On his first trip to Estero Llano Grande State Park, southern Texas, Jess hoped to find a common pauraque, a type of nightjar. He had wanted to visit the region since he was a teenager, enticed by its reputation as a top birding destination. He knew that the park’s brushy woodland provided a perfect roosting site. Strictly nocturnal, the common pauraque rests quietly by day among dense vegetation, blending perfectly into its surroundings. At dusk and dawn, the whistling calls of the males can reveal their locations. Having heard a male, Jess began exploring in the morning, and was thrilled when he found one asleep. Creeping to within a few metres, Jess set up his camera with a long lens, and focussed on the intricate markings of the bird’s plumage. ‘I liked the idea of making the viewer slowly discover the identity of the subject by looking first at the fine details.’ His shot reveals the beautiful patterns and tones of brown, black, and gold that provide perfect camouflage for these birds among the woodland leaf litter.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 400mm f5.6 lens + 12mm extension tube; 1/5 sec at f16; ISO 100; Gitzo tripod + Induro ballhead.
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Texas, USA
Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Jess Findlay, Canada
Born in Vancouver, Canada, Jess spent his childhood hiking and birdwatching with his family throughout the Pacific Northwest. With help from his nature photographer father, his interest in the outdoors grew into a passion for artistically documenting living creatures and dramatic landscapes. Winner of several awards, he is keen to develop his career as a photographer and guide.