I’d been enjoying a meal in a new diner in Richmond and noticed that pigeons were flitting back and forth from the rooftops across the road. I thought it could make a pleasing composition but I just wasn't close enough to see if I could make anything of it. After my meal I was drawn towards the river again. There were still pigeons flying about but they too were heading for the river, I followed them. An old lady was removing knotted plastic bags of crusts from her wheeled tartan shopper. The pigeons were most interested in the contents. I stayed above watching the pigeons scuttling around at her feet in their hundreds looking so like the winged rats they are. When one flew up I though it made an interesting image so waited for the next birds to fly up suddenly adjusting the shutter speed to capture them in flight.
Her bag seemed a never ending feast for them and each time she reached inside for another bag, the pigeons flew up in fright and then quickly settled again in case they missed their share of the bread offerings. She saw me firing away and asked if I liked pigeons. I could have answered truthfully in that “I consider pigeons to be winged rats and the only good one is a plump wood pigeon breast, that served warm and slightly pink, is sliced into my salad” but I opted for “I like to photograph them when in flight” which is still true but doesn't hint at how much I dislike them.
Just when I was thinking I'd exhausted this little mis-en-scène, some teenage boys, full of bravado and beer run at the seething grey mass sending the whole lot into the air at once. I was so shocked I'm not sure how I didn't drop my camera (though as ever it was safely attached to my “Gordy” sling) and just tried firing towards the pigeons hoping I'd set the appropriate shutter speed. It was over in a flash, the women scattered one more bag on the cobbles and then dragging her trolley said she was off to feed more birds!