Sunday, 29 August 2021

Connecting with Nature - Wildlife + camping = Wildlife camping with a twist

Earlier in the year during Winter and what felt like the 100th lockdown we have had I decided once that I had planned, booked and paid for all my holidays I wanted to do some creative unique things I have thought of but not seen people do as who wants to be like everybody else "Not me".
After kayaking and paddleboarding for many years and my love for camping this got me thinking and I wondered if I could combine the two things together. After many searches on camping on water including rafts and life rafts I found the perfect product which I bought straight away with much excitement. 
 
I enjoyed using 8by2 sturdy well made product in the spring of 2021 it was wonderful that unlike a sup board or kayak to have space and beable to hang my legs in the water on hot days while watching all the river wildlife. So I had the raft base now I needed a cheap tent from Argos that measured just right to place on the raft to test my theory and see what issues there maybe from camping on water whether a river, lake or canal each one brings its own challenges and positives but if it gave me unique moments with nature it was worth it.
With shallow rivers I can moor up to the banks by stepping out into the water with using a mooring pin or rope onto a tree as there are many isolated areas not accesible by land and only via water especially in this time of overgrown river banks my local river felt like a small piece of the Amazon making there even more of a reason to enjoy camping on the river. On canals and lakes I cannot just step out into the water so it makes the toilet situtation tricky but I solved that quite easily with common sense but thats not for this blog for two reasons. So first I camped alone on the lake and it was amazing no problems except abit wet under the tent from the heavy rain but I slept well and had a good night sleep with the door open I could see the geese and swans plus other various creatures moving in the darkness including bats feeding on the insects buzzing on the waters surface so a bat detector is a future purchase I really want to use while sleeping on the water.
Feeding swans from my comfy bed I even brought my bed pillows from home
With my first camp out of the way with a few small issues depending on weather I decided to try with another person in the tent as it was 2 man tent and the says it holds 3 adults and one child so 2 adults and gear for comfort and filming should equal below the maximum weight it can take. The 2 man attempt was on a dry clear night under the stars unlike the first this time we could hear the tawnys calling from the tall willow trees on the lakes edge. My main problem in windy weather is staying still and accesing the front and the boat of the raft for storage and mooring but I'll go into that in my next blog hopefully in the next few days.
Camp raft 2.0 on its way and in a more inconspicuous color

Thanks for reading

Mike

Stay wild and be free

Sunday, 22 August 2021

The Barn Owls are back and so am I!

With days getting shorter and the night coming in earlier the creatures of the night are venturing out into the meadows and woodland eadges much earlier as they know that that we are not around as nights get cooler and our attentions are else where. One evening last week I decided to lay back and relax soaking up all the sounds and smells of late summer from the calls of Grasshoppers to the sweet smell of the Bee and Butterfly filled Budelia being blown across the meadow.

 

I had a wonderful encounter a few years ago in this field so I decided on trying to recreate and guess what with a little whistle It happened again the Barn Owl hovered above for a second and took its perch up in a nearby Oak tree.

My secret escape hidden in the Cheshire countryside feels like a small peice of paradise

 
I'm getting sent a new book to review this week The Science of Hope: Eye to Eye with our World's Wildlife looks like an interesting read as Hope to me is more about faith than science but the title is very alluring to my pessimistic mind and I used to be such an optimist well some days I still am but as long as I can get to Wales I'll always have something to smile about.
My passion is slowly coming back and I hope to be sharing my wildlife watching and love of nature with you over the rest of the year and beyond...
My new wildlife watching craft the Aqua marina cascade and theres more adventures to come with it 
Regards

Mike

Monday, 16 August 2021

Summers end after 4 weeks by the sea

 Its been a long time since I have posted anything as I have totally cut back on working, blogging and photography and I have spent my time in and around water from the rivers to the sea in some of the warmest weather we have had this year. I have had some lovely moments with Nature from sunsets with Foxes and sea birds as well as sunrises on the sea while paddleboarding the Conwy river and the North Wales coast, it was lovely reconnect with my passions and get back to the me I knew was there but unreachable till I could do the things that make me happy.

