Loch Brandy

Sometimes things just align up perfectly. In this case, getting home from the hospital at lunchtime, the sun shining and Jen visiting. We both had the same idea – to get up into the hills. Loch Brandy, at Glen Clova, is a perfect destination for a short afternoon walk being just an hour’s drive from Dundee. Jen and I had visited here before almost exactly two years ago, so it was certainly about time we paid it a return visit.

By the time we reached Glen Glova the clouds were coming in and our destination wasn’t looking quite as sunny as we’d hoped. Never mind, at least it was drier and less windy than on our previous visit. The initial climb is a bit of a steep slog, but photographing the atmospheric clouds over the neighbouring hills gave us plenty of excuses to stop for breathers.

Eventually the path levels off and things get a bit easier.

Just a little way further and a few steps to climb and the loch is in sight, every bit as attractive as I remember (although the best way to see it is surely from the air, which is how I first found out about it).

Within minutes, we were surrounded by mist and could only see a few metres ahead of us. Not a problem, though, the path is very clear so there was no danger of losing our way on the walk down!

Route: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/angus/loch-brandy.shtml
Distance: 5.5km
Ascent: 410m

Berlin

It seems that I have a knack for only seeing my family in other countries these days. Dad had to Copenhagen this week for business, so what better reason to then meet up in Berlin?

We had a pretty lazy weekend, especially since it was very hot, and spent as much time just catching up, as being tourists.

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U-Bahn.  Or maybe it was S-Bahn.  The distinction remains confusing.

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We spend quite some time in the Museum at Checkpoint Charlie.

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Seriously?  A museum dedicated to currywurst.  We gave it a miss.

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We had a long Italian lunch, under a red umbrella.  And finished it off with a lemon sorbet.

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Potsdam Square

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Esplanade – an old hotel, with a glass front.  Above are some new appartments, which are held up by an ingenious bridge construction.

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The Sony Centre

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Playing around with the 3D tv.

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Right opposite our hotel – an official Book Crossing zone.  I couldn’t miss the opportunity to send off the book I picked up at the airport to a new home.

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Since we didn’t have so much time on Sunday, we decided to take an open topped bus tour, and get a better idea of the rest of the city.

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Apenheul

As Chris Weston was over with a photography workshop, Arie, Marcel and I took the opportunity to take the day off work for some ape photography.

It meant an early start for me – at 6.30 or so I left the house and took the tram to Leidschendam, where Marcel picked me up and drove to Arie’s house. One further stop to pick up Arie’s nephew, Ferron, and then we drove the final stretch to Apendoorn, arriving around 9.30. We thought we’d arrive just as it opened, but actually we were half an hour too early. Bit of a shame, as I’d have very much welcomed the extra half hour sleep!

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Chris and his group arrived just as we bought the tickets, and after catching up, we headed off our separate ways – Marcel to the orangutans, and Arie, Ferron and I to take a general wander around the park.

The park is a combination of large enclosed areas for the larger primates, such as the orangutans, gorillas and bonobos, and also smaller apes which are allowed to roam freely.

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After photographing some of the smaller monkeys, we moved on and spent quite a bit of time watching the bonobo family.

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One of the young bonobos kept trying to sneak off and play, so its mother had to keep a firm grip on it.

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Before we met up with the others for lunch, we spent some time with the orangutans. There wasn’t much happening when we arrived, just a couple orangutans taking a nap, but eventually two more came out and started to play with a sack. It’s amazing to see how acrobatic they are, tumbling all around the place, and swinging effortlessly between the ropes.

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After lunch we went to watch the gorillas being fed. Apenheul has a very healthy gorilla population, with 5 babies born this year, the most recent only the day before.

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Once the gorillas wandered off, we decided to have a look around and see what we’d missed in the morning. The ring tailed lemurs were very entertaining, and after running around and chasing each, they all crashed out, tangled up amongst each other.

