There’s nothing like a new year and upcoming milestone birthday to put you in a reflective mood. Photography has always been my passion, and by that I mean, puts me in the ‘satisfyingly busy’ freedom of flow state. When watching wildlife and creating images, time passes without a trace. Meditation with a camera. I always want to do more. I have this creeping anxiety that I just haven’t achieved enough in my life so far, but I can never fathom what the big amazing thing is that I should have done. It makes me feel forgetful. Anyway, to quash the anxiety and fulfill my wish to simply get out with my camera more, I’ve set myself a challenge for this year. Challenges always seem to movitate me, so I’m going to attempt to photograph 40 different species this year. Not just see, snap and tick off a list though. I mean photograph, and create the best images I can of each one. I’m making it public so you can follow along.
I began by visiting RSPB Buckenham Marshes, right next door to Strumpshaw Fen. It’s a fantastic place at this time of year, absolutely full of wildlife, from Chinese Water Deer, to overwintering ducks, and a huge Rook roost. The first species I photographed for my challenge was the handsome Wigeon, a dabbling duck which spends the winter on the marshes in large numbers. The males have a chestnut coloured head and creamy yellow stripe on their foreheads. Their whistling ‘whee-ooo’ calls drift hauntingly across the open landscape. With the sun shining I wanted to get some close ups showing their wonderful plumage.
The females, shown below, are perhaps not as striking, but still pretty in my opinion.
Occasionally, a passing Marsh Harrier would put the whole flock up into the air, they swirled over the marsh calling to each other, before quickly coming back down to resume the all important job of feeding. This small group was the last to return.
Then, as I was laying on the damp ground, another little duck swam into view, giving me my second species for the year. These normally shy birds have really glorious plumage and I was so pleased to have one briefly right in front of me. Species number 2 – Teal.
What’s next? Watch this space!