The Milky Way, St. Ives and Marazion

As I have previously promised myself to write a blog post at least once in a month, here’s an update on what I’ve been doing –

We were lucky to have some clear nights in the middle of October, so I was able to do some timelapse, startrails and panoramas of the Milky Way rising over the College Reservoir (where I am doing my habitat project).  It was such an amazing view, and the milky way was showing very well!  Very impressed as I was just 15 minutes away from campus!  I am starting to put together a video for the habitat project, coming soon… for now here’s my favourite panorama of the Milky Way, or rather, the most successful one:

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The week before reading week we went on a field trip to Kennall Vale, where we got to learn how to photograph fungi and drag the shutter speed to blur the motion of the running stream.  So I spent my birthday in the smell of mushrooms, the sound of the rushing water, and photographing moth larvae.  We have a presentation on the area coming up, so I really need to get on with editing and putting together a powerpoint!

So, it’s reading week!!!  I took the opportunity to go to places around Cornwall for some sight-seeing and photography.

I went to St. Ives in the middle of the week, where I aimed to photograph turnstones.  Took me a while to find them as there were a lot of tourists around.  I spotted one flying towards some rocks covered in seaweed, and discovered 3 turnstones foraging in the heaps of seaweed as the tide sweeps in.  I used a rock to balance the 500mm (a monster!) against the strong wind as I observed through the viewfinder the birds flicking and pecking at piles of seaweed and kelp to expose small crustaceans and molluscs hidden within, and I got a photo of a turnstone holding its prize – a little crab in its beak before it went ahead to enjoy its meal.  Here is my favourite photo from the day, as the ‘mountain’ on the left reflects the relatively small size of the turnstone:


And a big catch!

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The next day I visited Marazion when the tide was very low.  There were a lot of birds on the exposed beach at St. Michael’s Mount, but it was very hard to photograph them as they stayed near the water and I had to climb through heaps and heaps of seaweed to get near.  For a good 3 hours I was either crouching low on the wet sand or struggling to find balance on slippery seaweed, trying to get near to the oystercatchers and little egrets, and bumped into a group of turnstones (they were much shyer than the ones in St. Ives even though they were in a much bigger group) foraging in the seaweed at St. Michael’s Mount.  I was really excited to see a juvenile Hudsonian Whimbrel on the beach alone; it was preening on top of a large pile of seaweed as I tried to get closer, but the hurdles of slippery seaweed made me super slow (especially when I was carrying a camera with a 500mm lens and a 1.4x converter) and the bird disappeared behind the heap of seaweed.  The next thing I knew – I was surrounded by slippery seaweed. And seawater.  The tide was coming in, so I had to dash back nearer to the causeway for safety.  After an hour or so, the sea came crashing in and the whole beach was flooded.  Another turnstone photo – but I really liked the bokeh that encloses the bird that is sitting nicely on the nest-like seaweed:


Taking flight:

Seagulls taking flight

A crop of a record shot of the Hudsonian Whimbrel flying towards St. Michael’s Mount:

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Still have a lot of photos to edit – next post will be about the second half of reading week adventures. (when I’ve finished editing the photos…)


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