On the last day of 2009 I have been thinking back to some memorable wildlife events from this year. It would be a hard job to chose a winner because I have enjoyed some great moments this year. I think I would have to go with my Kingfisher encounters as the most memorable if forced to choose. This was a turning point in my Wildlife watching life. Not just because it was lovely to see these most spectacular birds so close to home but it was extremely satisfying to get so near to them from my hide. Read about them here. Then there was the day when a female put in an appearance and she was absolutely beautiful as you can see.
During this month I also had a lovely encounter with one of my favourite Sandpipers the Green Sandpiper - Tringa Ochropus. Again, very rewarding because I planned how I was going to achieve success and with lots of patience and a bit of luck, eventually It came together.
This species can be hard to get near to so pretty much the only way I would have had success would be from a hide.
Perhaps the Cuckoos that I watched in June would be right up there at the top of the list. On Dartmoor I had watched a female in the act of laying. I was quite a distance away and the next day I returned and positioned myself in a hide close to a lone conifer in the hope that one of the calling birds would perch. Well, it was a success and pretty much, at the time, the most exciting wildlife event of the year. My bird turned out to be a female and she stayed in front of the lens for only 20 seconds or so but long enough to get this shot.
For the last couple of years I have been fortunate enough to bump in to Redstart and Whinchat on Dartmoor and I took photographs of both. The Redstart has to be one of Britains prettiest birds particularly the male and I am always "blown away" by them.
In the garden we have had some crackers this year. Siskins were a big part of my focus in the beginning of 2009 and this winer, so far they are absent making last February's visits even more special.
This last couple of weeks we have had a regular visit from a small flock of Redwings - Turdus illacus and even today as I write this there is one feeding on cotoneaster berries very close to the kitchen window. definitely a highlight of the garden year. For me the rules of photography are pretty clear and simple. Get as close as you can, from a hide, car or window etc. Be patient and hidden! The better the light the more chance you have of a good photo, set your camera to aperture priority and use small numbered apertures to achieve the fastest shutter speeds possible and use the ISO settings to achieve this. Anything over 800 ISO will be a grainy image but if you haven't managed to freeze the action you will pretty much have a blurry image. So all in all this image below is quite good. It was dull and almost all of the rules that I have just spoken of had to be stretched to the limit.