Birds in flight have fascinated me from as far back as I can remember, probably from all the time pondering as a little kid on where they flew to in the evening and how nocturnal birds could fly around in the dark.
This fascination with birds and flight comes through strongly in my photography today, an aspect that was pointed out to me by a bird fanatic friend of mine after he had seen countless of my bird images.
Watching birds so closely as a little kid I learnt over time to read certain aspects of the wilderness from the birds, what with alarm calls giving away the presence of danger in the form of predators such as leopards and snakes. Predicting the weather and telling the time of the day also becomes easier when understanding a little of bird behaviour.
Birds occur across all eco-systems on the planet and the sound of bird calls, even a single song in a place indicates a living niche. One of the eeriest experiences on earth is to be in a war zone once the guns have fallen silent - the lack of any bird call is a powerful statement of mankind's abuse of earth.
I have dealt with all manner of birders in my guiding career, from obsessive to merely interested, and the experience has been a study in itself. I am not a twitcher, but more of the idea that birds are an integral part of the greater whole that is wilderness.
by Leigh Kemp