Redstarts Return

Filed in Photography Tips, Projects on May.22, 2019

I’ve been working on another project in the beautiful Peak District National Park photographing one of the UK’s most beautiful and stunning summer visitors; the Redstart. This attractive cousin of the Robin and Nightingale is one of my favourite summer visitors to our shores. They travel all the way from North Africa to the UK to raise their young before leaving for Africa at the end of summer which I find amazing.

They are immediately identifiable by their bright orange-red tails, and were also known as ‘firetail’ which they often quiver and constantly flick when they land. Its such a beautiful thing to see and witness it really is.

A few weeks ago I found a pair that had returned to an area I know well from Africa where they spend the winter months. Not long after they started to build a nest inside one of the nest boxes that are put out for them in this ancient wood.

The eggs have now hatched and they are feeding young, I’ve positioned my hide not far away from their nestbox and I’ve had some wonderful encounters with the male and female. Once the sun comes up I’m inside the hide and in place to minimise any disturbance to these Redstarts. Due to the fact its a dense wood the light can be very challenging, giving me all sorts of different sorts of lighting. With the cover of the forest and the sun moving around it has given me different light all day which has been challenging.

I’m looking forward to photographing this Redstart family more in the coming weeks. In the meantime I wanted to leave you with some of my favourite images so far from this project all composed naturally where the birds landed with prey they’d naturally caught coming backwards and forwards to the nestbox feeding their young.

For this project I’m using a one- man chair hide, I cover the front area with soft cloth to break up the shadows and dark areas to the front as this can alert wildlife because anything that is dark or in shade is easily seen and looks out of place.

The resulting images are really worth it though. If you find a species you want to photograph try and work from a hide, introduce it before first light and try and keep it hidden. Ideally you need to leave it there so the surrounding wildlife gets use to it.

I’ve had several hides stolen by people doing this though so just make sure it’s as hidden as possible. Most wildlife in the UK is incredibly shy and this is where a hide really comes into play. Always respect wildlife and remember it’s their space, you are a guest. Photograph “as seen” work with what you have and don’t change anything by your presence.

Finding your own subjects and photographing them over time is one of the best things as a wildlife photographer you can do. You learn so much more and you never truly know what you will encounter or see using your own skills and fieldcraft.

Working like this is the truest form of wildlife photography in an industry full of set ups and pay as you go sites all producing the same images.  I would really recommend working like this to anyone who wants to improve their own wildlife photography and knowledge of the natural world, many thanks.

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