20 December 2011

Those crazy Grouse..!!

This morning I had one of the most fun experiences ever photographing wildlife. On Grinton Moor I came across what seemed a particularly obliging red grouse. After getting out of the car to check its reaction, I realised that this was a rogue bird - with no fear whatsoever..!  Not only did the bird come close enough for frame filling portraits... but it seemed intent on trying to see me off! It was rather comical to watch the grouse follow me around, but also quite frustrating photography wise. I would quickly run to put enough distance between us, then hit the deck with camera on beanbag, waiting for it to stop. The only problem was that it didn't. It didn't stop! The bird would simply carry on running until it reached me - well below the minimum focussing distance of my lens..! After a few attempts the bird seemed to settle down and I watched it pecking at the tops of the ling heather before having a brief preen. Finally I managed to get some cracking portraits and lovely backgrounds.

This was a somewhat strange experience to have a wild bird follow me around. It was literally like taking the grouse for a walk.. bizarre! I'm not entirely sure why some grouse behave in this way; I think it's purely territorial This male didn't take kindly to anything - from people, to bikes and cars.! It was clearly 'his patch'.

My technique was surely put to the test today. With such an active bird I was constantly having to re-compose whilst trying to keep everything as stable as possible in low light. Even using a beanbag I had to work hard to keep everything pin sharp working at shutter speeds of around 1/40 second. Many were unsharp, but my hit rate overall was good.