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An excerpt from

7 Years of Camera Shake

David Plummer

Little Grebes

Despite working abroad extensively throughout the year, my home country and its native wildlife is crucially important to me, especially the areas immediately close to my home in beautiful Sussex.

I’ve been passionate about wildlife since the earliest age and the wildlife around my home is where I learnt my craft both in photography as well as in observing wildlife. I feel that extensive experience in wildlife observation greatly assists the process of capturing an image in both recognising a beautiful way of portraying an animal as well as predicting what the animal will do.

The little grebe project resulted in getting into a wetsuit, normally cold and damp from the day before, about four o’clock every morning to slide into the water of my local nature reserve just a quarter of a mile from my home, and using the floating hides that I’ve developed. Over a period of about a month I became intimately involved with this pair of little grebes and their struggle to raise two broods of chicks. Some mornings I would arrive and it would be too misty to even photograph, but it would be a beautiful experience just watching it rise as the sun hit the water.

The floating hide allowed me to become a part of the environment and cause virtually zero disturbance to any of the wildlife on the lake. It also allowed me incredible observations of the activity at a nest with the young surprisingly when they first pushed their heads out from the feathers on their parent’s back.

By the end of the season the pair had successfully raised two broods of five young. The following year predators raided every nest attempt and no young were raised. Such is the struggle of all animals on Earth.

Predators


As humans we are drawn to predators probably like no other group of animals. They are the epitome of form and function, and have a level of perfection that we revere.

They generally have forward facing eyes, which makes them more familiar to us and we feel moved sometimes by the intensity of their gaze - there can be no doubt, that being observed by gazelle is somewhat different to being observed by a lion. Any poignant look or expression is possibly a mere figment of our own imagination; these animals are born to kill and every fibre of their body has evolved to that end. Beautiful and elegant as they are, they are, quite simply, killers. Killing and consuming other animals is their trade.

The young of predators, especially mammalian predators, tend to have paws and features that are too big and they tend to play.

We find this sweet and endearing and love to watch them. However, all play among top mammalian predators is a merely a means to hone the skills of killing. Watch a lion cub jump onto the back of one of its siblings and then witness an adult leap onto the back of a zebra.