Back home yesterday afternoon after a week working away in Slovakia. It was mild, dry and with sunshine so I was looking forward to getting the garden trap back out. By the time I lit up though it had turned distinctly chilly and I very low expectations. I was a bit knackered so didn't bother checking the trap at all before heading off to bed early, and it was not until late this morning that I bothered to check it. There was nothing in or under the trap at all, and just a single moth resting on the house wall nearest the trap. So just one moth of one species .......
Oak Beauty - a garden tick!
Not the best individual with a bit of wear and a patch of missing scales, but a nice garden tick all the same. It brings the garden macro list up to 310 and the overall garden moth list to 659.
Time for another overdue species to highlight, though I'm not sure whether this one really is an overdue or more likely 'long gone' from around here.
Garden Tiger is a species I was familiar with long before I started moth recording, so I was pleased but not spectacularly surprised when one turned up on 22/07/2001 - just my second full year of garden light trapping. Never had a sniff of one here since, and whilst I have seen odd ones over the years whilst out of county trapping (notably at the inlaws North Devon garden and at Wicken Fen) I don't think I've seen one in VC55 since 2006. I'm not expecting this one to reappear in the garden trap any time soon.
Still haven't got to grips with indoor photography using the bright led ring I bought. I can't seem to get the right white balance set regardless of what I do including using the photographers grey card. Need more practice, but for that I need more moths in the early/late season and more time. Here's a couple of not too bad quick shots in the meantime.
Pale Brindled Beauty
Forgot to post a note a couple of weeks back about a lucky garden tick. I'd made some pack-up for work and then promptly forgot to take it in the morning so I nipped home at lunch. Whilst peering out of the kitchen window with a sarnie hovering in front of my face, two Cormorants flew over the garden. I've seen a few flyover Cormorants around here over the last couple of years, but these were the first over the garden.
And whilst I'm at it, here's an old photo from the garden that I found whilst sorting out some old files from one back-up drive to another.
Today was one of those days where it looked quite nice out, a bit of sun and dry, but standing on the touchline this afternoon whilst Josh kicked a bag of wind about with the Cosby team it was bloody freezing cold. All the more surprising then that the first garden macro for 2015 appeared to a lit window this evening - and for the third year on the trot it was an Early Moth.
Unbelievable - you go on holiday, have a cracking time in the sunshine relaxing without the kids and all, and next thing you know it's Christmas and New Year. Been absolutely nowhere, done nowt and seen even less since the end of October. I did nip over to Watermead CP on 31st after finishing work, though only briefly as it was cold and far too sunny for decent photography so just a few quick shots grabbed.
Happy New Year - perhaps I'll do, see and post a bit more in 2015 ......
A few more from yesterday, trying out my new Nikon CoolPix P600 bridge camera. One of the things I was keen to check out as soon as possible was that it worked okay with the Raynox macro conversion lens that I've been using with good results on the Lumix. Almost as soon as I started walking along Kinchley Lane alongside Swithland Reservoir (if you came for the Crag Martin all those years ago, it's the lane where you parked and then got blocked in ...) I found a small spider on the stone wall. An excellent subject to try it out, and all the better when I sussed out that it was new for me.
I took this using exactly same technique as I've been using with the Lumix: autofocus set to macro, aperture priority and aperture wound up as high as possible (f7.6 for this shot), flash forced on, WB set to flash at -1, no exposure compensation, ISO fixed at slowest (100 on this camera) and this shot was 1/60 sec. Snap. Images looked okay on back of camera and I'm pleased with this one.
I then found some leafhoppers on oak whilst checking for galls on the underside of the leaves. Again, same technique, and unbelievably another tick. I can't credit the camera for two ticks in quick succession!
Had to zoom in a bit more for this one which makes holding the focus whilst hand-held a bit more hit and miss, especially out in the field, but this is okay.
So far so good - camera at least comparable to the Lumix with the Raynox in use using usual technique. One of this things that I don't like though is using the flash all the time. Tends to work okay for most inverts, but not good for lots of flowers. So with the cleaner image at higher ISO than I get from the Lumix I am hoping I can ditch the flash more often, especially for flowers and moths. Here's a couple of shots taken using the Raynox with flash off and WB set to cloudy.
Taleporia tubulosa at ISO 400 with 1/60 sec exposure.
Sycamore Tar Spot at ISO 400 with 1/50 sec exposure
A fly at ISO 400 with 1/200 exposure
I think with compliant subjects in the right conditions, there is more scope for useable shots without flash from this camera than I got with the Lumix.
The last thing I wanted to try out was the in-built macro without the Raynox. With the Lumix, this is only really useable with the macro zoom facility with creates a noisy image unless you are photographing something butterfly sized and bigger. I was lucky enough to find a Grey Shoulder-knot settled on the stone wall, albeit in a pretty shaded spot so I would have to use flash. Moth photos are sometimes rubbish with flash; it does depend on the lighting conditions you are in but it's the reflectivity of the scales on some moths that screw it up.
Not the best moth shot I've ever taken but certainly gives confidence that I should be able to get useable macromoth photos using this camera without the Raynox - something that I can't do with the Lumix.
All in all a good testing session, and obviously more time spent using it will improve the techniques and results.