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For me it doesn't have to be a rare bird that makes a pleasing photo. I can sit there behind the lens for a few hours snapping away at various birds in an effort to get a photo that I personally like. Most of the time it's the background colours and patterns that make photos of even the most common birds just that bit special. 

Much less colourful than the male of the species, here's a female Chaffinch isolated against a lovely blue background and perched on a branch close to the bird feeder. I'm always pleased when I can see the eye nicely in focus as it makes so much difference.


Below is another typically common garden bird but one not very often seen in pairs. The one on the left appeared to be feeding the other - perhaps a show of affection? Again taken just a few feet from the bird feeder.


Next I have a new visitor to the feeder and at first I almost dismissed it as a sparrow. I can't say I have ever seen one of these before but apparently they're regularly seen around bird feeders in these parts. The quality of the photo isn't all that good but you don't always get the time to compose the shot. I had to look this one up in my Bird guide but I'm almost certain it's a Redpoll.


Here's the same bird on the feeder giving a better view.


And within a short space of time there appeared another similar bird with less colour but with the same markings. I'm assuming this to be the female Redpoll? The top of the head was more orange than the red displayed on the previous bird.



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Nice photos Mick. I must try to upload a photo taken the other day. I was in my armchair and something flashed by my shoulder and there was a crash at the front window. An unexpected visitor had come

The Robin was spending a lot of time round our caravan and I took lots of uninspiring photo's of it until one morning it happened to perch on top of a low shrub that had been pruned over winter and wa

I know very little about birds and until recently I believed we had a garden full of simple sparrows as that's just about all I ever noticed. If they were brown and in the garden then they had to be s

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This little chap, a young Great Tit, landed on our decking handrail and I had very little time to take the photo but quickly grabbed a camera and captured this shot through the window.


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It's almost a year since I posted anything here but after I'd finished with the trains late this afternoon I dropped a few mealworms into the feeder and sat back to watch the birds for a few minutes. It's always really nice lighting later in the day, especially when the birds perch on the fence with the conifer hedge in the background. I would normally use the DSLR for taking photos of the birds but it wasn't worth the hassle getting it out for just a few minutes.

The first three photos are of House Sparrows who nest in the roof of a house a few doors down the street but spend most of their time in our garden after the mealworms and suet pellets we put out for them. They repay us not only in enjoyment but also in the mess they deposit on my railway tracks!  This one is fresh from bathing in the drinking bowl.



The conifer hedge is actually green but shows up as bright yellow when in direct sunlight as here


And this is one of our Pied Wagtails that nest beneath our solar panels each year. I think this is the fourth year they've returned but it's the first time that they've allowed us to get so close to them. Normally they'd be away the moment we stepped out into the garden but this year they seem to have finally got used to us and I've been as close a 3 feet or so handing out mealworms.



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My little Pied Wagtail is still busy taking mealworms and flying back up to the nest with them. Of the pair, this is the one (below) which has become most used to me and when I'm out in the garden it comes and lands close by waiting for a meal. It's partner is less friendly. It still maintains the two feet distance between us but that's probably a good thing as I wouldn't want it to lower its defences.



The Wagtails' activities up on the roof haven't gone unnoticed by other visitors and on Saturday we had a pair of Kestrels hovering over for the best part of the day but try as I might I just couldn't get a decent photo of them. I had thought about getting out my DSLR and tripod earlier in the morning but kept putting it off and in the end I had to resort to hand-holding the Nikon bridge camera at maximum zoom but I really need to learn how to use it properly.


At one point the Kestrel's were hovering directly above looking straight down and I could clearly see its eyes through the viewfinder.


Another missed opportunity to get a great photo and since Saturday they haven't returned. I now wish I'd got the big camera out when I first thought about it or at least the tripod and a lesson or two with the bridge camera.

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I don't seem to be able to get much done these days because no sooner do I make a start on something than another photo opportunity arises.

I made an early start this morning by cleaning out the fish, washing the car and potting on some plants in the greenhouse that had outgrown their smaller pots - mindful of the fact that there's cold weather on the way for the weekend. In between I kept breaking off to take some photos of the birds, on one occasion making a quick dash for the camera when I heard a commotion in a tall shrub at the bottom of the garden.

The commotion was caused by another visit from one of the Kestrels, assuming that it is one of the pair that visited a couple of days ago. In a flash it darted from the shrub and I thought I'd missed it but it settled on a TV aerial a few properties further down the street. At first it was facing away from me so I was only able to get a photo of the back of its head but then it turned to face me for just a few seconds before taking flight again and disappearing. What a beautiful bird it is! There's nothing I can do about the roof intruding on the photo - I was just happy to have been able to get a couple of photos of it, even if they are just a little bit grainy.



