For years I was able to stand in the garden, surrounded by birds on nearby twigs and flitting from tree to tree, while never having a camera to hand to capture the moment. Now I have the camera, the birds have not co-operated one little bit. As soon as I take the lens cap off, they disappear quicker than a flock of pigeons before a swooping sparrowhawk. Most of my photos now consist of a trembling twig, with the occasional leg disappearing in the upper right-hand corner. Although this may be a slight exaggeration, birds are not the easiest subject to photograph and can cause what should be a pleasurable pastime to become fraught with frustration and feelings of inadequacy when admiring the National Geographic-type shots posted by locals on social media.
I suppose this is what a hide is all about – a place to sit in silence for many hours, waiting for that perfect shot. Many hours, days, weeks and even years have gone into capturing a kingfisher as it exits the water, a shiny silver fish gripped firmly in its impressive beak, with droplets of water cascading artfully from turquoise feathers. I don’t have the patience for that yet, so will practice my photography on a more amenable subject that can’t move, as it is literally rooted to the spot – flowers!
The best thing about flowers is that they generally have an insect in them, unseen to the naked eye, and editing the photos reveals all sorts of hidden treasures. My eyesight prevents me from seeing the finer details, and immense satisfaction can be found in zooming into the inner workings of a pincushion (on your computer!) and finding an ant scurrying among the pins, or fine details of pollen clinging to the legs of a bee at work among the spring blossoms, or raindrop-studded petals. I have taken many pictures of the fynbos and birds that I see on hikes, and am quite chuffed at my list of 850 to 900 different species now identified via iNaturalist. Not bad for a late starter, and something to help me remember the natural beauty so freely available when I am too old to go out and look for it!