Wildlife photography: top tips for amateurs – Part 2

Making the most of your local patch (view the infographic)

Following on from part 1 in this series of top tips for amateur wildlife photographers, in this blog I want to cover how you can make the most of your surrounding area for wildlife photography.

I think this is particularly important for an amateur wildlife photographer as, if you are anything like me, you won’t find many opportunities to photograph exotic species in far flung places. When you’re short on time (and budget), your local patch may be the only option you have for photography.

I don’t think this should be seen as a bad thing. If you can take advantage of the opportunities in your local area, however small they may seem, you can improve as a photographer and develop your knowledge of wildlife.

1. Stay close to home

Your local patch may not necessarily be on your doorstep, but you should make sure it is only a short distance away or, at least, that it is easily accessible. If you have a back garden or other green space close to your home, this may be your best option. However, a local nature reserve that you are able to get to without too much effort is also worth considering.

Crow perched on fence post amongst reedsMy local nature reserve, Rye Meads, is a short walk and a 10 minute train journey away. There are green spaces closer to me but I feel that this reserve is worth the slightly longer journey due to the diversity of species present there. The journey never puts me off going there or takes too much time out of my photography.

However, I should note that the limitation of some nature reserves is that they have restricted opening hours. This means that photography at ideal times, such as dawn and dusk, may not be possible. This is when the humble back garden is great. It is worth considering all these elements when deciding upon the specific locations that make up your local patch.

Why does your local patch need to be as easy to get to as possible? Because you need to revisit it as often as you can.

2. Revisit often

The idea of a local patch is that you are able to keep returning to it. It should be your go-to place when you have a few hours free for wildlife photography and you should revisit it as often as you can.

By returning to the same location repeatedly you can monitor changes in the flora and fauna throughout the seasons, such as fledglings in spring, the changing colours of autumn and changes in species behaviour and appearance. Repeat visits allow you to photograph all these subtle changes, whereas with occasional visits you may miss them.

3. Take note

Screenshot of wildlife photography on Trello websiteMaking notes of what you see and hear on your local patch can be really useful for tracking changes in the seasons and in wildlife behaviour such as migrations and fledging times.

Obviously you can use a good old fashioned notebook for this and there are special wildlife recording notebooks available from places like the RSPB.

There are also apps for smartphones that can be used, such as Bird Journal. However, if you want to use your smartphone you can always use simple note taking apps such as Evernote and Trello, which can help organise your notes easily. Don’t forget your smartphone camera for taking quick photos and videos as notes.

4. Find a subject

Jackdaw sitting on fence that is covered in frostOnce you have your local patch decided and you’re regularly visiting, it is worth finding a subject at that location to focus your attention on.

This could be a particular species, however mundane you think it is – remember that many people tend to photograph more ‘exotic’ wildlife and tend to ignore the everyday. It could be a location within a reserve, such as a hide, or an area within a park, such as a lake.

This will give your photography a focus (please excuse the pun) and ensure that you don’t waste valuable time just trying to ‘snap’ everything you see. Finding a subject ensures that you slow down and think about what you want to include in the frame and for what purpose.

You can then create a photography project from this. I have found this useful for not only developing my knowledge of a species/area but also in building up a portfolio of images on a common theme. This encourages me to experiment as I want to show something different with each image. When you choose your species, such as one that visits your garden regularly, do your research into its behaviour to work out the images that you want before you go out with your camera.

5. Join with others

Red deer stag being photographedThere will be plenty of opportunities to join up with other people on your local patch. If you’re visiting reserves, they often have volunteering vacancies or just need casual help. There are local birding and wildlife watching groups that you can join. It is also worth looking up photography clubs in your area that may organise group trips to your local patch. Alternatively it is easy to strike up conversations with other photographers when you meet them on your patch.

Not only can these activities help to build your knowledge of the local area, but they also allow you to make connections with people with a shared interest. Photography and wildlife watching can be quite a singular pursuit and sometimes it’s nice to spend time sharing your passion, and your local patch, with others.

Amateur wildlife photographer tips - make the most of your local patch infographic

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Do you have any top tips on making most of your local patch for wildlife photography? I’d love to hear them.

Coming soon: Part 3 of this series of tips will be on making the most of your time in the field.

