PART OF THE FURNITURE
When deciding on an opening image for the home page of my photography website there was only one obvious candidate. Yes it was only a robin, one of our commonest, albeit best-loved and iconic, birds, but there was an irresistible connection in that beady little eye, which I had felt so strongly when I took the picture. Perhaps others would feel it too.
I was fishing a local lake on a beautiful summer dawn. As the light broke the horizon, I became aware of the robin in the branches above me. He (all robins seem male to me) kept his distance for an hour or so, surveying me from all angles, before dropping down to the ground at my feet. He then kept me company for the rest of the morning, even though I had no suitable bait to offer as food. While he hopped about, seemingly trying to get my attention, like a dog at the dinner table, my gaze was fixed expectantly on my float hovering among patches of fizzing bubbles that told me the tench were finally on the feed. (I managed just one fish that morning — perhaps they, too, would have been more interested in robin-friendly food rather than the hard pellets I was trying to tempt them with.)
In the end, he decided that I needed more direct persuasion and had the audacity to perch on my rod. This naturally drew my attention, and I could not help but to look at him and smile. It was only when he hopped onto the toe of my upturned boot that I decided to put down my rod and reach for my camera.
No special equipment needed here. As I stood up, he flew onto a small dead branch, encouraged by my sudden burst of activity. The filtered early morning sunlight was perfect, and the beady little eye easy to focus on. It was the simplest wild animal portrait I will ever take.
Of course had I not been sitting there for so long before he approached me, the level of trust would not have built up.
Sitting in one position for long periods of time can bring unexpected rewards, and fishing is no exception. I have witnessed many memorable wildlife spectacles while fishing, but not been in the frame of mind to photograph them. There are few events that will draw an angler away from that irresistible state of expectancy that only other anglers can relate to. I have been aware of nearby otters, feeding kingfishers, marauding sparrowhawks and hunting grass snakes, but none of them had the cheek to sit before me and look me in the eye.
© Patrick Fox (2009)