Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Plot Visitors

In one of those rare moments of sunshine in one of the worst winters of weather I can remember for photography, I decided to make a visit to the new feeding station known as 'the Plot'. It has kept me busy keeping the variety of feeders constantly filled, as high numbers of birds have been visiting and eating their way through large quantities of seed, fat-balls and peanuts. On this particular morning it seemed fairly quiet in terms of numbers of birds arriving, the cause of which would be revealed later in the session.

The first birds returning to the feeders, after the minor disturbance of setting up the pop-up hide, were the Blue Tits as usual. Despite being a very common bird, which could be easily overlooked, when their plumage is in good condition they do look superb.
The tits were very quickly joined by a small flock of Goldfinch. This is one species that appears to have really benefited from the feed that people put out in their gardens, and what once was a fairly unusual sight is now common. The birds glowed in their beautiful colours in the early morning sun.
I decided to introduce a new perch taken from my garden which was already showing the first shoots of spring under the mild winter weather.
Another photograph taken later in the session, when one side of the photography area is plunged in to shade by a bush, giving dark backgrounds to the photos. I quite like these dark background photographs as they really show off the colours of the birds.
Next species to muscle in on the feeders were the larger Greenfinch. When these boisterous birds arrive all the other tends to be pushed out the way until they have had their fill.
A new species arrived in the shape of a small flock of Chaffinch. These birds don not tend to land so much on the perches but appear more content with picking up the fallen seed on the ground below the feeders. This is a male bird looking is great condition. It appears the birds are benefiting from their new food supply.
Joining in with the mopping up of seed from the ground was the arrival of six pheasants. A female bird peaking over from behind one of the logs.
Now you may be thinking that there was a lot of bird activity but compared to the numbers coming in to the feeders when I make my visits to refill, it was fairly quiet. The reason soon became apparent with a sudden burst of alarm calls from the scattering small song birds and rushing of air sound from above the hide resulted in a stunning male Sparrowhawk landing on the perch in front of me. As I was so close to perch to photograph the small birds, all I could fit into the frame was a head portrait. I managed to take about six photos before this predator with its highly tuned senses realised I was there and disappeared low and fast over the hedge. It was inevitable that so much bird activity would eventually attract a predator.
I am already looking forward to my next session at the Plot and to see what will turn up next.


Christian said...

A magnificent portrait of the Sparrowhwak Richard.

HibernoManchego said...

Some fantastic shots there indeed.

TexWisGirl said...

really beautiful shots! the hawk eye is spectacular! i know a lot of your birds are gorgeous in color, but the chaffinch always strikes me as one of the loveliest.

Marc Heath said...

Top quality shot Rich, that Sparrowhawk is just perfect.

The Black Rabbit said...

What a bit of luck with the male hawk Richard. Well done!

I have been meaning to comment on your blog for some time - I think you are one of the best wildlife photographers I've come across - your photos are inspiring - many thanks for sharing them with us.
Doug (TBR)

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Oh wow, these images are incredible. The way you were able to capture the beauties on even the branches they perched on, the elements blend with the beauty of their feather coloring... beautiful, beautiful.
Then add in the glorious momment of gettting the hawk's face in as it paid a visit, whoosh, a marvelous entry~

MANA GROUP said...

wow really nice picx..

Rich Steel said...

Thanks for the comments. Just a quick update on the plot. I decided to stop feeding in a hope the Sparrowhawk would move on as the idea was not to create a feeding station for this bird and it was taking a toll on the smaller birds. The site will now be started up again in the hope of attracting some spring migrants given its coastal position.




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