Red Grouse of Spring… +the thoughts of the week

So a few weeks back I went on a little road trip for Grouse, Gannets and just being out and in the wild.  This trip was a reminder of what I love about my job, after such a tough 2015 I am looking forward to running head first into 2016 and trying to beat the difficulties I have with my condition. (thats for a later date)

However whilst out on this trip some thoughts occurred about what we do as photographers and what the species we are hunting are thinking.  We could say we cant compare ourselves to hunters because we

physically take the life of anything but we do hunt, we stalk our species and we try to sneak up on our species. These thoughts have been further explored after reading a piece of writing called “What does an ethical wildlife photographer look like?” by Peter Cairns.  For anyone interested I highly suggest this read. Explore your own thoughts on this matter, as each and everyone of us will see the subject differently.

Something I do as a wildlife photographer is watch my species without any equipment, whether im sat at the side of a puffin colony, in a hide at the black grouse or as I was on this trip – eating my lunch in a car with the window down just watching a pair of Red grouse wandering around.  What caught my fascination is that the female was starting to pay attention so us. She made her way as slowly as what  we would have had  I been belly shuffling closer with my kit.  She chirped and gave us a little song, she came almost right up to the car.

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My question would be … What was she thinking? What was she trying to communicate? Was she just simply as interested in us as we were in her? 

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I do have a video – rather out of focus im afraid but none the less, it would be a fantastic video simply of a Red Grouse displaying behaviour but to me its a question – she wasn’t just displaying communication behaviour to another of her species it was directed either about me or to me and the questions will always remain.

The question of what does the ethical photographer look like? in my view will we ever know truly what that means… to be ethical we would have to give up everything we take for granted even such as plastics, laptops, wifi and this piece of writing… because simply absolutely everything we do has some form of impact on the environment.

So I believe be mindful of your actions and how they affect not just the environment you are photographing in but your be mindful of every action we take. Now im not saying we have to stop and think at every action … but when we have a quiet moment of reflection perhaps we could just go through a thought process to understand and accept what our impact is on the environment. 

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Understanding our impact and the outcome of our actions have actually made me a better “environmentalist / conservationist” and in the process a better photographer.   I am by far not the best photographer, the best spokesperson or even very well known for what I do, but that never my intention, if I can just make the people’s lives who I do come into contact with just stop and think for even a moment then I have achieved something. Even if it is as simple as explaining why bread is bad for birds at a RSPB event.

There is always two sides to every question and two separate people will not have the same answers…. for example “I moved the Spider after she started building her nest because If I hadn’t  she may have had an accidental death sentence due to a dog”

Obviously the blog entry above has me rather thoughtful today and in the mood to share.

So on that note.. I shall leave you all to your own thoughts on the matter and show you some more pretty pictures! 

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Red Grouse Photography

Red Grouse photography is actually one of the easiest species that I look for every year.. here is the formula

  1. Know how to deal with the light up on moors
  2. Make sure your kits clean and batteries charged! (The sparrowhawk in my garden likes to test that theory!)
  3. Drive for around 2.5 hours!
  4. Take your time
  5. Accept that the moor is x amount of hundreds of square miles in size and that 99% of your trip is based on luck!

When it comes to the Red Grouse I use a car as a hide, the grouse are more at ease with this, and the locations I use they are regularly near the road single track roads. These roads tend to have quite a bit of traffic so being patient and accepting lose of a decent picture does happen.  Yes I do get out and go “slow stalking” to get closer without causing them distress and flying off but I rarely go trampling through the heather moor.

It may just be me but I have learnt I Prefer to stay out of the heather where I may not notice a sleeping bird due to their colour or a early nester. I tend to suggest if you do want to walk through the heather to stick to the tracks made by game keepers.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read this, yes its a bit more than what you normal get out me but then you got lots of pretty pictures to go with it!

Any questions just give me a shout!

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