Marievale South Africa

Crowned plover, Vanellus coronatus, single bird on ground, South Africa, August 2015

Canon Eos 7D Mk2. 800mm f5.6 lens. 400 iso. 1/2500th at f5.6.

This was taken at Marievale Bird Sanctuary, not far from Johannesburg, South Africa. Arguably the best nature reserve I have ever been to for bird photography. Certainly we have nothing like it in the U.K. The hides are in the right place for photography from a light and background point of view. None are at water level, but they are low down rather than up on stilts. Outside of the hides are numerous perches at the right distance for pictures and the windows are mostly large enough for large lenses. On the Saturday there were about 12 local photographers present, all with big lenses, so it is well known to them.

You can either walk or drive around the sanctuary and the tracks get you close to the waters edge for photographs. Very important to me too is the fact that I can get out of the car, so when close enough to waders such as this Crowned plover I could slip out on the far side of the vehicle, place a bean bag on the floor and shoot around the front wheel at ground level. It makes such a difference to be able to get down low. Then you just need the plover to start displaying.

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