Quiet Wanderings Reveal Wildlife At Dusk
The Frontier Bushcraft team often have some lovely wildlife encounters while out in the woods running courses. And so do the course participants - fallow deer walking past tarps at first light, fawns sitting silently amongst the bracken, badgers crashing out of the bushes onto a track, sparrowhawks swooping, vocal woodpeckers checking us out, foxes skulking on the outskirts of camp, a family of buzzards circling overhead, to name but a few of the recent occurrences.
These encounters are often fleeting and we typically don't have a camera in our hands to record the moment.
Last week I had the luxury of some free time in the woods at our Sussex course site. James was leading an Elementary Wilderness Bushcraft Course
and I was camped nearby.
I had made a point of bringing my DSLR camera with me.
The intention was to have a quiet wander around the woods to see what I could see.
But also have a camera at the ready.
I was particularly interested in getting some photos of badgers and was planning to head out in the early evening and mooch around until dark.
I put on some soft-soled boots, an old DPM smock, a floppy-rimmed jungle hat and some thin gloves to mask my hands.
Armed with binos and my camera I headed out to see what I could see.
Over a couple of evenings, I had some fantastic encounters. I wasn't being particularly sneaky or stealthy, just walking quietly and paying attention to the wind direction. This is something anyone could do.
The photos below record some of my encounters over the two evenings I headed out...
A fallow doe. I looking for badgers near where I'd seen them before but I heard a deer coming through the woods, then spotted her in the trees. She walked out from the trail on the left and I took a few photos. She picked up on the noise of my camera shutter and looked straight at me. It was then that I got this shot, which was the best of the lot. Photo: Paul Kirtley
There are always lots of rabbits around. But it's fun to stalk as close as possible before they bolt. Photo: Paul Kirtley
A juvenile badger. I heard the distinctive sound of a badger foraging in the leaf litter. It was under cover of long bracken though. Then I heard another. Eventually two cubs emerged, snuffling amongst the leaves together. After a noisy fracas with an adult badger, this inquisitive fellow came down the track. It got so close my telephoto would no longer focus. A fantastic experience. Photo: Paul Kirtley.
A fallow buck 'pronking' or 'stotting' in a crop field at last light. You can clearly see he is a buck by his pizzle and the antlers starting to form. Photo: Paul Kirtley.
The latter part of the day at this time of year brings with it a lot of wildlife activity. With some quiet movement, you may well be surprised at what you see or how close you can manage to get....
Let us know about your own wildlife encounters below.
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Paul Kirtley is owner and Chief Instructor of Frontier Bushcraft. He has had a lifelong passion for the great outdoors and gains great satisfaction from helping others enjoy it too. Paul writes the UK's leading bushcraft blog
as well as for various publications including Bushcraft and Survival Skills Magazine.