Park Life


In the third of a series of articles featuring the images of local photographers who document the wildlife of Wanstead Park and the surrounding area, Tushar Bala presents a montage of his shots of a Little Egret

My name is Tushar Bala and I’m a science teacher. I started my wildlife photography in earnest at Wanstead Park on day one of COVID lockdown. I would practice before and after work. I would take pictures of anything that moved! I love Wanstead Park because of its various wildlife. But it is the people who have approached me to have a quick chat that makes the park special, from lovely retired couples to TikToking teenagers, dog walkers and families.

I have gone on to inspire my students to visit Wanstead Park as well. Just a few weeks ago, one of my wheelchair-bound students insisted on going to the famous bluebell wood. So, his dad and brother pulled and pushed him through the quagmire. He took some pictures, and I will admit, they were brilliant and better than mine. He had a history of not wanting to go out and his parents were desperate to get him out of the house. He is now a regular visitor to the park.

Wanstead Park offers a plethora of wildlife experiences. I’ve played hide and seek with a fox, literally going around in circles. (The fox cheated and took a short cut through the bushes!) I’ve been stopped in my tracks by a heron wrestling with a two-foot pike. I’ve watched a Great Spotted Woodpecker tear off bark to get to grubs. And during one lunchtime walk, I was rewarded with a buzzard perched in the woods. I stopped a family and allowed the children to watch it through my camera lens.

At dusk, I like to sit down with a cup of tea and watch the beautiful terns hunt, swooping down, skimming the surface to catch fish. And I love to watch the Grey Heron do its… well, I call it a snake dance, using its neck to attract fish. Or watch the Little Egret do its shuffle dance to stir up the mud and catch its dinner.

I found the Little Egret quite tough to capture. These birds are usually found at the wooded part of the lake, so the background is very dark and you can easily overexpose the image. Little Egrets are very skittish and one has to approach very slowly. After a few minutes of observation, I decided to go for a set of three images; the dishevelled look, not so dishevelled and then looking quite smart. I call the sequence ‘having a bad hair day!’

Wanstead Park has a lot to offer, not least, for mental health well-being. It is wonderful to be humbled by the wildlife and their behaviour, to meet like-minded people who appreciate the sense of calmness that the park offers, a place to sit and rest one’s bones with a flask of coffee, to listen to the dawn chorus of the birds, a catalyst (I had to put a scientific word in the article!) to visit other places.

As I walk home with my unwieldy camera gear, I’m tired, hungry and thirsty; my joints ache; I’m sometimes euphoric that I may have taken a nice image, but I always have a big, fat cheek-to-cheek smile.

I now also visit lots of other places to get my wildlife fix, mainly RSPB sites and some Wetland Trust sites. My pictures (the decent ones) are emailed to the organisations responsible for looking after the habitats I have visited, just as a thank you. Some images have been published, and usually, the sites I visit will post them on their websites.

To view more local wildlife photos, visit