My darling wife has bought a Fitbit; suddenly long walks are on her agenda. Wollaton Park is the obvious choice with its handsome architecture, grand landscapes and herds of red and fallow deer, but today we head for Martin’s Pond, a local nature reserve. To our shame we haven’t been there for a couple of years. It looks rather careworn these days and one of its best features, the jetty that enabled you to walk out beyond the reeds to open water, is closed ‘for safety’. That doesn’t bother the wildlife.
I am armed with my 8×42 Opticron binoculars, bought new about 30 years ago (none of this roof prism malarkey), but they still offer a bright, crisp image. They give me my first sighting of a pair of bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla) in the wild. They are feeding on the seeds of an alder tree, and several siskins have joined them. We continue through Harrison’s Plantation and on to Raleigh Pond where we find tufted ducks amongst the coots and mallards. Velvet black and white plumage; beautiful.
When I get home I look up the Nottinghamshire Birdwatchers website to see if I’ve spotted a rarity for the county. I haven’t; there are plenty of sightings at this time of year, but at least other people thought them worthy of reporting. It’s an active website; the ‘sightings’ page is updated daily so you can nip over to Winchester Street (CO-OP car park!) if you want to see some waxwings, for example. The ‘gallery’ has some excellent photographs of birds I’ve never even seen, yet most were spotted less than an hour’s drive of my home. I bookmark the site.
At the bottom of the ‘links’ page I find a list of bird photography sites run by local enthusiasts. Most of them have flickr accounts, which is fine if you just want to see pictures (they are excellent) but leave you scratching your head about the identity of the rarities. Only one of them has his own website: Iain H Leach. Never heard of him. Any good?
It doesn’t take me long to discover that he is not good. He is brilliant.
I know next to nothing about Iain, but he was kind enough to give me permission to reproduce some of his photographs here. They are all highly proficient, but the best are also beautifully crafted. Take this photo of a red grouse cock for example; you can see only his head and neck, yet the composition conveys a memorable impression of the bird in its setting. His photo of the ptarmigan is another favourite: white against white; all the more striking for its minimalism.
Iain’s gallery isn’t limited to birds; it also has sections for native mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects, and they are all good. Enjoy them.
- All Iain’s photographs are protected by copyright. If you would like to reproduce any of them, please ask him via the contact form.
- For larger images of the gallery photographs just click on a picture, then click again on ‘view full size’.
- I searched Iain’s website but could only find one reference to a canary. Here it is:
- Time for a holiday in Tenerife or Madeira Iain?