Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Velmead Common

On Sunday I took advantage of a rare spell of sunshine to go for a walk on Velmead Common. This is a piece of land near our house which although owned by the Ministry of Defence is available for access by the general public.

War Department (now Ministry of Defence) boundary marker at edge of Velmead Common
At weekends this area is full of runners, cyclists and dog-walkers - and the occasional photographer. The Common is typical of the rural countryside in our part of the world - a mix of open grassland and wooded areas. The trees are mostly pines and birches, and the open spaces are mostly covered with grass and heather.


The area is criss-crossed with tracks, footpaths and "rides", so there is something for everyone. Fortunately motor vehicles are prohibited. I hate to think what it would be like if motorbikes were allowed.


After all the rain we have had over thast few weeks months, parts of the Common look more like the Florida Everglades!


Wherever you look there are puddles! On Sunday many of them had a thin coating of ice.




On Sunday, with so many people and dogs about, the local wildlife was not much in evidence. I did at one stage see a Jay, but Jays are nervous birds and very fast fliers, so very difficult photo subjects at the best of times. Anyway, one of the reasons I had gone to the common was to see some of its more high-profile inhabitants - the rare-breed cattle.


These cattle have been introduced specifically to assist with the management of the heathland, by grazing it. There are cows of various different types in the herd. I'm not an expert on cattle-identification, so apart from the obvious Highland ones (above), I'm not able to identify the others. I think that the small black-and-white ones may possibly be Dexters.






The cows are very docile. I noticed people patting and stroking them, but they seemed perfectly oblivious to the attention. Many of them were standing in the middle of a track and evidently had no intention of moving to let mere human beings pass by!


The Common is a really fascinating place if you are interested in Nature. I took masses of close-up photos of mosses, lichens, plants, trees etc. So many in fact that I'm going to do a separate post about them, and for now I'll content myself with showing you a few more photos of the general area.










I've saved my favourite photo to last. I like this one because it captures the light conditions so nicely, with the strong sunlight filtering through the screen of tall thin trees, and casting deep shadows. Tell me what you think. Do you like it?


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20 comments:

  1. I do like it Mark. I'm experimenting with a new photo manipulation application but sometimes photos need leaving alone don't they?

    I just hope there were no alligators in your everglades!

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  2. Looks like a lovely place for a walk. Love the highland cow!

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  3. It does look very swampy in places. You have made it look very inviting though, I do like a good walk.

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  4. It looks lovely there and you're a talented photographer - the last one is fabulous
    Black & white cows - belted galloways??

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  5. I do like that last picture! Very interesting to see cows introduced to a kind of wildlife area like that.
    It really looks like most places here except here in GA we tend to be too dry for all that standing water but lately we have had a lot more rain.

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  6. I love that last photo. Did you see the potential before you took the photo, or was it a happy accident? Dexters are a small breed, I've only ever seen black ones.

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    1. Jo, I did see the potential of the shot before I took it. In fact I took several photos at the same spot, in the hope that at least one would be good enough. I got lucky!

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  7. Such a beautiful place, even in the middle of winter, it must be fantastic in the spring. You've done a lovely job photographing it, I especially like the one with the tree reflected in the water with the bare tree in the foreground.

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  8. Wonderful photographs. It's lovely to have places like this which are still peaceful and unspoilt by traffic and development.

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  9. That is really beautiful with the reflections in the water and the pretty scenery. I love the Highland cow. Nice photos, as always, Mark!

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  10. Fab-u-lous photos Mark and what a wonderful place to have on your doorstep - I am so envious.

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  11. Some really good photos and looked like a lovely day, even with the very wet ground. Wellies are so handy in this country!

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  12. That red Highland certainly is handsome. How nice to have this area close to the house!

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  13. What a beautiful bit of countryside close to home. Thanks for sharing it.

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  14. As always, Mark, beautiful photos and thoughtful comments. I always view your posts with a cup of tea in hand. Reminds me of my years in Britain so long ago.

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  15. What a talented fellow you are Mark. These are beautiful photographs and it must have been hard to make the choice when you were posting them. Thank you for sharing with us. The Common looks quite beautiful, and I love the cattle.

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  16. The last photo is gorgeous! I also like the puddles -- yes, it certainly looks like southern wetlands.

    Your photo with the black-and-white oreo cows are belties (belted Galloways) -- my husband adores them (although he says he wants to get a Dexter eventually, since it is a more practical size for a small family... if a cow is ever a practical thing for a small family. I told him he can do the milking). Dexters are small and solid brown.

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    1. Hi Eliza; Thanks for the ID of the Belted Galloways. Tell your husband you need a Highland cow, not a Dexter. They have such character! (and bad hairstyles).

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    2. No way, those look even bigger! I'm already wondering what we're going to do with all the daily milk from the little Dexter (tonssss of cheese)? Oh well, at least it won't be as expensive to treat powdery mildew in the summer (also, we're going to have to move out of the city before he gets his cow, anyway). :)

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