Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 18/01/2012

The Cheshire… I mean… Bedforshire Cat

Eurasian Lynx, originally uploaded by

I had a drive around my local patch, a couple of days ago, on the hunt for photographic opportunities of the wildlife variety. I was prepared, having my camera bag on the passenger seat, the camera attached to my Sigma 150-500mm, so I was feeling pretty ready for any photo possibilities. I was, if anything, a little over confident as I drove around in my mobile hide (it’s silver, not Oak Leaf as is the current fashion in the Camo World) – actually, that’s probably the first time this type of small German sports car has masqueraded as a wildlife shelter. I very quickly I found my first possible subject, a male Kestrel was posing atop a telegraph pole, and gently pulled up far enough away. Immediately, this bird of prey had me in his sights, and it was at this point that all my knowledge of fieldcraft went out the window. What I should have done was just sit there, with the window open and not moved, until the bird relaxed enough for “position 2” – lens out of the window but not pointing at it. Remember, these birds have had YEARS of persecution and are incredibly wary of man (and women) so I should have just taken my time to gain the birds trust, to show I wasn’t a threat to it. Of course, these things which should and generally are inherent, were for once furthest most from my mind – so down went the window, out poked the camera lens… off flew the bird. Damn.

So, cursing my stupidity, I drove on further until a second Kestrel (this was a different one) was spotted, on some telegraph wires this time. You would think I would have learned from the first time, but no – out came the camera, off flew the bird. I don’t know what I was thinking – I don’t even approach the wildlife in Zoos with wild abandon as I did with these two birds (wild, they were livid (yes, I know I’ve used that joke before, but we have had a number of people subscribe recently, Dear Reader, who may not heard it)) so I don’t blame them for Exiting Stage Left at my crass actions I’m cross with myself at my thoughtlessness – more for the stress I may have caused these sleek and graceful raptors.

My course notes are coming swimmingly, and they should be more than ready by the time I run the workshop the weekend after next. I don’t know why I’m surprised (I do seem to be the only one) as I’ve been teaching the same things for years now in fact I happened across a friend this morning who I’ve not seen since the Christmas period and who had received a new camera as a present during the festive season, in fact it’s her first dSLR. The transition from point-and-shoot to dSLR can be overwhelming for anyone, and whilst my friend wasn’t overawed she had a long list of questions to pose to me. One of the first slides I’m going to present during the course was the one of the first things I said to her.. sure, her shiny (or matt) new camera may have a lot of electronics within it’s casing, it may have a sophisticated digital sensor, auto focus, auto exposure but ultimately it was a box with a hole in it that light was let in to produce an image. something that hasn’t changed since the dawn of photography. Think of a dSLR like this and suddenly it doesn’t seem as imposing – sure it helps to understand all the features you’ve been gifted when you bought your camera, but don’t get overwhelmed by them all – they’re there to help not to hinder you.*

*blimey, that almost sounds like I know what I’m talking about**
**this is, of course, all false modest Dear Reader, and I’m sure you’ve realised by now that I’ve got a Degree in self-deprecation and have been offered a phD to study the subject further (either that or a nice long armed jacket that fastens at the back, which I can wear in that nicely padded room.. the one with the padding on the walls, floor and roof where the door handle is only on the outside of the room).



  1. beautiful..

    • Thank you; the Eurasian Lynx has the most striking eyes when you get up close to them. I still don’t feel I’ve captured their essence so will keep snapping away.

  2. Fantastic and beautiful shot. The light is awesome.

    • Thank you, I was pleased with the way the dappled light illuminated this gorgeous cat, esp when it’s eyes sparkled like two Citrine gemstones.

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