TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: Simple tips to improve your wildlife photography
A monthly column by Rachel Shaw, communications officer at Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust:
I’m holding my camera in both hands and staring at a blue tit nesting box. Mary can hear the blue tit calling, she knows their behaviour. The bird is getting closer. He’s approaching the box. There he is. I press the camera shutter. Too late, he’s inside the box in with lightning speed.
He’ll be out again soon, back into the garden. We wait. My finger rests on the camera shutter. There he is. I press the camera shutter. Too late, the blue tit has gone.
Wildlife photography is difficult. Putting up a box in the first place is much easier. Providing a box or two for birds is one of the simplest of ways to help wildlife in your garden but there are lots of other things you can do. I visited Mary’s garden in rural Lincolnshire to see how she and her husband Phil help wildlife.
Leave a patch wild
Under a tree or at the edge of the lawn, leave a small patch and see what grows. Plants are only weeds if you don’t want them there. Accept the flowers that grow and watch what wildlife uses them.
Plant for pollinators
Have some native flowers as well as plants that have accessible flowers for insects to feed on. In Mary’s garden, the grape hyacinths, lungwort and alkanet were buzzing with bumblebees and bee flies.
Leave dead stems over the winter
The stems will provide hibernation places for insects such as ladybirds so wait until the spring until you compost them. If you want your garden to look tidier, Mary’s tip is to cut some of the stems, bundle them together and tie them to a tree trunk.
Make insect homes
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate bug hotel, something as simple as an old mug fixed to a tree and stuffed with hollow stems can still be beneficial.
Move bird feeders around the garden
We all know to clean bird feeders regularly to prevent the spread of disease, Mary and Phil also move their feeders around the garden. This stops build-up of discarded seeds and waste on the ground. It’s more natural for the birds to have to look for the food rather than go to the same place all the time.
These are all easy to implement even in a small garden. Then sit back and wait. The birds, bees and butterflies will come and create a garden that’s not just full of flowers but is buzzing with life.