When Is A painting Not A Painting?

River Ripples

You may have noticed I have a thing about water, light and reflections, and the abstract patterns which the mind can get completely  lost within if you allow it to roam within such an image. There is a narrow bridge crossing my local river which leads to a canal a stone’s throw away. This is the view of the river looking over the side of the bridge. This is how I saw it, tiny ripples forming as the cool water stirred over smoothened pebbles and stones just under the surface. Reflections of tree branches stretching out like flailing limbs, and the canopy of foliage almost like daubs of green paint where an artist has just let themselves go free in a creative flourish. As for the blue, well that just takes you out of this world.

Click and click again on the image to expand the view, and dive right in.

May 2018, local river, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman

River Ripples By

River Ripples

I think the plant is River Water Crowfoot bubbling just beneath the surface. The river is quite shallow here, and I have walked across it past summers. Sometimes I will see a zip of blue as a Kingfisher flies by, and flitting damselflies and dragonflies can be seen on the banks and out over the cool freshwater.

May 2018, local river, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman

River Light Reflections

River Light

During one of my walks along my local river, I was so taken by the sunlight filtering through the trees and reflecting off the cool water. I felt like I was peering into some magical, watery fairy realm. The light lit up the bottom of the riverbed and bought out the beautiful earthen colours which would have otherwise lay hidden there in the dark. I flipped the original image over so the reflection ended the right way up, and did not have to do much else with it in editing. I am always on the look out for the unusual as well as beauty and wonder, and I am always in awe of what nature bestows to us.

Please click on the image for a larger view.


August 2016, Staffordshire, England.

Great Crested Grebe

Podiceps cristatus

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

A beautiful and most elegant waterbird with ornate head plumes which has a magnificent courtship display where they move their head from side to side. It has a white face with shows of chestnut, white neck and breast, a dark brownish back, and a very pointed pink bill. The juveniles have a distinctive striped head and their body is pale grey.

To feed these birds dive beneath the surface of the water for long periods, searching for fish and large invertebrates. The nest is a pile of weed on the water anchored to vegetation. It lays 3-4 eggs in 1 brood, February to June. They can live for up to 15 years.

Seen all year round, on large lakes, reservoirs, and large rivers. They may also be seen along the coast in winter. They are common and widespread throughout lowland Britain.

Photograph of Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) taken October 2011, local canal, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Beautiful Demoiselle

Calopteryx virgo

The wings of the mature male are a very dark blue, almost black, where the female’s wings are an iridescent green-brown with a false white spot near the tips. The male’s body is a metallic blue-green, and the female’s metallic green with a bronze-tipped abdomen. Body length up to 50mm. Forewing 40mm.

The males are very territorial, and perch on vegetation as look-outs warding off unwelcome visitors. The females can lay up to 300 eggs at a time in emergent or floating vegetation. The larvae develop for over two years before emerging as adults.

It flies May to August, and it is found near slow-flowing streams and rivers, in farmland and woodland. Common and widespread in the south-west of England and Wales and southern Ireland, but absent or local in the rest of England, Scotland, and northern Ireland.

Flowering Rush

Butomus umbellatus

A beautiful and elegant aquatic perennial with umbrella-like clusters of pink flowers. Although the long thin, sword-like leaves of this plant resemble a rush or a sedge, and the name of the plant implies this, it is not and is unrelated. It grows up to 80cm tall.

The seeds are made up of tissue which are filled with air. This allows the seeds to become buoyant when they fall from the parent plant so they may float a distance away on the water’s current to germinate.

It flowers July to August. It grows and thrives in the shallows of slow-moving freshwater ponds, ditches and rivers. Locally common only in England and Wales.

Under The Old Willow

On my local walk I often pass this old willow on the river bank. If you were to walk towards it, push back the tall grass and overgrowth, and peer closer at the moss laden boughs, you would see another world, a micro world of lichen and tiny mushrooms growing there.

Banded Demoiselle

Calopteryx splendens

I have been playing cat and mouse with these beautiful broad-winged dragonflies by my local river this morning. Patience is everything when photographing nature in the wild, but I am sure these critters always got a sense when I took my lens cap off for they would flutter off to alight somewhere else, usually out of reach! But patience paid off and I manged to get one reasonable shot of this handsome male.

A very elegant and extraordinarily beautiful damselfly. The males have a metallic blue-green sheen with a broad dark blue spot.The females are pale greeny-gold with a small false white wing spot near the tip. Similar to the  Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo). Body length 45 to 48mm. Forewing 30 to 35mm.

The males are very territorial, and they court females by flicking their wings open and performing an aerial dance for them. The females lay their many eggs into a variety of emergent or floating plants. The eggs hatch after about 14 days. The larvae develop over a 2 year period in submerged vegetation.

It flies May to September, and it is found near slow-flowing streams and rivers. It is common and widespread in the Lowlands of Ireland, England and Wales. It is absent from Scotland and rare in northern England.

Photograph taken June 2016, local river, Staffordshire.