Saturday 16 May 2015

Ode to a Nightingale

So....Nightingales! While I'm fortunate to live in a part of the UK where they still hang on, they're not the easiest bird to see, never-mind to photograph. There are a few local spots where they breed near Norwich but I've never seen them well in any of those, usually just a fleeting glimpse as they break cover and then sing from deep in some impenetrable whitethorn bush.
For me there is something enigmatic about them, maybe because in Ireland they are so rare, maybe because of the sheer beauty of their song, their reference in literature or their ability to remain so well concealed! At the beginning of 2015 I made a promise to myself that I would try to photograph a Nightingale in England, somewhere, anywhere! Didnt have to be Norfolk, I would travel if I knew of one that was singing in the open.
Anyway, a friend of mine contacted me during the week and gave me directions to a site in Suffolk where up to eight birds were in song. One or two where singing out in the open apparently. I decided to do a reconnaissance of the site after work on Friday evening. I'd had a crappy week and was looking forward to getting out for a few hours to unwind.
At the site, the Nightingales were easy to locate, within half an hour I had found one male singing in reasonable view. With patience and care I managed to figure out a spot where I had a clear view of him as he sang from a bramble, as the sun dropped he got busier and put on a great show.

After so many collective hours spent trying to photograph this species and very little photographic success so far this year, this was one of those times when it all came together. One of those moments when you remember why you love birds so much and why photographing them can be so rewarding and exciting.
I returned this afternoon and having figured out the HD movie function on my new camera body, I  tried to catch a short movie clip of one in song. This time I had to wait as the bird wasn't quite so fond of his bramble. I spent two hours waiting for him to hop up, at one stage as I sat waiting and drinking my coffee, he sang a few feet from my head - perfectly concealed of course. But eventually he played ball, sat on his "singing" branch and performed - he's now on YouTube!

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