Wildlife Photography with marysejansenart
Join me on a nature walk and get some wildlife watching tips
This week it’s World Wildlife Day, and what better excuse could one have to go on a nature walk and try to spot some wildlife?
I don’t really need an excuse, because I will happily do it any day, if I have the opportunity!
Do you go out wildlife watching? What has been your experience? Do you always find it exciting or do you sometimes feel disappointed when you didn’t see what you came for?
Let me know about your experiences in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!
Disappointing wildlife spotting experiences
When people go out wildlife watching the following thing often happens:
They read or hear something about which animals they might see in the area. For instance, the area where I am walking today, is known for the presence of koalas! Now, that is an exciting prospect, going on a walk and seeing a koala! So these people set out on their walk, expecting just that. They look up at the trees all the time, their necks get sore, and still no koala in sight…. They get a bit frustrated. At the end, there is still no koala to be found. The people go home disappointed about their walk.
Recognise the feeling?
A different mindset
Wildlife does its own thing, you can’t order a koala on a viewing menu! It’s good to be conscious of the opportunities of seeing them. Learning about their behaviours and how and where to spot them can be very helpful and increase your chances of seeing one (see my article on Koala Spotting). But it’s definitely not a guarantee. So, it is important to broaden your view and open your mind to what else you might see.
So this is the mindset I use when I set out on my World Wildlife Day Walk. No expectations, just an open and curious mind, appreciating the big and the small.
Wildlife spotting during a nature walk
Wildlife is all around me, from tiny ants and spiders crawling the forest floor, to a large Pelican flying overhead in the sky. I’m walking in a forest, adjacent to water. As we learned in our explorations of the wetlands, habitats with water have a high biodiversity. This increases the chance of a greater variety of wildlife that I might see today.
I’m pretty sure I will see some birds. I am quite sure they will include Noisy Miners, Butcherbirds and Magpies. I do see these. It is fairly likely I might see a Brush-turkey – which I don’t – and a Pelican – which I do. I wonder what else the forest has in store for me today.
I hear a strange noise in the trees, about 20 metres away from the path. It’s a Pheasant Coucal! This is a large bird and it’s rather shy, so I don’t see them up this close very often. They have an amazing call, but the sound it is making in this moment is new to me. It’s just a bit of a hoarse squeek as opposed to the booming sound that carries far and wide that I know so well. Another one appears so apparently they are communicating about something.
A streak of yellow flying through the bushes at high speed attracts my attention next. I scan the area where I saw it, after a little while I see it again. I am now able to follow it with my eyes to see where it lands. It’s a Yellow Robin!
Beautiful birds! I cannot be disappointed after that. And there is more to come!
Spotting butterflies, ducks and … reptiles!
There are a lot of butterflies around today. They are so pretty and diverse that it’s a joy to the eye!
Next, I try my luck near the water. There’s a small inlet, close to the path, and due to recent rain it’s full of water. Reeds and water lilies are abundant here. I wonder who might be hiding in there. I scan the area with my eyes and find a duck. It’s a Pacific Black Duck. Moving along, there is a fallen dead tree half in the water, creating kind of a bridge. On that trunk I see a turtle! Probably a Snake-necked Turtle, but I can’t be 100% sure from this distance. There’s another duck as well. It looks like the duck and the turtle are having a bit of a stand off!
To top it off, I’m also treated by the bush with a sighting of another reptile! I’m walking down the path, when I detect movement in the grass on the side of the path ahead of me. This is typical about spotting reptiles: it’s often the movement that gives them away. Otherwise you may never know that they’re there, as they blend in so well with their environment. And they are capable of holding really still for long periods of time.
This one is a Bearded Dragon and as I come a bit closer it holds perfectly still. I have not often seen one in the wild, so this is definitely exciting! It’s a very big one! I don’t go too close, as I don’t want to distress it, but I’m close enough to get a good view of it through my zoom lens.
An exciting wildlife spotting experience
I come to the end of my walk and think about all the wildlife that I saw. I did not see a koala, nor did I put all my focus on trying to find one. Imagine what would have happened if I had done that. I would’ve missed out on all these amazing sightings! And now, even though I would have loved to have seen a koala and share it with you in my video, I don’t feel disappointed about my walk at all. In fact, I feel excited! I had a really good time and saw lots of wildlife. I can’t wait to share it with you and I hope you will also enjoy it! Here’s the video:
A gift from nature
The featured photo is proof that I have spotted a koala in this area on another recent occasion. Again, I was not specifically looking for one. I knew in the back of my mind, there was a slight chance I might see one. I just had all my senses tuned in to my environment during my walk. I saw birds and butterflies, beautiful flowers and landscapes. And then, suddenly, I looked up and there it was, dozing comfortably! These are the best moments! When you don’t really expect it and suddenly get such a beautiful present from nature!
I hope to share one of these moments with you in a future video! (UPDATE: Fast forward to 9 Interesting Facts about Koalas to get just that!!)
If you are interested in purchasing ‘Nap Time’ or would like to see what the image looks like on the various products, please head to my shop.
Wildlife Watching Tips
- Learn as much as you can about which animals live in the habitat that you will be visiting. Knowing which kind of animals you’re looking for increases your chance of seeing them;
- Learn as much as you can about these animals and their behaviour: being able to interpret the signs around you increases your chance of seeing them (think about the koala droppings and scratch marks for instance that you otherwise might overlook);
- Habitats with water have higher biodiversity which increases your chances on a variety of sightings;
- Be quiet, you don’t want to scare the wildlife away before you see them;
- Be patient, you can’t order wildlife viewings on a menu, it happens when it happens and that makes it all the more rewarding;
- Pick a good time of day: in the early mornings and late afternoons there is increased activity by many animals;
- Take the weather into account: if the elements are challenging you they probably are challenging a lot of wildlife too and they might be sheltering;
- Above all: bring an open mind and tune in to all your senses and enjoy whatever it is that nature presents you with today!
Enjoy your own wildlife watching walk!
Please let me know in the comments what you’ve spotted. I’d love to hear from you!