As the year begun i vowed to improve all aspects of my photography in the pursuit of achieving a higher standard and giving people a better insight into some of the UK's best wildlife. To achieve these goals i have done a few things, technically i have invested in a new lens (the Nikon 200-400mm F4 VRII) and i now shoot and edit in RAW and have also upgraded my editing software and taken time to alter my editing style.
In the field i decided that apart from my usual "big" days out to far flung places i would concentrate even more than last year at staying as local as possible. Staying local can be brilliant as you can be very focused on certain subjects, you get to know individual animals and their behaviour and you can work out what time is best for light and activity etc. Obviously staying locally can be restricting but its simply a matter of working with what you have got and trying to get out as much as possible. Working locally means i can pick a subject and try and get a variety of shots showing all kinds of behaviour and my first main subject of the year are Great Crested Grebes.
Great Crested Grebes are members of the Grebe family and can be found on our various bodies of water around the country, we have nearly 10,000 pairs in the UK. Back in February i decided to pick these lovely birds to study and began researching various sites where they would be good to photograph. I did a bit of research on the computer and visited a site in Hertfordshire but after spending nearly a day there i just couldn't see the potential in it. My most local site (10mins from home, 5 mins from work) was productive last year but as March began it didn't look like it was going to be this year, however in a very short period of time the site became suitable again with 2 pairs of Grebes taking up residence on the larger of the 2 lakes but both pairs seemed fairly confiding and i realised i could definitely work with them.
The fishing lake they reside on is a great site, the fisherman that stand round the edge of the lake have allowed the birds to become quite tame and the various trees that surround the lake along with the reedbed provide some great water colour. The site also enjoys good amounts of light and the birds can be both backlit and frontlit which helps in creating different images. Both pairs have been very good to me and so far i have managed to capture all the key types of behaviour from the courtship dance (unfortunately no weed involved) to tentative nest building and then mating and strengthening the nest ready for egg laying. Hopefully this good luck will continue and i can record some feeding behaviour as well as the birth of young and their subsequent rearing. Here are some of my favourite images so far, enjoy...