Monday, 21 June 2010

Burwash Manor

Another camera club outing yesterday afternoon, this time to Burwash Manor Farm in Barton.  A fascinating place run by a farmer who is obviously passionate about wildlife and working organically.  We were treated to a ride around the farm on a trailer with plywood seats - a bit like a South African Game Drive, but without the South African Game!


Several shallow ponds have been dug specifically for birds and insects - especially dragonflies.  There was a family of mallards going quietly about their business, but all of a sudden panic set in and they all decided to abandon ship.


Otherwise the ponds were very peaceful and, with one exception, crystal clear.


This is the farmer himself, explaining why red clover acts as a natural contraceptive for cows because of the level of oestrogen it contains...


Who's a shitty boy, then?  Another of the farmer's stories related to a solitary calf which was wandering around the field covered in excrement.  Apparently it's all down to the fact its mother had died, so spent its time attempting to steal food from the other cows in the field.  The only way to avoid being kicked is to approach the udder from behind, but this has obvious drawbacks...


Once the official tour was finished we were dropped off by the ponds in order to wander round on our own.  Apart from a couple of damsel flies and some water boatmen, there wasn't much sign of activity in the ponds themselves.  Slightly further afield, though, I came across a male Broad Bodied Chaser which was sunning itself on a twig.  It flew off for a while, but then came back to a different branch close by.  In terms of photography, though, it's clear that the background makes a huge difference.  Both shots were taken at exactly the same camera and lens settings, but I know which one I prefer...


The farmer had planted beetle banks to split up his large fields, and these were absolutely full of insects including Large Skippers and the humble Bumble Bee.  The picture with two Skippers shows some interesting behaviour: when the second butterfly arrived, it spent the whole time while on the flower vibrating its abdomen.  I've seen bees "dance" before, but not butterflies.


The flowers were superb, although not being a botanical type I'm not sure what some of them are.  I recognised Poppies (obviously), Scabious and Knapweed, but I don't know what the big Daisy-like flowers are.  Any help with identification gratefully received!


This posting wouldn't be complete without the usual selection of Homo Photographicus specimens.  A couple clearly found something fascinating to photograph in the soil (heaven alone knows what) while others were unusually shy and elusive.  Good camouflage in the final picture, though...