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Rolling with the punches

Those who follow Bosvogelt on Instagram, might have noticed #mammalmonday. Every monday, I upload a new picture of a wild mammal. To keep doing so, I have to go out and photograph a variety of mammals, ranging from seals and whales, to rodents, foxes and roe deer. This helps me to challenge myself to find new animals and compositions, and it prevents me from getting stuck in a photographic rut. Finding and photographing a seal is very different from photographing a wood mouse, and therein lies the challenge.

So last week I spent some days looking for roe deer. There is a population of roe deer living in a dune/forest area nearby. They are relatively thinly spread, so finding them is a matter of a lot of searching and a little bit of luck. I’ve spend a lot of time, walking, scouting, and cycling, but unfortunately, no r(o)esult. Oh deer, bad puns.

However, this does not mean it’s been time wasted. Even though I could not find any roe deer, there have been plenty of photographic opportunities. With most of the leaves gone, a lot of woodland birds seem to appear. The pecking of the great spotted woodpecker can be heard from quite a distance. But, as it often happens to be in birding, hearing a bird isn’t the same as seeing a bird! Luckily, a pair of great spotted woodpeckers is willing to cooperate.

Another woodland bird enters the stage: the short-toed treecreeper. A small, well camouflaged bird, that forages by hopping up a tree trunk. Their long beaks help them to get insects and other snacks from between the bark. They blend in seamlessly in their environment; only their movements and sounds give away their position.

After strolling through the forest for a couple of hours, I decide to give the dunes a go. There I spot a kestrel: unmistakably, hovering in the sky. The blue colouring on its head shows it’s a male bird. From behind a small dune hill, I can get a good look at him. Raptor are usually less shy during the winter months. To save energy, they tend to stay put a little longer on their resting or hunting posts, and they seem a little more tolerant to most passersby. This male kestrel is no exception. It flies and hunts right next to a cycling path, and takes a break on a nearby signpost.

Most raptors have keen eyesight, so more often then not, they spot you before you spot them. The kestrel looks in my direction a couple of times, but my presence does not seem to bother him. Indeed, it flies pretty much straight towards me and lands on a fence post a few meters away from me. Christmas has come early this year! A kestrel might not be huge, but they are still very impressive little raptors. And when live gives you raptors, you photograph them

There are days where you make a plan, you execute it, and you are rewarding with results for your efforts. Other days, you just have to roll with the punches, and make the best out of a changing situation. On days like these, I’ll happily roll along with whatever opportunity presents itself. I will get my roe deer shots the next time…

On December 16th, Bosvogelt will attend the Kerst Cadeau Markt (Christmas Gift Market) on the Vismarkt, Leiden, The Netherlands, from 11:00 to 17:00.
Get your Bosvogelt postcards there!