Blossoms & bluebells, birdies & bees - these are a few of my favourite things. 

I tunefully sing this each April as I run gazelle-like through flower-filled meadows amidst stunning snow-capped mountains.  I can't make up my mind whether I'm Maria from The Sound of Music (film) or Heidi from Heidi (book).

Then I stop dreaming and realise I'm neither - I can't sing for toffee (or anything sweet) & Cambridge is mountainless.  

I do, however, go Spring watching with my trusty camera.

Thinking of birds & Springwatch - was why I chose this portrait photo of David Gray.

I was photographing an event for the BBC.  The sun was shinning, birds were singing,  marquees were up, a large audience was cheerful  &  ready for the star performer to open the show.  

David Gray, brilliant singer & songwriter, appeared & with some notes in hand chatted away, about this & that & something else to the audience.  I snapped away, happy in my own world, thinking aperture, shutter speed & don't forget to press the button.  I didn't listen to a word he was saying.

Lots of applause & smiles & the director whispered in my ear.  'Take David & photograph him by the cranes'.  'No problem', I squeaked (your voice always goes up several octaves if you're standing next to a famous person) 'follow me', I said.

So we walked & walked for what seemed like a very long time (probably 10mins).  I couldn't see a single crane.  David, very kindly, took the lead and led us to them.

Standing before me, cranes of a feather variety.  Beautiful, long-legged, long-necked & very regal-looking.  Apparently they had become almost extinct in the UK for many years & Pensthorpe Conservation Trust (site to BBC Springwatch at the time), Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust & RSPB had begun a partnership to re-establish a breeding population of them.  

Had I paid the slightest bit of attention to his speech earlier I would have known that cranes are birds as well as big lifting machines.  My dad had 2 of them & I was familiar at spotting them - I could even talk about jib & load with confidence.

I took loads of photos of both of them with renewed enthusiasm & delight.  David & the cranes happily posed for ages completely overlooking my basic lack of bird recognition.  I spent lots of hours afterwards finding new birds to shoot (pics of them on Instagram & Projects on web).

I still haven't quite grasped all the different bird names but I'm a bit further on than I was in 2008.


David Gray - One With The Birds

David Gray

Tips and tricks Photographing April:


1)  Blossoms (also a brilliant indie band touring & playing at Glastonbury this year) - use macro lens.  Go to places: parks, botanical gardens, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge.

2)  Bluebells - use macro lens.  Can't believe the UK is home to half the world's bluebells. Go to places: woods, Hampstead Heath, London, Blickling Hall, Norfolk.

3)  Birds - use a long zoom (telephoto) 100-600 mm sort of range.  Go to places: 224 RSPB Nature Reserves in the UK, garden, The Wash, Norfolk, Pensthorpe Natural Park, Fakenham, Norfolk

4)  Bees - macro or long zoom - don't wear perfume or aftershave - they don't like strong smells.  Go to places:  fields of blooming flowers, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall, RHS Wisley, Surrey.


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