Wild Boar, Forest of Dean

Wild Boar, Forest of Dean, originally uploaded by Ben909.

Finally, I got to see some of this years piglets! :) Unfortunately, they were so small they barely show up on any of the photos, but they were a treat to see. (click on the photo for a poor photo of one).
Unlike the non-native fallow deer who are currently enjoying the benefits of a closed season on shooting, the native (albeit long extinct until recent years) wild boar do not enjoy this luxury. Whilst they are busy trying to look after their young, the Forestry Commission is continuing to shoot them. In the past two weeks I've found plenty evidence that the boar are being shot at this important time. There seems to still be a policy of reducing the population, even though the population is very much unknown.
This photo shows one of the sows. The sounder consisted of two sows and something like 8-10 piglets. There's almost certainly one behind the tree or the grass in this shot, but they're so small that most of the time they were hidden. This particular sow is shown here trotting towards the camera for a closer look at what's going on (poor eyesight). Soon afterwards, she turned back to the group and headed off.

Volcanic Sunset

Volcanic Sunset, originally uploaded by Ben909.

This was taken last night on the banks of the River Severn at Awre. Britain remains a no-fly zone as the tiny particles of rock, glass and sand contained in the ash cloud could jam aircraft engines, as has happened in previous incidents of planes flying into plumes of volcanic ash. The last eruption of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano system that is creating the problems was on 20 March, when a 0.5km-long fissure opened up on the eastern side of the glacier at the Fimmvoerduhals Pass.
The cone shaped baskets in this picture are placed in putcher frames to catch salmon.

Piercefield View

Piercefield View, originally uploaded by Ben909.

This was taken from grounds of the old Piercefield House estate in Monmouthshire, looking towards the Severn Bridge, just visible in the distance.
69 secs, F10, ISO100, R72

Wild Boar - A Revisted Encounter

Wild Boar - A Revisted Encounter, originally uploaded by Ben909.

I've never double-posted before, but I was looking back and decided that the processing on this was overdone last time. Considering the effort I went to to get this shot I thought it was worth revisiting it. It was shot in pitch black somewhere in the middle of the Forest of Dean and was the culmination of a lot of time and patience spent observing the boar in that area last year. One of the first things a wild boar will want to do when it wakes up for the evening is to have a good wallow. They'll then rub much of the mud off again on a nearby tree trunk, but not all of it as you can see here! I think this version looks more natural - just a slight amount of 'fill light' in Photoshop to bring out a bit more detail. My last sighting was 3 or 4 days ago. I was getting concerned about the lack of evidence of young boar this year, but am finally getting reports of sightings. It shouldn't be long until I can catch up with them :)

Slow-worm, Forest of Dean

Slow-worm, Forest of Dean, originally uploaded by Ben909.

I've set myself the ambitious goal of trying to photograph some fox cubs in the forest, on one of their first forays in to the open... trouble is knowing where to find them, and which holes they're in! Two nights so far without success, although I have seen a vixen, and had an encounter with a large wild boar last night. So the fluffy fox cubs will have to make way for the time being. It's a slow-worm picture today instead:)
Anguis fragilis, or slow worm, slow-worm, slowworm, blindworm or blind worm, is a limbless reptile native to Eurasia.
Slow-worms are semi-fossorial (burrowing) lizards spending much of the time hiding underneath objects. The skin of the varieties of slow-worm is smooth with scales that do not overlap one another. Like many other lizards, slow-worms autotomize, meaning that they have the ability to shed their tails in order to escape predators. The tail regrows, but remains smaller.

Common Lizard

Common Lizard, Forest of Dean, originally uploaded by Ben909.

The viviparous lizard or common lizard is a Eurasian lizard. It lives farther north than any other reptile species, and most populations are viviparous (giving birth to live young), rather than laying eggs as most other lizards do. The viviparous lizard feeds on invertebrates, mostly small insects. It shakes larger prey in its jaws before chewing it and swallowing it whole. In early spring, late autumn, and cool summer days it basks in the sun to reach its optimum body temperature.

Tunnel Vision

Tunnel Vision, originally uploaded by Ben909.

Typical bank holiday weather today, so to escape the rain I headed underground to explore a disused iron mine in the forest near my house, accompanied by friends. This was my first ever attempt at any form of light-painting, and I'm quite pleased with the result. Not sure I'd want to venture in to this blackness on my own though!
63 seconds, F8, ISO100, light painted

Dangerous Structure

Dangerous Structure, originally uploaded by Ben909.

Piercefield House is a largely ruined neo-classical mansion designed by Sir John Soane, located near Chepstow in Monmouthshire.
This is essentially one of the out-buildings. The main property is to the left of this picture, but security fencing prevented me getting any reasonable pictures. The main property is actually in a worse condition that this, and is currently up for sale with an asking price of £2,000,000.