The photographer’s dream

I recently completed a year-long photography project in conjunction with Bruern Farms, a project that ran pretty much all the way through lockdown. This was a godsend, keeping me sane and giving me purpose during that most difficult of times. It was also local, limiting any danger of spreading the virus to virtually zero. My access all areas pass allowed me to boldly go where no photographer had been before.

I’m going to tell you the tale of one lucky morning, when everything seemed to fall into my lap, but don’t get the idea that that’s what always happens. Many hours hiding in prickly hawthorn hedges waiting for a non-existent barn owl to not turn up will attest to that.

On the morning in question, I’d left the house just after sunrise. If you want to photograph wildlife you have to be an early bird. Once the joggers and dog walkers appear, the wildlife heads for cover and can be very hard to find. On this particular morning, I was headed to Home Farm, having received reports of a tawny owl and kestrels nesting in the barn.

Down the lane I spied a deer through a gate. I reversed the car and got out, fully expecting her to have scarpered as they so often do. Instead, I found her standing there 30 feet away in a big patch of purple wildflowers, half in and half out of the early morning sun. Well, even I couldn’t screw that shot up, and I headed back to the car with a smile on my face, the morning already worthwhile.

Arriving at Home Farm, I used the car as a hide, and wound down a window, settling in for what I expected to be a long wait for a kestrel to appear. However, within 10 minutes one of the adults returned to the nest carrying some unfortunate small mammal in its beak. Food for the chicks. It paused at the entrance to the nest, and I got it arriving and leaving. This was turning into a great morning, and I had only left the house half an hour ago!

A short while later, I decided to head off towards Bruern to a field I knew might have deer in it at that time of the morning. No sooner had I arrived at said field than a young buck lifted his head out of the green wheat. And so, I bagged shot number three with a growing sense of disbelief. It never went this well. What was going on?

Then I headed home for a cup of tea, during which I got a message to say that there was a lapwing chick in a field off the bridal path. Did I think I could find it? The morning had gone so well I set off down Milton High Street with very low expectations. There was no way my luck would hold. Was there?

I reached the appointed field, near the top of the bridal path and paused looking over the waist high fence. I could see an adult lapwing causing a fuss on the ground, but no chick. I’d been there for about five minutes when a hare began coming down the field. If he carried on straight he would pass 20 feet in front of me, and he was bound to see me. But, he kept coming. He got nearer and nearer, and I was getting very excited. A hare was on my wish list of pics, but I could never get close enough to one. He kept coming, and then blow me, if he didn’t stop and dig right in front of me before ambling slowly on. He never did spot me, and I now have 30 perfect shots of a wild hare to my name.

I didn’t find the lapwing chick, but never mind. All that remained to be done now was to head home and choose some lottery numbers!

Dean Griffiths

December 2021 – January 2022