Park life


In the first of a series of articles featuring the images of local photographers who document the wildlife of Wanstead Park and the surrounding area, Alessandro Riccarelli presents a montage of his shots of a kestrel in flight

I never used to be interested in photography, although my father made a living out of it. Until my father retired, I never thought I would spend time and money on it as a hobby. But in life, what you don’t find interesting now may well become a future passion!

That’s what happened to me. I love nature, so wildlife photography became my primary interest, although I shoot street scenes and portraits occasionally as well. Recording wildlife is challenging; you don’t know what you’re going to see and when, or if you are going to see anything at all!

I am based in Gants Hill and like to visit local parks. Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats are regular destinations. You can see a good variety of species in Wanstead, although unfortunately (for reasons we all know), many have disappeared. Wanstead Park is home to woodpeckers, kingfishers, herons and, of course, parakeets!

Kestrels are also fairly easy to spot, often seen hovering over grasslands hunting small rodents or large insects. Rarely do they miss a catch, so if you notice one diving, wait and you might be able to see something tucked in its talons as it rises. Pointing a camera up a tree with a kestrel perching for prolonged periods can be very tiring, and holding your equipment steady becomes difficult. When this happens, I think about professional wildlife photographers spending days, if not weeks, to get one shot, so I shouldn’t complain about half an hour!

I’m always intrigued by what will happen next and I like challenging situations. Birds of prey don’t have an easy life out there; in fact, just moments after I captured the female kestrel opposite catching her rodent prey, magpies started to chase her, trying to steal a free meal.

I thank the editor for choosing these pictures and I will be taking many more in Wanstead Park, where every outing can be unique.

To view more of Alessandro’s wildlife photos, visit wnstd.com/riccarelli

Author: Editor