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Back at the bonobos, there were only a couple outside, and all directly beneath us – not great for photography, though we had some fun watching a young bonobo playing on the ropes.

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In addition to the apes, there was also some birdlife, including a large number of cattle egrets and a few black crowned night herons.

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Amsterdamse Waterleiding Duinen

I took the day off work today, and headed up to the Amsterdamse Waterleiding Duinen (AWD) with Marcel in the hope of photographing foxes.  The sun was shining, and it was a little chilly – perfect weather for a walk.

We set out in the direction of a lake with plenty of nesting cormorants.  Thanks to deciding to take a shortcut, we ended up ploughing through the woods, getting tangled up in all the prickly trees.  After the lake we moved on to the area where the fox can normally be seen.  As we turned a corner, we saw a group of photographers with telephoto lenses.  Clearly, that was indeed that place to be!

We spent quite some time photographing the fox, which was not at all nervous.  The reason for that became clear when we saw a woman tossing the fox a chicken’s foot.  Indeed, the woman and her family stayed around for quite some time, and that was not the only food they gave him.  Whilst it obviously gave us a good photo opportunity and it was amazing to have a fox come so close, the fact that the woman seemed to have no idea that feeding wild animals and habituating them to people was not a good idea did detract from the experience.

After taking our fill of the two foxes that we saw, we headed back to the car, completing a loop of about 11km.

More photographs are available here.

VNF West – Foto van de maand

I was back at the fotoclub today for the first time since February, taking with me a selection of photos from India (that I’d intended to show last month) and a selection from Texel.  Most of the meeting was dedicated to the selection of photos for an exhibition which will be held at De Papaver (the nature centre in Delft) next month, but there was just enough time left at the end for a couple of us to show some photos unrelated to the exhibition.  In the end, one of my Texel photos, of fighting black headed gulls, was chosen as the club’s photo of the month.

Ackerdijkse Plassen

Back to the Ackerdijkse Plassen this morning with Arie, this time for a guided walk, inside the part of the reserve which is not normally open to the public.  The guide was very informative, and it was interesting to see and hear about the different types of habitat within such a small area.  Given the heat, it was particularly nice walking through the woods.

We didn’t see so many birds to photograph – some cormorants, at a distance, and a buzzard flying by were the main highlights.

We stopped a couple times at bird hides, which at least gave us a few insect shots, and we also were inspected by the herd of cows who are allowed to graze the land, and were very curious about us.

Texel

This weekend I visited the island of Texel, off the north coast of The Netherlands, with Arie and Jules.  I still have quite some work to process all the photos (approx 1300), but here a couple taster shots of a kestrel (torenfalk).  We also saw plenty of godwits (grutto), avocets (kluut), sandwich terns (stern), common terns (visdief), gulls and oystercatchers (scholekster).
(I took these shots with the 300mm lens that Arie rented for the weekend, plus a 1.4x teleconverter.  Handheld, and quite heavily cropped)

PatentRun 2010

So, I had been planning to take part in this year’s PatentRun, and at one point I’d even had ambitious plans of improving on my time from last year.  But it wasn’t to be.  Instead, I took along the camera and photographed the event, getting soaking wet in the process.

Choral Evensong – 5th June 2010

My first choral evensong for ages… and it wasn’t really the most impressive.  I contributed to the overall effect by tripping over the words in the middle of the second reading, and forgetting that victuals are pronounced ‘vittels’ until a millisecond after I read it.  Idiot.

  • Introit: Oculi omnium, Charles Wood
  • Responses: Ebdon
  • Psalm 121, Walford Davies
  • Canticles: Moore’s 3rd service
  • Anthem: Here, O my Lord, Whitlock

The official photographer was along for the ride, to take some publicity shots for the choir.

    Crazy Cat

    Nothing like putting your friends to work when they visit…. either as official cat photographer of the evening,

    … or preparing dinner (and trying to keep Rupert out of it)