If I had to choose to do just one job for the rest of my life, it would be a wildlife photographer. Wherever I travel, I always take my camera with me and, if anyone asked me what experience I would want to have more than anything, it would be to go on safari to indulge in wildlife photography.
My love for travel and wildlife photography
When I picked up my DSLR again around 4 years ago, I reignited my passion for photography. Little did I know at the time, that I would find a whole new love for wildlife. I have a travel blog which has been on hold since I had my son last June, and I have always loved globe-trotting. I quickly realised that travel and wildlife photography are two things that can work very well together.
Wildlife, in it’s natural surroundings, is unpredictable. I guess that is what I love about photographing it. You can’t ask animals to pose or to look at you a certain way. You have to be guided and go along with them and what they want – not the other way around.
I can clearly remember where my love for wildlife photography started. We had travelled to Portland to stay with Ross’ parents and had paid a visit to Weymouth Harbour. Grace was crabbing, Ross was helping her and I, as usual, was there with my camera. I decided to increase my shutter speed and start to photograph some of the sea birds who were taking off, and landing, on the water. I feel I captured this seagull at a very dramatic moment – and edited the photograph into black and white for more of an effect.
One of my favourite things about photography is returning home, inserting the SD card into your computer and seeing what you have managed to capture. The elements of catching a bird in flight are particularly tricky – but I seem to have been able to achieve that regularly. This seagull was my first.
This was my next surprise photograph on the list. I used to work at a health retreat in Wellington and, every week during my lunch break, I would take my camera out into the surrounding woods to see what wildlife I could find and photograph. I was following this bird for a while in the fields next to a dirt track, patiently waiting to see what images I could capture. At the time I thought it was a song thrush until someone corrected me, and told me it was a redwing. This is my definite favourite out of the images I took that day.
I think that this has to be the first wildlife photograph that I was truly happy with. I was on a gluten-free cookery course at River Cottage HQ and, during our coffee break, I went for a walk with my camera.
Taking a close-up against the white-washed walls of River Cottage makes the bee look like it is in a studio, posing. The purple lupins really add a vivid element. Ross got this photo put onto canvas for me last Christmas. He keeps saying that it should be on waiting room walls!
Chard Reservoir, Somerset
Chard Reservoir is now my most regular wildlife haunt. As you can see, I have many photos of the birds which visit there. My favourite one though, has to be the Kingfisher.
Early one morning a couple of years ago, when Ross and Grace were away, I decided to get up and do something productive, so I travelled to the bird hide at Chard Reservoir. There was no one else around and it was so peaceful. I had my long range lens on and was looking through the hide. Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of bright blue and there, on the resting stick in the middle of the reservoir, was a Kingfisher. I can remember my hands shaking as I tried to make sure I was in focus and getting some good shots. He posed for me for a few minutes and then disappeared. I wanted to share my excitement with at least one person – as there was no one else around – so, with my hands still shaking, I texted Ross to let him know! That moment was quite something for me.
You’d think, visiting a foreign country, I might actually get the chance to take photos of something other than birds but, on this trip, it wasn’t to be.
This was a visit to Alicante for our IVF consultation. We were only there for two nights and did a lot of relaxing around the pool. Well, I say ‘we’. I was more interested in walking around with my camera! These photographs were all taken in the hotel grounds.
I think that my biggest regret, on this press trip to Northern Ireland, was that I didn’t hire a telephoto lens. Had I known what wildlife photography opportunities were going to present themselves, I certainly would have done.
We were due to take a trip to Rathlin Island to go and see the puffins, however, circumstances beyond our control changed this and meant that we weren’t allowed on the island, so we had to take a boat trip to their shores instead. Instead, we had the opportunity to see many different varieties of sea birds but, I actually managed to see a seal or two. Unusually, the weather was stunning and, as result, much of the North Atlantic was a millpond that day. As a result, it gave us a far better view of the wildlife than we had anticipated – plus, as an added bonus, none of us felt seasick!
RSPB Ham Wall, Glastonbury
Grace and I took a trip to RSPB Ham Wall during the summer holidays a couple of years ago. The weather was stunning and we took a picnic. Grace and I were both armed with our cameras and we had a wonderful time walking and photographing nature.
Initially we sat by some of the ponds to eat our lunch and photographed some frogs and dragonflies. Then we moved further and found plenty of bird hides to spy on much of the wildlife. The first main hide had Glastonbury Tor in the background and was where I first encountered a grey heron – who decided that fighting with a swan was probably a bad idea!
Then, we moved to a bigger hide much further away and it was there that we spotted a Little Egret. I was thrilled to just about be able to photograph it catching a fish. Oh, for a longer range lens!
Next year I am determined to photograph the stunning starling murmurations which happen there. Plus, capture an image or two of the barn owl in flight.
This little fella popped up whilst I was photographing the Hardway Half Marathon on Portland. There was a break in the runners showing up so, as usual, I started to seek out some wildlife to photograph. It didn’t take me long – this lizard made an appearance and I was straight down on my hands and knees in the dirt. I had to be quick though – he is a speedy little guy!
My Own Back Garden
You don’t have to travel far for wildlife to present itself though. This spider had made his home in our conifer trees and the starling was perched on top of them. The bee was on the lavender in our front garden.
As you can see, most of my wildlife photography has been of birds to date. I have taken photos of other animals in captivity but it really isn’t the same thing. I feel that to really capture the essence of an animal it needs to be in its natural habitat.
My aim is to go on more travels to find, and photograph, wildlife. I am looking at some more island adventures and Lundy is my next target. My biggest goal though – and a dream come true – would be to go on safari. And then I would definitely hire a telephoto lens!
This post is an entry in to the Trips100/Audley Travel blogger challenge.
You can find more details here: https://www.trips100.co.uk/2018/06/win-a-safari-for-two-with-audley-travel/
If you love wildlife photography, then below is another great opportunity:
Win an African safari with Audley Travel by sharing your best wildlife photograph or video on your social media channels. To enter write #AudleySafari and @AudleyTravel on your Instagram or Twitter post or share directly on the Audley Travel Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/audleytravel/. To find out more or enter via the website, visit www.audleytravel.com/social. Entries must be posted between 20th August – 23rd September.
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