Wildlife Cameraman filming fieldfare

As a wildlife cameraman filming on an atmospheric day in the Brecon Beacons is as good as it gets. But that would be true wherever I was and whatever the weather.  Well perhaps not, there are times when it would be better sitting in front of a roaring fire at home.  Recently I met some old school friends. Our career paths couldn’t have been much more different.  Engineer, flight simulation software designer, media consultant, pilot and me, wildlife cameraman. The job titles mean very little.  The description of what we all do on a day by day basis is much more interesting. They might disagree.

Wildlife cameraman filming day

Filming fieldfare in the Brecon Beacons – frame from video

More detailed information about ‘Iolo’s Brecon Beacons’ can be seen here.

The fieldfare sequence was not in the script. We had started the day travelling up the Llanthony Valley. On the way we filmed a sequence at Capel Y Ffin, a tiny church with large yew trees in its yard.  The trees were loaded with berries, and we picked up shots of nuthatch, blackbird, song thrush and great tit.  Mistle thrush were hanging around too.  The idea was then to drive towards Hay but take one of the small lanes back towards the western part of the park.  More importantly we had to stop, brew up a cuppa and have a spot of lunch.

In the late autumn the lanes are very quiet, with just a small amount of passing traffic, mainly farmers going about their work.  We found a pull in as we exited some trees, and where the landscape opened up to grassy areas with scattered bushes.  Quite soon it was obvious that there were fieldfare in the area.  Large flocks were cascading into the hawthorn bushes, which were still loaded with berries.  Other than that the air was filled with the characteristic ‘chacking’ call so redolent of flocks of northern thrushes on the move.

As usual, we didn’t have time for hides or screens or ways of getting really close to the birds.  By moving carefully and being quiet the birds ‘safe distance’ reduced, and we were able to approach reasonably closely while they fed.  It could have been closer, but the feverish action made up for it.  Having come from an editing background I know how easy it is to become obsessed with close up shots – the wider shots tell most of the story.  The piece with Iolo says it all.  The birds did seem excited and constantly on the move.  They were much noisier than usual, and it seemed very likely that they were fresh in from a long flight across the sea.  They were obviously ravenous.

I described this wildlife cameraman filming day to my friends.  It sounds like I’m out having fun most of the time. True!

Fieldfare clip – ‘Iolo’s Brecon Beacons’