When birds fly off to roost every evening who knows what they twitter about? What a hard day they’ve had? How far they have flown? What a nightmare it’s been keepin on eye on the youngsters and another looking out for the local sparrowhawk bullies? One topic of conversation must be where to find a good food supply. That’s the only reason that I can think of for the number of birds that visit our garden on a daily basis. It must go something like this: “‘Follow me tomorrow. I know where ‘Soft Touch’ lives, you’ve only got to look in her direction and she will rush out with another sack load of seed.”
The downside to this is that a small fortune is spent on bird seed. The upside is that I get to see a lot of different birds in my garden, which means that I stand a good chance of photographing them as well. When I decide to have a garden bird session it takes me no time at all to set up. I find an interesting prop, tape it to an old garden fork that I can stick in the ground at any angle I like, and place it close to one of our feeders. Once in place birds will usually start using it very quickly indeed. Next I set up my camera and tripod and then wait. Usually I don’t even need any camouflage, but if I do I throw a bag hide over my head.
Now I only have three things to keep in mind. The first is background (position yourself to get the best background that you can), the second is patience (there will be periods of high activity followed by periods of nothing – take them both in your stride) and finally, change out your prop regularly (variety is the spice of life).
I can remember watching a photographer who was proudly showing picture after picture that all looked the same, apart from the species of bird being photographed. I decided there and then that I would’nt fall into the same trap because, nice as the pictures looked, I found it monotonous to sit through. Now, when I get good shots of three different species, I try to make some changes to either my prop or positioning. Or both.