I spent the morning fighting my web site and losing, and then suddenly realised that it was 2pm on a heavily overcast day, and if I didn’t get a wriggle on and find something to photograph, what light there was was likely to be gone. By this time I was raging to be anywhere other than where I was, so I zoomed off to Hillers for an hour.
There wasn’t much happening in the woodland clearing, partly because very little food had been put out, and partly I think because there was a predator around – all the birds were very jumpy and reactive, and every couple of minutes one of them would let out an alarm call and they’d all disappear at high speed. Someone else in the hide thought she’d seen a small raptor going through before I arrived, and that could well have accounted for the general hysteria. A sparrowhawk (or sprawk, as the boys in the Boys’ Birding Club all seem to insist on calling it) would be the likeliest candidate at this site, though I was surprised to see that even the pheasants appeared to feel threatened – I’d have thought an adult pheasant was too big to fall victim to a sprawk.
My main source of disappointment was the fact that I didn’t see a single brambling today, and I fear the lengthening days and diminishing food supply may have caused them to leave the area – which does at least make me glad I decided to feature one of them after my previous visit last Saturday. In compensation though, when I left the hide and wandered back through the show garden a loud buzzing alerted me to my first bumblebee of 2022 – an overwintered Bombus terrestris queen, out of hibernation and searching for a suitable site for her nest.
Though I did manage to get some record shots of the bee, by far my favourite subject of the day was this robin, who appears to have been treating the assembled photographers to its best red carpet over-the-shoulder-smoulder, but was actually guarding the bird table from its rivals.