MY FAVOURITE CARTOON AS A BOY..

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I THOUGHT I'D....


I THOUGHT I'D...., originally uploaded by THE BLACK RABBIT.

.... better upload a quick JAY PEG, (taken this morning), as I haven't uploaded anything for a wee while....

You will need to click the photo, to fully appreciate the terrible pun....!

ccccccccccccccccccccccccc

vvvvvvvvvvvvv

Thursday, November 20, 2008

THE BLACK RABBIT (ONE)

I have just published a large, premium silky-paper hardback book of my first year taking digital photographs.
160 glossy pages, over 150 photographs (in chronological order from December 2007 - November 2008).
If you've frequented BG (early this year) and visited the New Warren since last, you'll know the type of subjects I've shot.... pretty well everything I've seen, with a strong bias towards macro shots of wee beasties.
Click the banner below to take a free peek at the first 15 pages of ...

THE BLACK RABBIT I. (A YEAR BEHIND A LENS).
Hey - christmas is coming - now what about that gift for that person you know who has "got everything"?!
(You KNOW it makes sense)!
TBR

(A year behind a l...
By Doug Mackenzie Dodds

Friday, November 14, 2008

JAY (PORTRAIT 2)


JAY (PORTRAIT 2), originally uploaded by THE BLACK RABBIT.

They're taking pictures of themselves now, my jays. ;-)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

"JAY LOW"


Click to enlarge..

Friday, November 07, 2008

GULP!


GULP!, originally uploaded by THE BLACK RABBIT.

Bored of these yet???!!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

MACRO WOODMOUSE


Just uploading the odd photo for now. (CLICK the photo to enlarge)

Visit the NEW WARREN for more information,and the FULL SIZE photo....

This photo was taken at about 0615 hrs, this morning.

Lens to mouse distance..... EIGHT INCHES.

Monday, November 03, 2008

WOODMOUSE


A SECOND TASTE, originally uploaded by THE BLACK RABBIT.

If you've been visiting the New Warren recently, you'll know that I've attracted two woodmice to the camera - using an upturned beer bottle top full of peanut butter!
They can't get enough of that!
Today I received my radio controlled remote shutter release, so I MAY try for some macro shots of these wee beasties!

Click the photo to see it fully, in larger sizes, in the New Warren....

TBR

JAY (PORTRAIT 2)


JAY (PORTRAIT 2), originally uploaded by THE BLACK RABBIT.

Go on then.
One more.....

Click to get FULL picture (in the New Warren)

Friday, October 31, 2008

JAY (PORTRAIT)


JAY (PORTRAIT), originally uploaded by THE BLACK RABBIT.

Just a quick shot of one of our beautiful Jays I've atrtracted to the garden over the past few days.
More (of course) in the New Warren....
TBR

Thursday, October 02, 2008

BOOK LAUNCH

Photographic memor...
By Doug Mackenzie Dodds



CLICK THE ICON ABOVE TO TAKE A LOOK AT MY FIRST PUBLISHED BOOK, PREVIEW THE FIRST 15 PAGES, AND THEN, OF COURSE, BUY A COPY OR TWO!

D

D

D

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

STILL ON A BREAK!


KITKAT'S NEW PRESS AD?, originally uploaded by THE BLACK RABBIT.

Blue Grey is still on an extended break.
Thanks for all your comments whilst I've been away - I've read them all, and responded to a few.
Still VERY busy.
Thanks.
TBR.

HARVEST MOON


HARVEST MOON, originally uploaded by THE BLACK RABBIT.

Still out there grapple fans?
Le lapin noir is still around, taking photographs for www.flickr.com/photos/the_black_rabbit
(The New Warren).
This is just a simple shot of the Harvest Moon this year (September 15th 2008), just to let you know I'm still alive....!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

BLUE GREY TAKES A BREAK....


Ok... well it was always coming.

Due to the fact that yesterday I found out that the regional offices I work in will all be merged into one in Sheffield, due to my sisters wedding in Chicago in a fortnight or so, due to my and Anna's impending wedding in Shrewsbury in August and due to other pressing matters, I am afraid to say that I will not be posting regularly on Blue Grey for a few months.


I WILL however be posting very regularly on my online photo album site (the New Warren).

Most people who use that "flickr" photo-hosting site don't add much text to their photographs - I always like to - its pretty well Blue Grey really, without the links.


The Web address for the New Warren is : www.flickr.com/photos/the_black_rabbit and I'm sure once there (if you haven't been already) you'll recognise my "Black Rabbit" avatar (symbol of a Black Rabbit on a blue square).


