2023 Wildlife Round-up

Published on 31 December 2023 at 12:37

Birds in Flight

The primary challenge I had set myself for 2023 was to capture birds in flight. Photographing birds in flight, with unpredictable motion and cluttered scenes is challenging enough on its own, and it is made somewhat worse by the absence of phase-detect autofocus on the camera system I use. Nonetheless, I managed to capture some nice moments of birds in flight, and intend to continue capturing more this year.

Pushing the Limits and Increasing Serendipity

2023 was also the year of pushing my and my camera's limits. I did more than 40 excursions for photographing birds and wildlife. Most of them within the Netherlands, but one to the Spanish island of Mallorca as well. Visiting Albufera Natural Parc was, hands down, the highlight of the year. This year I also equipped myself and my gear to be out photographing in the rain. I can't say that I enjoy being out in inclement weather too much, but it is something I intend to push myself to do more in the coming year. The goal is to be out as often as possible, in all kinds of conditions, to increase the chances of capturing photos that others are not capturing.

Expensive Lessons

There were also some hard lessons learned this year. My choice of places to go to photograph birds is determined entirely by what places are popular with birders. I use birdingplaces.eu and waarneming.nl. However, just because a spot is great for birding does not mean that the location is ideal or even conducive to bird photography. This continues to be a very expensive lesson to learn, as I must travel to new spots to find out for myself if they will be good for bird photography. Travel and lodging costs add up quickly. Some of my unproductive excursions this year were to Biesbosch, Veluwe, Oostvaardersplassen, Balgzand, and Millingerwaard. There are many reasons for these not being great for bird photography despite teaming with birds. One of the main reasons is that the birds there are not used to people being around and are far more skittish. I have had much better results in nature recreational areas around Amsterdam, such as Ilperveld, Diemerbos, Spaarnwoude, and Het Twiske. The second reason is that because a lot of these places are protected areas, it is hard to get close to the birds or find a good point of view.

I do intend to return to some of these places this year, as well as visit some other birding hotspots.

Other favorites from 2023

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