Posted in Comment

Wildlife photography: top tips for amateurs – Part 1

Making the most of the time you have (view the infographic)

When I reviewed my year of wildlife photography in 2012 I commented:

Some people argue that amateurs have it harder than professionals because they don’t have the money to spend on kit that the pros do. I disagree with this. The one aspect of professional wildlife photography that I envy most is time. Time to get to know your subject and begin to anticipate their behaviour. Time to get to know your location. Time to process images and ensure that you are doing them justice. You can take this time because it is necessary for your job.

I could never be a pro wildlife photographer as I’m not good enough, but I do envy that precious commodity they seem to have more of…time.

However, there’s no point in me wishing for something I don’t have. I have to go to my work five days a week and I will always have commitments that need fulfilling in the evenings and on weekends. I just need to make the most of the time I have with the wildlife and my camera.

My view hasn’t changed. So, the first part in this series of blogs for amateur wildlife photographers, like myself, is on making the most of the time you have. And I’m not just talking about time with your camera.

1. Use dead time

I commute on a train for nearly two hours a day, which is basically dead time. During this time I could read any old book or listen to my music and nod off while no-one is looking until my train reaches its destination and then spend the next 25 minutes trying to wake up on the walk from the station to my office. Sometimes I do just that. I’ve realised that a better use of that time is to try and do something useful with it. Preferably something that will save me time later.

So, I read books on the species I’m interested in photographing or books on fieldcraft. I cram my head full of information so that when I’m next out in the field I can hopefully predict where a species might appear or interpret their behaviour without having to show up at the same location every day for three weeks, which isn’t practical for me.

I’d recommend spending some time in your local bookshop,Two allopreening crows or library or on (yes, I said it) Amazon to try and find as many books as possible on your chosen species. I have found this really helpful when photographing corvids as I now know what behaviour I’m witnessing through my lens and this not only helps my photography but also my blogging (my blog on allopreening is an example of this).

Not a commuter? I’ll bet you can still find dead time in your day. Lunch breaks are another opportunity to be productive. I’m actually writing this blog during my lunch hour. If you are able to be in front of a computer at lunchtime this time can be used to research locations or plan a shoot for the next weekend while you munch on your sandwich, if you don’t fancy reading. If you’re keen not to spend your lunch hour at your desk, why not bring your camera to work and take it outside for an hour and play around with different settings so that when you are next on a shoot you have ideas for new techniques to use?

I can confirm that using dead time in this way will not only help your photography but will also give you a sense of achievement that will become mildly addictive.

2. Research

Doing your homework pays off. Researching your chosen species (as mentioned above), locations you want to visit and planning as much as possible all reduce stress and save time when you’re actually in the field.

The last thing you want to be worrying about is whether you’re in the part of the reserve where the most sightings of that elusive kestrel have been. Do your research upfront and you can find out where all the recent sightings have been so you have the best chance of being in the right place at the right time. This obviously doesn’t guarantee success but the better informed you are, the more likely you are to be in a position to get the image you need.

If you’re looking for a particular species that isn’t found locally you can research the viability of a day trip to a new location further afield. When you don’t know an area, planning is more imperative, particularly if you are only able to spend part of a day at this location.

Don’t forget to have a look on social media channels for mentions of particular species to see what is appearing where. Following your local reserves on social media is another quick and easy way of staying abreast of what is happening on your local patch if you can’t always be out there.

3. Be flexible

If you don’t have much spare time for your beloved wildlife photography, there is nothing more frustrating than doing points 1 and 2 and then waking up on the one Saturday you’ve had free for four weeks and see that it is pouring with rain or, worse, just dull and grey. “The light was perfect yesterday!” you cry while shaking your fists at the sky. Yes, it’s frustrating but, especially if you are in the UK like me, something you have to get used to. The answer to this dilemma is to be flexible.

Make sure at least one weekend in four that your diary isn’t full so that you can pick either a Saturday or Sunday to go out with your camera. An explanation to friends and family as to why you are not being purposefully difficult and the fact that it isn’t a regular occurrence should allow you the flexibility you need to pick the best day for the light and weather conditions. Even if you can only get half day blocks of time, it’s enough.

Alternatively, be flexible enough to head out in all weathers.Female chaffinch sitting on fence post Use the elements to your advantage and get unusual shots in flat lighting or bad weather. Don’t be afraid to try, you never know what you could come back with. Finally, take your camera with you when going on holiday and other excursions. If you have it with you, when an opportunity crops up you may be able to grab a couple of hours in the field (or just in a field!). A few minutes was enough for me to get some intimate shots of some very confiding chaffinches whilst sitting outside our holiday cabin. If you leave your camera at home you could end up missing out.

