Chasing Autumnwatch

Last Friday, the Wildlife Media students (or wildlings as we are now sometimes known) visited Caerlaverock Wetland Centre in Dumfries, Scotland. This was the site that BBC Autumwatch used as their base this year, and although it’s always great to visit a new nature reserve, it would have been incredible to visit while the studio was set up.

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We arrived at the site at 6:30am, shivering against the cold but ready to catch the sunrise. Led by our guide Sara, we frog-marched into the mere and set up, hoping to capture the Barnacle and Greylag geese coming in to land. The sunrise was satisfyingly dramatic, but the geese decided to take shifts when landing, so the sky was never really the sea of flapping wings that we’d hoped for.

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Today marked my first Whooper Swan sighting, and I was spoilt for choice when it came to photographing them. I loved the way this individual was preening his feathers, so decided to capture the water running off the bird’s bright yellow bill.

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I also saw my first Wigeons today. I’ve fallen in love with this delightful little bird. Although tiny and cute, they had no problems in making themselves heard. Sat in the hide, I often saw a feisty male nip birds four times his size on the tail feathers in his haste to get to the grain.

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I thought I’d try going a little artsy. Supporting my camera with a tripod, I used a slower shutter speed to blur the movement of both the rippling water and the paddling geese. The result looks dreamlike and serene.

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I had a great time at Caerlaverock. Although it was bitterly cold, the wait was rewarding and I got to tick off several water bird species from my list. Here’s to the next field trip with the wildlings!

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