Subjects to seek out this month:
The number of Migrant Hawkers around increases vastly in September when the continental residents fly over here. Dragon and damselflies can seem intimidating to catch on film when seen bustling around at speed but Migrant Hawkers often rest up in the sun for long periods and are relatively tolerant to disturbance. I was pleased to see this huge beast several years ago on the heather. I was pleased with the close up but I wish the background was less busy on the full length image so she stood out more, hopefully you will have better luck.
Of course lots of other animals are on the wing this month as many birds take part in migration. We (sorta) swap 2 of our beloved wading birds in September; while the Common Sandpipers leave for Africa (a few extra are around while the Scandinavian birds pass this way) our Knots arrive back from the Arctic. The knots appear a quite pale mix of brown and white in winter (apparently in summer they sport a striking brick-red tummy) but they produce a striking effect after they come to gather en masse. Begin to look out of Knots from this month along the coast and especially at muddy estuaries before the largest flocks form from December to March. As these are skittish birds and seldom still they can be tricky to photograph on the hoof, however with a bit of thought, patience and time you could reap wonderful rewards. Being able to zoom in to the max will help so pack your kit accordingly (if you have a detachable lens remember to change this before you get there, away from the sand). If a long lens is not part of your kit or your cup of tea there is ample opportunity to capture the Knots as part of the broader landscape, then their flighty nature works in your favour as you record the organic shapes their murmurations make. Whether zooming in or staying wide, a fast shutter speed is going to be a must so ideally try to organise your outing on a bright day with pale, thin clouds (I know - if only it were that easy). Happy hunting and if you head out please do show your photos to me, I’d love to see them.
Fungi season is also upon us with the main season for the larger fruiting bodies said to run from late August to late October. The ideal time to hunt for toadstools are after a spell of heavy rain if temperatures remain warm. This is a very different subject to the birds described above and can lend itself well to a different set of kits and skills. You may choose to use a macro lens or macro setting for this but neither are essential. I would consider, for your comfort, waterproof trousers and a kneeling pad. The fungi are often found on the moist woodland floor so light may be somewhat limited: raise up those ISOs. I enjoy using a cheap ring flash by Neweer when working in these conditions. Although it lacks the sophistication of more fancy models, when set low it gives a helpful and unobtrusive boost to the light in the shot.
Did you know:
September was known as Gerst-monath in Anglo Saxon, literally meaning Harvest Month. While for me the word harvest conjures scenes of golden farmland or stacks of tinned goods at a primary school festival, this year I am planning a small harvest of my own - gathering wildflower seeds to grow my own photographic subjects for coming years (and help the native pollinators to boot). I have taken advice on how best to do this from here www.wildflower.org/learn/collect-store-seeds if you want to follow suit.