It was great to paddle up the Conwy estaury hearing the Herons and Egrets nesting in the trees along the side of the river even below the surface of the river there was so much marine life large shoals of small fish and sand eels swam beneath me while Oystercatchers called .

Conwy castle bridge from underneath

Paddleboarding Penryn bay

While I was away felt so free in the place I want to spend more time and I am already planning 2022 and see how I can get the most out of my paid holiday time and yes I have considered giving up my main job in view of becoming a wildlife/outdoor vlogger but at the minute just to enjoy and film when I feel like it is so appealing right now and I'm really loving it alot.

Regards

Mike

Monday, 3 May 2021

Return to Wales and a new way to camp

 Over the past few weeks I have had a few breaks on the coast and in the hills just reconnecting with Nature from paddling in the sea at sunset and walking the hills at sunrise it was refershing to get back to the places I love. Before heading on my break I got a chance to try  my new raft on the river to replace my paddleboard and kayak so hopefully with a larger study area I can enjoy and spend more time on the water through rain and shine.

I have also thought that it would make a good base for a camping pontoon so I can sleep on the water plus spend the odd night moored in an area of shallow water as the raft is quite sturdy made from quality materials and as it was abit pricey so it should not damage easily. I have just purchased a cheap tent that should fit perfectly and with a DD Green tarp over the top, which will make the perfect floating tent/filming hide.


 I have also sold my D7000 DLSR to my brother so I currently have no DSLR well except a battered old D5000 incasde of a special encounter but as I want to get into video and sharing my encounters, adventures and thoughts through vlogging is really something I want to get into.

Next time I finally return to Wales to make up for last years lack of trips to the place I love the most.

Thanks for reading

Mike

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Book review - Getting Closer Rediscovering birds through bird photography....

 The lastest lockdown read has been a wonderful book I've been enjoying while sat up under an old oak tree beside an unused railway track while Skylarks fly above with there spring calls I sit below reading about how I could photograph these flighty delights. 

The Book is called Getting Closer Rediscovering birds through bird photograph it was written by Paul Sorrell who took up photography in the early 2000s, giving him a new form of creative engagement with his longstanding interest in wildlife and the natural world. His images have featured in local, national and international wildlife photography competitions, and he has published online and print pieces for outlets ranging from airline magazines to Tourism New Zealand’s website and the School Journal.

Click here to purchase Getting Closer Rediscovering birds through bird photography

 I found that after reading I learned a few new ideas and techniques when photographing birds and to see that someone had written a book with the same passion as me was a wonderful feathery treat to behold. What made the book so appealing and easy to follow is the layout starting simple then going to an advancement throughout the different sections of the book. The top tips and Handy hacks dotted throughout the sections of the book really helped as sometime the smallest changes can have the biggest effect on editing a photographing and taking it. With lots of wonderful photographs taken by a master of his craft really made this book very interesting. I especially loved the many photographs of the Oystercatchersas not matter how many photographs you take of them the background adds so much to the feathered black and white suited birds with there bright orange beaks and red eye rings make them such charasmatic coastal birds. I seem to be seeing alot more in land lately and I will be trying my newly found tips from this book to capture moments of there activity on my local river.

Thanks for reading

Mike

An end in sight and Nature is thriving

With the possible end of Lockdown in sight I have started cleaning up my gear buying a few new pieces of kit plus booking some much needed welsh get aways. I have purchased a few Gopros for some filming from my point of view what I see the stunning views, the sounds and the Wildlife.

On the sunnier days my exercise was in the form of Kayaking and Paddle boarding


I really want to see the countryside return to the peaceful place it once was without people stepping every where going on private land disturbing areas normally left for birds and mammals undisturbed once again. The importance of freedom and the outdoors means even more to me the earch for solitude will begin soon whether in the Peaks, down a river or on the coast and who knows I may even see this big visitor if it decides to move up the coast to Wales in the next month.

 https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/rare-sighting-arctic-walrus-welsh-20223215

We have a couple of nests in the garden with the Robins and the Blackbirds plus I have treated myself to a few last light sessions by the Badger sett and seeing a few members of the clan come out for a sniff while the foxy neighbours trot past in there search for prey hopefully with cubs underground nearby but I would be lucky to find them before they get to big or to shy to find.

