Photographing the East Shropshire Moorlands
Wellington LA21 Group has been actively promoting the Weald Moors for well over a decade. In that time, we’ve been lucky enough to work with a wide range of local photographers who’ve brilliantly captured the subtle character of this quiet landscape and its unique wildlife. Among our favourites is Tim Preston, who joins us to discuss his experiences photographing the east Shropshire moorlands…
Living in Wellington the Weald Moors is a place I visit often. I feel privileged to have such a wonderful space so close to home with such a diverse mix of habitats to explore. Navigating the network of public footpaths that meander through the area, regardless of the time of day or which season you are in, will take you on a journey guaranteed to lift the spirit and lighten the soul.
So Much To See
Being an amateur wildlife photographer, I am always on the lookout for the opportunity to capture something different, something I haven’t seen before or just to record a special moment. The Weald Moors has presented me with plenty of opportunities to do just this. Evenings are undoubtedly my favourite time to visit. As we wind down from the stresses of the day the moors seem to come alive. There is just so much to see.
Whether that be Hares frolicking in the fields, Buzzards soaring on the thermals in the summer skies or a Barn Owl gliding silently along the ditches as the evening sun sets in a warm, hazy, orange glow. The distinctive “cur-lee” call of the Curlew can be heard. Flocks of Lapwing, Golden Plover and other waders are sent to the sky as a Sparrow hawk or occasional Peregrine scours the wetlands looking for their last meal of the day. The distinctive “plop” of the Water Vole dropping into the water can be heard ahead of you as you wander along the edges of the many streams or ditches.
However, one of my most memorable wildlife encounters ever took place on the moors. A rendezvous with a British mammal that I had never seen before. As I wandered back to the car one evening I saw a rather large mound on the path ahead of me. The light had all but gone and I couldn’t tell what it was. I stopped and watched for a second or two – it was moving, towards me too. Then – it lifted its head, the distinctive white lines told me immediately what I had encountered. I couldn’t believe my luck. Badger!
I instinctively took a couple of steps to my left and knelt in the longer grass to disguise my shape. The distant mound kept getting larger and larger until it was literally within a few feet of me. I could hear it snuffling in the grass looking for tasty morsels. My heart was beating so hard, so fast and I was holding my breath. I genuinely could have reached out and touched it. It was so close. The Badger stopped, sniffed the air and froze. It sensed something wasn’t quite right. There was a couple of seconds, that seemed like a lifetime, where nothing happened. It felt like there was no one else on the planet. Just me and the Badger. Commotion and panic ensued as it turned on its heels scrabbling for grip and went back down the track considerably quicker than it came.
Within a split second it had gone! Vanishing completely into the bluey, grey dusk. That for me was a special moment. There is nothing quite like encountering something for the very first time.
I have other tales to tell of special moments on the moors. The Barn Owl and Kestrel disputes, the foxes screaming in the woods, the release of Hares rehabilitated at Cuan Wildlife Rescue and many others. Maybe I’ll share those another day.
Our sincere thanks to Tim for sharing his experiences of photographing the Weald Moors. If you’d like to see more of his work, you can follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ShropshireWild2) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/timprestonphotography/).