JANUARY SALE Subscribe for just £5 today CLICK HERE

Kent wildlife picture of the month

PUBLISHED: 08:27 23 January 2016 | UPDATED: 08:27 23 January 2016

Marsh harrier

Marsh harrier

Nigel Morley

Kent photographer Nigel Morley on how to capture wildlife on camera

I was brought up and have lived in rural Kent (I’m now near Sissinghurst) most of my adult life. An early interest in wildlife as a child definitely sowed the roots of my love of the great outdoors. My introduction to serious photography came through a Saturday job as a teenager in a Tunbridge Wells camera shop, which led to me photographing everything from racing cars to cathedrals.

When my career in London became more serious, photography took a bit of of a backseat, but then the introduction of digital technology reignited my interest and was a perfect antidote to the confines of being in offices and on trains most of the week.

I quickly found that my love of the natural world opened up an endless list of photographic opportunities and challenges both locally and abroad.

While I love landscape, sports, portraits and most other genres, I find wildlife photography addictive as it combines the need for good technique with the patience and knowledge needed to get the co-operation of a wild and often frustrating subject.

I very much try and concentrate on the light and composition in my shots rather than just a record of what I’ve seen. I use Nikon cameras and lenses as have used them since I was 18 and never had reason to question their quality or reliability.

I have been fortunate to have success as a runner up in the annual Scottish Nature Photography Awards, the British Wildlife Photography Awards and indeed winning the Fauna section of this year’s local Kent Wildlife Trust competition.

I also now do one-to-one tuition and workshops for people who perhaps have a good camera but want to learn how to use its full capabilities to improve their photography. I find it very satisfying to see the improvement and enjoyment people get when the technical issues are explained clearly and simply in just a few hours.

Like many birds of prey, Marsh Harriers are specialists, hunting for their prey over marshland and reedbeds both inland and in coastal areas. They fly low, flapping their large wings between long, slow glides interrupted only by occasional hovering and twisting as they spot potential food below them. The male is smaller but more distinctly marked while the female is darker with a paler head. As spring approaches breeding pairs can be seen performing an elaborate aerial courtship, which often involves passing food to each other while in flight.

Driven to extinction in the UK 100 years ago, breeding numbers have recovered but still to only an estimated 400 pairs. We are lucky as Kent is the UK stronghold for this rare bird as the extensive and undisturbed wetlands of places like the North Kent marshes and Sheppey provide perfect habitat. These conditions on some of the county’s nature reserves like Elmley, Stodmarsh and Dungeness mean they are ideal places to try and get a glimpse of this stunning bird.

As a photographer Marsh Harriers present me with several challenges. They like to keep their distance from people and hunt methodically over quite large areas and hence only stay in one place for a very limited time, so knowing their routine and keeping well hidden are vital.

A DSLR camera, with a fairly long telephoto lens (this image was on a 500mm lens), are a real asset but being in a hide on a reserve or using your car as a mobile hide near where they regularly patrol will often pay dividends by bringing them much closer. w

Get in touch: nigelpmorley@gmail.com or 07979 656433 or visit: www.nigelmorley.co.uk. See also page 10 in this edition.

More from Kent Life

The season of romance is in the air and with fairytale castles, literary tales and iconic White Cliffs, where better to pop the question than in the Garden of England? Here are 10 of Kent's perfect places to propose

Read more

When funds are low and the family is going stir-crazy stuck indoors, here is some fun, free stuff to get you through

Read more
Mon, 16:04

The beautiful Hever Castle will launch snowdrop season with a talk followed by a woodland walk

Read more
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A lawyer from Canterbury has launched a new Sunday afternoon tea party for senior citizens in the city who live alone

Read more

Regularly voted one of Kent's best places to live, and with easy access to London, let's celebrate Sevenoaks

Read more
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Greensand Ridge, the craft distillery near Shipbourne in the Weald of Kent, has been recognised in the annual Spirits Business awards with the 2019 Distillery Sustainability Award

Read more
Friday, January 10, 2020

Your 2020 holiday sorted!

Read more
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

We've teamed up with Sandy Acres to offer you the chance to win a luxurious stay in one of their Scandi-style lodges in Hayle,

Read more
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The elusive snowdrop can be hard to find and before you know it, they're gone again, so we saved you the trouble and found some beautiful spots in Kent to go for a walk among the snowdrops

Read more

Want to get fitter, feed your brain or start a new hobby? The National Trust can help kickstart your 2020 plans

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life