Nobody enjoys the fact that it’s dark by 5pm. At the same time, it’s nice to take solace in the hot baths, the mulled wine, and the (usually) metaphorical hearth that you return home to during Winter. The season is a contradiction. Although bitterly cold to the point of unpleasant, its changes in light and in atmosphere are strangely invigorating. Today, I went happily outside wearing multiple layers to see what I could find in the park, idly supposing that there would be nothing interesting enough to warrant photography. As soon as I stepped through the gate I was faced with an amazingly sweet little squirrel, calmly gnawing its way through a decent-sized nut at the bottom of a beech tree. Fantastic!
As soon as I reached into my bag he turned, horrified, and tore up said tree at the speed of light. I danced around underneath, trigger finger poised, catching sight of him fleetingly in first one branch then another. A worthy adversary, he spotted me always at roughly the same moment, eventually melting away like a phantom. I scrolled through numerous blurry shots and – even worse! – shots of nothing but leaves. Yes, he was there in a couple. But nothing resembled a close-up. I looked back as I left. There he sat, high up in his beech, with a look at once cold and triumphant. You’ll have to get up earlier in the day, sunshine.
So dies the dream of Winter Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Maybe I should stick to things that are easier to capture?