Six years ago amateur photographer Keith Bannister was walking along a river bank in his home town of Burnley when he noticed a flash of blue. It was a passing kingfisher that had attracted Keith’s attention and since that time he has been fascinated with this colourful river bank bird.
Keith retired from his job as an industrial training instructor and now spends much of his spare time in pursuit of this elusive bird. With a following of 5,000 members and 3,000 followers on his
Facebook site his wildlife photography has made the 64-year-old a well followed bird photographer.
Known to his friends as ‘Bannie,’ Keith started taking pictures ten years ago when he bought an inexpensive digital camera and used it to photograph snow scenes in a local park at Christmas time. The photo-bug bit Keith, who has never known the old photographic process before the arrival of the digital age when a darkroom was used to develop film and print photographs.
‘Bannie’ joined a local Burnley Camera Club to learn more about his new-found hobby and received what he described as ‘wonderful help from its members.’ He advises anyone taking up photography to join their local camera club and learn from a club’s experienced photographers.
Moving up from a point-and-shoot camera, Keith bought a more expensive Nikon DSLR with a telephoto lens and his success in photography continued. He has since been included in Northern Life calendars with a picture in this year’s famous RSPB calendar.
His secret in taking wildlife pictures is of having lots of patience to get that special picture and having a hide is most essential for sometimes it means sitting under a covering for hours. Keith’s record for time spent undercover is 11 hours to get one picture with which he was satisfied.
The Bannister family join in when it comes to taking pictures and every year they journey up to Northumberland to spend time at Seahouses and visit the Farne Islands, famous for birds. Keith’s
grandson Adam, although only seven years of age, can identify different birds just like his granddad and has become interested in photography.
It’s not all going undercover to take these special pictures. Workshops are available for photographers to go along and take pictures of wild animals similar to the one of a harvest mouse in Keith’s collection. If they had chance these small creatures would do a runner so they are kept in special areas and photographed as near as possible to their life on the wild side.
Keith recommends some of the places to visit with your camera like the one he goes to in Wales where a local farmer feeds hundreds of red kite every day of the year. At a certain time in the afternoon the farmer goes along with his vehicle and throws out food for these special birds waiting in the nearby trees.
Red Kites are not the only ones who flock there to enjoy this feeding spectacle; it’s also a gathering ground for all sorts of cameras and lenses with the entry fee starting at five pounds.
For pictures of red squirrels there are still areas where they can be found with Keith’s favourite places being Formby in Merseyside and Hawes in Yorkshire.
Fountain’s Abbey another Yorkshire favourite is a place for pictures of red deer especially at rutting time, but don’t get too near the stags, he advises.
While Keith was photographing two stags battling it out in the rutting season one of them broke off their encounter and came charging towards Keith, who was petrified through having no cover. Fortunately the stag passed within a few feet to pursue a much smaller stag that had encroached into the affray. It could have been a completely different picture had the stag focused its attention on Keith while he was focusing on the battling giants. Here is a selection of ‘Bannie’s’ photographs including one from his other photographic favourites… taking pictures of steam trains.