Evening Photography Wanders

Before the end of my summer holidays, I had become a real fan of evening wanders around the local nature reserve.  At that time of the year, I found it to be a time of day when very few people were out despite the weather being pleasant (not too hot and not too cold) with a good chance of seeing a beautiful sun set.  I remember one particular evening I wandered across the field to one of the hides to see what was about and to watch the sunset.  At first, the sunset looked like it was going to do nothing - there was just a thin streak of orange across a grey bank of cloud.  But that was to change.

The beginnings of something great
Over the next half hour, I was mesmerised by watching "mini" murmurations of Starlings round the lake and reedbeds.  How to photograph them though?  Long exposures and panning didn't really work.  Then I noticed that that thin band of orange had started oozing out of the grey cloud until it seemed to have spread across the western sky.  I couldn't believe what was unfolding before me.  All the while, the Starlings were zooming round the lake.  Time to try for my beloved silhouettes...

Starling silhouettes against pink skies
Maybe this is a bad thing but it struck me that I wasn't capturing the full moment and wouldn't it be interesting if a Sparrowhawk came hurtling through the middle of the murmuration after his/her supper.  Surprisingly, and this never normally happens, a bird of prey did turn up to try its luck.  It was the Pale Male - a male Marsh Harrier with so much grey on him, he really catches the eye.  He climbed to meet the Starlings but ultimately, he was too slow to catch a meal, though he gave it a good go!

Pale Male hunting

The pale male seemed like a shark herding a bait ball of sardines in the ocean.  He started below and pushed them upwards until he had a better run then charged into the ball.  The agile sardine Starlings were more than a match and they escaped before dropping downwards to safety.  The Harrier didn't pursue them further.  

Chasing the setting sun

Instead, off the pale male went following the setting sun.  I wondered where he was heading at this time of the evening.  Was he just enjoying the freedom of flight and seeing if he could catch up with the sun?  Who knows.  I didn't have much time to contemplate further as the Starlings commenced their fly pasts once more.  Now they were coming closer to the hide - don't mess up Matt!

Starling fly past
Such a perfect evening.  Proof that it's never over over until it's over!  If I had decided to stay in because the sky wasn't doing anything, would I have seen this?  Or would I have been frustrated half an hour later when the sky erupted in the way it did that night.  It's surprising how you can go down on quiet evenings like these and see very little.  Then you'll go back another evening and see loads.  There are so many treasures out there, we need only look with open mind.

For me, there is nothing better than being out and enjoying the countryside.  Enjoying nature.  Feeling the breeze on your face and listening to the reeds whispering, telling the Starlings where best to roost tonight.  Down they dropped almost like a disappearing act.  Blink and you'd miss it... and I did!

Red sky at night, Shepherds delight

I knew of a viewpoint on the approach to the visitors centre where I could stand to get a view across one of the lakes and where there would be some old posts in the water.  Would it work for a landscape image?  Only one way to find out.  Quickly head to the car, drive down the lane and there it was.  Five minutes later, the sky opened up and released heavy rain.  Time for home.  So much for the Shepherds delight but that didn't matter to me...

Thank you for taking the time to look at this post and I hope you liked it.  Will you be going for an evening wander any time soon?



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