When I’m out with my camera I am often surprised by just how quickly things can change. I had been out on a photo foray for most of the afternoon (I often do that this time of the year because when the light is good, it’s good for most of the day), but nothing was coming together. I had barely taken a photograph, and the ones that I had taken were more from a sense of obligation than because I felt driven to. There was no ‘zing’. Deep down I knew, even as I pressed the shutter release, that these pictures were destined to be deleted. With very little daylight left I began to think about heading for home.
Movement in the broken shadows of a lumpy moor caught my attention. A couple of red-legged partridges were enjoying a late afternoon forage – and they were heading my way. This is one of my favourite moorland birds to photograph; I like the comical way they sometimes strut about and their plumage is a sight to behold. Quickly I grabbed my essentials (beanbag, camera and memory cards) and dashed off to position myself in the direction they were tracking. After crawling into position I lay down in my own carefully chosen patch of shade. I now had no choice but to wait.
The ground was damp and I soon felt cold, but I didn’t have to wait too long before I had a bird standing in a lovely mix of warm light and cool shadow, and staring straight at my camera. I liked what I saw through the viewfinder. The zing was back.
Once shadow had greedily gobbled up the last remaining sunlight I decided to head for home. However, I could see that there was still some warm light up on the moorland tops so I decided to take a short detour. I went to one of the places that I know catches the very last precious seconds of direct light. Amazingly, another red-legged partridge was in view. This time it was back-lit by a rapidly sinking sun while standing on top of a wall, calling. Zing, zing, click, click. Another nice picture was in the bag. Now it was definitely time to head for home.