The dawn light this morning was fantastic as I stopped off at the Jubilee River, near Dorney in Berkshire. The bitterly cold morning bringing out all of the wild birds to feed in readiness for the day ahead. The world around me had come alive and I felt that if I were to hold food out in my hand, they would all land on my palm and feed from it.
Winter is a great time for wild bird photography, as at this time our feathered friends are far bolder than at any other time of year. They have to feed and don’t let the occasional Nikon toting Human bother them too much! There is also absolutely no foliage to hide within, so they are easier to see and photograph. They are also far less defensive than in the Spring, as they no longer have chicks to ward off predators from. The chicks (or cygnets in this case) have all matured and become fully grown adults in their own right and they can fight their own ground if needs be.
This morning I spent a beautiful 10 minutes or so with a family of swans. In fact I have met this family a number of times along this stretch of the river and I swear they are getting used to me. The cygnets were tiny fluffy little fellows the first time I saw them but now they are rapidly growing up, heading towards maturity and gradually losing their downy feathers. Soon they will be seeking mates and starting their own families, the endless cycle of nature starting over once again.
Whilst I was working on my shots of the juvenile Mute Swans, I could hear a very distinctive “Whoop, whoop, whoop” sound from my right, the powerful and distinctive sound of an adult swan in flight. Concerned that I may have disturbed the adult, I stepped back away from her young and she came into land on the surface of the river. She wasn’t at all far away so my 24-70mm (at the long end already) was just perfect to get her all in as best as possible. I had to do a little work on the two flight images you see here but only really to lift the exposure in Lightroom from the original RAW files.
I noticed that as the sun lifted, its rays now making it over the hills behind me, cutting across at an oblique angle, started to illuminate the swans and their water with a delicious warm light. I smiled to myself realising how much I cherish these moments in life, just me, my camera and a bunch of swans! The adult swan also appreciated the moment as she raised her wings to dry them in the sun as they had become saturated by the river during her landing only moments ago.
Made a mental note to come back here again in the near future…