Snowy Spring

Filed in Spring, Wildlife, Workshops on Apr.10, 2012

Spring time for me is the best time of year.  Wildlife is everywhere and bird song fills the air, even more so over the last several days, waking up to several inches of thick snow on the moors of the Peak District.  I thought this maybe an April fools too far. During the last ten days or so I have enjoyed the very warm temperatures of spring whilst in Norfolk and other places around the UK running my one to ones and also my own project work.

Great Crested Grebes, Brown Hares, Barn owls and many more species all settling down, starting to pair up and begin a family at this wonderful time of year. I had a one to one in Norfolk and really enjoyed showing my client around. We captured some wonderful images of Barn Owls, Brown Hares and waders during the day and Ben wrote a lovely blog post with some great images which can be seen by clicking here

“You couldn’t make it up if you tried” first came to mind, as I had two one to ones booked in to photograph Red Grouse on the moors, the heavens opened and inches of snow fell. Some roads in and out of Buxton where closed so it was really touch and go on whether the days went ahead. I made contact with both clients as a blanket of thick snow in early April really is unheard of.  Also very worrying for the wildlife sitting on eggs and trying to breed/mate while the weather was plunged into freezing, wintery conditions.

Both of my Red Grouse one to one clients where great sports and both days went ahead as planned. The first day was a little tougher due to the snow being at its highest from the previous day’s downfall. We had to walk in places knee deep in snow as we ascended in darkness to where the grouse live and play out their lives among the higher regions of the Peak District.

Walking through thick snow with heavy kit bags does get you warm. Full credit to Steve though who knuckled down and was rewarded for his efforts with some amazing encounters of both male and female Red Grouse, the words “you only get out what you put in” ringing around the place as we sat down and drank our cups of tea some 600 meters up above sea level.

I always tell clients that the best way to see and in turn take your photographs is just sit and watch, read and listen to nature, she will tell you what’s around and what is happening. Never force anything and never go with a shopping list of shots you wish to capture. Adopt this approach along with care and respect for your subject and you get some wonderful moments into a wild animals life. On both days both clients did just so and had some lovely encounters with this iconic moorland bird that is so at home within this sometimes unforgiving habitat.

Rival males posing to each other and fighting over their females, trying their luck. We even witnessed a grouse having a snow bath. Cleaning his feathers among the deep snow. Animal behaviour is amazing to see and capture and I showed some key techniques and fieldcraft which enabled both clients to read a little more into what was happening, in turn resulting in lovely moments where we came close to these birds on so many occasions, peering into their world through their eyes. This always has a deep and long lasting impact on me, making that contact with nature is priceless.

The weather on both days started well but became foggy on the second day but again the grouse came close and carried on with their lives around us which was magic and true, real wildlife photography for me. Blending in, using what’s around you and just watching and working the land. Thank you Steve,Nigel also Ben for your company over the last several days and I wish you well in your photography.

  1. Steve Tucker said:

    Hi Craig
    That was a great day out. I have to give a big thanks for your efforts in such conditions but any doubts were soon cast away once the sun came out on that winter landscape.
    Much credit to you for postponing the original booking due to poor visibility as you wanted me to experience the nice light at sunrise. As you say “You couldn’t make it up if you tried” and I couldn’t believe it when I saw the forecast for the second attempt.

    Some of those shots are very memorable, it was great to work with you on the field craft, something I can put into practice in the future.

    If anyone is wondering whether to book a one to one with Craig, don’t hesitate you will have a great day, get some great photo’s and learn loads.

    Best regards

  2. Ben Gardner said:

    Lovely set of images particularly like the first couple of red grouse shots.

  3. Nigel Morley said:

    Hi Craig
    Once again thanks for a great day. Despite the mist and cloud it was a great day and as you say, we got some fascinating insights into the grouse’s life and having a wild grouse watching us and displaying just 12-15 feet away was amazing.
    As always, your (and hopefully my) respect and admiration for the wildlife around us shone through. While the thick snow was great fun, I’ll be looking forward to going back when the sun shines. Thanks for all your efforts and advice.!

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