Pregnant Melanistic Fallow Deer

Pregnant Melanistic Fallow Deer, originally uploaded by Ben909.

Taken in the Forest a couple of weeks ago. After spending an hour or so waiting patiently for the chance to capture some deer with no success, I moved on and crossed paths with this deer. I'm pretty sure she's pregnant. Focus isn't too great on this one unfortunately.

Wild Boar - 2 weeks old

Wild Boar - 2 weeks old, originally uploaded by Ben909.

This tiny female wild boar is just two weeks old, and is being hand reared in the Forest of Dean, apparently rejected by her mother in her first few days of life. She is about the size of my foot - something she took great pleasure in nudging and chewing today! The striped markings will eventually fade as she grows older and larger.
Click on the picture for an even closer view!

No stick is too big

No stick is too big, originally uploaded by Ben909.

Tip: If you ever find yourself looking down your lens at something like this hurtling towards you whilst crouched in the snow, be aware that a big branch in the back of the head hurts. I don't think either me or Grace considered how she was going to run past me with this, until it was too late. At least it was my head, and not the camera :)

Banks of the Wye

Banks of the Wye, originally uploaded by Ben909.

This was taken during the Christmas break on the banks of the River Wye.


Untitled, originally uploaded by Ben909.

This was taken just after the heaviest of the recent snowfall. I think I'm most pleased with this one out of all the recent snow shots. The snow has now turned to rain, and the ground has turned to slush.

Badger (Meles Meles Meles)

Badger (Meles Meles Meles), originally uploaded by Ben909.

Seems a while since I've posted a badger photo, so um, here's a badger photo. Unfortunately it's not a recent one (note the lack of snow). There are prints around this small set in the Forest of Dean though, so hopefully they're all doing ok in this harsh winter.
Many species have repetition in their scientific name (e.g dama dama - fallow deer, vulpes vulpes - red fox). The western European badger is known as Meles Meles Meles meaning it's of the Meles genus (badger), and the Meles species epithet (european), and the Meles sub-species epithet (western european)... which loosely gives me the opportunity to link to the funniest and most confusing page I've found on Wikipedia, which has nothing at all to do with badgers. (Can you tell I've run out of things to say about badgers?)


Whiteout, originally uploaded by Ben909.

We still had a pretty thick layer of snow from the last fall, but since last night we've another another 18 hours or so of more heavy snow. I'm not sure if it was low cloud or mist, but visibility wasn't very far here on the high ground.

Precious Nuts

Precious Nuts, originally uploaded by Ben909.

This was taken during the snowfall we had a few days before Christmas, about 3 weeks ago, in the Forest. It's snowed a lot more overnight, and there's a deep fresh covering of snow everywhere, and many roads are impassable.

Wild Boar series (click the picture for more)

Here's another picture from yesterday. The local newspapers have recently carried a number of stories which have done nothing but unjustifiable harm to the boars reputation. Looking behind the headlines, these few stories could have all been avoided with a little more responsibility on the part of a few dog walkers and land owners. Many people are very fearful of the boar, but as these photographs show, these are not the blood hungry animals we are often led to believe. They are a native species, unlike for instance, the fallow deer, the grey squirrel, even the rabbit. If any other native species of this country reached such low numbers as the current wild boar population, there'd be all sorts of protection and breeding schemes in place.
Please click the photo to see more shots from this series.

Wild Boar (Sus Scrofa)

This photo (and others that I'll upload later) was the result of about four hours effort, two of which were spent silently sat in the snow. After two hours (and the onset of what frostbite must feel like!), I caught a distant glimpse of 8-10 wild boar heading in the opposite direction in to thick forest. It took me the next hour or so to track them down. The snow is great for sneaking quietly :) The light was very poor as it was almost dusk, the dark boar contrast strongly with the white snow, and the tree cover didn't help, so I had to be fairly close to get more than a silhouette. They were fairly well scattered as they were all foraging for food beneath the snow, and most of the time I couldn't see more than four at a time, having to rely on listening to the others instead to make sure I kept a respectful distance from them. I watched them rooting around for about half an hour in all, and saw a couple of small 'disagreements' about the best foraging spots! None of the photos are perfect, but it was a real treat :)


Snow, Forest of Dean, originally uploaded by Ben909.

I don't know how much snow has fallen officially here, but unofficially it's higher than my wellies on the more exposed higher ground :) There's some pretty impressive drifting too. The snow is still very powdery but is crystalising as it's so cold - the white 'noise' in the bottom of the photo is just the sun glinting on the snow.

Old Severn Railway Bridge

Old Severn Railway Bridge, originally uploaded by Ben909.

It's not in the Forest of Dean, but it has/had links to the Forest once...
The Severn Railway Bridge was built in the 1870s to allow coal from the Forest of Dean to be brought across the river to Sharpness both for export cargo and to provide fuel for steamers. It had 21 spans supported on piers across the river and a swingbridge across the canal. The circular tower base of the swingbridge remains. Some of the span bases can be seen nearby in the river. The bridge was damaged in the early 1960's and demolished a few years later.