Yesterday was a great day for me. Ever since I saw my first Dartford Warbler 7 years ago on Berkshire heathland, I have been trying to create some decent images of this little bird. He’s relatively easy to find, first and foremost because he is resident in the UK right throughout the year and does not migrate to warmer climates but also you can expect to find him on our lowland heaths keeping close residency with stonechats.
And then there’s that scratchy song of his. A real give away. You’d think that with all these clues there would be ample opportunity to photograph him but he is shy and elusive not unlike the wren in that way. He hides low to the ground, under the heather.
To photograph wildlife it is important to get to know your subject. Don’t just ask ‘where did you take that?’ It is much more rewarding if you put in the effort to get to know your subject. (This is no different to portrait photography. You want to get to know a little bit about the person in front of the camera and capture something of their personality. You won’t achieve that connection if you just turn up, snap the photo and then leave having bagged your shot). Get to know your subject. Read up about it. Learn about its habitat, its traits, its song and then you know a bit more about what to expect and you are more likely to be rewarded. The sense of achievement is so much greater than when you’ve done the work yourself.
Finally, let me say that this is so much more than ‘a bird on a stick’. This has been a real challenge and yesterday, after 7 years, it suddenly all came together and I am proud to have achieved such pleasing results.