Friday, 12 August 2022

The Camera's Curse

Seeing as I've done so little of it for ages, birding has been quite kind to me lately. That nice Pied Flycatcher at West Bexington last Saturday, for example. Mostly it hasn't felt like a ton of migrants are on the move locally, so to see a decent one was great. And a bit of patience bagged me some pleasing photos.

Photos. Getting nice photos is definitely a thing with me, and I would feel pretty naked without a camera. However, it is a two-edged sword...

On those rare occasions when you stumble upon a good bird, initially there is a massive panic to get a record shot. When that's done (phew!) there follows a potentially endless quest for a 'better' photo. And even if the bird poses beautifully, at close range, perfectly angled and in fantastic light, I can guarantee that the last, utterly faultless image can always be improved upon. Always. A minor adjustment of exposure compensation, or framing, or aperture, or whatever else might make absolutely zero difference, has got to be tried. It is like some hideous compulsion that cannot be denied. As if the camera owns you...

Thankfully, such occasions are very few and far between. But even a common bird, if sufficiently obliging, can induce this behaviour. Especially a Wheatear.

Anyway, I visited West Bex again yesterday evening, quite late. Strolling up Labour-in-Vain Lane I noticed a distant small bird drop on to the road, and raised my bins. It wasn't the expected Robin, but another Pied Fly! Much too quick for the camera, within a couple of seconds it was back in the roadside hedge, and out of view.

I could so easily have said: 'Pied Fly. Excellent. I shall note it down and press on...see what else is about.'

But no, I don't do that. Instead, I wait. I must have spent 20 minutes on that bird. Why? Because the camera has me wrapped around its little finger.

Did I get my photos? Well, you tell me. Are these photos...?

Up, and...


Views were invariably brief and distant. And there weren't many of them. Ah well...

I also saw a Whinchat and Sedge Warbler, neither of which allowed photography. In both cases though, the camera was out, at least briefly.

It was good to see a Sedgie. About this time last year there was a little influx of Sedge Warblers, an event that caused me to think unrealistic things about Aquatic Warblers. The chance of an Aquatic is infinitesimally small, but that is still a chance. So, this morning I was at Cogden quite early, pishing for England.

First up was a Grasshopper Warbler, which had so far avoided my 2022 #LocalBigYear list. Nice. This was followed by 7 Sedge Warblers and no Aquatics. I thought the least I could do was get a nice Sedgie pic for the blog...


What the above rubbish pic fails to convey is the amount of time invested in it. It is literally the only photo I have with a Sedge Warbler in the frame. But, how many times was the camera fired up in hope? Too many.

Thankfully, things don't always go as badly as I've painted. First thing this morning there was this Wheatear on the coast path. Admittedly the light was 'in the wrong place', but a Wheatear is a Wheatear, so obviously it got papped...

For anyone new to NQS, this is a Wheatear.
Wheatear is a species which features on here sometimes.
That's right. A Wheatear.

And on the return leg, another one. It was distant, the light was now about as harsh as you can get, but hey...


In the end I counted 8 Wheatears, 6 Willow Warblers and a single Whinchat. Along with the Gropper and 7 Sedgies, not a bad collection of early-autumn fare. What I didn't count was how many times the camera came out. But it was a big number. Yes, look, here's another...

Dingy Skipper on the beach.

Just occasionally I hear the camera's unspoken demand for action even when there is no creature to point it at. Like yesterday evening as I retraced my steps along Labour-in-Vain Lane at West Bexington, and the sunset had painted the sky orange...



  1. Are they photos? Well yes. Not often are brambles given such treatment but a good record.

    1. The last couple of outings have seen me take a number of excellent foliage photos!

  2. Maybe put them in a fridge for a while to slow them down? ;o)