Every week, thousands of words and dozens of pictures land on my desk – metaphorically, at least, as most come in digital form and I see them on screen.
All get equal attention and, like every member of staff at the Bury Free Press, I do my utmost to help turn them into a top quality newspaper and website.
However, I have to admit that once a fortnight I receive an email that I await with greater anticipation than any other. With the greatest respect to all the other columnists and contributors who send emails to email@example.com, none is opened with the same eagerness as those sent by Mike Toms, from the Thetford-based British Trust for Ornithology. Mike – likehis predecessor as columnist Graham Appleton – writes with huge authority and enthusiasm for birds and I read every word avidly, but what I most enjoy is seeing the fantastic images which accompany the articles – they really lift my spirits and I’m in total awe of the photographers.
I’m no expert on birds but I do spend most of my time while I’m out walking the dog (my only real ‘free’ time) looking for them and at them. My success is mixed – not much wildlife hangs around when it’s approached by a large, clumsy dog accompanied by an even larger and equally clumsy human.
I occasionally try to take pictures, too – again with mixed success as the dog in question has to be kept on a lead due to her predilection for running off. Trying to hold a camera steady while a large hound tugs at the end of an extending lead is tricky, no matter how I cling on to the lead handle – under one arm, between the knees or pinned to the floor with a boot.
So it’s with a great deal of envy that I look at the pictures that come from the BTO (like this wonderful shot of a cuckoo by Edmund Fellowes and the goldcrest by Jill Pakenham). I’m jealous of the technical skill of the photographers, their undoubted patience and, particularly, their opportunities to take pictures without being tethered to the family pet.
-- I’m a lucky chap because another of my jobs is to choose the readers’ photos that we publish in the paper. And each week I’m amazed by the standard of the pictures submitted – why not send yours? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put See it, Snap it, Send it in the subject line and please include your name, postal address and some information about the picture.