My photos that I’ve chosen to go on my 2021 wildlife calendar: Cover & January-September with some thoughts on each of the photos
Just over a month ago I tweeted the lineup of photos that I’ve taken that I’ve chosen to go on my 2021 wildlife photos calendar. To those who don’t know I make two calendars for personal use and as my Christmas present each year, one from my wildlife photos another from my landscape and other outdoor photos. I make the calendars in August or September each year and leave it up to my family after that to order the calendars via the website we use, wrap up at the appropriate time etc. Its evolved that I finalise and reveal on social media the lineups for these between late April and June. There are many reasons for this and a key one being the hot, busy and long evenings/weekend mornings of summer are not a great time to be sat at my laptop choosing photos and looking at quality comparisons between photos I’ve taken. I wouldn’t want to be in a position of choosing them in September as I’d just worry if certain things come up I may not be able to get the calendars chosen in the right time frame for them to be made in time for Christmas. With other things happening in the build up to Christmas for me and the time between September and Christmas flying by every year it seems it just makes sense to get the calendar line up choosing done and dusted in the spring for them to be made in late summer/autumn and ordered in time to be my Christmas presents.
That does then mean the photos I have chose from are any I took within about a year from spring to spring. So for example, the photos in contention for my 2021 calendars were ones I took from spring 2019 until spring 2020. I now operate a system of variety quotas of what types of pictures I want within the 13 pictures (cover and one for each month) of mine making the calendar. As part of that, using the example of my 2021 calendars, five photos on each calendar must have been taken in 2019 and five photos on each calendar must have been taken in 2020. This just makes it fair to ensure both years’ worth of photos that have fed into my selection process are represented on the calendar. So below are my Cover and January-September photos on this calendar, ordered in appearance in this photoset by their month. Below I shall say what and where each one is, when it was taken and a little bit about why I was happy to take it/its journey onto my calendar.
I must confess I wrote this up the day after I finalised this calendar line up in late April (the choosing was sped up a little by the lockdown this year and the time I had on my hands because of that and with the amount of photos I take really increasing in 2019 and 2020 to previous years I had much higher amounts of photos to choose from so felt I had to really progress my choosing a lot in April to get it all done in time)
Cover: One of my favourite birds the Guillemot on Staple Island, Farne Islands, Northumberland, taken June 2019
Another reason I chose the calendar final lineups about now is because often in June we have our main holiday for the year which very often involves many photos with lots of wildlife up close and top views so for both calendars I don’t want them to be swamped by one holiday’s photos to give lots of photos at local and further afield places a chance. That can easily happen if when doing the final choosing I am still within the buzz of the many holiday photos not long after they were taken, so photos from a holiday in June 2019 say having to wait until the year after next for their chances to be on a calendar allows me to refine the choices and identify what was my strongest photos from that trip. That being said, six photos from my Northumberland holiday for the Farne Islands last June have made this calendar. This is because it was one of my greatest photography weeks ever, and this picture of a Guillemot sums up the sorts of once in a blue moon opportunities I had to take these types of close up and intimate photos with my very favourite creatures. I like how this one looks good in the sun bringing out the Guillemot’s brilliant colours. Its not only a Guillemot but a bridled one too with the ring and mark around the eye not something too common on coasts down here but there were many in Northumberland’s colonies so I was proud I could capture this in this way. When deciding my cover if felt natural to put a Northumberland one there with many of them on the calendar only one could actually represent the month they were taken in June and this felt like a natural photo to be the face of this calendar for me.
January: Bewick’s Swan, WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire taken in January 2020
The Slimbridge trip away to start this year also features multiple times on this calendar, this Bewick’s Swan photo taken on my birthday was one I was so proud of and brings a great closeup but not really needing sun to make it memorable vibe.
February: Woodpigeon, WWT Slimbridge, taken January 2020
Features of the calendars I’ve made for wildlife the last couple of years have been handing places to photos of species that have never featured on my calendars before; Fox, Arctic Tern and Green Hairstreak among this year’s examples. But so also is Woodpigeon, a species I’ve photographed so much over the last couple of years and this one was such a memorable one for me I really like the colours especially the purple chest feathers and I think this one will look good printed. Common species can make what I feel are strong photos too.
March: Robin, Blashford Lakes, Hampshire, taken in March 2020
An obvious choice for the calendar. At the time of writing this its without doubt the most pleasing photo in my view that I’ve taken with my new camera so far that I got in January. I’ve rarely taken photos like this for detail and it captures such an intimate moment with an iconic species. It was literally the first photo on the calendar that was taken in 2020 when the time was right to start to selections I knew it was going on.
