What does Autumn mean to you?
For many, this time of year is one of the best for grabbing the camera and heading out – when the low sun shines on the array of colours the autumnal leaves have to offer then pretty much wherever you may be there are images to grabbed, even simple shots such as these Beech leaves from a local wood to my home in Shropshire.
But it’s also a short season in terms of opportunity – the colours may be spread over a reasonable number of weeks but the days when the conditions are really working for you can be few and far between – and as a result it’s likely that you’ll have a definite priority as to what you’re after image wise. For many including my colleague Danny, it’s all about the autumnal Deer rut: the sights, sounds and drama of Red or Fallow Deer are extremely evocative and the portfolio he has built up over the years of concentrating on this is, as you’d expect of him, impressive. Others are drawn to the landscape opportunities – colourful trees, early morning mist to add an additional dynamic, maybe some water for reflections on a still day or a fast-moving stream slowed-down by an ND filter when the wind is too much…you get the idea.
I certainly enjoy both of these and generally have a setting or a subject that I want to focus on each year too, but this time of year has only the one constant and that’s the beginning of woodland birds photography.
I pack my hide and feeders down during the summer months – it’s in a very rural setting and there’s plenty of alternatives to my feeders for the bird population, and they tend to thin out in terms of numbers too: add in the challenges of light at that time of the year and it’s reason enough for me to give things a break.
Feeders are back in early-mid September (usually the best month of the summer in recent years mind) and once we get into the autumnal colours of late October then all is starting to get going again and I can start to play with new perches, set-ups and any other ideas I may have had over the summer months
Without sounding too twee, it’s also good to see which species are still around and even at this stage of the season I am confident that there will be some good opportunities with the Great Spotted Woodpecker as this young male has put in solid and lengthy feeding appearances whenever I’ve been so far.
The finches are back too, and there is a very cheeky and surprisingly bold Jay who now seems to be a regular (and is also hoovering up all the peanuts and acorns I can muster) so I’ll be getting some decent settings in place for him in the coming weeks as opposed to the general table area seen here (additional note to self: shorter lens will be required for this fellow!).
As the weather turns colder (hopefully) in the coming weeks and the frosty nights start to come, then the chance to work with the already resident Robin and hopefully the Long-Tailed Tits (the Tit numbers generally do seem low this year – a sign of a poor breeding summer with all of that rain perhaps) along with the new reflection pool that is now bedding in will ensure that as this season comes to an end then the joys of winter will have made all the autumnal preparation work well worthwhile: at the time of writing this there are still a small number of places left on Woodland Bird workshop days here so you can benefit from it too!
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