Simply a great place to be during this time of the year. Avocets, godwits, gulls and lots of squabbling – wish I lived closer!
Category: Birds Eloquent Project
Birds Eloquent looks at the visual poetry of birds within the environment and the context within which they are found. It explores the relationship between place and species and also looks at how birds interact with each other within a fragile ecosystem.
The project simply grew from a love of being with birds all my life, watching and recording from an early age and accompanying my brothers on bird outings. All the work is carried out in the British Isles, a country offering so much diversity but under so much pressure.
Never chasing, never collecting species, never year lists or life lists, just a love of watching, anticipating and being in the company of birds. Photographically, I came late to birds, and would rather, at the end of a days shooting, have an eloquent image of a more common species than a record shot of a rarer one. My main focus is exploring how the medium can help convey a sense of place and the extraordinary habits of birds, giving a sense of my own experiences in the field.
As the work continues to develop I find myself pulling back from the bird and working more with how it is experienced in the field. Time waiting for the right moment is time not only invested in the image but in my well being and this aspect of slowing down is becoming central to the work.
I shall be showing a selection of work from this collection at the Found Gallery in Brecon in May 2023
The changing landscape of bird populations within Britain makes for interesting reading and Marshside, close to Southport, has seen some very interesting trends over the twenty or so years its been in the care of the RSPB.
Just back from the North West after doing a small piece for BBC Countryfile (more on that later) and managed a few day out with the camera and collecting more material for the WALK project in the summer. This first post concentrates on a few hours I spent with the tree sparrows at Martin Mere and the decline of the sparrows of this country.
I’ve been to Gigrin and Bwlch Nant yr Arian to photograph the red kites, but never to Llanddeusant. It’s a lot quieter than the other two, the sun’s behind you and the hides are very good for viewing but more importantly they’re excellent for photography.
A couple of speculative days down on the north coast of Gower, at Llanridian Marsh, brought some interesting birds and intriguing light. I decided to pick one spot and stay with it all day, not moving at all.
Back at the farm again and working in a little brighter light gave me better parameters in which to work. The flight shots were taken with the Nikon 500mm lens prefocused on about a two foot square frame.
Another recent wader encountered whilst out with the geese was the ruff. Five birds spent a good half hour picking up the swan feed towards dusk and it was interesting to note the very different stages of plumage from wintering adults to juvenile birds. It’s the leg colour that varies more than anything and is pretty well emphasised in these images.
Back to Islay and the geese. The aim was to place them in a wider context and I was fortunate that the weather was with me (seems like it’s not been very good since then). The mornings were superb and straight out of the van I was able to work with a perfect backdrop and the geese coming over the waters of Loch Indal. Trying to work them together is not such an easy task, focusing is all against you and the focusing spot had to be continually adjusted.
It’s been the geese that have drawn me to various locations recently but there’s normally a trade off in the form of waders that frequent the same habitat. Here’s a few images of some of the waders I’ve encountered recently whilst following the geese.
Over last weekend I was up at Martin Mere again and continuing my work on the swan and geese project. The whoopers can be quite aggressive to each other and to anything that gets in their way as the images with the mallard show here. It lunged towards the unsuspecting duck, twirled it round for a few ‘spins’ before the mallard escaped its attentions.
Second day in the hide – 500 avocets, black and bar-tailed godwits and dunlin – the hide tide had pushed them all onto the Bowling Green Marsh on the Exe estuary. I was in the hide early enough to watch the avocets arrive, they came in three pulses.
More to come from Islay later but I managed a few of days down on the Exe estuary last week, again in search of getting some images of geese, dark-bellied brent this time from arctic Russia, in the context of the estuary. It was also an opportunity to witness a spectacle that has to be one of the finest in Britain, the population of avocets that flock in large numbers to this part of the world during the winter.
I’ve never seen lesser white-fronted geese in the wild or red-breasted geese but you have a chance to get close in and personal with them, and other more common British species, at the WWT centres.