Wildlife fieldguide

 Laurie s shoot list for August

The common garden snail (Helix aspersa) may not seem the most exciting subject to photograph at first. Because they are fairly common, however, they can be easily found and, unlike most other forms of animal life, they aren t exactly prone to moving off quickly. Placed in an attractive setting, they are highly photogenic, and when they do start to move, a shutter speed as slow as 1/125sec should arrest any movement.

Depending how damp the weather, August can be a good month to start looking for fungi. On old grassland and in hedge bottoms, look for the unmistakable giant puffball (Langermannia gigantea) Many specimens average around 30cms in diameter so are ideal subjects to practice photographing with a wideangle lens, but avoid trying to record them in bright, contrasty sunlight.

By August, the majority of our cereal crops will have been harvested and, in areas where little livestock is kept in grass fields, the landscape resembles a patchwork of pale yellow stubble, clearly separated by green hedgerows. Hedgerow trees stand out against a light background, particularly when photographed from an elevated viewpoint, using a long lens. This can both compress perspective and isolate sections of the landscape.

With the last of the broods of starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) now fledged, small flocks of these gregarious birds will be forming at around this time of year. Together, they home in on food sources, such as crops of ripe cherries and elderberries, where they may be photographed en masse. They can look equally good perched on manmade backgrounds, such as telephone cables, rooftops and chimney stacks.

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