4. Improve processing

When I got my first DSLR, I purchased a copy of Adobe Elements for the best price I could get. I didn’t want to spend large amounts of money on the full version of Photoshop as I knew I wouldn’t use most of the functions and I had some experience using Elements for my job. Adobe Lightroom was a revelation for me.

The job of processing my images was suddenly much simpler and less frustrating. I now open up and edit all my RAW files in Lightroom first before saving them as JPEGs and doing my final cropping in Elements. I’m not going to give you a complete breakdown of all the functions I use but having the option to batch process is definitely something I would recommend to give images in a set a consistent feel.

The most important lesson is not to spend masses of money on all the software you can get your hands on, but to find a process that works for you and to repeat it so that it becomes second nature. If it helps, write it down. This can be particularly useful if you want a consistent ‘look’ for your website or you’re regularly producing images of the same sizes. The more streamlined your image processing, the less time you need to spend in front of the computer and the more time you can spend doing other things.

5. Get out there

You can research, plan and improve all your processes to give yourself more time but it’s a waste if you don’t get out there and take some photos of wildlife. You may only have a couple of hours but that’s ok. Getting out there doesn’t have to mean visiting a location that you’ve researched to see a species you’ve been reading about.

If you’re that strapped for time, photograph the wildlife in your garden for a couple of hours first thing in the morning. Or take a stroll to the park in the afternoon with your camera. If that’s the only time you have, accept it, get out there and, most importantly, enjoy your wildlife photography.

Amateur wildlife photographer tips - make the most of the time you have infographic

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Do you have any top tips on making most of the time you have for wildlife photography? I’d love to hear them.

Coming soon: Part 2 of this series of tips will be on making the most of your local patch.

Posted in Comment

Crow catch up

Corvids are still my photographic subject of choice though I haven’t had much opportunity to photograph them recently, despite the fact that they are all around us.

I realised when going through my files the other day that I have a stash of unprocessed crow images that I never got round to blogging about so I decided to make the effort to edit the ones I liked the best.

Silhouette of a crow in tree branches

This led to me spending a significant bit of time in Lightroom ‘playing’ with the different presets, which I don’t normally use. I guess this is because I like my images of wildlife to look as natural and ‘as-shot’ as possible. I usually only make slight adjustments to exposure and levels. However, using the Lightroom presets can give a really different feel to your images…and all at the click of a button!

Here is the crow image I developed in Lightroom to keep it as natural looking as possible:

Crow sitting on a tree branch in front of houses

Here is the same image using the Cold Tone preset, which makes the colours from the houses in the background compliment the scene and make it feel more wintry (the photo was taken on a freezing January morning in 2014):

Crow sitting on a tree branch in front of houses

Here is the same image again using the Split Tone 1 preset, which I feel gives the image a bit of a creepy feel (and reminds me of the colours used on The Walking Dead TV series posters):

Crow sitting on a tree branch in front of houses

I wouldn’t usually use these presets on wildlife images, but I do like the different feel they can give and if I was using my images in a more creative situation I might develop them in this way.

Related to my interest in crows, I read an article on the BBC website recently about The girl who gets gifts from birds. It’s a heartwarming read and proof, if it were needed, of not only the intelligence of these birds but the enrichment both corvids and humans can get from living in close proximity to each other. This is a relationship that can be particularly rewarding in urban areas, such as I found watching the crows in my local park in London.

Crow on grass in park with dog walkers in background

I would be interested to hear if anyone has experienced similar situations with corvids, or other birds, in their local patch.

Posted in Corvids, UK wildlife, Urban wildlife

Robin in the Rye

Well, a Robin in the Rye Meads nature reserve to be exact (apologies for the white lie in the title of this blog, I just wanted something short and snappy).  I finally made it to this wildlife haven, managed by the RSPB and Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust the other weekend. And what a glorious morning it was.

When I arrived at the RSPB visitor centre after a short walk from the train station, which takes you past the Rye House Gatehouse, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It certainly wasn’t what I found. The reserve feels huge. There must have been quite a few other visitors there at that time on a Sunday morning on a beautiful sunny, although windy, day but I often felt completely alone. I certainly don’t have an issue with other people wanting to enjoy these reserves but sometimes they can almost feel crowded and it was great to truly feel like I was getting away from it all. This also had the advantage of me feeling less self conscious when taking photos.

