Top tips for photographing birds and wildlife in your garden
Wildlife photography is one of the most exciting things you can do in your garden. If you have the right setup, it can be as easy as sitting in a deck chair with a glass of wine and your camera, shooting whilst you sip. But what is the right set up? Well, let’s find out, shall we?
The camera gear for wildlife photography in your garden
If you want to take your photos to the next level, a DSLR is the only way to go for wildlife photography. Now, you may think that a DSLR comes with a hefty price tag, but it doesn’t have to. You can purchase second-hand equipment and entry-level gear for only a few hundred pounds, and if you are new to wildlife photography, these cameras will grow with you for years. They also provide all of the control you need to get the shots you want.
While having the zoom to get to the birds and wildlife is important, you can achieve this without having to pay a crazy price. A cheap or second-hand 70-300 lens, or macro lens if you want to get down and dirty with the bugs, may be all you need to get great photos in your garden of all the wildlife. There are compromises to be made with cheaper lenses though, you’ll likely not have the best low-light shooting capabilities, and it will be non-stabilised, which brings me onto the next point.
Tripods and Monopods
Stabilisation is vital for wildlife photography. A great tripod or monopod should be used whenever possible. The extra stability allows you to keep the camera steady even if you are excited at seeing your first red squirrel. Plus, in low-light situations, it might just give you a chance of walking away with the photo you have spent all day trying to get.
Tips for taking photos of wildlife in your garden
I’m sure you guessed this tip would be on the list. Patience is vital when it comes to wildlife photography. You may be sat in the same spot for hours and then get seconds to shoot the photo. In these few seconds don’t move around and get excited as you’ll scare off the wildlife and have to start all over again. Just take a few deep breaths and get ready to fire off a lot of shots. This will take practice because it is very exciting to take your first few wildlife photos.
Shoot a lot of photos
All DSLR's have a burst mode, and this is the perfect situation to use it in. Burst mode allows you to hold the shutter button down and take multiple photos at once. Using this mode means you’ll have the best chance of capturing the creature in the few seconds that you have.
Find the right spot
If you can, create a hide in your garden. This could be a tent, a few palettes by a fence, anything that doesn’t alert the birds to your presence. Keeping out of sight and keeping quiet will make a huge difference. Remember, you are trying to observe the wildlife and their natural behaviour, so, even though it’s your garden, it has to feel natural to them. Otherwise, you won’t observe anything.
Remember, the wildlife you want to photograph is typically the most elusive, so, while you wait, practice with the more common species found in your garden so that when you meet the wild barn owl for the first time, you are ready to get the photo.
We hope these wildlife photography tips have been helpful. Why not get out into your garden and give them a try?
Top 5 Things Not to Feed Your Birds
Providing food is a great way to attract birds to your garden. It can also help them through food shortages and the bleaker winter months. But you should always feed your avian visitors responsibly. Here are the top five things not to feed your birds:
Peanuts are a favourite for many birds but salted peanuts are a big no-no. Most birds can’t process salt and may die if they ingest too much of it. Whole nuts in the spring also pose a hazard as parents may feed them to their young, causing a risk of choking.
All bread, but particularly white bread, fills a bird’s stomach but provides little nutrition. There are lots of other healthier alternatives to offer.
Vegetable, chicken or turkey fat
Fat can end up coating a bird’s feathers and making it difficult for them to fly. If you want to make homemade fat balls for your birds, you should avoid using polyunsaturated fat or butter.
Whilst some birds are partial to a little bit of cheese, milk isn’t a good idea. It can cause severe stomach upsets.
Fresh coconut is a tasty treat for the birds in your garden but avoid desiccated coconut at all costs. It can swell in the stomach and be fatal to birds unless properly soaked beforehand.
How to Look After Your Garden Wildlife in July
How to Look After Your Garden Wildlife in July
During the height of summer your garden is likely to be in full bloom – bursting with beautiful colour and scent. There’s also lots of wildlife about. Here are a few tips for looking after your garden wildlife in July:
Baby frogs are likely to be making an appearance around now. Plant foliage or leave long grass around your pond to provide them with shelter from predators.
Baby hedgehogs are also on the move in July. They like meat-based cat or dog food and water. Providing these things will give them the extra food they need to prepare for hibernation in the autumn.
Avoid trimming your hedges until you’re sure there are no birds nesting there. Blackbirds and thrushes can nest as late as August. Also, keep your bird bath topped up with water on warmer days to provide drinking water.
Wildflower weeds such as daisies and dandelions provide a good source of nectar for bees. Leave areas of your lawn for these plants to grow. Also consider planting bee friendly biennials that will flower next year.
Your plants and flowers are a lifeline for bees and butterflies. Be sure to give them plenty of water during dry spells to keep them fighting fit.
Tips for attracting more birds to your feeders
We have put together a few tips on how you can get a large amount of birds to come into your garden and feed just by placing the bird feeders in the right place in your garden.
Placement of your bird feeder
Placement is key, you want to be able to see the birds while they are feeding, but it's also important that they feel safe while they have their meal. Birds are creatures of habit, so if they don’t feel safe, you’re likely to never see them again after their first visit. If you have a small garden, it is best to put the feeders fairly close to your windows. This allows you to observe the birds without scaring them away. If you have a larger garden with trees or shrubs this can be a good spot to hang a feeder as the foliage gives the birds cover from wind and predators. However, don’t put the feeders too close as they are also home to squirrels that would love to munch on your bird seed and also cats can hide in the branches, waiting to pounce. We suggest 2-5 metres away from the dense leafy areas. Experiment with a few feeders dotted around the garden to find the perfect place as each garden has its own habit so results may vary.
If you have a relatively open garden without much cover for the birds, you could try creating natural shelters yourself. All you’ll need are a few loosely stacked piles of sticks and branches around your bird feeder, and you can create a great resting place for a variety of birds.
Try to be patient
It will take a while for birds to start feeding in your garden. You may see a few flying around your garden and not landing for the first few weeks; this is them checking that the new feeder is safe. You may think that you have cracked it when you see the first birds land and enjoy a meal too. However, as we said above, birds are creatures of habit, if something doesn’t feel right about the place, they will likely not come back. If you have noticed the birds feeding once and then not returning, you might want to consider moving the feeders around and finding a spot with more cover; there maybe be predators that you can’t see lurking in the undergrowth.
Birds can be quite fussy as well, so if the bird seed is too wet or keeps getting blown away by the wind, the area may feel too exposed for them. Trying moving the feeders to a slightly more covered location, even a few feet closer to the fence could be just enough to make them happy.
Once you have attracted a few birds to your feeders more are likely to come. Just be patient and try to position your feeders in key places around your garden. It’s better to have more than one feeder as you’ll be able to see which ones are more popular and then set up others in the same manner for a bird feeding extravaganza!
Boxwild "Best Buy" in Independent - Gardening Gifts for Mother's Day
We are over the moon to see that Boxwild was featured as the "Best Buy" in the Independent for Gardening Gifts for Mother's Day. You can see the article here: