19 Apr 2015

Garden Visitors 1

In spring of last year I decided to set up a branch over the top of the feeder station in my garden. The plan being to use the bedroom window to photograph the birds perching on the branch. We have a great variety of birds that visit the station regularly and I hoped to take advantage of this for my photography. 

One particular Sunday mid morning after the branch being on the feeder for a few weeks to get the birds used to it. I had my chance to get some shots. The main visitors at this time were Goldfinch, of which there were many! Up to 24 on one certain occasion. The average number at any one time was around 8 birds visiting daily though. There was a bright sunny day so I had no problem getting the fast shutter and low ISO I needed to freeze and have great quality images.

As can be seen above, the blossom was  out on our broom styled Cherry tree 2/3rds down the garden. Providing a beautiful diffused backdrop that complemented the Goldfinches. Another regular, the Dunnock also made an appearance, not wanting to miss out on his chance of fame...

This was a male that patrolled his patch of land. He constantly moving from perch to perch and singing away to let other Dunnocks know this was his spot. Over the next months when possible, I left the window open and had the camera at hand just in case there were more birds to land on the branch. One such was a male Greenfinch, briefly landing on it before going down onto the feeders themselves.

Another bird that was sure to use the branch was the Starling, and sure enough they did. This is of more recent months, and I feel captures the cheeky character the Starling has. Not only that but the great colours these birds have, is balanced by the backdrop too.

I also managed to capture a juvenile Starling too.

Finally the last visitor I caught on the branch was a young Goldfinch that had only just started developing its stunning plumage colouring. I say last visitor, in that, a Jackdaw had landed and in fact broke the branch back in January of this year. My next Garden visitor blog will portray other birds that visit but had not landed or been captured on the branch I had setup.

Young Goldfinch

6 Apr 2015

Battle of the Coots

On Friday 27th March I had a spare couple of hours and being in the area I headed to Dungeness RSPB reserve again. Given it was a fairly nice afternoon but with a brisk cold wind, I was unsure if the session would draw a blank. There was a lot of activity far out on the lake and pretty close in was a pair of Tufted Ducks. The male was obtaining nesting material.

 After they left nothing pretty much happened apart from the odd Coot in the reed below the hide and Great Crested Grebes passing by mid distance. Then after 1 1/2hrs passing, suddenly 4 Coots appeared right in front of me. They were in 2 pairs and faced each other.

Knowing how feisty Coots can be I wondered what was going to happen next? Well true to form, it all kicked off! The next sequence of photos captures what happened between them.

One of the pair of birds decided to set upon the other pair. The above 4 images were the same pair fighting. Then at one point the others joined in to create real drama to the situation. I was amazed how violent it had become. They were really kicking each other and forcing the other bird under water.

To see the birds on their backs like this was a behaviour I had never witnessed before. Two ganged up on one bird for a minute. Then split and proceeded to fight as separate pairs again.

All calm again

 Then for no apparent reason they just stopped and calmed down and proceeded to swim away together! Very bizarre behaviour that I either believe was a territory fight or what is actually them courting each other? So after expecting there to be nothing much happening this provided me with a unique opportunity to witness this sequence of events.