Should you visit Blue Grey over the next few months or so, you'll see the odd post, from time to time possibly, and the most recent twenty photographs in the New Warren scroll through a slideshow in the top left corner of the home page - but that will be that I expect.


Blue Grey was a bit of an online diary, and so, now, is my flickr account, and at present, I have a lot to do - and that is why I cannot justify running (effectively) TWO online diaries...


Want to still keep up with what Anna and I are up to (and seeing) then nothing's really changed - you just have to visit the Black Rabbit's flickr account...

Easy.

Blue Grey will still be kept open (I will use it if no-one else does, as a very useful links page for myself, so I can keep up to date with Urban Extension, Shirl, Shirley and Words etc...), and soon I hope to start posting on the blog again, but its ta-ta for now grapple fans.


I'll leave you with one of the best photographs I've taken recently. Yesterday, as it happens, of a Red Damselfly in the drainage ditch by the "rec" behind the house.

(As always.... click to enlarge).

This photo and MANY others are of course viewable at the New Warren....

See you there!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

BRIEF UPDATE, PHOTOS AND THE NEW WARREN




I've been a bit busy recently what with one thing and another, so haven't had time to update BG AND The New Warren.

Lots of new photographs in the Warren though, complete with explanatory text.

Click on any of the small selection above to enlarge them, and visit the New Warren, by clicking HERE (or by clicking on the "New Warren" link at the top page of BG) to see far more photographs and a lot more corresponding text.

Thanks.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A FEW MORE PHOTOS






Ready for a good week of weather?

Here we go....



Just a few more recent photographs...

A Serotine bat over the Thames (apologies for the ridiculously poor quality of that one!), a Swift over the house (more on them in time with luck), two pictures of the newly hatched Goslings on the Thames at Caversham and one of a Great Crested Grebe.

Visit the New Warren to see accompanying text.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

MAY BANK HOLIDAY






Silly season again.


The fairground is finally getting some punters on the opposite bank of the Thames from the office, the CAMRA beer festival right next to the office is in full swing, the hot air balloons have started drifting over the house, the geese have produced their little furry goslings (pictures soon), the male Zebra spiders (with their HUGE fangs) have appeared in earnest, and I'm stuck in bed during the day, and in the office at night...
Humph.

Some recent photographs I've taken are above - as always click to enlarge or visit the New Warren to see them in all their glory accompanied by some explanatory text...


Oh....

On the subject of the New Warren and my photographs - I was emailed t'other day by an online news/media thingy, that wanted to use one of my Jumping Spider photographs for an article they were running.
I said yes, of course you can use it, (if I get credit) and use it they did!

YOU can read the article (and see my accompanying photo(s)) HERE....

Maybe I should start charging for my art, darlings....?!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

PINCH, PUNCH etc.... etc...


THE PEEKABOO SPIDER, originally uploaded by THE BLACK RABBIT.

"You ain't see me. Right?"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

STRIKE A POSE


I think she's met her match.

Grroan.
n
b
(Click photo to enlarge).

Monday, April 28, 2008

ICHNEUMON AND TWENTY-TWO SPOT






I'm off for a few days now (and I think the weather is meant to get a little worse - aw well).
Thought I'd just pop a few photographs up from yesterday, in the garden.

The FIFTH species of Ladybird has turned up in the garden - the tiny (3mm long MAX) Twenty-two spot ladybird. I'll put my photographs up of all SIX (expected), for comparison, when I photograph the final Ladybird in the garden this year - when the 2-spot arrives...

Easily recognised - like I said, its minute, with yellow elytra and 10 or 11 black spots on each. A yellow and black spotty pronotum is present also, and unlike other small yellow and black ladybirds, the 22-spot has no thick(ish) dark line down the middle of its "shell" (separating the elytra).
We've got half a dozen or so of these lovely ladybirds feeding on the mildew and mould in the long grass by the fence - I'll try ( maybe) to get a shot of one on a 5p piece so the scale becomes clear, but for now, the shot above is of one on that fence...

The Ichneumon wasp is one of those stunning insects that fly in occasionally.
I think its a Pimpla hypochondriaca, but I can't be 100% sure.
Talking of hypochondriacs, it did act a little sick - it was quite slow, unlike most of these stunning beasts - which are CONSTANTLY on the go, searching for the next caterpillar to lay their eggs in, (which eventually gets eaten ALIVE, from the inside out).


Enjoy your breakfast.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

ANOTHER "SIMON'S CAT" FILM....

