Lesser Kestrel, Mountains in Kos

The album “Reach for the Sky” was released by Sunderland Brothers and Quiver in 1975.  The cover is very evocative and has an eagle flying across the sun.  My picture of the Lesser Kestrel flying over the valley between Kardamena and Pyli reminds me of that LP record.  It is one of many pictures taken on a day out with the wonderful photographer Sarah Longes (Twitter @miradordesign).  With my 200mm lens working to its limit, Sarah taught me to be patient on taking photographs. Not one of my strongest virtues but I am learning. 

Lesser Kestrel, Mountains in Kos
A pair of lesser kestrels take a rest from hunting
Lesser Kestrel, Mountains in Kos
If you look closely, a bee is following the kestrel as it sets off in flight.

Sarah spotted where the lesser kestrels were hunting on the edge of the valley.  The view from our photography spot was spectacular and one of the interesting features were the large number of bee hives scattered across the landscape. Sarah has a sixth sense of where to find wildlife. I have known her virtually for a few years now and luck would have it we were both on Kos at the same time. She is a super photographer and teacher.

Gecko lizard in the mountains of Kos Island
A gecko lizard out and about.

We left the Lesser Kestrels hunting in the mountains and moved onto Pyli to walk around the village.  Pyli features a natural water spring.  Although it was the heat of the day, there were several people filling up containers with spring water.  It was quiet when we visited, although two coach tours did descend on the area whilst we were having lunch in a local restaurant in the square.  

The water fountains at Pyli, Kos Island
The water at the springs in Pyli is particularly sought after for its mineral content.
The water fountains at Pyli, Kos Island
Yannis, a local resident, filling up containers. The water will be taken to restaurants throughout Kos.

Following lunch, we made our way to the Alikes Salt Lake that was next to the town of Tigaki.  The lake was teeming with wildlife in spite of the serious levels of pollution present.  The salt works are no longer operational and are visited by a few tourists and locals.  More interest is from the paragliding sails that pepper the horizon.  The salt lake was interesting with graffiti on old abandoned buildings,  several varieties of birds and even some turtles swimming around.  It was here that once again I learnt to be patient, as I photographed the birds, resisting my natural temptation to rush forward to get as close as possible.

Aliki Salt Lake, Kos Island
Evocative image of the Black winged Stilt flying over the salt lake.
Aliki Salt Lake, Kos Island
Turtle and Bird not talking to each other.
Aliki Salt Lake, Kos Island
No talking please whilst flying.
Aliki Salt Lake, Kos Island
Looking out for food.
Aliki Salt Lake, Kos Island
These legs were made for wading.
Aliki Salt Lake, Kos Island
Nice reflections.
Aliki Salt Lake, Kos Island
Amy Whitehouse looks out from the abandoned salt works.
The salt lake was so hot and this dramatic view of the mountains puts it in perspective.
Aliki Salt Lake, Kos Island
Heading out for the paragliding.

Our final stop was the Traditional Windmill of Antimachia.  This is a restored windmill and the intricate sails were quite magnificent as they turned around.  I chatted to the owner of the Windmill and accompanying restaurant/bar and showed him Chesterton Windmill near Leamington Spa.  The owner was very interested, and I hope that I have forged an international link between the two windmills.

Antimachia Windmill on Kos
The striking Antimachia Windmill on Kos

A memorable day and thank you to both Sarah for allowing me to accompany her on her photography tour and Simon her husband for chauffeuring us around Kos.  Hope you as the reader enjoy the pictures.

If you want to know more about Kos then there are two sites I would recommend,
Visit Kos Island Greece
Visit Greece

For the pictures of Sarah Longes then I would recommend her Twitter feed as she regularly posts there. Comment on her pictures and Sarah is sure to reply!

Sarah in photographic action in the mountains.

If you want to discover the song “Reach for the Sky” by Sutherland Brothers and Quiver then there is a YouTube link with the lyrics.

Tysoe Windmill sunrise

I am always on the lookout for different places to visit in my locality. Reviewing local tags on Instagram pages highlights the beauty of the surrounding area and reveals a range of places to visit.  Recently, I was given the opportunity of selecting a picture for the #igerscoventry #igerswarwickshire Instagram site.  A black and white picture of Tysoe Windmill in South Warwickshire caught my eye.  This was a place that I had not heard of before and the picture got my vote. Immediately I set about researching the windmill and looking at pictures that other photographers had taken.  It looked interesting, and I planned a morning sunrise whilst we were enjoying good September weather. 

