I am certain that the term of walking wildlife photography doesn’t exist and I’ve just made it up but I don’t know a better description to what stile of wildlife photography I generally practice. There are many ways in which wildlife photography can be done, for example, one can hide and wait for the subject to show up in a place, or he can use a stationary hide where bait is used most of the time. I am willing to try all ways of photographing but in general I prefer not using bait and I usually take a walk in an environment and photograph what I can find on my way.
That is what I did on 5 April this year on Brabrand Lake in Denmark. After I’ve parked my car at one end of the lake, I started walking on one side without clear objective or destination, just to see what I can find.
My first picture was of this Common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) that was poking out his head from a box nest. The tree with the box nest was in a house garden on the side of the tree. I doubt that who hanged that nest up was thinking that starlings would use it but you can never know what you get. Because the shot was taken against the light I had to over expose the sky in order to get some details in the birds head and the fact that it is black didn’t help at all. The settings used were: F6.3, 1/400 sec. shutter speed and ISO 1000.
A few meters away on the other side of the path, in the bushes, some House sparrow (Passer domesticus) were flying around. One positioned itself perfectly for a little photoshoot so I got some good close-ups with it and a nicely blurred background. I kept my camera on 1/400 sec. shutter speed even for the scratching shot so the leg of the bird, which is in motion, is totally blurred giving the motion sensation.
Further away, a Common magpie (Pica pica) landed in front of me, much closer than I have expected a Magpie to land. It stood on that stump like it was shocked that the tree she used to perch in was all of the sudden gone. Trees are very important habitats for many species of bird and other animals and even few trees in a park or a garden can make a great difference by providing food, shelter or just a simple resting place.
When trying to distinguish birds by their calls the Eurasian wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) is one of the easiest to identify because of its loud, loud call. It would be 10 times louder than a rooster if they were of the same size, that’s quite loud. This time I’ve caught him right in the act, while he was enchanting the place with his song and announcing that he’s the lord of that territory.
In another tree, a species that reveals itself much rarely, was also letting other birds know that this is its territory. The Dunnock (Prunella modularis) is a species I rarely get to see and photograph and at first glance I tend to confuse it with other species because it doesn’t have some really distinct and obvious traits. This is another example where I had to slightly overexpose the sky in order to get a decent exposure on my subject.
At one point I’ve reached some grass fields where some ponies were grazing. On these fields, a few Eurasian Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) were going on with their daily business. One was in charge of the water bucket and he was making sure nobody abuses it. Lucky for me, it was close to where I was sitting so I could get this close-up with the water guard. It was getting late by this point and the light was slowly leaving the scene. In this case, at F 6.3 and 1/320 sec. shutter speed, the ISO set on auto was raised to 1600.
Because it was getting dark I’ve decided to head back to the car. On my way some movement on one side of the road stopped me. When I’ve searched the source of movement through my viewfinder I’ve noticed this Common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) that was trying to make himself unseen. I have laid down and waited for him to get comfortable with moving again and he did, in quite short time. For this picture I have used F6.3, 1/500 sec. shutter speed and ISO 2500.
The last photos that I took that day was of a new species that I’ve manage to photograph for the first time. I have seen the European greenfinch (Chloris chloris) before in my neighbor’s garden, at the feeders, but I have never photographed it. The Greenfinch is a small bird, about the size and shape of a house sparrow, from the finch family Fringillidae and its manly green with yellow in wings and tail. In Malta, it has been trapped, kept in captivity and domesticated for many years because it is seen as a prestigious song bird.
On another day, I took a trip on Aarslev Engso, the twin lake of Brabrand. Here I found a lot of Eurasian blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) to photograph, the consolation subject for any photographer. I especially like the last one, where the blue tit is back lit and the sunset light creates a wonderful atmosphere. I have noticed the potential of the scene when I got the bird in the viewfinder so I used F6.3, 1/400 sec. shutter speed and ISO-900 to get the result.
A pair of Eurasian Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) was gathering materials to build their future nest and landed on a nearby branch. Because they were close to me the shot angle is a bit abrupt but the picture shows a common spring behavior that I wanted to share with you. F6.3, 1/800 sec. shutter speed and ISO 110 did the job this time.
Here is one more back or side lit photo from that day, another one that creates a nice feeling when looking at it. A group of male Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) took off while I was walking on the path and I manage to catch these two while they were flying away. I had the camera set on 1/640 sec. and I didn’t manage to raise it before taking the shots so the image is not as sharp as I would like. On top of that, because of the ISO 720 and the cropping, I had to apply noise reduction in post processing and the picture got softer.
Technically I am not at all satisfied with the next picture but I like how the Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) looks into the camera with its next meal in its beak and I also like the blurred foreground and background. It was the end of the day when I took this shot so with 1/400 sec. shutter speed, at F6.3, the ISo was raised at 3200. The bird was further away that I would have liked so I had to crop this picture, giving me even more noise to deal with.
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For all species found on my spotting adventures, take a look at INaturalist.
The gear that I’ve used for spotting and book used for identification, here.