Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Looking for Hammers

Yellowhammers are beautiful birds but relatively thin on the ground these days in my local area, so I decided specifically to head south down to Staffordshire to try and get a few photographs of them. Thinking about it the last time I managed to get one lined up in the viewfinder was back in 2006 up in Scottish countryside. I had the Canon 50D for company on this session as the 1Dmk3 was back in Canon's repair centre having its latest recall 'fix'.

I did have my trip all planned out, a nice piece of hawthorn trunk in the car boot and some sun flower seeds to get the birds where I wanted them at this popular public feeding spot. However, my plans were quickly put on hold shortly after arrival when another photographer turned up and promptly scattered about 2kg of seed all around the place, thereby removing any chance of getting the yellowhammers on my piece of wood. The joys of photography is busy public places!

There were plenty of other birds around to photograph while I waited for the yellowhammers that included Long-tailed tits.


There was also an occasional visit by the scarcer Willow tit, which are always a pleasure to see.


The yellowhammers were looking stunning in their spring plumage and some careful exposure was required to not 'burn out' that bright yellow head.


Having not spent much time in the company of yellowhammers, it was interesting to see them at close quarters with their unusual shaped beak. The top bill being very thin compared to the lower one.


Beautiful birds but I still think they would have looked better on the piece of wood I had taken with me, rather than hopping around mopping up all those seeds that had been scattered on the ground. No doubt I will return one day to give them another go.


The Early Birder said...

Rich I think you did exceptionally well inspite of the ton of scattered seed. I saw a few YH at Downside mid-week but far too flighty to get any sort of photo. Can you share the tip for dealing with bright colours - like a yellow daffodil?
1st pic of Willow Tit is worthy of an ID guide - How about Marsh for comparison?
Regards, Frank

Anonymous said...

In a word: superb.

Anonymous said...


There are a lot of folks like that at Cannock,l they scatter the seed all over the place without any real thought about how to compose their images. You are lucky that he did not have a Better Beamer to "Flash" them all away.

T and S said...

Yet another stunning series Rich. The Yellowhammer is a bird I have never seen. Thanks to you, I get a first hand closeup view of this bird.

Jenny said...

Gorgeous detail and beautiful vivid colours. It's always such a joy to visit your blog. Thank you!

kjpweb said...

Bowing in awe! I would not know any way to better these shots!
Thank you for sharing!
Cheers, Klaus

Rich Steel said...

Many thanks for the comments. Frank I only actually have one photograph of a marsh tit and it would not provide a very good comparison. Yellows can be almost as tricky as whites to expose and it just a question of keeping a careful eye on the histograms for the images.



Madison said...

Those are the most cute birds in the first two pictures. Your work is wonderful.

Grenouille Greetings said...

You took these lovely pictures a very long time ago but I have been trying to work out what kind of a bird was visiting my garden in Guildford and Surrey and it was these photos of yours which made me realise it's a yellow hammer. I've never seen one before so thank you!


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