A New year and new life, with 2012 a few days old now it won’t be long before the air is filled with Spring bird song and new life, a real favourite time of year for me. You can just about witness anything by wondering around anywhere during the season of spring. Between then and now I am hopeful for a bit of winter weather and maybe some snow as I will be concentrating my efforts on Mountain Hares, Foxes and Owls during the next couple of months.
I have also been spending a lot of time with the adorable Red Squirrels, watching, photographing them and generally enjoying their unique characters over the last several weeks. Capturing a little of their behaviour and antics as they comb the forest floor looking for food and other food items they’ve stashed some weeks previously. Over the time I have watched these mammals I’ve become aware that it’s all about the size of your ‘ear tufts’ that gets you noticed, way before any introductions have taken place between the two sexes.
There is also a wide range of colouring between some of the squirrels at this place, ranging from really dark red to an almost light, red- ginger colour. The lighter coloured Red Squirrel seems to even detect or know he’s different in colour and seem more jumpy and whenever he appears the dark ones try to run him off, getting him away from the area in which the other squirrels seem to be.
It’s funny at times, as their seems some outward jealousy displayed, but quite cruel to see him have this amount of unwanted attention from those darker and more self aware Red Squirrels sharing this same habitat. But by just watching as I do, a whole community comes alive in front of you, animals living their lives right in front of you and most of the time these behaviours are just not seen.
I’ve watched and witnessed Magpies, the ever opportunistic bird watching the squirrels find food and bury the food, only to be dug up once the squirrel had gone. Here as you can see this Red Squirrel buries his stash while being watched by this Magpie who has other ideas about that food, again how cruel nature can be at times, witnessed by just spend time simply watching.
I made the best use of the light and cover, which slightly hid my presence from the shy squirrels, the result was a more relaxed and less jumpy subject, this approach allowed me some wonderful views. Often not knowing where or when they will turn up, you have seconds to compose and take your shot before they’ve gone. I always use the natural habitat and vegetation that is around, which the subject is naturally using of his own free will. This makes for a more “as seen” image which I feel is so important in today’s wildlife images.
The above image was down to luck and beautiful morning light as I captured this squirrel looking into the forest with the morning rays of light illuminating his beautiful coat. The image below captures this squirrel using this small branches to come from the tree canopy down to the forest floor. I used the two trees left and right to conceal myself, shooting through the middle to give this out of focus frame to the image. Such wonderful and beautiful mammals to spend time with.
There will be more Red Squirrel moments captured, fingers crossed, throughout 2012 I hope. I don’t like to use the word project as its too formal and as a wildlife photographer I never put a time limit on photographing a certain subject as its never ending for me. But I can guarantee I will be spending as much time as possible photographing these very endearing mammals. Over the next few weeks I have a number of workshops, Mountain Hares, Red grouse and Dippers, so I look forward to welcoming my first clients of 2012.
In February’s issue of the Practical Photography magazine there is an interview with myself covering my obsession with waders. In the interview I reveal the reasons behind my passion for these birds and these amazing Spring Tides in Norfolk, and I also discuss the field craft techniques, capturing these amazing events in natures calendar. I touch on what wildlife photography means to me and how I hope to inspire people to see the beautiful world of wildlife which is everywhere. Click here to see the interview in.