For the past few weeks two of our regular garden visitors have been a pair of blackbirds and recently they've been taking mealworms back to their nest high up in a large shrub just a hundred yards or so away. Yesterday they were accompanied by a youngster and today it started coming closer and making itself available for a photo.

Here it's seen perched on the fence.....


...and here it's captured making a dash for it.


Strange how some people are unable to find anything to do during 'lockdown' when there's so much going on around us.


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Just after I'd cleared everything away this evening I sat down outside for a short time throwing mealworms to the wagtails when I noticed them glancing up to the sky behind me. It was difficult turning round to see what they were looking at with my bad back but there was a kestrel hovering a short distance away. I've got into the habit of leaving a camera handy so quickly grabbed it, turned it on, zoomed in, and managed to take 2 photos before it moved on and away. Both photos were much the same but here's the best of the two where I managed to get the entire bird in the shot apart from the very tip of one of its left wing feathers.


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A few more photos to add.

Walking between Long Preston and Settle I came across this little fella some distance away on a dry stone wall and although it was difficult to keep the camera steady at maximum zoom, thankfully I managed to get the following photos of a Stonechat.



Close to Long Preston village a bird took flight ahead of us and we weren't entirely sure what it was or where it had gone. It seemed to have gone towards a distant dry-stone wall so I randomly took a few photos of the wall so that I could enlarge them later to see if I'd been lucky or not. Bingo! a Little Owl.


Clearly they've made themselves a home around there as we came across it again afterwards.


The following one doesn't look the comfiest of perches 



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Perched on a drystone wall by the side of Long Preston church was this little Wren.


I managed to get a front and rear view!


And out in the wilds between Hellifield and Settle I captured this photo of what I believe is a Wheatear. If anyone knows differently then please let me know.


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We had a lovely walk along a disused viaduct and down to a local nature reserve yesterday. The round trip took us a good 4 hours but it was a fine day in the winter sunshine and with remnants of the recent snowfall lingering on the ground. On our return journey we came across this Kestrel perched at the very top of a birch tree some distance away but with the aid of a monopod to steady the camera I managed to capture the following image, one of several I took before we reluctantly had to walk away. The Kestrel seemed content just to sit there but for us it was starting to get a bit too cold. It's the first time I have ever walked away from such a magnificent bird.



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Another day, another walk, but I think it's probably the same Kestrel.

Despite the commotion caused by so many people all deciding that a walk is the only thing left for them to do, I managed to capture a few more photos of what I believe is the same Kestrel we saw a few days ago. Certainly it was perched at the top of the same tree so it seems the tree has become it's favoured hunting or lookout post.


As I said, there were so many people walking past and youngsters making such a din that it didn't appear to feel as content as it did on the previous occasion and within a few seconds it took flight leaving me with a slightly blurred image as it made its escape.


We stood there for a few minutes looking for any other type of birds but apart from a Robin and a Blackbird there was nothing. And then all of a sudden the Kestrel returned to a perch immediately in front of us, probably 60 yards distant. It seemed it had returned for its portrait taking and I was more than happy to oblige.


I hadn't noticed those dark marking on the underside of its tail feathers before and I'm wondering if they are the same on all Kestrels or whether they could be used for identification purposes.


What an amazing, beautiful bird!

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's that Kestrel again, or at least I assume it's the same one we keep coming across.

We had already passed by the spot where we usually see it perching but a bit further along the track I happened to glance behind and saw it flying towards us. I expected it to pass straight by but amazingly it stopped and hovered above just to the side of us for a good 2-3 minutes. It didn't seem to care that we were there watching, taking photos as it searched out its prey. It wasn't successful on this occasion.



By comparison the following photo taken a couple of days earlier doesn't quite meet the same standards but the moment was just as satisfying. Standing on a short footbridge a local man had been telling us that he'd recently seen a mink alongside the river below. A few minutes later something caught my eye as it darted beneath the bridge and out the other side - it was clearly not a mink!

Even at maximum zoom this was as close as I was able to get to a Kingfisher which appears so small in the viewfinder that it was difficult to make out clearly.


I took half a dozen shots before it moved on and it wasn't until we got back home that I noticed one of the photos had captured it with a fish, seen here in an enlargement from an original image.


So that's something else I'll be on the lookout for next time and hopefully I'll be able to show some better photos in the future.


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