Wildlife photography at the Parkridge Centre…

This post is from Tom, one of our Hedgehog Improvement Area Volunteers. He’s based at the Parkridge Centre in Solihull rather than Brandon Marsh, and he’s been out and about with his camera photographing his finds.

Regardless of whether you’re a professional or an amateur, wielding a smartphone or an SLR, photography can be a great way to engage with nature in your local area. Though I’ve been volunteering for the trust’s Hedgehog Improvement Areas project for almost a month now, I still hadn’t properly explored the reserve around the Parkridge Centre. So with camera in hand (and the burden of realising I now had to attempt to shoot some half decent photos for this blog) I decided to venture out of the office and see what I could find.

This pool is found round the back of the Parkridge centre and always looks picturesque. The tree across the pool just to the right houses a heron nest, you might even get chance to spot them if you’re lucky.

Pool at the Parkridge Centre - copyright Thomas Wilding
Pool at the Parkridge Centre – copyright Thomas Wilding

As the commonest duck in the UK, I was bound to see a mallard at the pool. The males have dark green heads, yellow bills, purple-brown breasts, and grey on the body. Females have speckled brown plumage with orange bills. They are often very tame; this guy was very photogenic and was perfectly happy for me to snap away while he posed.

Mallard - copyright Thomas Wilding
Mallard – copyright Thomas Wilding

There are plenty of dragonflies at the pond too. The large pond at the back of the Parkridge Centre provides a great breeding habitat for dragonflies to lay eggs in floating timber and vegetation. It’s rather hard to try and get a shot of these while they’re in flight, but if you stay awhile you might able to snap them when they land to rest…

Darter - copyright Thomas Wilding
Darter – copyright Thomas Wilding

… and if you’re really lucky they’ll even land on the pavement in front of you!

Darter - copyright Thomas Wilding
Darter – copyright Thomas Wilding

It’s great to see so many people making the most of the park and the warm autumn. Whether it was cycling, dog walking, or finding a nice quiet spot to read, everyone had found their own use for this great space.

Brueton park, just outside the Parkridge Centre - copyright Thomas Wilding
Brueton park, just outside the Parkridge Centre – copyright Thomas Wilding

Why did the mushroom get invited to all the parties? Because he was a fun-gi! (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Bracket fungus - copyright Thomas Wilding
Bracket fungus – copyright Thomas Wilding

A regular sight, the carrion crow is known for its hoarse, cawing sound. They’re normally found near farm and grasslands but they’re extremely adaptable and will happily come to gardens for food. Smaller than the raven, they’re all-black in appearance with a glossy sheen, square-ended tail, and a black bill.

Carrion crow - copyright Thomas Wilding
Carrion crow – copyright Thomas Wilding

Possibly our most familiar goose, the Canada goose is also the largest here in the UK and you can almost always find them in the pond by the front entrance. As the name suggests, they’re not actually native to this country and were introduced from North America about 300 years ago and they’ve since spread across the UK.

Canada geese - copyright Thomas Wilding
Canada geese – copyright Thomas Wilding

Although I might not have seen anything too exotic, it’s still really satisfying going on a photo safari and getting some nice outcomes whilst getting to see the wildlife and flora in your local area.  I invite you all to try out some wildlife photography for yourself and see what you can snap at your local nature patch!

Tips!

  • Get to know your camera
    Animals can be incredibly unpredictable and the perfect shot might only be ready for a few seconds. Make sure you know how to make the most of the settings and how to get the great photo before it’s too late!
  • Learn about your subject
    If you want to focus on something in particular doing a bit of research to find out when and where to look can be a big help.
  • Have patience
    Though you shouldn’t wait all day for one photo, anything can happen at any time and you might miss a great opportunity – sometimes it’s just a case of being in the right place at the right time! Just staying in one spot can also make animals come towards you rather than the other around.
  • Be prepared for the weather
    The unpredictability of animals is rivalled by that of the British weather, so try to plan ahead so that you know whether you need suncream or a coat (or both!). If it’s sunny or overcast you might need to play about with your camera settings to make sure your photo isn’t too bright or too dark.
  • Have fun!

Tom

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