I didn’t sit for long in the hides, although I will do in the future, but spent most of my time ambling along the paths and the otter trail that leads from the RSPB managed section of Rye Meads and into the Wildlife Trust managed section. I didn’t see any otters but I did have a couple of good close encounters with a feeding coot and a particularly friendly robin who sat and sang his heart out while being buffeted by the wind. I even ended up with muddy knees, which is a good sign that I was thinking about my photography and trying to get interesting images, even if I didn’t exactly succeed!

Coot feeding in stream in Rye Meads nature reserve Robin sitting on wire fence Robin sitting in tree singing Robin singing in a tree

I was excited by this visit. I think there is a lot of scope to find particular species to revisit and develop knowledge of, rather than just hopefully snapping and this is something that I’m keen to do again after spending so much time working on corvids in south London. I found the understanding that I gained from photographing one species during that period really useful for my images.

Crow perched on fence post amongst reeds

Have you visited Rye Meads? I’d love to hear what people have spotted at this reserve.

I’m also keen to continue photographing corvids so if anyone knows of any great locations in Hertfordshire for large roosts, please let me know.

I have also been making some improvements to this website, including setting up a subscribe via email option. So, if you’d like to get updates from me including direct links to my latest blogs you can sign up for the list using the form on the right hand side of this page. I promise not to spam you, I’ll probably only be sending emails out once a month.

As always, if you have any ideas for the website or topics you’d like to see me blog about, please get in touch.

Posted in UK wildlife

Top 5 tips for wildlife photography

Here are my top 5 tips for being a successful wildlife photographer:

  1. Photograph wildlife
  2. Photograph wildlife…any wildlife
  3. Take photos of wildlife
  4. Photograph wildlife
  5. Get out there and take photos of wildlife

Ok, so you probably hate me a little bit right now, or at least think I’m being a bit flippant. I know it takes more to be a wildlife photographer than just taking photos of wildlife…but it’s the best place to start!

You may have also noticed that the last post on this blog was in October 2013. The more awake amongst you will be aware that it is now February 2015. Maybe you used to follow this blog and you wonder where I went (if that’s the case, thank you!).

How does this relate to my top tips? Well, I’m not about to give you a string of excuses for my extended blogging absence but the last year and a bit has been very busy and has involved a (not small) amount of change in my life. During the past year I did miss my photography and being out on my own watching wildlife and I realised recently that I want to reclaim this part of my life.

So, this is the first post in a long time but hopefully the first of many. It feels like a fresh start.

However, rather than wait until this weekend to get out to my new local nature reserve (one of the changes in my life was moving from London to Hertfordshire) I thought I would post something new (but old) now.

Here are a couple of photos that I took when I was still living in South London in January 2014 on one of my last trips to my local green space, Brockwell Park. I was photographing Black-headed gulls in winter plummage to make a change from my usual crows. I remember working to get the exposure just right as I have a habit of snatching at images and overexposing white feathers. I was pleased with the results but never got the chance to post the images. So, long overdue, here they are:

Black headed ull sitting on frost covered fence

Black headed gull standing on one leg on a frost covered fence

So, this is me back in the blogging fold. Has anyone else had an extended period away from their camera? Do you have any top tips for me? I mean actual top tips, not the cop-out I put at the top of this post! I would love to hear from you. It’s great to be back.

Posted in UK wildlife, Urban wildlife

WildPhotos 2013: My highlights

Wild Photos name badgeJust over a week ago, I headed to the Royal Geographical Society for my third year at WildPhotos. As usual the weekend was full of inspirational talks and amazing images. There was also a fair amount of discussion about how to help the wildlife we all love to photograph, which included thoughts on the simply idiotic badger cull in the UK (championed by, as Mark Carwardine put it, that “vile man” Owen Paterson) as well as the plight of elephants, lions and other animals further afield. There were moments of very sobering reflection on what we stand to lose amongst the awe-inspiring images.

Rather than go through the entire weekend and review each speaker, I thought I would pick out a few of my favourite talks. The rest were awesome, trust me. Particularly the keynote speaker, Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols. However, the following talks felt the most relevant to me personally.

Andy Rouse – Flying Owls and Runaway Hares

I hadn’t heard a talk by Andy previously and I was really looking forward to hearing about his work in the UK. Andy explained that he had shot a lot of images all over the world with great commercial success but wanted to tell the story of the wildlife at one site closer to home – the commercial kiss of death!

