I was camped up in a quiet and remote spot just north of the Barkly Tablelands and it was the time of the day to catch up on some admin work on the computer. All I could hear was a few birds chirping and chattering away to each other with the odd cricket, but otherwise nothing. Then a smell caught my attention – horses – maybe brumbies – maybe a few – maybe some foals. I waited to get more of an idea where they were coming from. Then I could see them – brumbies - a couple of hundred meters away and they seemed pretty happy casually munching and strolling through the scrub, so I just sat and waited.
I was hoping they might get used to me being around and might even come back when the light was better as the area I was in had plenty of water. (As does most of northern Australia at the moment.) Waiting was the key, and the mob finally saw me and decided to hang around – 7 adult females, 3 teenage females, 2 foals and 1 big stallion. I kept working on the computer and waited to see what would happen. 2 of the group got inquisitive and walked to within 10m of my camp. The angles and light were really wrong so I carefully stood up to get on their good side, but the stallion did not like that as I understood by the big snort, short gallop at me and then the stare down. Phew that got the heart going a little, but he relaxed after I sat back down, and his girls wandered back to him. Over the next couple of hours I would stand up and walk over to them until they got edgy, then I would back off.
After a long confidence gaining session (as much can be achieved with a mob of brumbies) I felt I had their trust and could shoot some images. I headed up to them, crouched down and started taking a few shots. I should have taken a shorter lens (I generally shoot fixed focal lengths) because at different times they all came up close with a couple of the younger ones actually sniffing the camera – well within the focusing range of the lens. While it was awesome to get that close to the mob, the old stallion was never too far away, keeping a close eye and passing a look that said he knew he was the boss. At one stage I looked around to find myself completely surrounded by the mob – all within 10m of me. I had become engrossed in a couple and the others had wandered past chewing that sweet wet season grass.
Whilst the light was really harsh and not great for images the experience was awesome.
Paul's Wildlife Photography Tip.
Be patient especially with wild animals. You will amazed at the experiences you can get if you just watch and wait. If your not a threat to wildlife they will relax and do their own thing. That is when special things can happen.