Since 10 years of age my first and foremost interest has been bird watching. Bird watching as in the meaning of studying wild birds with feathers and wings; that is if you had any other idea what I meant with watching birds. I don´t really know how this interest became so strong, I have now been an avid birdwatcher for about 30 years, but it all began when I found my older brother´s field guides and field notes (he had been a birdwatcher in his early teens, but his interest in human birds grew bigger when he got a little bit older). What I can remember is that I got fascinated by all the different species, both common and the more rare ones and all their plumages – adults, juveniles, male, female, winter, summer and so on. For me at that age, curious about many things in the world, birds where the perfect interest. My parent’s couldn´t agree more!

As I grew older, my interest in watching birds expanded – through different bird watching organizations and their excursions I got to know a lot of people. First around the Stockholm area and later on, all around Sweden. With more friends that were interested in birds and more trips around the country to watch them, I learned a lot about field identification both with eyes and ears. I can´t say that I´m especially good, but good enough to separate the birds from the bees.

A mentor of mine once said: – “Life is an excursion!” With that he meant that birds are everywhere to find and bird watchers can execute their hobby in everyday life. I believe that is true – birds are world citizens; they have wings to fly with and are not controlled by any borders. Today I try to live by that rule and I am always on the look-out for birds; on the commute train to/from work, from the office window, out jogging, on a stroll with my spouse in the park or just shopping around in the city. I see birds wherever I go and whatever I do.

When I turned 15 I got a Nikon EM SLR-camera and a 50mm lens as a birthday present from my parents. I had earlier been interested in drawing and painting, but from that day the photographic picture was to become number one. I soon discovered that 50mm was a very short focal length to photograph birds, and I got to save money to get me a telephoto lens. With some help from my dear parents it took me about 6 months to save enough money to buy a used 500mm/f8.0 mirror lens. Not the best you could get, but for me at that age it was perfect and it took the photographs I wanted. Now I had the focal length to start taking pictures of my beloved birds. When I look at those pictures today I realize that they are not especially good, but when I took them in the middle of the 1980´s they were just amazing and what is more important, I had a great deal of fun taking them.

In late 1990´s I bought my first Nikon SLR with autofocus, a F70 together with a Sigma AF 400mm/f5.6 lens. A few years later I switched to an F90x with a battery pack and a used AF-S 300mm/f2.8 after a lot of overtime at my work. It was from my entry into the world of autofocus that my bird photography became more focused and serious, but still with film in the camera. I made my turn into digital as late as February 2007, mostly because I studied at the university when this new era came upon all of us. I simply couldn´t afford a digital camera body at that time.

I believe that my great interest in birds have helped me a lot when it comes to them as a photographic object. Through the years of watching and learning bird behavior and the different species favorite environment it is now easier for me to anticipate where and when things are going to happen. I think that is a great advantage for taking good pictures and having fun at the same time. As you surely understand by reading this blog, bird watching and today bird photography has become more of a lifestyle than a hobby for me. Maybe that is not for everyone, but it works just fine for me.

The photographs in this blog post are taken in the years 2009 – 2010 and are among my own personal favorites.

/Daniel Stenberg

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