Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

A change is good as a rest…

Red Fox-pouncing

The picture of the pouncing Red Fox is one of my favourites. I posted it on Flickr on Friday evening and it was immediately made a favourite by the BBC AutumnWatch team and appeared over the BBC Nature front page over the weekend. Of course, photographing Red Foxes in the wild is difficult to plan and execute. A chance encounter is usually the case. This time, I had a few minutes to track the vixen as it hunted along the bank of the river, stopping once in a while to sniff the air. I glanced at my exposure reading and knew straight away that 1/125 second was far too slow to freeze any sort of movement. I made a bold decision and decided not to increase the shutter speed; with a view to capturing something a little more dynamic,

I’ve never really been convinced about absolutely perfectly sharp photographs of animals in action. Clinically perfect perhaps, but they often look so artificial. Of course, for some obscure reason I still prefer my Avian images to be razor sharp. Anyway, I digress. I resisted the temptation to fire the shutter and alert the Fox. I waited patiently for a minute or so when it suddenly stopped and gazed intently at the ground with its black tipped ears pointing straight up in the air. I took a deep breath and pressed my fore-head against the view-finder. The Fox took one shuffled, step backwards and pounced. I fired off three frames, the first of which had the Fox at the peak of its trajectory and with just the right amount of motion blur to convey the excitement of the action.

I decided to take a sabbatical this week, far away from the disciples of the North Marsh Kingfisher and find other subjects to photograph on the reserve. The Watton reserve hide was my tranquil destination of choice. The usual wildlife was present—a pair of Mute Swans with three fine but grey looking signets, many Cormorants, Coots, a gaggle of Greylag geese and Mallards a plenty. I observed a pair of Mallards that were looking unseasonably amorous. I focussed my lens on the birds and witnessed a short, but fine courtship display of head-bobbing from both the male and female. The male quickly mounted the female bird causing it to sink almost below the water line. Suddenly, it was all over and the pair swam off in different directions.

An hour or so later, a Little Egret landed on the far bank. I crossed my fingers and hoped that it would venture a little nearer but it flew off south. I did manage to get this picture before it departed.

The light was fading and I was hoping a Barn Owl would show to bring the evening to a fine close—but unfortunately it didn’t make an appearance. However, an unexpected visitor did turn up just before it got too dark…

I may have chosen to avoid the Kingfisher but this one found me!

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