Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Something Missing?

Insert raptor here...

On Sunday, I decided to forego my usual approach to wildlife photography in an attempt to raise the bar somewhat. That "usual approach" involves walking around with the camera slung over shoulder, covering as much ground as possible to increase the likelihood of snapping a variety of different species.  More often than not, this yields quantity over quality and good results are largely down to luck.

In the past few visits to Amberley Wildbrooks, I've spotted a number of raptors using a similar flight path alongside a wooded area beside a section of long grass (as seen in my distant Barn Owl shot posted a couple of weeks ago). What marvellous potential - the possibility of capturing a Harrier, Kestrel or Owl floating over the marshy field, with a suitable DOF to isolate the subject against the foreground of golden grass and backdrop of tangled branches was too good to resist. My intention therefore was to hide amongst the tall grass and wait for that opportune moment - however long it took. As I arrived at Amberley, the signs were good; The Met Office were spectacularly wrong in my favour for once, an adult Hen Harrier drifted over the trees toward Rackham Plantation, A Kestrel hovered over a nearby field and corvids harassed another unidentified raptor (possibly an immature Hen Harrier or Short-eared Owl - although easily larger than a Kestrel it was too distant to distinguish). I picked my spot, made myself comfortable and waited. And waited....

Four hours later and with nothing to show for my patience, feet like blocks of ice and hamstrung legs I walked a few hundred yards along the footpath and back, then resumed my position for a further three hours. A fox I'd seen frolicking in the marsh came within three or four feet, but caught my scent and was off as I desperately tried to coax the AF to lock on. He disappeared from view just as I'd switched to Manual Focus... chance gone.  The Hen Harrier didn't return. The Kestrel teased me above the wetlands, then engaged in some peculiar foot-stomping behaviour of which I could only assume she was searching for a stashed catch. To add insult to injury, as I trudged back to the car in the failing light, the familiar ghost-like shape of a Barn Owl could be seen haunting the banks of the Arun.

This time, I was defeated. But in true Arnie style - I'll be back. As any Wildlife Photographer will tell you, patience and determination are essential to getting "that" shot. Unfortunately I'm restricted to one day a week at the moment, so need to be more patient than most.


  1. Don't worry Chris I am having the same trouble.

  2. I think they're toying with me Mike. I stopped by Woods Mill early this morning to see if the Barn Owl there was around... I've yet to see him for myself. I saw a white shape sitting on the edge of the box from afar and got my hopes up - only to look through the binoculars and find it was a Collard Dove!

  3. Hi all,

    One great thing is we take a promise for protect our nature. Thanks...