Wednesday 30 December 2020

Top ten not bird images from 2020

It has never been just about birds. Mainly, but not a hundred percent. When I am out and about there are things that catch my eye, scenes, skies, plants and trees, and of course sometimes that is why I am out in the first place. Harder this year to find ten images that I consider to be decent -  I did not travel anywhere near as much, and it is trips away that usually allow creativity to flourish. Confession time - some of them are taken with my phone....

I've always like the letter-box style of photo - achieved simply by trimming off the top and bottom of a regular 3:2 ratio image. This one was taken extremely early in the morning on the Lothian side of the Forth as the kids and I travelled back to London. Driving over the new Queensferry crossing as dawn broke we realised that the light was lovely and quickly diverted off the motorway and wound our way down towards the shore. We were right to have stopped, it was fantastic.

The Lizard, Cornwall. I like the sense of brooding here, the sea somehow looks menacing underneath the darkening clouds. And menacing it certainly was - we spent a long weekend here and the weather blew us off our feet. There were a few moments of brightness, but not many. We hit the end of one storm and the beginning of another, but the wild weather was actually pretty perfect for where we were, snug in the lighthouse looking out as the breakers rolled in, the gusts rattled the windows, and the Chough wheeled overhead.

Nothing remarkable out this, but it is just a place that over the years has become quite special - the East Neuk of Fife. This is the village of St Monan's with Pittenweem in the background, taken on one of my two trips to Fife over the summer. Whenever we go we try and walk a bit of the coastal path. My dad and I dropped the girls off at Elie and then went around to the next village to meet them with the car. 

Something a little different. At some point during the summer I remembered I owned a macro lens. I am not good at this type of photography, it requires skills that I don't really possess. It also sometimes requires tripods, clamps, and lighting and when done properly can be sensational. This on the other hand is simply a handheld shot as I wandered around my parents' garden looking for something to talk a photo of. I tried to apply the same focussed approach as with birds - no distracting background elements.

Much closer to home, this is Wanstead Flats just after sunrise. On the best days this year I sometimes went out to try and photograph Little Owls. That rarely went well, but as a distraction I also had a go at capturing the early morning light. This is right in the middle of Wanstead Flats, and is a WWII barrage balloon hitch - four of them remain as a reminder of those times. I am glad they are still here because there is a certain herald of Spring that like to perch on them....

Possibly the most successful of my early morning photos, again the top and bottom chopped off a regular frame. Great light is spectacular, but fleeting.

Do animals have expressions? Is anthropomorphism bad? Yes and no! This Fox looks wary. It looks sly, like it is planning something devious. In actual fact it is none of these things, it is just eyeing me up, wondering what I am doing at 4am, typically not a time that humans wander round the Flats. It wasn't scared or wary at all, it was just going about its late evening business before retiring to sleep through the daylight hours.

WTC, New York. The new buildings and interior landscapes at the old site of the Twin Towers are remarkable. There is still construction going on, but the area has been poignantly transformed as a living memorial. This is one of the interior spaces, called the Oculus, built to resemble a Dove leaving a child's hand. I think it looks more like a Whale, at least from the inside.

A much wider angle of Wanstead Flats, looking east towards Ilford (the two buildings to the right of the trees). 

A damp afternoon in the Peak District. To the right, up the slope and out of shot, sits a very large and extremely wet Lammergeier. It has its back to the few hardly souls braving the downpour and rarely moves. Much more impressive was this valley below the Pennine Way at Crowden, in a short gap between showers. I later saw the Lammergeier again, also as a diversion from a pre-planned journey, and the views of it were far better. The landscape of flat Lincolnshire fens was distinctly less glorious.


  1. Fife and Peak District stand out for me. Couldn't tell you why, and I know you didn't ask, it's just the way it is. Happy new year to you btw buddy, you never fail to deliver magnificence.

    1. There should probably have been a "so thank you" on the end of that. I knew what I meant :)

    2. Cheers Seth - hope 2021 is good to you.

  2. I'd like to echo Seth's postscript. There are a few blogs which compel me to read every post, and yours is one. Like Stewart Sexton says, a good blog is like a magazine, where every new issue is anticipated with pleasure (or something like that!) so please continue to brighten the blogosphere with 'Wanstead Birder'. 😊

    1. Very kind, thanks a lot. As you may know earlier on I nearly threw in the towel, but I actually found it very helpful in 2020.

    2. You probably know that I've done exactly that. Twice. And regret it. Writing has become an outlet that I probably need in some weird way. May well be the same for a lot of us...