Just a couple of km's from my house there is a little lake. It's surrounded by 'burb houses, well-paved footpaths, benches, soccer fields and a small measure of forest. It is also a protected wetland nature reserve, due to the large number of bird species stopping by on their migrations or nesting there.
It's also where "all" of Oslo's bird photographers hang out on a nice afternoon.
I stopped by one day, saw many familiar faces and had a couple of good conversations. As the new kid on the block I tried to absorb not only the patterns of bird behaviour, but also the human counterpart. There seem to be both dos an don'ts to observe if one wants to fit in snugly. Because, to the old guys, lake Østensjøvannet is not primarily about Getting The Good Picture. It's about a good place to practice the craft, not the art, of bird photography. How to make the most of a bird in flight, how to train your reactions when a sudden conflict between courting males erupt into a fight.
It's so easy here. Relatively speaking. Short way to the parking lot, lots of familiar faces, and a good range of species to practice on. From the sedate greylags to the sky-zipping house martins. And picking your day, or even just time of day, you can practice whatever type of light you desire.
For me, the session was really humbling. All of my shots were badly framed, out of focus, simply bland, or any combination of the three. If I want to be serious about wielding that damn beast of a 600mm I'll truly have to rehearse it. A lot.