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Page last updated at 14:43 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 15:43 UK
Photographer befriends nightjar
Martin Barber (Photo: Richard Pickavance)
By Martin Barber
BBC Norfolk

Nightjar in flight by David Tipling
The nightjar's familiarity with David allows for unique photo opportunities

David Tipling, a professional wildlife photographer based in north Norfolk, has developed a rare friendship with the elusive nightjar.

"I started the project three years ago in an attempt to understand their routines and think about ways of capturing them in flight," said David.

"I focussed on one male until he accepted me as part of the landscape."

The story of David's relationship with a nightjar was shared with millions of TV viewers during Springwatch 2009.

"When Springwatch came to film I was slightly apprehensive he would not perform for the camera, but I need not have worried, the performance was perfect," said David.

"Chris [Packham] and the crew were great. The only dampener on the evening was the sound of jazz floating across the heath from a campsite more than half a mile away.

"It was truly dreadful and took away the ambience of spending the hour of twilight in the wilds of Norfolk, but the bird, and what a bird, made up for this."


Nightjars on Springwatch 2009

The nightjar is a nocturnal bird and can be seen hawking [catching prey while in flight] for food at dusk and dawn.

Usually found on heaths, moorlands and open woodlands, their grey-brown, mottled, plumage provides ideal camouflage in the daytime.

The first indication that a nightjar is near is the rise and fall of, what is usually, the male's churring song.

David's passion and skill as a wildlife photographer has earned him a number of awards and accolades, including the documentary award for the European Nature Photographer of the Year for his work on Emperor Penguins.

"I'm a great fan of David's work," said fellow photographer Chris Packham.

"David is an intelligent photographer and he thinks about his images. He's got an extraordinary eye and he makes some images which few photographers could ever aspire too."

David is always looking for new angles in his work, to find new ways of photographing his subjects.

"I'm always looking to photograph subjects that have not been photographed too often before," he said.

"The new digital breed of cameras have opened up new possibilities and an ability to capture images of the natural world in new and exciting ways.

"It was this new technology that enabled me to start taking pictures of nightjars in a way never seen before."

A permanent collection of David's work can be seen at the Photographer's Gallery in Holt.


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