April: Green Hairstreak, Magdalen Hill, Hampshire, taken April 2020
This photo is a week old as I write this and its taken me by storm to reach this calendar within seven days of being taken. Yes the timing was good with me into the very final stages of getting this lineup at this point, but I had to be happy enough with it for it to make it. Its one of the best butterfly pictures I’ve ever taken I think, like the Robin without doubt right now the best butterfly photo or photo all together that I’ve taken with my new macro lens that I also got in January. It sums up perfectly the detail I can get with this macro lens and type of picture I want to take with it. It displaced provisionally qualified photos to get on this calendar which shows how much I love it.
May: Another of my favourite birds the Razorbill on the Farne Islands, Northumberland taken June 2019
This was a dark horse as one of the unsung photos of my big Northumberland seabird trip. However in the selecting at all the stages I just appreciated how much I liked this photo and it just seemed to look stronger and stronger to me every time I looked at it, a personal choice I was glad I could make.
June: Arctic Tern, Inner Farne, Farne Islands, Northumberland from June 2019
Compared to trips to Skomer Island and Bempton Cliffs which have had many photos get onto the calendars they fed into in previous years the Farnes had something different, the terns. These Arctic Terns the standout bit of the trip walking through the colony and having them divebomb you so I just really wanted to include an Arctic Tern photo from that trip in this calendar if I could as I knew many of the photos from that time away would be candidates. This one got there on quality merit regardless of its species I feel. But it was another dark horse, at the time of the trip I did not pick this out as my favourite Arctic Tern photo of the trip of the lovely extensive set I took of this a new bird for me at the time on two visits to Inner Farne where the colony is. It soon became apparent it was though as I chose it for my “4 of my favourite ….” (pictures in categories tweets) on my Twitter Dans_Pictures in 2019 in December in a special unqique feature of the year category about the seabirds on that trip and I still loved it enough to carry it onto the calendar for next year.
July: Brown Argus butterfly, Lakeside Country Park, Hampshire, taken in July 2019
One of my quotas as a big chunk of my wildlife photography is I must have at least one butterfly on the calendar. I am proud this one remained, despite very nearly missing out once the Green Hairstreak was on the scene (another early 2020 butterfly picture had to make way in the end), to represent my butterfly pictures of 2019 which were taken during my greatest ever butterfly year with more species seen than I ever did etc. This is another new species for one of my calendars this lovely butterfly I am getting to really like the last few years. It was one of a batch of my very favourite butterfly pictures taken last year in terms of quality and symbolised one of my best butterfly moments of 2019 as I saw it during a booming ‘Big Butterfly Count’ survey for Butterfly Conservation one Saturday morning. This photo holds so many memories of that summer day which is perfect for a calendar for me I feel. The lockdown has led to many of my strongest photos being so locally to me taken and this is an example of one I took locally under normal circumstances last year.
August: Another of my favourite birds the Kittiwake at Seahouses, Northumberland from June 2019
This is a second calendar of mine in a row for wildlife to include a Kittiwake after a Bempton Cliffs one taken in 2018 made my 2020 wildlife calendar (It got June as its month so today I turned over the calendar to see it in fact!). But this Kittiwake picture had to be on my calendar for one simple reason beyond everything else, of the photos I took between spring 2019 and spring 2020 this was what I felt was the best one of a bird in flight out of a strong field I must say. I like flying bird photos so much I say at least one must appear on the calendar. So sometimes putting aside species that appeared here and there on past calendars of mine it really is that simple to pick pictures. This photo shows an integral part of the journey I am on really getting to love and know this favourite bird of mine more and more over the last few years. It couldn’t be on the month for the one it was taken as the Arctic Tern took June but I just had to have it for August with that blue sky even if you might not see one that month as its so summery.
September: Fox at Titchfield Haven in Hampshire taken in September 2019
Another easy choice for the calendar. This was one of my most magical moments in wildlife watching and photography and the photo was that photo of the species that I might never match again. I just longed for a photo and a chance to be so close to this species I scrambled to get the right lens on to get the photo when the moment came my first Fox of 2019 in fact with the Fox looking right in at us in the hide such an intimate moment with a wonderful species and I managed it, on a variable day for weather that patch of early autumnal sun just came out at the right moment to set this picture up well. With this one I admit there are shortcomings maybe bits of the photo that could have been done better but its one of those I get that I overlook them and I just get them on the lineup this was among the first few photos I chose to go on because I want to see it printed.
In half an hour I do a post with the photos on this calendar for October, November and December and introduce five reserve photos that didn’t quite make the calendar in case I need them.