12 June 2011

Photographing Upland Birds

I recently had an amazing few hours on the moors above Grinton, photographing four different species of bird - all within a couple of hours. Lapwings, red grouse, curlew - and my first ever Golden Plover (!) all came within yards of the car. A perfect morning of wildlife photogaphy.

This was my first photo shoot of the morning - a beautiful lapwing chick that ran around the grass, every now and then peeping out and posing beautifully for the camera.

Summer offers good opportunities for young birds, such as this grouse family that bumbled along the heather close to the roadside. I had about twenty minutes with these birds, watching the chicks clambering over the heather - overseen by the parents all the while. The lighting here was just fantastic: the sun was now stronger so I shot towards the light and used a diffused flash for fill-in. I'm a big fan of this kind of lighting - and it worked so well here.

Probably my favourite encounter was with this curlew - partly because a good image of this bird has eluded me until now. Usually curlews are flying away from the car: this one was running towards me..! I couldn't believe my luck when it stood on a mound and posed perfectly... pure magic! I had a number of chances as the birds did circuits around my car, running behind me then flying in front, scuttling around and calling constantly. The light was lovely too - soft backlighting which is fast becoming my favourite type of light for wildlife photography... it gives a wonderful quality that I think highlights the delicacy of so many birds and animals.

This day had to be one of the best wildlife photography sessions ever - I can't wait to return! Definitely worth the 4.00am start!! Evenings would be great here too I imagine, but nothing quite beats the stillness and serenity of early morning, punctuated by the evocative calls of the upland birds on this Yorkshire Dales moor.

As part of my wildlife photography workshop programme for next year, I'll certainly be including this location - and with further visits, I'll know the best spots too.


  1. Cracking set of photos Paul. Another workshop I need to pencil in for next year!

  2. Hi everyone,

    Upland birds live in forests, brush-lands and prairies where there is cover. These birds are found throughout North America. They are classified as the chicken type birds, such as Doves and Pigeons. Thanks a lot......