Mike Wright Photography

20th March 2018


It's been a strange month. Winter has gone, Spring arrived then vanished as winter returned with a vengance. The poor animals and birds don't know whether they are coming or going. The winter influx of starlings has disappeared, but there are still redwings around. The hedgehogs have come out of hibernation and then gone back in for a couple of days and the frogs laid a vast amount of frogspawn between the end of January and the coming of the first bout of really cold weather. I'm assuming most of this died after being frozen into the ice for a few days. Then it warmed up a bit and they laid another vast amount of spawn, which has spent the last three days frozen in ice and under snow. Now it's melted, the black dots are still black, so I'm hoping we'll get some tadpoles this year as it warms up over the next few days. We've had two dead frogs and three dead newts floating in the pond.


Photographically, it's been a busy month. I actually managed to sell one of the pictures which were on display in Wildwood Arts Gallery and the other three are being displayed on the website and may still sell. Getting on to this month's pictures, I began with some shots of the last year's hydrangea flowers and a rose hip after a very light sprinkling of snow, followed by a picture of a bucketful of tadpoles which I brought inside to ensure that some survived the cold. There is one picture of Denham Bridge with the water a very chocolatey colour as the river floods through.


Next up is a set of pictures from this month's camera club – Pete set things up for splash photography; dropping fruits into water and milk and drops of water splashing into a shallow tray with colourful backgrounds reflecting into it. I concentrated on the water droplets and was pleased with the range of patterns I got as the drips fell and hit the water in the tray. Timing got better as the evening went on, so I had quite a few shots to choose from.


Next was an hour or so spent at Wembury. Lesley is getting a new car and the garage was on the Wembury side of Plymouth, so after concluding the business, we went to the beach. It was bright sunshine, but pretty cold and Lesley spent most of the time in the car with her crochet, while I stood on the beach and took pictures of waves.


A few days after this, I had to go up to Yorkshire for a funeral. I decided to break the journey up with a stop at Matlock, and arrived in time to go out and take a few pictures. I searched for 'waterfalls near Matlock' and it suggested the Lumsdale Valley, which wasn't too far away. When I arrived, it turned out to be the site of the remains of one of Crompton's 18th Century textile mills. There were some interesting ruins and a stream tumbling down into the valley, which had provided the power and water needed when the factory was running. The light was just beginning to go, so I grabbed a few pictures and the low light allowed me to soften the water as it fell down into the valley. The funeral went as well as could be expected, but what it did do was give me the chance to catch up with family who I hadn't seen for a while. Thanks for your hospitality, Dawn and David.


After getting back, the weather got really cold. Frost was predicted, so I set off for Burrator Reservoir early enough to catch the sunrise. I went to the track of the old Tavistock to Princetown railway line, which is quite high over the reservoir and very exposed. The wind was really strong and absolutely biting. Within a few minutes of setting up the tripod, all the warmth had been sucked out of my legs and the wind was battering the tripod, so after about four shots, I decided to head back for the shelter of the car. On the way, I managed a few shots of the landscape and clouds to the North, but didn't hang around.


As I approached the outskirts of the village, the light and colours which hadn't been there at the reservoir appeared in the sky. I stopped and set up the tripod again – while it was still cold, there was no wind ripping the warmth away, so I got some good shots of the sunrise after all.


A couple of days later, I headed up to Kit Hill. From the top, there are good all round vistas – Dartmoor to the East, The River Tamar and Plymouth to the South and then Cornwall stretching off in the other directions. Once again, it was cold, but the wind was light, so I stayed and got the shots which I came for, with some spectacular skies.


My next trip out was just before the first snow hit. Lesley had another course in Exeter, so I dropped her off and went down to RSPB Bowling Green Marsh Reserve. It wasn't as good as last time, as the tide was wrong and most of the scrapes were frozen over. There was a large flock of wigeon feeding and a few other ducks, geese and waders. I sat there in the hide for three hours or so and didn't realise how cold I was getting until I started walking back to the car – my legs had no feeling and it was like walking on two sticks! Lesley had had a couple of phone calls saying it was snowing in the village, so I went and picked her up and we headed home early. We didn't see a single snowflake until we drove into the village, which had a light covering. It was really bizarre. Having seen the A30 closed and people trapped on it a few days later, we felt that we had probably made a good decision – it could have all gone horribly wrong.


When the snow arrived properly (we still only had a light covering) it forced the fieldfares and redwings into the gardens, so I put a chair in the back porch, threw some bits of apple onto the lawn and sat back to see what would arrive. What did come was a very aggressive fieldfare. It drove off any redwings which ventured into the garden and the resident blackbirds and then stayed just too far away for me to get a decent picture. Later, I did have a walk up the road and along the footpaths to try and get a view of the moors covered in snow, but when I arrived at the viewpoint, they were completely covered in clouds, so I turned around and trudged back down the hill.


After the snow had pretty much gone (first time) I went to Pew Tor on a day of sunshine and showers. I got some pleasing pictures of the showers marching their way across Cornwall in the distance, and some of the hawthorns with some spectacular clouds behind them – I may try some of these in black and white - and then I noticed that one of the showers was not going across the landscape, but actually getting nearer, so I thought I'd head back down to the car. Fortunately, it passed to one side of me, although I did get caught by a few windblown drops.


Finally this month, Lesley and I decided to have a day in Charlestown, down in Cornwall. There is an excellent bistro there, called Wreckers, which specialises in seafood and they do a really tasty fish pie, so I was quite happy. There are also a lot of craft shops there, so Lesley was happy too. After a tasty lunch, I was dragged around the craft shops and then we had a walk down to the harbour where I took the pictures and then home for a quiet Saturday evening.


So that is the story behind this month's pictures. I hope somebody has managed to read as far as this. If you have, I would be pleased to hear what you think – as long as you aren't too critical!