DUNNOCK or HEDGE SPARROW, Prunella modularis, UK

A dedicated wildlife photographer for forty years, Mike Lane FRPS is someone most of you will know. He was telling SECOS (South-East Cheshire Ornithological Society, founded by two Crewe PS members) last night that he now has access to the largest private woodland in England.

Felix Dennis was the country’s richest man and was dedicated to leaving a natural legacy – by turning as much of Warwickshire back to woodland as he possibly could. Mike, and a fellow photographer had made a small woodland their “patch” and had carte blanche to do as they pleased to advance their wildlife photography there. They were disappointed to learn a few years back that the woodland was to be sold. Fortunately Mr Dennis was the buyer and was happy not only to let them continue but offered them the entire estate for photography!

There were plenty of tips from Mike on photographing Kingfishers, Herons, etc and pictures of the many (wooden) hides and other devices he and his associate had constructed. Some subjects he regarded as easy; Kingfishers for example, readily perched on a stick introduced into their flight path. He also found that removing the stick caused them to hover for 30 seconds at the spot where it used to be, offering another opportunity for photography.

These tricks and tips make it all sound easy but they are in fact very very hard won and the underlying message was the supreme dedication which Mike has to his work. All more the pity that he can no longer make a living from wildlife photography – there are just too many wildlife photographers now! This was echoed by our friend Patrick, who was also at the meeting – he has a huge back catalogue of images with agencies which used to do well for him – they now earn a pittance.