Attracting UK Birds

Photograph/Gabriel Fuchs

Photograph/Gabriel Fuchs

Birds can be both beautiful and poetic. Many songs have been written about birds and they can symbolise anything from wisdom to power to freedom. And what is better than waking up on a summer morning to a beautiful bird song? Admittedly, there can be another side to birds, where they are simply noisy or they hit you with their sharp beak. But I suppose that this dualism is what makes attractive birds even more attractive.

Looking at birds actually reminds me of my days at university and its lectures… a lot of time passes by with only the rare moments of excitement. Meanwhile, one starts thinking of other things that are exciting. Nonetheless, just as I appreciate my time at university, I like birds and I still do bird watching, something that has made me experience more close encounters with car accidents than most people. One should not do bird watching while driving. One can, however, drink and do bird watching. Quite a few seem to do that.

One place, I realised, where one can do bird watching is in the midst of nature. The UK woodlands especially offer birds in all their forms and figures. There is the Blue Tit, the Coal Tit, the Great Tit, the Long-tailed Tit, the Marsh Tit, the Willow Tit, and with lots of luck even the Crested Tit may be spotted. There is also the Bearded Tit, but as its name indicates it is not really a Tit. And among UK sea birds there are the gannets and boobies. Yup, Mother Nature has a lot to offer. I even asked my photographer friend Jim—who also likes birds—what equipment one needs in order to get these UK birds. Does one need to be well-equipped? Or can a smaller equipment do the trick if one has a good technique instead? Jim told me that he uses a 200–500mm lens, which is very long and heavy. It also extends nicely when necessary. Furthermore, it is shiny at its far end. With that lens, Jim manages to get lots of UK birds.

I then asked Jim when is the best time to get birds. He said that early mornings can be good, when the air is still slightly foggy after a long night. Furthermore, one needs to know where to be in order to get the birds with that long heavy equipment. Jim has a few favoured spots where he fires off his equipment regularly. The result is most impressive; Jim gets birds of every type and size.

Very inspiring indeed for anyone who loves birds.

And not only do I get to see lots of birds with Jim, I also learn a lot too.

Here are five bird things I have learnt from Jim:

Unpredictable birds are a pain.
On a rainy grey day, any bird will do.
A well-bred bird on a sunny day will make any bird photographer excited.
One needs to be extremely resourceful to get interesting birds. Chickens get no birds.
Better a bird in focus than ten in the forest.

Jim also gave me a few more tips for getting birds. One has to understand their behaviour, where they are and, especially, Attracting UK Birds where they may be the next instant. Predicting their actions allows anyone with a good lens to aim it where the birds will be. Furthermore, one should remain silent, even though the birds themselves can make a hell of a noise. One shall simply have to pretend that one is not hearing, instead focusing on other things than the noise. For Tits, it can also be a good idea to offer something to eat in order to attract them to a specific place. I also understand that the equipment used for photographing birds should be discreet, yet serious and powerful.

Once the UK birds have been explored fully with a big lens, foreign birds can be explored. There are the exotic birds of Africa, and in South America there are the Amazon birds. And then one can go for the beautiful Thai Tits.

Yup, if one is into exploring birds, there is no limit to what can be experienced. And with a good lens, there can be some real intimacy between the photographer and the bird. Maybe the bird will even be so comfortable that it will sit on the photographer. Picture that!

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: better photography, Gabriel Fuchs, Nature Photography, different strokes, april 2012, photographing birds, UK birds, UK woodlands, equipment needed to photograph birds, Thai Tits, how to be comfortable while shooting birds