A couple of weeks ago I left my trail cam set up on a bird feeder in the apple tree in my garden, and for a week I’d totally forgotten about it. Some 6000 photos and videos later (it was rather a windy week, so the majority were of leaves…) I’ve managed to sort through, identify all the birds, and begin to put it all into a video which I will put up soon on my videos page. Unfortunately my trail cam is a bit faulty and doesn’t record sound, which is a shame – I would have loved to have heard some of the exchanges around the feeder – but nevertheless there was a fair bit of interesting behaviour and a diversity of species that I didn’t expect from my garden, so all in all I’m pretty happy with the results!
The species I had visit the feeder include robin (including juveniles, which I never realised had such a beautiful plumage), dunnock, blue tit, woodpigeon, magpie, greenfinch, a juvenile goldfinch, a family of great tits and a charming family of house sparrows who I’ve grown to love. As you can see in the video the sparrow family often feed together, and it looks like the parents brought up 3 chicks. They rarely ever bring all 3 to feed – usually just 1 or 2 – and although the juveniles are clearly capable of feeding themselves they do tend to act a bit spoilt from time to time and complain until the mother feeds them. The other interesting thing I noticed is that the juvenile robin (or robins) doesn’t appear to like landing on the feeder for long if at all; it sometimes even hovers by the feeder to feed.
Today I spent a lovely afternoon chasing foxes around my neighbours’ front gardens and taking photos of them (the foxes, not my neighbours). While I realise I do probably look like a bit of a weirdo, luckily the foxes were kind enough to stick to areas away from people’s windows so it didn’t look like I was taking photos of people inside their homes. I managed to get a nice photo as one poor fox was startled by the sight of me peering at it from behind a bin – a behaviour, you might say, echoes the typical behaviour of the urban fox!
The last couple of weeks I’ve had a lot of opportunities pop up for me to do things that could contribute to me beginning my career, and its fast becoming quite an exciting year! I recently (after having done a few office-based temp jobs) decided it was time to start doing a job that was giving me experience at least in some way related to what I want to do, so I decided that I would start doing some freelance photography taking photos of people’s dogs. My Mum told me she paid £60 a couple of years ago for a fairly inexperienced guy to take photos of our dogs in the park for an hour, so I thought why not me? Make my own money, on my own time, being outdoors in the park, and practicing photography as well. So I made a new website and designed some flyers, and this week they finally arrived. Response from dog walkers in the park was good, so hopefully I should start getting some calls any time soon… In the meantime, you can have a look at my other website here.
I also recently saw an advert for a job working for Surrey Wildlife Trust selling membership to people at events, which although nothing to do with film-making I thought could be good presenting practice – both are about talking animatedly and charismatically about wildlife, selling how cool it is to people… The only difference is the lack of a camera! When I saw the vacancy I’d missed the deadline, but I contacted them anyway and they said they were extending the deadline so I’ve sent them an application.
By far the most exciting opportunity this week however, has been one courtesy of my Dad while he was in South Africa for a conference. One of his colleagues working in Malawi is involved in elephant conservation, particularly anti-poaching in the Kasungu National Park. She has put me in touch with Matthieu Destremau, who is in charge of the security in the park and develops anti-poaching strategies with the local scouts, and there is talk of me getting a crew together to go down and make a film about the great work they are doing down there. It could be a bit dangerous, but it would also be an amazing opportunity to get involved and do something that might actually make a difference and raise some awareness about how bad the situation is in Kasungu – reading on the website of the Lifupa Conservation Lodge based in the park it says that Elephant numbers have declined from 2000+ to around 100 since the 80s, which is a devastating statistic. Anyway, I still need to speak to Matthieu and discuss it properly but its exciting thinking that this could be the start of me developing my first film…