Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Colours of Autumn

At this time of year I love to pay a visit to one of my favourite woodlands. It is a small mixed wood of mainly beech and oak and the freshly fallen leaves create a wonderful carpet of autumn colours. With some of the leaves still on the trees, the low sun penetrates through the remaining canopy to produce interesting spot lighting effects on the animals and birds. However, the light is constantly changing and a mobile and flexible approach is required. An area which is bathed in sunlight can 10 minutes later be in dark shadow.

I went with a particular bird species in mind, which I will come to later, but while waiting for the flock to appear, I decided to pass the time with some of the other residents. There are large numbers of grey squirrels present which I usually ignore, but this one caught in a beam of sunlight drew my eye.

I spent the rest of the waiting time with some very busy Nuthatch.

and an inquisitive Robin that was gently singing its slightly mournful winter song.

A fluttering in the canopy above announced the arrival of my target species, the Stock Dove. This is a much overlooked and very beautiful bird in my opinion. To the casual observer they are probably easily overlooked as being a flock of feral pigeons. It was time to get down in the carpet of leaf litter and try and get some low level photographs of the birds to make the most of the autumnal colours as they fed on the ground.

Stock Doves are subtly attractive birds with their metallic green nape and soft pink hue to the breast. They present a good challenge as they are usually wary although this flock has become less shy due to the numerous visitors to the wood.

It turned out to be a very enjoyable and relaxing short session. In fact as the sun is shining today and I am off work, I think I might make a return visit to the woods to try and photograph some of the other residents.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Summer Godwits

With a big autumn storm raging outside, I thought I would clear some of my continuing photo processing backlog and show some warmer and tranquil scenes from August. I still have not managed to catch up with myself on image processing since my trip to Norway in the summer. I am sure as you get older there are less hours in the day and days in the year.

Many associate August with being a poor time for bird photography in the UK. The small birds are less than photogenic whilst in their annual moult. However, for me August is a time for waders to return from their northern breeding grounds, many of which may still be in their summer plumage and the various stages in between towards their full winter colours.

This year the birds seemed to return earlier than usual and so I took a trip over to Southport to spend a few hours photographing recently arrived Black-tailed Godwits. The black spots on this photo around the legs on not dust on the camera sensor but flies disturbed as the bird marched to the water.

After taking a few portrait photos, I decided to photograph some of the action.

However, on a lazy August afternoon the action was on the low activity scale with the birds scratching..



and bathing.

If you think about it on such an afternoon the birds were probably showing similar behaviour to many humans, just without the barbecue :)

I am hoping to catch up with some of their Bar-tailed relatives on the beach this winter and hopefully with more success than last winter.


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