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Bird & Wildlife Photographs


mick
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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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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  • 1 month later...

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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  • 10 months later...

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.

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

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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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  • 2 weeks later...

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.....

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

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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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  • 2 weeks later...

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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  • 1 month later...

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.

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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.

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

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The following one doesn't look the comfiest of perches 

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  • 1 month later...

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

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I managed to get a front and rear view!

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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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  • 3 months later...

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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  • 2 weeks later...

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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  • mick changed the title to Bird & Wildlife Photographs

Rather than simply post photos of birds, which is how I initially intended this thread to evolve, I've decided instead to tell the story of my 'journey' since the last photos were posted in January 2021. I've been more or less absent from the forum and my layouts have remained idle since that time so what have I been up to?

Well, 'lockdown' had changed the way we went about our daily lives as it continues to dictate what we do in some ways to this day. However, even with all that free time to ourselves it wasn't always possible to do the things we would have wanted to do because we were unable to get hold of the materials we required to do much at all. So we'd been taking advantage of our allotted 60 minute daily exercise to take walks close to home.

We live not too far away from a riverside walk and we're also close to 2 small nature reserves so we would head out along that way and of course take the camera along too. Some of the photos taken on our earlier outings have been posted already so we're beginning in February 2021.

Now although I enjoy taking photographs I do it for my own personal enjoyment and while I have taken some photos that I consider are really nice, the majority I have to agree are less than special. There's also the fact that my knowledge of birds and wildlife is limited to say the least so there's a good chance that some of my identifications are off the mark - excuse me for that.

Mid way through one of our walks along the river we arrived at a hide that faces onto a small nature reserve. The hide is more akin to a block-built bus shelter, completely open on the rear but with narrow viewing slots facing onto a single expanse of water that isn't overly large. As we entered the hide a gentleman pointed out that there were some Reed Buntings just outside to which I replied along the lines of I hadn't got a clue what a Reed Bunting looks like. "Similar to a Sparrow" he told me and sure enough, sitting on a branch just through one of the viewing slots was this bird that looked very much like a Sparrow.

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Due to the fact that someone had filled up some bird feeders with an assortment of bird seed there were in fact a number of different bird species outside the hide and of the many photos I took I particularly liked this one of a Blue Tit. As if I don't have enough Blue Tit photos already!

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The next one isn't a good photo at all but it's the only Goldcrest I have ever seen so it has to be included.

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Each time we go out we take many, many photos but I intend to just post a couple or so each time - it is after all a garden railway forum and I am aware of that.

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Jumping ahead somewhat now and we're out of lockdown and able to visit our caravan once more. We're still wary about being among crowds so instead we begin walking sections of the Leeds and Liverpool canal between Skipton and Foulridge tunnel where it's usually not quite so busy with other walkers.

The following two images were taken on our first outing from Gargrave heading towards East Marton and the canal itself was alive with new additions - this female Mallard with her youngsters being the first of many to approach us.

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It's a lovely walk along the towpath and although the canal itself can get busy at times, especially around the locks, generally we can walk for a good distance without seeing a moving boat. It was a nice sunny day on this occasion and if you look carefully on the opposite bank there's a female swan sitting on its nest. It wouldn't be too long before the cygnets made their appearance. We did have to be careful of the male swan, usually found close to the towpath, who was very protective of its partner and their nest.

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Close to our caravan is an area of open grazing land and during the warmer months it's home to young cattle who are put out to graze. We've had some scary encounters with cattle this year so are usually on our guard but we can sometimes get caught out.

One day we chose to cross a field and there was a clear path down the centre towards the next stile with cattle grazing to each side. There appeared to be no danger as we made our way across until a single bullock started approaching, followed by another, and in a very short space of time it seemed the whole herd was heading towards us. We hurried as best we could towards the stile with the bullocks directly behind us. I could almost sense them at my shoulder fearing I would be knocked over at any moment. It seemed to take Pam an age to get over the stile before I could make my way across to safety too. That was so scary and we certainly think twice before crossing a field containing cattle now.

Anyway, on the day in question here there were no cattle in the field which is just as well because there were several nesting Lapwings, some with youngsters. I just couldn't get a clear photo of a youngster as I stood behind a wall with the camera pointing over the top but you can just make one out to the left of the Lapwing in the photo below.

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And among the Lapwings was this solitary bird which we believe is a Godwit. It remained there for a few days afterwards marching up and down to the dismay of the Lapwings.

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It wasn't long before the cattle were allowed into the field and the Lapwings then departed.

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And so to the end of April and we're still walking along the Leeds & Liverpool canal, and as before, on this occasion it was between Gargrave and East Marton.

Shortly after Bank Newton locks there was a field of sheep and lambs on the opposite bank with a slope down towards the canal where they would come down to drink. The canal was as still as could be presenting us with an almost perfect reflection. I remember the little lamb just out of sight on the right had a single black ear.

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And a little further along the canal there were a growing number of Canada Geese coming down onto the water with their youngsters. This family were initially in an almost perfect straight line formation when we first set eyes on them but by the time of the photo the goslings had huddled together.

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Later in the year you would come to realise just how many Canada Geese actually breed along the canal.

More later..

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Very nice photographs Mick.

A field of bullocks rushing towards you can be scary. I grew up in a house backing on to a cattle field and they are curious beasts. Scratch the nose of one and within seconds the rest will be on their way over and they all want their noses scratched, surrounding you and jostling each other to get to the front. Whilst they mean no harm, they don't know their own weight.
When they run to you out of curiosity, they'll stop short in my experience, but it can be a scary experience with the noise and size of them coming towards you. The situation you most want to avoid is being between a cow and her calf, that can be dangerous.

Barry.

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22 minutes ago, Clay Mills Junction said:

...A field of bullocks rushing towards you can be scary....

It's not something that had ever concerned me before. Spending so much time out in the countryside I've gone through many fields containing cows, bullocks and even on one occasion this chap near Malham Tarn who kindly obliged with a photo. I didn't linger mind you.

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But I felt more vulnerable on this particular day because Pam was with me and I had to go at her pace. It was either that or leave her behind.... the thought never crossed my mind honestly.

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By early May we had been up and down the Leeds & Liverpool canal a number of times and we'd begun noticing certain birds in specific areas. One such bird was a small Treecreeper and after observing it over a period of a few days we managed to locate it's nest site low down in a large tree only a few feet on the other side of a low wall. It obviously had young by this time as it was hurrying back and forth with its beak full of food. We simply stood there quietly watching, but trying to get the right photo was proving difficult until I managed to get this particular one as it was about to enter the nest space...

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They are certainly well camouflaged against the tree trunk as seen below...

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While some birds allowed us to view them over a long period others offered us just a fleeting glance. One example of that was this Redstart perched atop a distant fence pole which disappeared the moment I'd got this photo. Not the best of photos but sometimes you just have to take what you're presented with. We have never seen it since although we always look when we approach that area.

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Lastly for now I believe this to be a Curlew although the Whimbrel is very similar in appearance so I'm not entirely sure. The Curlew reportedly has the longer beak and I've got some more Curlew photos to show a little later on that appear to have longer beaks than the one depicted here. Either way this is another bird that we'd very rarely seen before. It had made its way down the slope in the bank and was feeding in the shallows at the edge of the canal.

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If anyone can correctly identify this chap then I would be very grateful.

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Another bird we hadn't seen before was this Little Egret and again the still water of the canal gave a really nice reflection.

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And onto its larger cousin the Grey Heron. This one spent a good few minutes hunting in the shallows, totally oblivious to our presence, and was eventually successful in catching a small fish.

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