I love these short cartoons, (thanks to my eldest sister this time for sending this to me).
NB. For cat lovers ONLY....!


THE BLACK RABBIT


I saw my namesake yesterday, in the gathering gloom of a remote spot in the Chiltern hills, near our secret badger sett, and right opposite the Barn Owl field...

I've only EVER seen ONE Black Rabbit before in my entire life - and that was about twenty years ago, in the rolling mists of a deserted golf course. This was a VERY NICE surprise!


Some people say Black Rabbits are common in some areas of the UK.
Not round these 'ere parrz.

You'll see I did manage a shot, in the low light, from about 2-300m away, with full 18x zoom.
Click on the photo to enlarge it.
You'll note that the Black Rabbit is glowering at the bog-standard brown bunny in front of him (probably flashing his red, glowing eyes), and that the brown bunny has come over all subservient - lying prone on the ground!


Luckily Anna and I were a good distance away, like I said, so the Black Rabbit didn't spot us and turn his fiery glare in our direction.....


BIX BLUEBELLS. BUCKS BADGER. BIG BARN OWL. BONES. BUZZARD. BLACK RABBIT.


All the "B's" then.

B is for Bluebells and Bix.
Anna and I decided to go and gawp (and take a few photies) of the explosion of purple that has occurred in the woods of the Chilterns over the past week - probably not quite as magnificent as last year's display, but stunning anyway!
So thats the B for Bluebells then (and just for good measure we photographed these Bluebells at Bix (in oxfordshire) .... click on the photo above to enlarge (or as normal, visit the "New Warren".

B is for Bucks Badger.
After the Bluebells, we drove to a secret wood in Buckinghamshire, quite remote, but I wood I know well and have surveyed before for a local wildlife group, many moons ago.
It was in this wood that I had the immense pleasure of watching a whole family of badgers one summer (up to seven at one time) feeding and playing around me (with cubs) - something I'll never forget.
Well, the sett has changed a lot since then, but Anna and I were very surprised to have a wonderful view of a large sow badger snuffling around the woodland floor not 15 yards from us, before she shuffled fatly off, and we left the wood - our first badger together and a really nice moment! (No photo - WAY too gloomy under the wood's mixed canopy, even if the badger did emerge at about eight thirty pm - very much light enough for our eyes - but not for my camera unfortunately.
Anna and I have vowed to return, in the summer maybe, and look for the cubs - you never know, in a little better light I may get a photograph or two...?

B is for Big Barn owl.
On leaving the wood, (still in reasonable light) we returned to the car and I suddenly noticed a beautiful Barn Owl quartering over a field pretty close to us - COMPLETELY unexpected - and quite magical in the half light!
Anna thinks its her first ever experience of a wild Barn Owl (not surprising really as they're bloody rare these days - I've only seen two beforehand).
We watched it for a good fifteen minutes, like a ghostly (completely silent) white moth, low over the scrubby long grass.
At this time of year, the Owl should be breeding, and if so, it will quarter over that field all summer long - I think we may be in luck here.
However, and this is a BIG "However", the Barn Owl, because of its scarcity, is a "Schdeule 1" species - one needs a licence to photograph these birds anywhere NEAR their nest, in season. So we won't be getting very close to this Owl - and not even approaching any nest - not even close!
Wonderful stuff and so unexpected!

B is for Bones.
Fallow Deer bones to be exact.
Rewind to the Bluebells at Bix, and Anna and I literally stumbled over two Fallow Deer carcasses (does and not together), lying in the wood, close to the road. Both had been there a year or more - just bones left - and we suspect one (at least) was hit by a car and thrown into the wood.
Anna allowed me to glean one of the skulls, which I'll clean and photograph when I get time.

B is for Buzzard.
Another carcass I'm afraid, in the same wood.
My father has done a spot of gamekeeping, when it was almost de rigeur to shoot or poison birds of prey on estates, so will have come across such things - but as for me, this was the first such carcass I'd ever seen.
Dead for some time again - as it was mainly just feathers and bones - and I took one of the magnificent primaries for myself.
Was it poisoned? Doubt it.
Shot?
Ditto.
I think it just died naturally (everything does I suppose), fell out of a tree, and the bugs and beasts cleaned it up.
Wonderful to see the plumage at VERY close range though - that feather I've got is a byoot!

B is for Black Rabbit.
And that OBVIOUSLY deserves a post (above this) all to itself....



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What an incredible few hours Anna and I had last night!


SWIFTS.

After my post two days ago on the return of my favourite bird, its fair to say they're back IN NUMBERS now, over Reading.
Anna and I spent yesterday afternoon sorting out the garden and there were at least three dozen screaming about high in the sky above us.
At last....!

