Just a few years ago I would have been overjoyed to get a distant shot if a cuckoo, but one bird has re-aligned my expectations.
As summer moves towards autumn bird life tends to be less active. Migratory birds such as swift and terns start their long journey and there is often a bit of a gap before things that over winter here return to our shores. As such the big lenses get less use and I start to wear out my macro kit. Every week from the first warm days of spring something new and often short lived appears, from flying ants and mayfly that last but a day to the arrival of migratory butterflies and moths. There is always something wonderful to see through the magic eye of the macro lens.
Sometimes when out shooting wildlife, poor light and distance from a subject can mean really pushing your camera and lens to its limit. With only an old and battered 100-400 I often find myself pushing things a bit too far. So what can I do to rescue an image that is verging on the unusable? While it is impossible to polish a turd, at least it is with my poor Photoshop skills, there is still a lot I can do to make and acceptable image.
Everyone loves an owl, we all see them in zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and even bought to schools for education purposes. At night we may even hear the sound of Tawny Owls calling. In the wild however very few of us have seen them, let alone photographed them. It has only been in the last 4 years where I have had the opportunity and time to spend photographing them in the wild. On the plus side they are relatively slow and large. On the downside numbers of all species are dropping, they often fly at night and are quite secretive so photographing them is far from easy.
To our friends in parts of America, the sight of an Osprey seems nothing special. In fact, chatting to one such USA based photographer I discovered he has one large lake near to his home where 300 pairs nest around its shores. To put that into context, that is more on one lake than the whole of the UKs breeding population, most of which are in Scotland. Even in Scotland they became extinct as a breeding species in 1916 only returning as a single breeding pair in 1954.. Here in Southern Britain they became extinct in 1847 but as numbers were successfully rising in Scotland a relocation programme begun in 1996 introducing birds to Rutland Water. It took until 2001 before Ospreys finally bred at Rutland, the first in England for over 150 years. Three years later Wales also joined the fray as the return of the Osprey gathered pace. 2015 was a special year at Rutland as they celebrated their 100th hatched chick. This brings the average UK summer population to 250-270 pairs.
As a kid spiders held no fear for me, I would catch them in jars and all the other things boys do. I would think nothing of clambering through trees ending up covered in creepy crawlies. In my late teens, probably because my father had a big fear of spiders, I begun to feel a little uncomfortable around them. It is only the giant house spiders (Eratigena atrica) that really make me cringe, and only when they are in my house. I have to capture them and remove them on discovery, I know not why I feel like this. So how do I manage to get millimetres away from them and other spiders with the camera?