Since the last newsletter I have hosted three Study Days; one on the wildlife of the gardens and two on close-up photography. And for once the weather played a perfect supporting role.
At the start of May five early risers met up to look for wildlife in the fields to the north of our site. We were rewarded with excellent views of the fallow deer, muntjac, pheasants and in pride of place, brown hares. Related to rabbits but unlike them in that they do not live in burrows, they are the rabbit’s larger and wilder cousins. Joined by the rest of the party at 9.30am and after a restorative drink plus a biscuit, we set off into the gardens to see our nesting nuthatches and the wildlife of the walled garden. In response to my comment that we sometimes see grass snakes swimming across our pond, one appeared from the pond foliage and swam about in full view – a very rare sighting. After lunch we took a wider route to the front gate and away along the Selvage. A fine herd of fallow deer stood stock still watching us for about 10 minutes; plenty of time for everyone to get some lovely photographs with which to remember the day.
Close-up photography poses several technical and practical challenges but it is very popular with wildlife photographers. Our close-up course starts in the house – a studio setting – and uses various still-life models including carnivorous plants, fungi and this year, shed grass snake skins. After lunch we decamp to the walled garden to photograph the flowers and insects and attempt to take pictures of dragonflies in flight. Once again, one of the groups had a special visitor to point their lenses at when a large grass snake came out for about an hour to hunt amongst the lily pads.Although grass snakes cannot be guaranteed, these courses will run again next year and dates will be supplied in due course.
I will also be starting the very popular night photography courses again in November. Any wanting to be included on the circulation list should supply an e-mail contact through the normal Copped Hall address.
photos: Peter Warne