Friday, April 25, 2008

SSSSWWWWIIIIFFFFTTTTTT!!!!!

NOW THEY ARE BACK.
2 MINUTES AGO I JUST SAW ONE LONE SWIFT, SILENT AND HIGH ABOVE THE REC BEHIND THE HOUSE!
FIRST SWIFT!
WELCOME TO SUMMER EVERYBODY!

(ANNA AND I ARE OFF TO THE BADGER BEER PUB ON THE THAMES TO CELEBRATE - IN THE RAIN PROBABLY!)

MORE LATER....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

LITTLE OWL CAM ANYONE?

Well ok, so no Blue Tit nestbox live streaming from Black Rabbit towers this year, but you've now got links to EXCELLENT birdcams on Blue-Grey now.
A Goshawk nest in the New Forest and a Peregrine nest in Derby. Both are SUPERB - please, if you haven't used these links - do so!

What else can I give you?
Hmmmm....

How about a Little Owl nestbox camera or two? (From Holland).
Well worth a visit, the "angry-looking" little niblet is sitting on her eggs now, the fourth egg (vierde ei in dutch) was laid on the 20th April.
Both cameras are WONDERFULLY clear - please click HERE or use the (new link) in my expanding link section on Blue Grey.
You'll not be disappointed... There (like I said) is a wonderful live feed, and also plenty of clips of the pair of Owls battling Pigeons, Jackdaws and even a Barn Owl INSIDE their nest!

(NB. When you get to the site, you have to specify which camera you'd like a stream from by clicking the appropriate tab).

THEY'RE BACK!






No.
Not my Swifts (although they WERE back by this date this year).
My favourite spiders - the "Fence-post jumping spiders" (Marpissa muscosa).

These wonderful jumpers, significantly more furry and larger than their Zebra Spider cousins, have now taken over our fences in the back garden it would seem, although the Zebras are still around.

We've had a lovely couple of days of sunny weather now - the leaves on the Lime tree have really got going (the tree has started "raining sap on us" again), all our potato plants have poked their green noses through the soil, into the air, the ladybirds are flying about (always nice to see the tiny yellow and black 14 spot ladybirds, especially with all the Harlequins about).

I hear this saturday may be warm and sunny too (after a day or two of light rain showers and rain from sunday onwards next week), so Anna and I have decided to carry out ANOTHER Bluebell recce and combine it with a trip deep into the Chilterns, to see if my old Badger sett is active at present...

Click on any of the images above to enlarge or visit my online photo album (the New Warren), to see them titled and at their best.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

WARMTH? AND SUN!!??





Looks like we're in for a spot of warmth today, and a bit of sunshine too!

Yesterday (afternoon at least) wasn't too bad either, and even though our prevailing wind may bring a little rain on wednesday and thursday, its fair to say we may have broken the back of the cold winter rain and murk...
Anna and I hope to take pictures of our favourite Bluebell wood THIS weekend now, and with luck, pop up to the badger wood to see whats occurring...

I managed to take a few photographs of some insects & spiders in the garden yesterday - a Red Mason Bee has commandeered an old hole in our back gate, the Zebra Spiders were out having fun with all these midges (there DO seem to be an awful lot of midges presently - is this across the whole country?), the Hoverflies were soaking up a little sun on the fence, and even the wee evil weevils were scampering about.


Please visit the "New Warren" online photo-album to see all the above shots in their original size (with accompanying text as normal), or failing that, do click on any of the photo's above to enlarge them...


Monday, April 21, 2008

FRANCE, FRENCHMEN AND A LATE SPRING


My sister in Paris is often very good enough to let me know when les martinets arrive in Paris each year. A couple of days later they generally arrive in Berkshire, in the UK.
No word yet, and last year in the sun-drenched south of England in April, the Swifts arrived on St.Georges day here - the 23rd April - IN TWO DAYS TIME!
We are lucky enough to have Swifts nesting up and down our street, and all last er.... cough cough.... "summer", the air was shred with the screams of my favourite bird of all.
That said, I think they'll be another week yet.

Allegedly after a horrid easterly wind over the weekend, we'll revert back to our prevailing south-westerly mid week this week, with temperatures up 7c on last weekend - that may help my Swifts on their journey home...

I await notification from Paris.


