I must admit that the last few weeks, photographically at least, have been a bit of a washout. The weather here in Derbyshire has been intermittently decent in the daytime but dawn and dusk, more often than not, have been a masterclass in cloudiness. It’s not been a bad thing as for the first time in years I’ve actually been able to take a bit of time off in preparation for what will be a busy few months ahead.
At the end of August, in readiness for the September gales that roll in off the Atlantic, I shall be returning north to the Shetland Islands for as long as I can manage, probably between 3-5 weeks. It is my nostalgia for these northern islands that has prompted me to post some golden plover images that I captured up there last year, on one of the rare evenings that the sun made a brief appearance.
My time in the Shetland Islands will be spent almost exclusively at Hermaness, a National Nature Reserve on the northernmost island of Unst and though it is undoubtedly a spectacular place it is also among the most challenging environments within the UK in which to work. Last year, having had a number of tents destroyed by ferocious winds I was forced, for the last month of my visit, to work out of my van, something that I will have to do again this year. With no cooker, fridge or comfy bed however it is hardly the most homely of places. There will then be the daily, arduous 6 mile round trip, this time lugging my weighty 600mm F4 lens as opposed to my petite 200-400mm, along with all the food and drink that I’ll need for a potential 14 hour stint. Add in an occasional 90m abseil down broken cliffs, an overwhelming sense of isolation and vulnerability, a feeling which frequently progresses to genuine fear and panic and I’d say that pretty much sums the experience up.
With no phone signal at the base of the cliffs where I will be working I have little option but to ring my wife before every abseil and agree a time when I should be back up. If that time passes my wifes next call has to be to the coastguard giving them accurate GPS co-ordinates for where I’m supposed to be. I’m actually beginning to feel a bit stressed about it already!
As it is so difficult, even on a regular blog, to give people an accurate idea of the full gamut of work that a wildlife photographer produces I have, for those who might be interested in having a look, just had another 200+ images uploaded onto www.rspb-images.com If you search on “Andrew Parkinson”, speech marks necessary, then that will bring up some of the material that I’ve produced over the previous winter months. Of course I could update my own website with these images and information but that is clearly asking a little too much of someone with my organisational skills!