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Siân Lewis demon­strates how to get great shots of the birds in your back gar­den with a tele­photo lens and the right dis­guise

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How to con­ceal yourself and your cam­era, and get great shots of gar­den birds

You don’t need to travel far to get to grips with wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy – there’s a world of at­trac­tive sub­jects in your back­yard, lo­cal park or na­ture re­serve. We’re go­ing to show you how to take fan­tas­tic pic­tures of gar­den birds, and give you the low­down on the best gear to in­vest in if you’re se­ri­ous about snap­ping shyer wild an­i­mals.

We went to the St Fa­gans Na­tional His­tory Mu­seum in Wales, where Blue Tits, Great Tits, Nuthatches and Robins reg­u­larly come to feed, but if you’re lucky enough to have your own gar­den then it’s even eas­ier to set up the per­fect shot. Get started now by reg­u­larly re­plen­ish­ing a bird ta­ble or feeder with seed and wa­ter, and af­ter a few weeks you’ll have reg­u­lar vis­its from lo­cal birds. Make sure your feeder is a few feet away from a plain, nat­u­ral-coloured back­ground, such as a gar­den fence or a hedge, to give you a clean back­drop for your shots.

Even if birds are used to com­ing to the feeder you’re plan­ning to pho­to­graph, you’ll still need to find some­where to hide with your Nikon to

Make sure your bird feeder is a few feet away from a plain, nat­u­ral-coloured back­ground, such as a gar­den fence or a hedge, to give you a clean back­drop for your shots

avoid spook­ing them too much. A gar­den shed or even a kitchen win­dow will do for this at a pinch. Al­ter­na­tively, you could in­vest in a pop-up hide – these can cost as lit­tle as £50/$85, mak­ing them one of the more af­ford­able pieces of kit for shoot­ing birds.

If you aren’t sure which par­tic­u­lar bird species visit your gar­den, there are some great apps you can down­load that will help you iden­tify them. iBird UK has clear pic­tures and sound­bites of com­mon Bri­tish bird calls (plenty of which you’ll also see and hear in main­land Europe), or you could try the Si­b­ley guide to the birds of North Amer­ica if you’re in the United States or Canada.

EX­PO­SURE 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO800 LE NS Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 ED VR

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