Firstly I would like to wish all the readers of this blog a very Happy New Year and hope you have some memorable wildlife encounters during the coming 12 months. I am looking forward to many exciting photography projects ahead and already have a trip planned to Iceland for the end of May. I hope you will all join me on my photographic journey this year.
Apologies for the lack of blog updates over Christmas, which is always a busy time, but I have also been trying to make the most of the Christmas break to get some time out with the camera when the weather has allowed. It has actually been quite a productive time for my photography and I will start with a morning session on the 28th December after a very sharp overnight frost.
I set off early from the house to a local site that I have visited for many years now to see if I could find some more Fieldfare. After some snowfall on Boxing Day, which melted very quickly around my home by the coast, I thought there may be a chance that there may still be some on the ground further inland. On arrival it was obvious that this was not the case but the hard frost could provide some interesting photographs. The large noisy Fieldfare flock had long since stripped the Rowan trees of berries but there were still others that were conspicuously heavily laden with berry crop. These were Sea Buckthorn and Cotoneaster. These really are at the bottom of the bird berry menu and usually need several hard frosts to make them palatable to the birds. Sea Buckthorn in particular always seems to be a last resort food choice and the bright orange berries only seem to be eaten when conditions are particularly tough for the birds which the ground frozen for an extended period which stops them finding worms.
I decided to do a bit of reconnaissance to see what the birds were doing before settling on my approach for the morning. As it was still first light the majority of the main Fieldfare flock were only just waking and sat in the tops of the trees fluffed up to insulate them from the cold. They started moving and it became quickly obvious that they were targeting Cotoneaster. Unfortunately the trees they were heading in to were in a very awkward position in terms of light direction. However, I remembered there were some other Cotoneaster further down the road which may provide a better opportunity and arrived to find a single Fieldfare actively guarding each tree.
While waiting for the Fieldfare to move in to good feeding positions a Robin kept me amused as did a very large brown rat that kept scuttling around under the tree.
I decided it was time to return to the Cotoneaster as visible steam started to rise off the bush in front of me as the sun hit the frosty leaves. This usually plays havoc with the camera focus and achieving sharp images can be very difficult. Every 30 minutes or so one of the birds in each of the trees would move to eat a few more berries. It was just a question of waiting for them to appear in the right place. The action was slow but it proved to be a very enjoyable and relaxed morning in some beautiful sparkling winter weather.
Here are some photographs from the Cotoneaster bush and from the ground below it.
I decided my my next Christmas sessions I would try and get some of my favourite waterfowl the sawbill ducks but these will have to wait until my next post.