Having bred in the uplands during the summer, many Snow Buntings make their way down to the coast in the winter to feed on seeds washed up on the strand line. They will often stay in a localised area for quite a prolonged period especially when given some supplementary feed by local bird watchers and visiting photographers.
A small group of 5 birds has been present on a North Wales beach for over two months and will probably continue to be there now right through to March. I have been bidding my time in making a visit and waiting for a break in the persistent gloom that has been a feature of this month. Following a forecast of some early morning sun I decided it to head over to the birds on a clear, cold and frosty morning. The birds are well camouflaged on the pebble beach and I found them at first by the low sun catching their heads as they peered over a shingle ridge.
The clear air and low sun created some excellent photography conditions and the birds were soon on the move as the group hopping through the stones foraging for washed up seeds.
Using a brick, eroded by the tide, to keep a watch for predators and of course any approaching dog walkers.
The birds quickly became very comfortable with my presence and settled down at very close range, apparently seeming to just enjoy sitting and gaining a little warmth from the weak winter sun. The general lack of activity of the birds gave plenty of opportunity to experiment with camera settings and composition.
Chewing on some grass.
I left the birds basking in the sun, having had a memorable session in some wonderful morning light. After a slow start to the year I walked back to the car with a smile and the feeling that my 2011 bird photography had at last begun.