Wildlife photography highlights, May 2021

A quiet, cold spring, but with plenty of standout moments.

As I wrote at the end of April, this spring has been an odd one. It’s been wet and cold — so cold, in fact, that I’ve been wearing woolly hat and fleece for at least half of my morning walks. I haven’t seen the barn owls once, and warblers have been curiously absent. It has, instead, been a month for roe deer.

For a couple of years now I’ve been following the comings and goings of a small family group of roe deer that patrols the local area. Gradually, I’ve come to know a few of the individuals in this family group, and have learned to predict where they can most often be seen. This month I’ve encountered roe deer almost every day – including in a field I’d previously come to know as the ‘I never see any wildlife in this field’ field, which two of the deer started hanging out in for a week or two. For all I know they may still be there, but the grass is too tall to see now.

I haven’t seen Curtis, the big buck, as often this month, but I have seen a lot of two other bucks, as well as a pregnant doe who I think gave birth towards the end of May. I haven’t seen the new arrival yet, but I live in hope.

A few of the deer have also popped up on my trail cam:

Other mammals sighted include one of the local foxes and several brown hare sightings, including one hare at very close range. I was sitting down on the tarmac when it approached, and it just kept coming closer! Magic.

It has been a quiet month for birds. Very quiet. Although the reed buntings, yellowhammers, wrens and blue tits are around, they’re mostly busy gathering food for chicks, and I have had fewer opportunities to photograph them. May is usually a splendid month for warblers in this area – common whitethroats, lesser whitethroats, sedge warblers, reed warblers – but numbers are significantly down on this time last year. The only warblers I’ve been seeing in any real numbers are the chiffchaffs. Based purely on the birds I’ve been seeing and hearing, I’d say there are no more than a third of the number of warblers I saw in the same area this time last year, which is very concerning.

It has, however, been a very good month for goldfinches and bullfinches. I also managed to photograph a whinchat — a first for me in this area.

All images © Alex Roddie. All Rights Reserved. Please don’t reproduce these images without permission.

By Alex Roddie

Award-winning outdoor and nature writer, editor, author, and photographer.

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