Andy showed some gorgeous images of barn owls, hares and little owls and gave technical and fieldcraft tips with a good amount of humour. I particularly love the way his images highlight how the wildlife on the World War I airfield site use the decaying surroundings to their advantage. He had a great mix of portrait, environment and behaviour shots, which gave me some inspiration for my work.

I admire Andy’s perseverance with his subjects and determination to move away from commercial images for this project – the resulting images prove what a success it has been for him.

Andy also teamed up with Danny Green to demonstrate the options for creativity offered by the Canon system. Despite being a Nikon girl, this session was really useful for me as the guys talked through the fieldcraft and camera settings they used to take some of their amazing images. This was a really useful session for the amateurs.

Sandra Bartocha – Nature, Creativity, Emotion

Sandra Bartocha’s talk was the big surprise in the programme for me. I wasn’t expecting to be enthralled by what she had to say and stunned by the creativity of her natural landscape images, but I was. She spoke passionately about creativity being about forming something new for yourself from existing ideas. She made the point that this should be for you, not others and that you shouldn’t care what other people think of your work.

The main points I took from her talk that I want to take forward into my own work were:

  • Be open-minded and pay attention to the small things when deciding what to photograph
  • Pay attention to the light – the easiest way to see what light can do is to spend the whole day in the same place to see how the changing light can impact your images
  • Limit yourself – limiting the amount of equipment you take with you or staying in a specific location can help to unleash your creativity
  • Use manual exposure and play with it
  • Include your own emotions in your work
  • Use a technique because the subject demands it rather than just because you can
  • Work on long term projects

Thanks as always go to the speakers, comperes, organisers and volunteers at WildPhotos. It was another fantastic conference for wildlife photographers both professional and amateur alike.

Posted in review

Cabin chaffinches

I’ve just noticed the date when I last blogged. Goodness it’s been a while! I could give you all the usual excuses but I don’t think I’ll bore you with that.

Instead I’ll tell you a bit about some time I spent by Loch Long in July and the wildlife I found there.

I should probably point out that I wasn’t in Scotland for a wildlife watching or photography holiday. My husband and I were having a well earned break seeing friends in Edinburgh and wanted to combine that with a bit of relaxation and quiet time. So, we decided to book a cabin at the Forest Holidays Argyll site on Loch Long.

Now although I wasn’t there to watch wildlife, I did have high hopes for getting some good images and brought along my trusty D7000 and a couple of lenses. This was also the first trip out for my new set of Coordinate Gear bags, which I’ll review on this blog in the very near future. These proved extremely versatile by not only keeping my gear well protected but also being flexible enough for me to choose what size of bag I took out with me each day depending on the gear I needed.

My husband and I did a fair bit of walking in the local area and briefly spotted deer, a variety of birdlife, some oddly attractive looking slugs and the hubby even saw eagles (whilst I was stuck further down the hill nursing my dodgy knees). However, no clear cut photo taking opportunities presented themselves. Now, a ‘proper’ wildlife photographer would create the opportunity by researching and then waiting patiently in an area for their subject. However, that wasn’t really a suitable way of working for me – my husband is ridiculously patient and understanding but I couldn’t really ask him to hang around for a subject to show up, especially as this was supposed to be relaxing for both of us!

I had almost resigned myself to not getting anything decent in terms of images and satisfied myself with sitting outside our cabin, wine glass in hand, watching the swallows zoom over my head (I did also try to photograph them without much success). Then the chaffinches showed up. They arrived outside our cabin whilst my husband and I were sorting out dinner inside. There was a male, female and a youngster who was constantly begging for food from the parents.

They spent about 10 minutes sitting just outside the cabin door and I was able to fire off a few frames before they flew off. I was happy with that.

As an amateur who is often strapped for spare time and frustrated by that fact, I am always happy to be presented with opportunities like this and I’m very glad I took my camera with me…even if it never got a chance to focus on those eagles!

Female chaffinch sitting on fence post

Juvenile chaffinch sitting on fence

Posted in UK wildlife

Prime challenge

Today I challenged myself to go out and photograph wildlife on my local patch with a 35mm prime lens attached to my D7000, instead of my usual 70-300mm zoom. The reason I did this was to force myself to think more about my composition and camera settings, rather than just using a long focal length with a wide aperture.

Being in my local park also meant that I would need to try and see this very familiar location with fresh eyes to find interesting image opportunities.

