OUR first picture highlight of 2021 is a quite remarkable wildlife shot captured by Phil Laybourne in the River Thames outside Marlow.
Phil recalls: “Standing in a freezing river early one morning with the cold water seeping into my boots, I was trying to photograph a kingfisher.
“The last thing on my mind was the Eurasian short-clawed otter that suddenly appeared behind me. I almost fell in. He stayed just long enough for me to get a couple of shots off before diving. That is still one of the best moments of my seven years in amateur photography.”
Based in Wooburn Green, Phil’s photographs range from stunning landscapes and sunsets to close studies of local wildlife, including swans and deer.
Favourite locations include Marlow, Bourne End, Bisham and Spade Oak and have extended to London and Ivinghoe Beacon – and since the sudden death of his wife Gail in May last year after a short illness, all of his prints have been on sale to raise money for Thames Hospice in Windsor, where she spent her last weeks.
He says: “My late wife Gail was always my biggest critic and also my biggest fan. She would moan if i dared to wake her at 5am as I left for a photo shoot, yet would be really excited on my return to see what I had shot.”
“Sunrises and sunsets are my favourite medium,” says Phil. “I recently sold my starter camera and upgraded to a Nikon D850 with a Sigma 150-600mm for wildlife and a Sigma 14-24 f2.8 and Sigma 24-105mm for panoramics and day-to-day shooting.
“Walking along the Thames at dawn or dusk with the camera is a most rewarding experience. We are so lucky to have such a beautiful location on our doorstep.”