2021 has been a rather eventful year, and I’m not just talking about the pandemic which continues to dominate our lives with it’s ever changing rollercoaster of restrictions and emotions!
The beginning of the year started much like the previous, in yet another lockdown…The one silver lining of this enforced time off was that it gave me the opportunity to work on an ongoing passion project of mine – documenting the starling murmurations here in Aberystwyth.
In the countless hours spent watching them, the one thing I’ve learned is that the starlings are predictably unpredictable! You can always guarantee their arrival, you can even set your watch by that but apart from that nothing is certain. The anticipation of will they or won’t they mumurate an irresistible draw, which brings me back to watch and photograph them time and time again.
It was during the early Spring that I also discovered a brand new ‘patch’ just a little way outside of town. Another unassuming stretch of habitat which is quite the wildlife hotspot when you take the time to look, and one I need to make the effort to visit more frequently.
As restrictions eased and summer approached, an exciting but challenging new step in my career meant adjusting to a new work life balance. As a result I found myself with much less time and energy to dedicate to photography than I would like. As if things couldn’t get much busier this is also the time we began the search for our first home.
Whilst quantity may be somewhat lacking in comparison to previous years, fortunately (I hope) I have been able to make up for this in the quality of what I have captured this year.
Keen to make the most of precious days off, top of my list was a trip was to Gigrin Farm Red Kite feeding station in Rhyader. This was a truly breathtaking experience offering unrivalled views of a red kite feeding frenzy!
Another day out and once again we found ourselves heading south, this time to the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthen. What better way to unwind and switch off than to spend the day immersed in the world of flowers? I can’t recommend a visit highly enough!
Much closer to home, my highlight of the year was forming a unique bond with a family of mallard ducklings just a stone’s throw from my house. Over several months I was able to gain their trust allowing me to document their lives, observe their development and endure their hardships, all whilst being rewarded with some of my most precious encounters with wild birds to date.
Below are a few of my favourite images from the last 12 months. Some I am proud of for their technical quality, others are simply memorable moments in time.
The year ended with disappointment, as the first home we had hoped to purchase was withdrawn from sale through no fault of our own. They say everything happens for a reason, and so I begin 2022 with optimism, excited about what the future holds and what new adventures await.
All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography © 2021
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