My Saturday Bird this week is a portrait of a Greylag Goose (Anser anser).
This individual was photographed in the mid 1980s when most of the Greylag Geese in the U.K. were feral birds associating with Canada Geese and other wildfowl species. Recent population numbers for the species across Europe show a dramatic increase, possibly due to climate change affecting their migration patterns.
The bird is at “The Mere” on the edge of the town of Ellesmere in Shropshire, England in winter.
I had quite a few ideas for the challenge, none of which I could build a theme around. In the end I decided to simply pick one favourite nature or landscape image from each decade I have been taking photos. Because landscapes and nature have been constant subjects during my photographic journey.
As a result it’s also partly a journey around some of the places I have lived over the years.
1970s. Trees in snow covered farmland in Hatherton, Cheshire, England. I was still in secondary (high) school when this shot was taken. Taken a mile down the side road from my parents house at the time. It was part of the portfolio that got me a place at art school. Despite having been online for nearly a quarter of a century this is the first time I have posted the full frame, uncropped version. I have always cropped to a panoramic format in the past.
1980s. Storm clouds and light beams over Loch Arkaig, Scotland. Memorable because I had spent three days shooting landscapes in almost constant rain. The rain stopped early evening of the third day and the sun started breaking through the storm clouds. This shot was published worldwide by Olympus Japan and won a national photo contest in the U.K.
1990s. An American White Pelican on Last Mountain Lake. Probably the hardest decade to pick a favourite. I moved from the U.K. to Canada and was doing a lot of nature and landscape photography. One of the most memorable moments was sitting in the water at Last Mountain Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada while a flock of American White Pelicans swam and fished around me.
2000s. Osprey with a White Sucker over Lake Huron. This decade saw me living in Ontario, Canada. For the first 8 years I lived in Southampton on the Lake Huron shoreline. I would frequently head down to the lake shore for sunrise and sunset. If I was down there for the sunrise I would often hang around looking for birds. One morning I watched this Osprey catch the fish and immediately start getting harassed by a couple of Herring Gulls. The Osprey is looking at one of them while the water still drips off the bird and the fish. This was my second year shooting digital.
2010s. A juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird in late summer. I was now living on the South Bruce Peninsula, Ontario and in 2018 did a 52 week photo project which is how this blog started. This shot didn’t make it as a weekly pick for the project but it was published in a bird calendar the following year.
2020s. A portrait of a Coneflower. One year into the 2020s and a surprisingly difficult pick. I had a few nice sunrises from the local bay and a nearby lake last summer and autumn. Which meant that I couldn’t pick a favourite because they were all too fresh in my mind. However, I spent part of the first Covid-19 lockdown photographing flowers and plants with various unusual lenses. For this Coneflower I used a fast portrait lens wide open. It’s been a favourite since I took it.
My Saturday Bird this week is the Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator), a large finch with a long tail.
The species breeds in the far north of North America and Eurasia. It is an irruptive species meaning numbers can vary greatly if the birds move south for the winter. Often absurdly tame allowing close approach they will land within a few feet of an observer.
This is a female photographed in light snow at Greenwater Lake Provincial Park, Saskatchewan, Canada in the winter. Males are pinkish red and gray.