Here in the UK we are blessed with a wonderful array of species and habitats to photograph, it can almost be overwhelming at times to try and decide what to photograph and when and obviously with wildlife it’s all about timing but also getting a huge amount of luck!
As a wildlife photographer I do my best to plan out my year ahead, I focus on species and spectacles and try and pick my target subjects, of course things change and often new species present themselves to me shifting my focus but over the course of the year I have a few subjects that I always return to simply because I find them photogenic and a joy to be around. Here are 3 of those species:
Nesting Mute Swans
Each year I do my best to check pairs of Mute Swans in my local area, my sole aim is to find a nest where the adults are tolerant of human presence and therefore I can get close enough to try and photograph those first few days of the cygnets after hatching whilst of course still maintaining a safe and ethical distance so as not to worry, stress or disturb the adults in any way. As a photographic subject goes cygnets are clearly extremely photogenic, being cute and fluffy, however the photographic possibilities are enhanced by the fact that in those first few weeks they spend plenty of time either tucked under the wings of the protective adults or riding on the back of their parents.
Both of these activities are wonderful to observe and with some patience and respect you can capture these moments on camera, my aim every year is to try and get a shot of a snuggling chick just poking its head out from the feathers of the parent, it’s a wonderfully simplistic image but not as easy as it should be, so when I do manage it I am filled with joy!
One of my favourite mammals to photograph is the Water Vole and I am lucky to have a number of local spots to try and see these fairly elusive animals! I enjoy photographing them because they are one of those subjects that you are never fully sure are going to show themselves when you turn up to photograph them meaning I get a genuine rush of excitement when I catch my first glimpse of one!
I really enjoy the habitat Water Voles reside in, it’s often a tranquil place – a canal, stream, river or brook, I enjoy being close to the water, the patience you need to wait for them to appear and the anticipation if they start to move closer towards you, they are a great subject as you can photograph them at most times of the year but for me a Spring morning or evening is best. They are also a really photogenic subject, they are nearly always busy doing something, have engaging faces and a secretive way about them, I just love them!
Jays in Autumn leaves
My final favourite subject to photograph is the Jay – a truly beautiful bird, intelligent, colourful and industrious! I enjoy seeing Jays at any time of the year but in terms of photography I love getting out in an Autumnal woodland setting to photograph them.
Autumn is a busy time for Jays as they collect acorns to cache for winter, this makes it a great time to see them and they are just that more obvious during this season. But for me the colours make it the best time to photograph them, with golden leaves of orange, brown and yellow on the ground and in the trees, these colours really compliment the colours of the Jay, I get a real buzz when I see a Jay perched in a tree or down on the ground foraging in leaves. They are also wary birds, so it can take some real fieldcraft to get them to accept your presence, either careful stalking, a hide or simply remaining extremely still to not frighten them.
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