With it nearly being a year since my dad passed away of terminal cancer and coming out from what feels like a lifetime of mixed up life I'm not sure what it feels like to grive in a normal world. I think  due to not having the freedom last year I was not able to deal wih but with days improving and thought of last years events in the past I feel the breaks and wild connections I have this year will mean so much.

My dads little spot in the Peak district where I like to relax and enjoy nature while thiking of the good times with him.

Thanks for reading 

Mike

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Book review....Max Quinn A life of Extremes....

With lockdown still in play and holidays booked and planned hoping that when they come around freedom will be once again in our grasp but until then I decided to catch up on a few books and as I'm getting into my survival and living in extreme conditions really appeals to me after losing so much freedom over the last year and my desire to get back to nature is at the forefront of my focus this year. The main book I've been reading is about a natural history filmaker Max Quinn and is called A life of Extremes and they sent me the book for free to see what I think and post my thoughts on my blog.

Filming in the worlds most extreme environments requires more than just a steady hand. In temperatures as low as -50 degrees, your body shuts down and your equipment freezes up. But it's worth it to witness and record the stunning beauty and epic struggle of life on the edge.

Since 1991 when he spent 11 months filming the wildlife of Antarctica, Max Quinn has been the go-to filmmaker for documentaries such as Expedition Antarctica (2010), Hunting the Ice Whale (2013) and South America&;s Weirdest (2019). A Life of Extremes tells the stories and shares the stunning images from Quinn&;s 20 years of adventures in polar climates. Be it travelling 80 kilometres over crevassed ice to a lonely colony of Emperor penguins, or figuring out how to keep cameras warm in the coldest places on earth, Max Quinn has a story to tell about it. Natural history fans will be enthralled by the rich and layered stories, while film buffs will marvel at techniques required to keep the camera rolling when pushed to the absolute limit of endurance.Become inspired to leave the tourist trail behind with this unique book about what life is like behind the camera, beyond public transport and even human habitation. Learn about dog sled racing, the last great ice age, penguin colonies, and everything else that happens in the immensely beautiful landscapes where the temperature is permanently below freezing.

It was tough for me and my brother with tempretures no where near as extreme as bad as the Antartic just to stay warm must have been tough but to stay safe and keep expensive camera gear running must have been a huge trial for a person to live and work in such harsh temperatures gains my respect.

I ended up reading this book in the comfort of my bed tucked up in my sleeping bag under my duvet. 

To follow a mans life from being a child to a man whos passion was found having expeditions in polar regions to his last trip that took so much from him and due to age it became impossible for him to continue his journeys into the cold knowing he may never return to the harsh, beautiful enviroment of the land of ice and snow. A great book that inspires and shows the endurance and energy one person must have to do the thing they love most even when the risks are high the rewards wre priceless shown through the photographs in this book may his adventures carry on through his Grand Children..

you can buy it on Amazon for Kindle or Hardback book on the link below.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Extremes-Times-Polar-Filmmaker/dp/1775594327

 Thanks for visiting and reading my blog

Mike

Monday, 7 December 2020

A tale of Ice and Fire....

I've really not felt like sharing much of my nature experiences with life being so tough this past 10 months as I have had to really go back to my roots and just enjoy the moments of simplicity without feeling the need to see new things but really appreciate the things I normally take for granted.

The wildest thing I have experienced this year was at the beggining of December on my birthday where we headed up to the Peaks as we had heard there was snow and we were not disapointed. Just as we arrived at the bus station to get the bus into the middle of the peaks it was doubtful we would get there.

It was amazing being in a snow storm watching the Red Grouse search for food calling to each other gathering in groups. It felt like we were in the middle of an Alaskan white out with snow up to our waists and I was disapointed as we dropped down to where the snow had melted on the ground.

On the next day after the snow I ended up going kayaking at 4am in the morning  in the dark on the river to have a campfire on one of the sandbanks and soak up the silence in the middle of no where.
I think I'll hold off any plans for 2021 as we don't what or when things will be happening...

 Regards

Mike