Tysoe Windmill sunrise
A foggy start

Getting up early is not so difficult in September but there was the problem with the national fuel shortage. Luckily the 24-hour garage near to us had petrol and I was able to set off.  The conditions were initially clear and then when I left the M40 it became very foggy as I travelled through Kineton village.  I was excited as the conditions were shaping up to be excellent for the sunrise.  I passed through the villages of Tysoe and then saw familiar landmarks from my Google maps research.  I found the country lane and parked up the car.  The fog was swirling around with the sun occasionally showing through.  The Windmill is situated on a high hill.  My approach on the public footpath took me up some wooden steps, many of which were broken.  I did not see the windmill until I was almost at the top.  The fog was still around and a picture of spiders’ webs on the gate with the windmill in the background set the scene.  The picture also did well on my social media.  Looking back down the hill, the fog was lying in pockets on the landscape.  There was that lovely saturation of the sky that happens before the Sun is in the sky.  Sunrise was nearly upon me.  I followed the footpath around the south side of the hill before entering via a gate onto the hilltop with the Windmill.

Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Spiders’ webs at the entrance to the Windmill
Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Looking at the early morning landscape prior to sunrise

The restored windmill has a commanding presence.  The structure has weathered brickwork and is rather tubby looking around the middle.  It has a wooden box where the Windmill mechanism protrudes away from the sales.  I have done a deconstructed view of the windmill showing all my various observations.

Different views of the Tysoe Windmill

Back to the sunrise.  It was lovely to see and whilst there were no clouds in the sky to provide any colour variations, the light was still beautiful.  I took plenty of pictures which included the long shadows of the trees, spiders’ webs highlighted by the morning moisture and landscapes showing the last remnants of the foggy conditions.  There was no one else around bar the cattle in the fields and the crows flying around.  Then the sun became much stronger, and the conditions slowly changed.  Reluctantly I made my way down the hill and back to the car.  There were still a couple more pictures to take before I was back on the road home.  Next time I will visit in the evening and see how the sunset shapes up but until then I hope you enjoy these pictures.

Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Sunrise at Tysoe Windmill
Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Landscape view from the hill
Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Tysoe Windmill and its sails

The May Bank Holiday was not going to be like last year. The temperature was predicted to go down to around 2 degrees centigrade. I had in my mind that I wanted to photograph Chesterton Windmill on the Saturday evening. Was I mad? Looking at the weather forecast there was a good chance of a mix of sun and clouds. These were the ingredients for a possible sunset. Therefore I had an early supper and packed all the kit. I included hot drinks as well. Lots of clothing layers and also a pair of gloves. Goodness is this May!!!

You see the windmill from the road and already your excitement levels rise as it is very prominent and command lovely views. There are never that man people there in the evening so I parked the car and I could not wait to get the camera out and start taking pictures. My problem is that I get too excited about getting that picture. I looked to bracket some of my pictures for later HDR treatment and some of them came out very well.

Sunset using a graduated filter
A bracketed exposure and the clouds are a little blurry due to their movement between shots
I like this one and it has caught the grass giving a layering to the picture

At the windmill, I also looked for different pictures of the structure. This can be difficult for me as I tend to always see the larger details. However the golden light opened some interesting pictures.

A sail and part of the structure makes for a nice picture. The stone wheel adds interest.

This is framing the sunset with one of the sails pointing to the setting sun.
The stone work absorbs the warm colours of the sunset
An attempt to highlight the grass around the windmill.
Another bracketed shot of the sunset

Then after a couple of hours the sun has gone and there is just a warm glow over the area. The hot coffee back at the car was lovely and then it was back home to look at the pictures. I will also be back to take some more pictures in the future. Hopefully I will not leave it too long this time.

One of the most photographic structures near me is the Windmill at Chesterton.  I had visited it for the first time earlier in the year and I wished to plan another trip where I could have my tripod with me.  I contacted a good friend of mine, John Bray, and we planned the visit between Christmas and the New Year.  To really appreciate the Windmill you need to have good weather especially if you are looking for a memorable sunset.  As luck would have it not only did we pick a good afternoon, it had snowed the night before which gave an added plus factor to the photographic outing.  John and I spent an hour and half at the windmill taking photographs as the sun slowly left the sky.

Many people gathered for the sunset

A lone sail against the sunset

Starburst against the Windmill

The sunset was a good one and there were lots of opportunities for pictures.  Even the moon got into the act.  The temperature dropped and whilst it was cold there was little wind.  We took lots of pictures and soon it was time to leave as the sunset was nearly finished.  Just as we were walking away John turned around and said look at that view.  It is the old saying always look behind you when you are walking away from the picture.  John is really quick on getting his pictures out on social media and they were excellent producing much reaction.  Here are my views of Chesterton windmill on a cold yet ultimately rewarding photographic session.

A high key view

Afternoon light on the snow

Light through the centre

Shadows of the sails on the Windmill

Looking towards the Sun


The sentinel looks towards the sun

Another moon shot

The end of the day

Two figures walking towards the Windmill


John’s Photographs are on his Flickr account.