Monochrome Madness 4-43

 

 

This is my contribution to Monochrome Madness organized by Leanne Cole. Look at here site on Wednesday (Australian time), to see many more monochrome images created by many other talented photographers from all over the world.

I’d also encourage you to participate. The conditions are  published in each of her Monochrome Madness posts.

Take care!

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Travel Tuesday: I’m back …

Last week I was on Helgoland again. For the third time (after 2011 and 2016), I met with some friends in January on Helgoland.

You could ask, why I travel to the North Sea in mid winter. It’s dark, wet, cold and the sea is rough. Only very few people find their way to Helgoland during winter. In summer, it’s a destination for yachtsmen and day tourists for duty-free shopping. But, in winter?????

We’re going there for seeing nature, animals (birds and seals). The grey seals get their babies during winter. While the first wild grey seal was born in winter 1996/97, there were about 100 babies in 2011. 2016 there were already more than 316 and this year more than 426 babies from October 1st until January, 21st (when we left Helgoland).

The baby in the above image was born only a few hours ago.

Although, these animals look so cute. Keep in mind, they are the most dangerous animal in Germany. A male wights up to 300 kg and is much quicker on the beach than a human. So, many signs advise the visitors to pay much attention and keep a distance of at least 30 m between you and a seal. Winter is not only the season for giving birth, it’s als mating season. So, you can also see some fights between the adults (also there are fewer fights in January, because both, birth and mating season have reached their end).

Fortunately, most of the visitors behave good. But, every time you can see some people behaving very bad: going too close, standing between mother and baby, standing between animal and the see and so on. You got the picture. I guess, one day a seal could attach such a rude and ruthless human and I fear, that animal will be killed because of that. Next, they will be declared as too dangerous, and no-one will be allowed to visit them so easy.

During the 1970 they were completely exterminated in the whole Deutsche Bucht (German Bight). From the late 1980s they re-conquered a sandbank near Amrum. That sandbank became a bridgehead for repopulating the German Bight again. Recently, I saw a report saying there were more than 12,000 grey seals in the German Bight again.

Seals don’t attack humans. As long as you keep the distance, they stay calm. They look at you when you come nearer to check up the situation, but calm down again very easy. When they think, they are in danger, they start to hiss loud and show their teeth. A male might try to come a bit nearer to you (a few steps), but generally they tend to flee instead to attack.

Take care!

P.S. when interested, I could help you to arrange a visit next winter 🙂

I’m back …

… from the Baltic Sea (again).

Those of you, following me on Instagram might have guessed I’m on a trip again, and they were right. For a few days the pendulum inside me as a nature photographer turned from ‘landscape mode’ to ‘wildlife mode’.

I was part of an excursion team for photographing the common cranes while they rest in that region and before they start to the second part of their fall migration. For the first days of my trip I started alone and got some amazing results. Cranes are extremely shy. They have a fleeing distance of about 300m (some rangers even said 900m – but, I can’t believe that). You have to avoid to disturb them. Every start to fly costs much of their energy. And this energy is needed for the migration. They have to eat much to have enough energy for the long and exhausting trip. On the second part they fly from north-eastern Germany to Southern France or Spain. The birds are big. They are about 120cm high (females a bit smaller) and have a wing spread of about 200 – 240 cm.

Most of them life in wet forests in Poland, Russia and the Baltic, but also in Scandinavia. They have only 1 or 2 eggs and each of the parents take care of one fledgling. Now, the fledglings are nearly as big as the parents. But, you can still recognise them easily.

With the excursion team, we got permission to enter some restricted parts of the National Park “Mecklenburgische Boddenlandschaft”. We observed the arrival of the cranes in their sleeping area and the morning start.

Another high-light was the morning trip on our last day: observing the deer rut. About 15 males bellowed in the huge lighting and trying to collect females. Nearly all of them didn’t have had a female, while one stag has had a harem of 21 females (just, like ABBA sang: the winner takes it all). Nevertheless the stags were comparing their strength in bellowing, walking and fighting. Amazing time.

During the excursion I got lent a f/5.6 800mm lens that I used on my APS-C camera (so, I got 1200mm). A very heavy lens, usable only with a tripod. Fortunately, mine was strong enough the carry that burden. My own longest lens is only 400mm. In combination with the tele-converter I also get 800mm, but with lower quality. That combination is less bright and thus less fast. While the 800mm lens does not have an image stabilizer (but a tripod), but I have a working AF. On my 400mm with tele-converter the AF only works under good light conditions.

Most of my images are taken with ISO 3200 and ISO 1600 at f/5.6 or f/6.3 at distances of more than 200 – 300 m. So, the 800mm lens was a necessity to get good images.

Don’t forget, to view the gallery below this post. I already developed a few images an attached them to this post in no particular order.

Help saving our environment and the animals to make this planet a good place to live in for us and the following generations. Also, keep this planet in good shape for your kids, so that the following generations are also able to gaze at the marvellous events and places through their own eyes instead of having to trust ancient documentaries.

Take care!

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in the countryside

After a week of constant and often heavy rain, Saturday was a nice warm fall day. I’ve had some spare time in the early afternoon, so I fetched my camera and headed to the countryside. Much room on the parking ground proposed few other people around.

By chance, I met these deers, right next to the path about 50m away from me at an empty field. At first one doe with her fawn was lying in the sun approximately 20m from the edge of the forest. After a while both got up (the fawn first) and started walking slowly and relaxed back to the edge of the forest where another doe with another fawn was waiting.

I was carefully hidden behind some huge silage packs. So I was able to observe them for about 20 minutes. Although, three of them are looking in my direction in the above image, there was no fear to notice. They stayed calm, but constantly looking in every direction to make sure, they are still save and no predator is around.

A wonderful experience.

Take care!

Travel Tuesday: gaining new land

 

Here at the north sea, people are trying to protect the land from the sea. This aim exists for centuries. The beach area protects to land. But, during heavy winter storms, a beach can be removed easily by wind and waves. Thus, in some areas the people set these lines of poles in the tidal area to reduce the speed of the water movement. So, some particles are able to settle near the poles and over time salty meadows grow. That’s a very sensible area, but very valuable for many birds.

In the above image, the meadow is still growing. During high tide the water circles the gras areas and builds uncountable tiniest islands. Over time, more and more grass will grow and avoid water coming here during a regular flood. Only very hight tides will be able to over flood the grass again. The bigger the meadows are and the longer the distance for the ocean is to cover, the less waves are able to fight against the dikes. That’s how protecting the land works.

Take care!

 

Travel Tuesday: pot whale

Sometimes, one of the big whale swims accidentally in a part of the ocean too shallow for them. I.e in winter 2015/2016 a few adolescent put whales came into German Bight. They need deep water for hunting giant squids. It’s assumed, these whales lost orientation and got lost in the wrong part of the atlantic ocean. It was impossible to direct them back to deep water, so the finally died of starving.

This wasn’t the first time, such a whale stranded at a German coast accidentally. In my image above you can see the skeleton of a pot whale that has died because of such an error in navigation a few years ago. Now, the prepared skeleton in hanging in a museum. Behind the skeleton they put up a mockup of a giant squid. You can see the huge eye of the giant squid easily above the skull. Both animals are of nearly the same size. The thin line around the skull of the whale symbolise the shape of the head. Imagine of the fight between a pot whale and a giant squid in about 1,000 m depth: a strong jaw agains 8 long arms and a sharp spout.

Take care!