A strange addiction

For the past year or so I have been wondering why I keep photographing Red Grouse. I was looking into my key-wording and I must have nearly 2000 images of these smashing, but somewhat in my opinion comical, birds and so to the  other day when the light was bringing out the reds, pinks and oranges on the moor, I thought to myself I know I will go and check out some new habitat that looks good fro Grouse. It was then that I questioned myself and thought “why surely its time for something else”.

It wasn’t and off I went to get some more Red Grouse shots. What can I say? Maybe I just wanted my regular fix of quizzical grouse behaviour. Either way I took some shots and returned home happy. Sometimes its just that simple.

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Just a Coot

I was out and about the other day when another photographer stopped and asked me what I was photographing. I pointed out the water birds and the light reflecting onto the loch. The other snapper shrugged and said “Ah, that’s just a Coot” and walked off. Okay, so its not a Lion or a Golden Eagle, but photography can’t always be about the same, ‘premier’ subjects.

On reflection, getting out and looking for common often underrated subjects can be far more rewarding and gives much more satisfaction than another shot of that sought after but often over photographed species.

I’ve been neglecting the Jackdaws and Hoodies in the garden for far too long…

All change

Summer has passed by without really getting started, but that means Autumn and then Winter, my favourite season, are not long away. Enjoying photography in soft light can lead to many unsociable hours in the field over Summer, so the start of shorter days is always a bit of a relief! It’s time to restock the feeding stations and start tempting the Red Squirrels and Crested Tits back for the winter workshops as well as enjoying the phenomenal colours that seem to abound at this time of year.

Watching and waiting

I recently visited my buddy Mark’s, Kingfisher hide to photograph what is probably the most photographed bird in the British Isles. I spent several hours watching the Kingfishers feeding, preening and at times interacting with each other. What struck me most was that as a photographer we get remarkable insights into the range of activities that our subjects go through everyday. To observe an animal from dawn until dusk, watching every moment, creates a unique perspective that you don’t get from ten minutes in a hide at a nature reserve or a walk through the woods. I often wonder how to pass the time in hides – I recently asked fellow photographers on Twitter what they do – reading, googling and even sleeping were the most common tweets. Spending hours in an uncomfortable hide isn’t for everyone – I still have aches in some funny places – but being able to witness behaviour so intimately is reward in itself. I still have a few thousand images to go through, but with or without images the experience was worth the discomfort

How long?

How long to wait for a shot? That’s a question I seem to ask myself a lot when sat in my hide waiting for something to happen – or even just turn up. Recently I was leading a group on Mull where on the first fay we found a reeling Grasshopper Warbler in a nice location. Of the group all but one of us were pleased with the shots we had and moved on to focus on Short Eared Owls. One of my clients was determined to improve his shot and spent most mornings looking and listening for this elusive bird. Finally he was rewarded with stunning views of the Grasshopper Warbler singing in the morning sunshine.

When time is limited, and there is always something else that you think you should be photographing, the question is how long to wait for a shot? I learnt from Gary, over the course of a week, that persistence pays off. Well that’s what I kept telling myself.

In between showers

We’ve had some almighty thunder storms in the past few days, which has meant some wet days in the field. On the flip side when the light comes it is cleaner and brighter as all the dust and other detritus in the air has been cleaned away. This has meant that even some of the more common species can be photographed in lovely golden light – such as the often overlooked Oystercather and this Brown Hare with the sun is back lighting the grasses and flowers.

Good news on the home front too as we now have fledged Tree Sparrows and Swallows feeding in the fields.