Above: a white-whiskered hermit (Phaethornis yaruqui) maneuvers to drink nectar in Ecuador photo: Peter Cavanagh

 

By Georgina Probert

A NEW BOOK by British wildlife photographer Peter Cavanagh perfectly captures the striking sight of wild birds in flight.

100 Flying Birds: Photographing the Mechanics of Flight features photographs taken by Mr Cavanagh both in the UK and exotic locations around the globe, from a white-tailed eagle plummeting through a Japanese sky and a brown pelican striking a silhouette against an Ecuadorian sunset to an Atlantic puffin carrying its fish dinner above the Scottish coast.

Alongside each photograph, Mr Cavanagh shares his thoughts on the image, including the challenges of getting the shot, the beauty of the location and interesting facts about each bird species. He covers a different species in each chapter, including: songbirds, eagles, hummingbirds, gulls and terns, small and large waterbirds, ducks, geese and swans, raptors, condors and corvids, and cranes.

 

He said: “Flight is the essence of birdness – something that for millennia seemed to humans as almost magical behaviour. Most of us have dreamed that we are flying, perhaps reflecting the deep envy that we have of birds. My own fascination with flight stems from my training as an instrument rated airplane pilot and my education as a specialist in the biomechanics of movement.”

Mr Cavanagh’s images have been included in the Audubon Society’s Top 100 Bird Photographs of the Year and he has guest-curated the exhibit “How Birds Fly” at the Seattle Museum of Flight.

“I shall never forget the first time I held the wing of a golden eagle in a museum at the University of Washington. It was astonishing light, yet capable of facilitating aerodynamic manoeuvres that are superior to any aeroplane. I was hooked and have been pursuing flying birds with my camera ever since,” he added.

100 Flying Birds is available to buy from Amazon.

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