Wildlife photographers in the UK have a tough beat. Much of our wildlife – when it’s not making itself scarce for winter – is either shy, nocturnal, small or, often, the holy un-photographable trinity.
But with winter over, you can start thinking about busting your cameras out again, and although British wildlife might not be keen to do you many favours, there’s still plenty of it about. Here’s how to find wildlife to photograph during the spring months.
Think macro for close-up photography
OLYMPUS make some smashing macro lenses, so break out something like the incredible M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm 1:2.8 Macro and start turning over some leaves. Beneath them you’ll find everything from woodlice to garden spiders, all bursting with detail for you to explore. The best thing about this kind of domestic wildlife photography is that when the weather inevitably takes a turn for the worse, you’ll only be a few yards from your house.
Scale of the century… how to find (and photograph) snakes
Spring marks the time when the UK’s only venomous snake, the adder, starts to think about coming out of hibernation. That means if you keep your eyes peeled to the side of footpaths throughout the country, you stand a chance of picking out a pair of eyes and the adder’s distinctive patterning. Adders at this time of year will generally be pretty sleepy, hanging out in bright morning sunlight to charge their batteries, which makes them easy to work around. They’re easily stressed, though – so if you are lucky enough to find one, in the name of wildlife welfare don’t crowd them, and don’t spend more than a few minutes with an individual before moving on.
For the birds
One thing you’re guaranteed in the UK is plenty of birdlife: even winter doesn’t see off our feathered friends too badly. Keep the food in your garden feeder fresh and you’ll get all kinds of visitors, again allowing you to practice your wildlife photography without leaving your home. Spring is also the time when various of the UK’s migrant species start to return, so check up on species such as the osprey, which will be returning to nests around the UK from their winter sojourns in Africa.
British mammals may be on the shy side but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to photograph. May till June will see this year’s influx of deer calves being born, making places such as Richmond Park potential goldmines for photographers. You might also find yourself with a project if you suspect you have foxes regularly crossing your garden: consider getting to grips with camera-trap technology and leaving out (very small!) amounts of fox-friendly food in the hope of grabbing a candid snap.
If you’re struggling to find much close to home, it’s time to head out. The UK has a veritable army of expert, keen-as-mustard volunteers working all over the country to help the public find interesting things to watch and photograph. So consider somewhere like one of the UK’s incredible RSPB reserves (Londoners should visit Rainham Marshes as soon as possible), or one of the WWT reserves around the country.
Want to find the next level for your wildlife photography? Apart from staying tuned to this blog, check out our program of wildlife photography experience days here.