Some days are harder than others when it comes to wildlife photography – and it’s not much fun when your carefully planned day has produced nothing. It happened to me very recently. I was a definite grump, until my spirits were raised by a rather fortuitous encounter.
Two days off work, and I’d planned it all with military precision. Day one: Otters, Harriers and Bittern. Day two: Bearded tits.
Day one started well. I was on the riverbank nice and early, the sun was out and all was quiet. A huge bow wave coming from under the bank in front of me could only mean one thing. An Otter stuck it’s head out of the water, dived down again and headed upstream – with me running to get ahead of it, ready for the shot.. which never came. That was it, and my day went downhill from that point on. The otter was not seen at all for the rest of the 6 hours I spent walking up and down that darned bank!
I had a go at a few kingfisher shots, but even they weren’t very obliging. I gave up on the idea of Harriers and Bittern, deciding instead to wait for the otters to appear.
A few black headed gulls seemed hell bent on catching fish, spending ages flying headfirst into the water to try and catch them. The otters stayed away. I went home grumpy, yet determined that the next day would be better.
It was. Of a sort. I headed to Lodmoor initially. Almost the first bird I saw was the Rosy Starling (a bit of a rarity) flying around with the local starlings. Good start – although it never really got close enough for a decent image.
A couple of snipe kept me entertained for a while as they dodged in and out of the reeds, but the closk was ticking and they weren’t my target for the day.
With short winter days the light doesn’t stay very good for very long, so I headed over to Radipole for the beardies.
I saw them. 3 of them in fact. Not the amazingly clear shots that I’d hoped for, but hey with the way the previous day had gone I couldn’t really ask for much. I even got a picture – and whilst it’s not at all any good, it does show what is undeniably a bearded tit in the reeds.
I was still very much down in the dumps though -two days walking around with the camera and really not a lot to show for it. Not wanting to admit defeat, I idly watched an elderly couple feeding the ducks near the visitor centre. As they left, I glimpsed something brown and furry working its was along the bank towards the dropped crumbs. A rat!
Believe it or not, but rats are a species that I’ve been hoping to catch up with – and here was my chance. To top it off, the sun came out as I approached so the light was great. I knelt down, kept quite still and before long I had six rats all busily foraging in front of me, no more than a few feet away.
Brilliant! I spent the next twenty minutes sat on the pavement snapping away as the family of rats carried on as if I wasn’t there.
So, there it is. I never thought I’d say it, but I’ll be the first to say thank you to those rats – for coming to my rescue when I really thought I’d spent two days with nothing to show for it. Next time I go to Radipole I’ll be sure to drop off a few snacks for them!!