There a few places in the UK where you can experience the sights and sounds of nature any better than the North Norfolk coast during the Spring Tides that start in earnest from this month onward and for me herald the onset of the Autumn and Winter months. Its a place I never get tired of and everytime I visit it never fails to amaze me with the beautiful spectacles in nature that I witness.
Over last couple of weeks I have been there with clients on my Spring Tides one day workshops. We were treated to some amazing numbers of birds flying just feet over our heads as dawn broke, which was an amazing experience to witness. Your sight is not great so you rely on your other senses to see what’s going on which only heightens this amazing experience.
These spring tides happen 2-3 times a month throughout the autumn and winter months. They are the biggest and best tides for witnessing the thousands of birds roosting on the mudflats, being pushed closer to shore. Sights and sounds of nature that are amazing and never forgotten once you witness this breathtaking event in nature.
During a Spring Tide most if not all of the estuary is consumed by the sea and submerged underwater. Out on the mud and sand flats you’ll see thousands of wading birds feeding at low tide, as the tides rises, the mud and sand flats disappear underwater and the birds are suddenly forced to move closer into shore by the incoming sea. They then take off, and fly in vast and awesome flocks towards you on the beach at Snettisham,a place that provides a safe refuge in which to rest until the falling tide allows them back onto the tidal flats.
Some of the birds from Geese,Redshanks,Oystercatchers and Grey Plovers are wonderful to watch in flight as the fly overhead escaping the oncoming tide, but for sheer size and show the smaller waders, such as Dunlin,Knots really steel the show for me. They perform for the gathering public that make the early start to witness one of natures most amazing spectacles. These smaller waders gather in great ,dense packs and lines, almost like bee swarms, rising, falling, twisting and turning all in perfect, rhythmic sweeps and stalls, before pouring into the roost site like falling hailstones.
Once they have landed they seem like they are not quite happy,un-decided its safe from birds of prey that circle the sky on the lookout for an easy breakfast. So up they come and do it all again, twisting and turning in the sky, until, once again they land almost in the same or close to where they were in the first place. When the birds are in the sky they are almost as one, one minute dark,the next silvery white, turning their backs to you, then their pale undersides in a show of coordination that’s second to none.I have never seen two birds make contact, making this site a truly magical event to witness in nature.
We visited many different places I know around the North Norfolk coast during the rest of their days with myself and both clients had some wonderful encounters with other waders and birds. Despite the weather my clients did have some wonderful encounters with the Barn Owls there too which I was really happy for them.
On my one to ones I always go through and explain the importance of simple composition, giving the images room to ‘Breath’ and the most important tool in the box of being a wildlife photographer, which is fieldcraft, approaching subjects without causing them distress,using the cover available to break up your shape and silhouette where the wildlife will see you before you know it.
I do this in many ways, one of which is to show the client(s) how I use my own camera, illustrating the processes at first hand, giving an insight into which and what settings I use, showing techniques in camera, composing the image in different ways and showing the clients the ideas I have etc. I feel this is a very powerful learning tool for people that attend my workshops.
All my One To Ones, Photo-Tours,Workshops are run along the same lines, with my great passion for nature being one of the key elements in showing and teaching people how to have that contact with nature, which is all around them, by watching, listening, hearing nature, which in turns builds a picture of what’s happening around you at that time.
I am a full time working wildlife photographer and people can see from my blog I work on my own images and projects, crafting my “craft” each week. I also run. lead and fund my own photo tours and trips. This lets clients see the photographer and get some understanding of their work before they book which is so important today I feel.
Id like to thank all of my clients on their different days, Conner a 15 year young man who attended with his mother to learn about more about his own photography and Brian, Conrad and Jason. I wish you all well in your own wildlife photography and it was nice to meet you both. I have now added more dates that go through until June 2016 for these Spring Tide days. So for more information and what I offer on these days please clink on the following link.
N-Photo is celebrating its 50th issue (now on sale) and in the lightbox section there is an image of mine from the Norfolk Spring tides, which you can see above. Its thousands of waders taking off during a recent spring tide at dawn in Norfolk. Im back there again very soon with clients and cant wait to show them this event in natures calendar. You can see a little sample of this edition on this link.