Well, since I’ve had my telephoto lens, my local walks have taken on a new dimension. Before, I used to carry binoculars but since I have had the equipment needed to photograph wildlife, it’s amazing how much more I see. Just the act of carrying the camera/lens in your hand has the effect of making you so much more alert to everything that is around.
Take the picture above for instance. I was looking to capture the sunset when I spotted this Stonechat in typical Stonechat pose at the top of this shrub. I was fortunate that he stayed there long enough for me to get into position, and that I had my 400mm lens on the camera because there was no way I’d have got the shot without it.
Mind you, it does create some challenges! To start with, carrying the camera and long lens adds quite a lot of weight, especially when you are carrying it in your hands on a walk which is several miles long. The trouble is, you need it to hand. The other thing is that some birds are really difficult to capture because they never stop moving! Take the wren above, they are usually buried deep in the undergrowth and rarely ‘pose’, unlike the robin who seems to love having his picture taken 🙂 !
Another really difficult to capture bird is the Dartford Warbler above. They spend most of their lives scrambling around in the gorse bushes, just occasionally sitting at the top of the bush warbling. I was really pleased to get the picture above because it shows the bird in its typical environment. In fact, it gives me joy to see one at all because a few short years ago, they were virtually extinct – they were down to just a handful of breeding pairs after some really harsh winters. These days, numbers have recovered and I regularly get to see and hear them on the heathlands of East Dorset. They are such beautiful birds.
It was whilst I was seeking more pictures of the Dartford Warbler that I was fortunate to get a shot of the Crossbill above. I spotted it through the binoculars but could not make out what it was until I photographed it and enlarged the picture on the camera screen to make sure the picture was sharp. It was only then that I spotted the crossed beak which it uses to extract seeds from pine cones. Just look at those amazing colours!
Some birds, and some places, are much easier than others. I’ve already mentioned the robin but other garden birds are more used to people and therefore less secretive. In terms of places, the local country park always makes for a fruitful trip because clearly the birds are used to being fed and come down very quickly to an accessible place in return for some food. It helps, you see, to carry some wild bird seed in your pocket when you are a photographer 🙂 !
One of the things I try to do is to capture more than just a ‘portrait’ of the bird but rather to say something about its lifestyle and habits through the picture. This can mean capturing them in their habitat, in typical pose, in a way that shows something of their character etc. I have had several fruitful visits to the nearby lake which may look really wild but is actually in the middle of an industrial estate. The swans above were taken on an evening visit to the lake and I waited for ages for them to line up in the reflected sunset on the water. It was quite frustrating because one or other would invariably be out of line or have their head in the water or whatever. Patience was rewarded though 🙂 !
I’ve said before on here that although I have been into photography and wildlife all my life, I have only recently had the equipment to be able to combine these two interests fully. I still have a long way to go in this new direction but I am really enjoying the experience and the new discoveries. I hope you enjoy seeing them too.
These are just a very small sample of the pictures I have captured so far and with lockdown due to ease further next week, I am really looking forward to going further afield and to capturing more of our amazing wildlife.
Stay safe, and thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
If you would like to contact me, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org – comments and feedback are always welcomed.
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