Greylags over the Chayne

Having a camera at all times is great, but you sometimes wish you had a gun instead.

One of the first rules of wildlife photography is that you should always have a camera on you at all times. I am not a wildlife photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but by virtue of having a long lensed camera over my shoulder all day and every day, I have got lucky once or twice.

Walking off the hill this evening, I dropped into a wide ditch which winds through the bog so that I could get out of the nippy wind. It picked up in the mid afternoon, blowing the grass into a shiny horizontal mat. By the time that I decided to come in, it was unpleasantly strong.

Despite the chill factor, it was a lovely clear bright evening, and I heard a party of greylag geese get up from the loch at Glengorse and swing up towards me. In a few seconds, they had come a great deal closer. Poking my head out of the ditch, nineteen geese swept in out of the setting sun at a height of less than thirty feet. The wind was keeping them low and I took three snaps before they had gone. The word “snap” upsets photographers because it implies the use of a cardboard camera, but I’ll defend it in this instance because I hardly had time to swing the lens up for a split second before they were gone again, whisked away over the cairns to the next valley.

Having shot them with the camera, all that remains is to shoot them with a gun… If they had any sort of routine I would know how to tackle them, but the chances are that I have missed what was probably my only opportunity to shoot geese on a grouse moor.

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