The Joy Club member, Anna, makes her debut on our blog with this wonderful first instalment of her wildlife photography series. She begins in her own back garden, where she’s captured numerous birds (figuratively speaking).
Like many of us, I have always had a love of nature. I was brought up in a semi-rural town and my Mum would take my brother and I on long country walks, collecting conkers in the local park or to visit the local donkeys.
So it only seemed natural that when I took early retirement last year, and dusted off my camera equipment, that I should find myself taking photos of the natural world around me with all its lovely creatures.
It all started in the most simple way in the back garden at my Mum’s house. She is a keen gardener and, over the years, her garden has grown into a miniature nature reserve. With a fully stocked bird feeder and bird bath, we joke that the birds have a five star experience. There is also a pond with its resident goldfish, frog and the very occasional newt. And I mustn’t forget the couple of visiting squirrels and foxes. I soon found that it was quite easy to sit in the garden and capture the wildlife, especially birds as they flew to and from the feeder, or gathered in the nearby bushes, awaiting their turn.
As I snapped away I started to pick up on the characteristics of each type of bird and their distinctive habits. It didn’t take me long to realise that the easiest bird to photograph is the Robin. Not only is it relatively tame, but it is often happy to sit and sing without flying away as soon as you move! I have accumulated quite the collection of Robin photos, but always return to the ones of them singing. There is something so uplifting about listening to them in the mornings or early evenings and it is lovely to be able to capture this in a photo.
The Blue tits are another of our regular visitors and although they are very flighty, that’s what makes it all the more satisfying to get a good shot of them. With their fluffy blue head and yellow breast, they are also one of the prettiest and make for such nice models. One day, when I was looking out at the garden, I realised that during the summer our birdbath gets a shaft of sunlight that spotlights the birds as they stop to drink.
Taking advantage of this dramatic set-up, I tactically set up my camera and managed to capture a Blue tit just as it was contemplating flying up to the bird feeder, having had some water. This is now one of my favourite photos.
But, of course, I mustn’t forget to mention the humble Sparrow. We have a family of them that live in the Pyracantha bush which we enjoy watching as they flit in and out or gather together to feed on the berries. They may not be the most colourful birds in the garden, but they are definitely some of the friendliest. They occasionally sit still enough to have their photo taken.
Last but not least, I must call attention to the Goldfinches. I tend to think of them as the upper-class birds of the garden, what with their golden wings. They will sometimes be regular visitors, but then disappear for a month or two only to return again to periodically grace us with their presence. I have found that they are particularly shy and will stick to the trees and bushes or sit on the feeder, so it is difficult to take a photo of them out in the open. But I continue to sit and watch and wait to capture the perfect shot.
As the weather once again gets colder, the leaves will drop from the trees and the birds will become more visible, so I’ll be out in the garden wrapped up warm, watching our feathered friends and taking more photos. I am so glad that I picked up my camera again and that I am lucky enough to have such an amazing abundance of wildlife right outside my back door.
There’s wildlife everywhere so don’t forget to have a look to see what’s arrived in your garden or local park. You might be surprised by how much you see. There have been so many birds that I haven’t yet mentioned such as the Blackbirds, Magpies, Wrens, Starlings, Long-tailed Tits and Great Tits, but perhaps I will save them for another time.
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