29 April 2012

Photographing River Birds in the Yorkshire Dales

All this rain has been driving me nuts! It seems llike forever since I had any decent opportunities for wildlife photography. Hence, I was over the moon to come home last evening with some lovely shots of the spring bird life at Malhamdale. My main target were the river birds - dipper and grey wagtail... plus anything else that came my way. With a bit of luck, and a little fieldcraft, I bagged my first decent image of a grey wag! These birds are without doubt one of the most colourful species in the U.K.  - the vivid yellows were just gobsmacking on both the male and the female. To capture one singing was a major bonus for me!
Despite it being a weekend, the visitors to this Yorkshire Dale didn't really affect my nature photography, and there was plenty of activity by the river. Wagtails were up and down, both grey and pied - the pied carrying out some facinating antics and showing really interesting behaviour. There were four birds at one point, flying round me, perching.. shouting, and generally entertaining me - all at close range. One bird in particular adopted a curious pose as he (or she?) sleeked the feathers down and called at another bird. My guess is that this was some kind of territorial dispute.

Despite putting in the time, I didn't get the dipper images I had hoped for, but at least I captured some good wildlife images with the torrents of water in the background. After realising 'my' dipper wasn't going to perch where I wanted it to, I decided to have a go at a flight shot, knowing that it was taking the same flight path each time as it came back to the nest. This is the resulting image below, clearly out of focus, but close. The frustrating thing is.. it has a fish in its beak!! What a shame.. Still, this isn't a million miles away; just a shame I only had once chance at it. Definitely possible though, so hopefully I can try again..!!
All of this bodes well for my Malham Birds Photography Workshop in May.  We will also be photographing the wild peregrines on the top of Malham Cove as they bring in food to the chicks. Due to extra demand, I have set an extra date: Sunday May 27th 

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