rain, and grey skies and rain. So I decided to head out and see what I could find to photograph. As is often the case I headed to Salisbury Plain hoping, as usual, to find hen harriers and short-eared owls.
For various reasons, I made my way to the Plain via the back-roads around Wootton Rivers and then through Netheravon. Just before Wootton Rivers, next to the road for Brimslade Farm, is a very small shed I’ve seen many times and thought to photograph. Today, with the weak, watery sun shining on it, seemed like a good day. I tried it from a couple of different angles, but from straight ahead, with Martinsell Hill in the background, worked best I felt.
The Tiny Shed Near Brimslade Farm
The day was, as so many seem to have been this year, blowy, which meant there were very few small birds sitting atop posts and branches. However, once I arrived at the Plain, there were small birds to be found at ground level. The problem would be photographing them among the grass. Pleasingly, this meadow pipit did what meadow pipits like to do — run along the road — and so gave me a fine photo op…
Meadow Pipit in the Road
I watched the starlings, pipits, buntings and linnets flit around and feed for a while, and then I headed on towards Casterley Castle. When I drove into the combe at Water Down Bottom I spied a hawk being mobbed by a crow. The hawk turned out to be a red kite; this was the third or fourth time I had seen a kite in this location, and would surmise that it is the same one. Kites are not yet that common on the Plain, nor in this part of Wiltshire, so it is interesting that one appears to be resident somewhere around this area. I didn’t manage to get a very good photo of it — it suddenly moved very fast towards me, and I wasn’t ready…
Red Kite at Compton
Having failed in this endeavour, I continued up the hill out of the combe and onto the Wessex Ridgeway, along by Casterley Castle and towards the Charlton Clumps. The Clumps are a small stands of trees that are spread around the top of Charlton Hill. I often photograph them. I tried to resist. But I saw some fieldfares, and stopped to check them out. And then my eyes were drawn to this Clump, and I just had to…
One of the Charlton Clumps
As to the fieldfares, there were hundreds, probably thousands of them around the Plain today, sitting in trees and grubbing in the grass. I managed to catch some sitting in the sun, high up in a tree in another of the Clumps:
Three Fieldfares in a Tree
I then continued on my way around the Plain, along the Ridgeway, past Red Horn vedette post to Market Lavington vedette post, where I took the byway into the centre of the Plain. I saw very little as I drove down this byway and others, just flocks of starlings flying past to their roost (there is a large starling murmuration on the Plain). No hen harriers, no short-eared owls. I think I might have seen a merlin, but can’t be sure. Chasing the uncertain merlin, I ended up near some trees — called Old Farm Clump on the Ordnance Survey map of the early 1900s. Next to this clump, on the other side of the byway, are three evergreen trees. One of them stands slightly apart, and often makes a good photographic subject depending on the time of day, year and sky. Today, the lone tree looked rather good in the weak light with broken cloud behind it.
I thought it might be worth trying a shot with the Lensbaby Composer and Sweet 35 lens… I rather liked it… I made the colours cool in this shot:
A Lone Tree with Lensbaby
Whereas in this shot, using the Sigma 24-70 wide angle, I went for a warmer tone, sunset colours. This made the shot starker, more of a silhouette. I also went for a lower angle, shooting upwards slightly:
The Lone Tree, Low and Wide
After that, darkness quickly began to fall. There were no owls or deer to entertain me, and shower clouds began to roll in from the west. So I headed back up through Candown Bottom towards the Market Lavington vedette, back to Red Horn Hill, and down to Devizes to get myself a spade.
And that is the story of my day…