So that was the challenge…here is the result…

Crows in Brockwell Park

I had to get fairly close to the crow in the foreground to get this image. I did this by inching closer over a period of time despite the fact I was aware it could take flight at any moment. I wanted to include the other crow in the background and tried to use the rule of thirds, putting the crow in the foreground on the line of the first third.

Crow sitting on railings in Brockwell Park

Crow sitting on railings in Brockwell Park

The two images above show crows sitting on the railings in the park. In both images I wanted to use the railings as the main lead-in lines.

Crow and magpie in trees in Brockwell Park

I liked this image as it clearly shows the magpie in the background as well as the crow in the foreground.

Squirrel in Brockwell Park

I had to get pretty close to this squirrel to get this image. I like the two diagonal lines of the posts and the railings running across the image.

As I was having to include more of the surrounding environment in my images, I used a smaller aperture than I would normally use and stopped down to f/8 to ensure more front to back sharpness in these images.

This was a tough challenge. I’m not overjoyed with the images I got today but I am pleased with the result as it did make me consider my composition and settings more than I probably do normally. I have learned that I need to be less on autopilot and try to make more considered choices about my images.

I will try and keep today’s lesson in mind when I head out with my camera next weekend, this time with my 70-300mm lens attached!

Posted in UK wildlife, Urban wildlife

Cheetahs prospering

In 2011 I was very privileged to visit the Masai Mara and photographing cheetahs was one of the highlights.

Despite the tranquillity shown in my images below, cheetahs have it tough…really tough. Females are solitary and males only form small groups, which means that they are vulnerable to having their meals taken by other predators or worse being attacked and killed. Their light bodies allow them to reach speeds of 60mph but aren’t built for self-defence when they are faced with a pride of lions or pack of hyenas.

We photographers also don’t help matters. Elliot Neep has written an interesting piece for Outdoor Photography magazine that highlights the ethical issues around photographing cheetahs, which I suggest all wildlife photographers read.

Returning to my images below, I had originally filed these away without thinking to put them on here as I wasn’t overly happy with the compositions. However, I revisited them recently and decided to re-process these three as I had actually grown to be happier with them.

In case you’re wondering, these images were taken at quite a distance from the cheetahs. The second image was taken when the cheetah decided to walk close past our vehicle. As you can see, this had led to very relaxed looking cheetahs.

Cheetah sitting alert in the Masai Mara

Portrait of a cheetah in the Masai Mara

Cheetah sleeping on mound in the Masai Mara

Here are some stunning images of cheetahs taken by the pros:

Cheetah reflection by Charlie Hamilton James

Female cheetah head portrait by Anup Shah

Various cheetah images by Elliot Neep

More images from my trip to the Masai Mara can be viewed in my African wildlife blogs.

Posted in African wildlife

Crows in crowds

I have read a lot in my research about crows being antisocial. I’m sure a lot of people have heard that if you see more than two crows together, they’re actually rooks. However, my experience of crow behaviour would suggest otherwise.

Group of crows in park

Group of crows in park

The images above were taken in my local park. As you can see, a murder of crows is a common sight here.

There is an explanation for this. In rural areas, a pair of crows will have a territory of several square miles to ensure that they can nest and find enough food to sustain them. In an urban environment, the diet of crows is supplemented by humans – our rubbish bins, discarded food and the food we put out for other bird species. There is plenty to go around so these city dwelling crows only need small territories to thrive.

While I was in the park taking the images above, I decided to scatter some peanuts to view the crows feeding in a group. I was interested by the behaviour I witnessed. The crows nearby had no fear of me and flew very close, whilst calling raucously. More and more arrived following the calls. I am guessing that this was a demonstration of recruiting behaviour as the crows were very dispersed and seemed to be arriving from all over the park to eat the peanuts. This behaviour is commonly associated with ravens at food sites, crows more commonly recruit to mob predators.

Once the crows (and a few pigeons) had devoured all the peanuts, a few stayed very close to me hopping around my feet. The crows in the park are obviously used to people but usually scatter if you get too close. There was one in particular that sat by my feet while I stood still and allowed me to take the following images, one of which showing the nictitating membrane covering the eye.

Close up of a crow's head

Close up of a crow's head

Spending a morning with the crows always provides some interesting behaviour to think about. I feel like I’m getting to know them a bit better all the time.

Pair of crows in park

Crow perched in a tree

Posted in Corvids, UK wildlife, Urban wildlife