Wildlife photography can be extremely rewarding, getting me up close and personal with some of nature’s greatest spectacles. But things don’t always go to plan. The major and most basic challenge begins with the age-old game of hide and seek! Animals and insects have evolved to blend into their surroundings, often hiding in plain sight from us. I have spent endless hours, searching in what should be suitable habitats, but often yielding no results.

Roe Deer Ticklerton, Terry Moore

Even if everything does go to plan, and I find the creature I am after, that doesn’t mean things get any easier. I have the animal in sight, yet there is distance between me and my subject, and obstacles in the way. It is imperative that I keep disturbance of the animal to a minimum, so finding a way to get closer can be demanding. I prepare for thorns, brambles, stinging nettles, unidentifiable sludge, various animal deposits, and creatures that nip, sting and bite. Ignorance is bliss on what ‘that smell’ is!

The greatest thing about working with wildlife is also one of the worst things: animals are unpredictable. They seem to be blessed with a sixth sense, knowing that when I’m trying to take an image, they can turn away from revealing their ‘best side’. In the field, on the odd occasion that my subject faces me directly, I prepare to be photobombed by grass, flowers and branches, usually covering the face or standing out in the composition like a sore thumb. In a bittersweet twist, I may find myself surrounded by several animals, but expect them to time their appearance to ensure they cross or block the frame as I release the shutter.

I have been helping renovate an old cow house into a holiday let at Court Farm, Gretton, near Cardington, and am lucky to have been granted access by Alison and Jim Norris to their fields and outbuildings. For three years, I have watched the arrival of swallows on the farm during their migration to the UK for food and breeding. The annual migration is incredible, 44% are expected to return to the same nest the following year, yet how do they know to come back to the same location each year? The swallows use several outbuildings to build or repair their nests, one has a barn door with a hole. It is generally locked and the only way in and out to nest and feed their young is through the hole. Normally you can almost guarantee that your subject will disappear mere moments before the best light, reappearing only when it’s back to being grey, dreary, and unusable. For the best light I had to wait for the sun to change its position at midday. Over a period of two years and nearly 8,000 shots, I finally had the image I sought.

For Swallowed Hole, my Canon R6 and lens was on a tripod directly facing the hole, triggered remotely by me sitting some 20 yds away in another outbuilding. I have come to expect the time I spend photographing wildlife to be full of challenges and frustration. I will curse under my breath more times than I’d care to admit, question my sanity regularly and fail to capture a single image time after time. On those magical days when I do succeed and capture amazing images to be proud of, I realise all the suffering was worth it and the personal challenge mentally satisfying.
Terry Moore Wildlife Photographer