Sunday, February 12, 2012

Curlew Opportunity

As many of the regular readers of this blog will know, I like to keep a camera by my side as often as possible to take advantage of any wildlife photography opportunities that cross my path. One such chance event occurred recently as I was driving past one of the local fields which the winter flocks of Curlew like to use during high tide to feed and roost. I suppose I was fortunate to be passing at the right time and also that the sun briefly showed on an otherwise grey and overcast day. When I first found the flock they were busy feeding but too distant for photographs of individual birds.

On the scale of difficulty of approach, I would rank Curlew fairly high. If you are on foot then they will start walking rapidly in the opposite direction long before you have managed to get anywhere within photography range. However, they don't seem to associate a car with danger and so I used mine as a mobile hide. This was one of the rare occasions when some dog walkers actually helped me photograph the birds. Two appeared on the far side of the field and the immediate response of the birds was to start walking in the opposite direction but in this case it was towards me.
It is always a great feeling when your subject starts getting larger and larger in the viewfinder as not only do you know the photographs will improve with each step but also the fact that you get opportunity to observe the birds at close quarters.
Despite staying alert to the now distant dog walkers the birds continued to feed on earthworms. No earthworm within 10cms of the soil surface is safe from that long elegantly curved bill.
Still the birds came closer and were now completely filling the frame. You will notice that there is a large difference in bill length between the bird in the photograph above and the one below. If I am correct I believe the females generally have the longest bills.
The sun even managed to put in a brief appearance while the birds were at close range.
The brief 30 minute session ended as quickly as it had begun, firstly as the sun disappeared behind a dark mass of cloud that stretched to the horizon and secondly by a cyclist who passed on my side of the field and caused the flock to take flight and land in the middle of the field and out of camera. I always love these unexpected opportunities, regardless of how brief and they certainly brighten the day. Hopefully the year ahead will offer many more chance encounters but when and with which bird or mammal will have to remain a mystery until it takes place.


ferreiro said...

gran serie muy buena fotos un saludo

Marc Heath said...

Great shots Rich

Dina J said...

Beautiful shots of this bird. Love the worm. I've only seen a long billed curlew that visits our beaches in the winter.

rachelle vance photography said...

amazing! I saw my first curlew last week on a beach in Naples, FL - it was amazing. These shots are terrific!!

Dulantha said...

Nice collection of images, thanks for sharing.

- Yvonaut -
Das sind Raphael und Yvonne

Very nice pictures!
Great series!
Many greetings from Switzerland
Yvonne & Raphael

Aviaries for birds said...

Gorgeous photos! They really look good in action. Great post!

Neil said...

Great stuff. One of my fav birds

Rich Steel said...

They are great birds curlew. It's even better when you get an unexpected opportunity presented to you. Keep the camera with you at all times is my advice as you never know what is around the next corner!




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