Talking of France, Anna and I were treated to a lovely sight of two "Frenchmen" this weekend.
We spent two days with one of my cousins in the Worcestershire countryside, and even though the weather was a bit dour, its always fantastic to unwind in a place where one wakes up to the sound of lambs bleating and Rooks cawing, rather than suped-up Vauxhall Novas hissing down the road, or Eastern Europeans shouting at each other over a can of rocket fuel.

The "Frenchmen" in question were Red-Legged Partridges - the more flamboyantly-coloured of our two Partridges here in the UK, always VERY nice to see.
Unfortunately the only shots I got were from inside my Cousin's house, through double glazing and drizzle, so not the best photo's in the world I'm afraid.
(In case you weren't aware, the Red-Legged Partridge is called a "Frenchman" in slang, as the orangey/red legs of the bird allegedly reminded people of the red trousers the french military used to wear....


Now then.
Each year in March you'll hear the same nonsense, often from the same mouths regarding:
"OOOoooh! A bumblebee! Spring gets EARLIER and EARLIER eh?!"
"Is that a WASP? In MARCH? That's global warming I tells ya. We're ALL DOOMED"
Ya dee ya dee ya. Uninformed hysterical clap trap.

This year more of the same I'm afraid - specifically regarding Daffodils (some American hybrids flower at Christmas time dopey), Wasps and a Cuckoo that was allegedly heard in February or something daft - That would be a Collared Dove. (Go get yourself an extra gene).

It has become increasingly clear this year since March, that over vast swathes of the country, spring is actually LATE this year. Unequivocally so.
My cousin is a farmer, and we spoke at length to two more on the subject, during our weekend in Worcestershire.
Ask any farmer about acres of grass or bales of hay, or whether their dairy cows are out on pasture yet.
You'll get similar answers from all over the country.

Anna and I will check on our Bluebell Wood later this week (with luck), but I think now it may well be another week or ten days. Remember they exploded around mid April last year (albeit after a bone dry month with temperatures well above the summer average).

Yes folks.
Spring is LATE this year. With luck it might arrive this week, and STAY!


NB.
I hear (after writing this that ONE (unconfirmed) Swift has been seen in Berkshire at the back end of last week). I still think it may be a week before they start to arrive in numbers...
f
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Friday, April 18, 2008

A FEW THOUGHTS...





Anna and I are lucky enough to have another few days off together this weekend, so we have had a trip down to a cousin's country pad in Worcestershire (on the side of Bredon Hill) planned for some time.

Unfortunately I hear its going to sh.... ship it down for the entire time, with a biting Easterly wind!
Hmmm...

Anyhoo -

Spring does seem to be slowly making progress.
Anna collected another Large White Butterfly for me yesterday whilst I was at work.
When I say collected, it had obviously emerged from its chrysallis in the sitting room somewhere- and she just shut the door - so when I came home, I could grab a snap of it.

I'm a lucky boy eh?!

We both went for a very nice ramble around a local Nature reserve that I know very well - Hosehill lake near Theale.
Thats where I managed to get three very nice photographs of an incredibly tame Robin.
I think if we returned with a handful of meal worms - that chap would eat out of our hands - all of my robin photographs (recent) on my online photo album were taken under a Hawthorn Bush, with the robin no more than 2.5 or 3 feet away from the camera - so clse I had trouble focusing on him, with any more than 3X zoom (my camera goes up to 18X zoom)!
The Cowslips seem to be out in force now, and our Maris Peers seem to be tentatively poking their way through the soil in the garden bed...

We may well have found a Kestrel nest box on our recent rambles - makes up for hearing that a loca Barn Owl nest I know of has been deserted and TWO dead Barn Owls have been found on the M4 nearby - VERY sad indeed.

And then there's the steam train that chuffed past our house t'other day.
I'm hardly a trainspotter, but I really SHOULD bugger off up the station (a mile away) and find out when all these old engines pass through Reading on a timetable - I'd love a close up shot from the station itself...... maybe I'll do that.

Anyhoo - We're off, until sunday afternoon.

Click on any of the images above to enlarge them or DO visit the "New Warren" flickr online photo album (as usual) to see the butterfly and robin pictures (especially), full size and with decent accompanying text.

Cheers.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

DUCKLINGS AND DEAD NETTLES




Still experiencing the typical April weather?

Make the most of it - this weekend looks like a washout.

Anna and I are in the Worcestershire countryside then, pity it looks like it'll be wet.


Well...

Until the Bluebells explode, (a week now), I'll just have to make do with the White Deadnettles (always a month later than the much more abundant, red deadnettles) , and the first brood of ducklings to hit this part of the river this year - all ten of the little bundles of fluff, yesterday to be precise....


Come on spring....!