A few wildlife shots

I went to my normal snake hunting haunt near Stamford on Saturday, just after Laura Robson had won through to the last 16 at Wimbledon to take a few snaps.

Before I could start proper snake hunting I was disturbed by the unmistakable sound of a Spitfire.

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This little critter was sunning itself looking for any unsuspecting mea4l.

I found a shed adder skin shortly before I spotted this lovely grass snake. The grass snakes are far more sensitive than the adders and rarely let you get very close.

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My trusty 80-400 VR zoom lens is brilliant. Only wish it would focus closer but at least that means I’m less likely to get bitten!

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Cool shot of a beetle in a flower.

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Storm Chase 2013

Form May 7 to May 20 I joined Netweather for Tour 2.

Paul Botten (Sharman) was the chaser. I had met him in 2008 whilst with Cloud9 Tours.

The other guests on trip were:-

Jo Lough, Kathryn Tyler, Kaddy Lee-Preston, Gavin Woolnough, Catherine

Also present were:-

Arron Hiscox (Navigator)

Ian Michaelwaite (The Boss!)

Group Shot

I started out from Stamford taking the train to Heathrow T5 to catch the big metal bird to Dallas.

A few shots from the airport.

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Jo and Kathryn arrived about the same time I did and we met with Paul at the car hire at DFW. We headed to the hotel and after a short snooze went for an evening meal with beer.

These were our chase vehicles which were very comfortable:

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We even made a new friend. I named it lucky.

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As Kathryn, Jo and I had arrived early and Paul and Arron were there we left Ian at DFW to pick up Gavin, Kaddy and Catherine later.

We went chasing! We headed towards SW Oklahoma hoping for some supercells.

Well Mother Nature didn’t really play ball. There were storms but they struggled and every time we got close they died. We feared Paul was to blame!

Paul fired up the Baron and it quickly became apparent that he loves this piece off kit quite a lot.

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These two pictures give a flavour of the things “you see all over The Plains”. Every community has a huge water tower with the town name and many places fly the American flag.

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Unbelievably the clouds echoed our thoughts.

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All in all an excellent first “bonus” chase day. No severe storms but the Baron had a dry run and we got to see a few small storms.

Day 1 (May 9)

We started the day in Wichita Falls, Tx. The forecast was promising so we headed Southwards:

A short clip giving the flavour of the chase. The full chase isn’t yet on but things are warming up!

The Lone Star State. Flags and stars are seen everywhere. And just like Texas they are usually BIG.

Day 3 _1

Just north of Ballinger, Tx the first supercell of our trip had matured. Large hail and frequent lightning was the main threat. But as you can see there was some superb structure.

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A panoramic stitch of 3 shots

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One of the tour guests, Kaddy Lee-Preston is a freelance meteorologist who is regularly seen presenting the weather forecasts for BBC South East. She was sending a regular radio and video blog home:

Texas is full of surprises. We don’t really associate it with flower meadows but you’d be wrong. Much of SW Texas is still in drought but recently rain has brought relief and Texas is looking much better than it did 2 years ago.

Day 3 _5

Heading for a bed for the night towards Fredericksburg, Tx we were chased by a storm. We stopped, briefly to take some lightning pictures. Not the best but, hey, it’s a start.

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We pulled into shelter at the Motel before the wind, rain and hail arrived:

Day 2 – (May 10)

We started the day in Fredericksburg, Tx. This is an unusual town south of Dallas which has an unmistakeable German feel. In fact a number of the residents still speak German, there are German street signs and restaurants.

So you think storm chasing is 90% chasing nearby severe thunderstorms capable of large hail, deadly lightning, flash flooding and tornadoes? well, it isn’t.

Even on a chase day, which this was, much of the time is spent driving to a starting point and then hanging about. Sometimes those places we hang out are nicer than others. Of course the company helps!

Jo:

Day 4 _6

Kaddy:

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A Texan wild flower:

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Vanessa, a photographer from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan:

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Kathryn & Daddy

 

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After hanging about for a couple of hours, being buzzed by a swarm of bees, playing with the tumble weed and generally getting sun tans, a small storm did blow through.

The chase was now on. These storms were sever warned for hail and as you can see from the picture of the Baron we ended up right in the middle of a number of storms. In San Saba, Tx we decided to shelter outside a funeral home. Unfortunately Ian misjudged the ground and got his Tahoe stuck in the place. It took an hour until we got pulled out. Here is a short video showing the hail:

Day 4 _8

An unusual phenomena with hail is “hail fog”. I like this shot with some of the team silhouetted with the fog.

Day 3 – (May 11)

A down meant the opportunity to wander around Turner Falls in Oklahoma.

Day 4 – (May 12)

Another down day with travelling to get into position.

Day 5 – (May 13)

Another travel day. But we also had a great few hours at the farm where the family friends of Paul Botten’s wife live.

Day 6 – (May 14)

A travel day, tiring!

Kathryn

Day 7 – (May 15)

Today was our first tornado. And what a beauty. Millsap, TX is where we were located. Rounded the day of with some cracking lightning.

Day 8 – (May 16)

A travel day which saw us in Amarillo. That can only mean one thing! The Big Texan for dinner.

Big T

Day 9 – (May 17)

A brilliant chase day. Watched 2 supercell for 4 hours with the southern cell eventually dominating. It rewarded us with 2 amazing tornadoes near Eliasville, TX.

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A day at Santa Pod

On a very hot early September day I spent the afternoon watching the fast dragsters, bikes and other whacky vehicles race over the 1/4 mile drag.

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The arrival of the cats

I had been thinking about getting a cat for a while since Bitey, a cantankerous Marmalade cat that had adopted me was killed by a car. The girls at work decided I should go for it and one of them mentioned a colleague, who breeds Norwegian Forest cats. She told me she had two female sisters who needed re-homing because the family they were with had just had twins and they could no longer cope with all the cats.

Cats

Tiree, on the right, and Fernie. They settled in quite quickly though they were very nervous for a few days.

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I soon discovered that their arrival means a weekly hoovering is an absolute must otherwise everything disappears under a sea of cat fur.

These lovely cats will bring me hours of joy.

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Burghley Cross Country

Each year Burghley House in Stamford hosts the Burghley Horse trials. This gallery showcases some of the pictures, mainly focused on the awesome horses and riders.

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