Close quarters

posted in: Birds, Warwickshire | 0

The weather improved slightly today, inasmuch as the wind dropped and the cloud cover thinned, and I fully expected to be making an afternoon trip to the owl field, but the closer I got to my usual departure time, the more I found myself prevaricating. Eventually it dawned on me that I maybe didn’t actually want to go owling today, so I went through all the normal owling preparations – making a flask of very hot coffee, donning five layers of clothes, etc. – while giving myself permission to make a final decision once I was in the car. As soon as I was out of the valley, with a reasonable view in all directions, I realised (or at least convinced myself) that the light to the north was much better than it was down towards the Cotswolds, so when I reached the Roman Road I turned left instead of right, and went to Hillers.

A hide full of people informed me cheerfully that I’d missed a Brambling by only a few minutes, but said that it would surely come back again quite soon. After ninety chilly minutes it hadn’t, but I had bagged my eighty seventh bird of the year in the shape of a (distant) Lesser Redpoll, and I decided that was a sufficiently good result to justify going to the cafĂ© to thaw out.

On my previous trip to Hillers, a couple of days ago, there were just two male Siskins visiting the feeders, but today there were at least five individuals, including one or two females. I was sitting no more than a couple of metres from the nearest feeder, and while waiting for the elusive Brambling I amused myself by seeing what kind of images I could get at such close quarters. If I could revisit these shots I’d narrow my aperture a little, because at f/7.1 the depth of field was very shallow indeed, but despite that I quite like them. The main image is one of the striking yellow and black males, and the extra is a female, who as you can see is much greyer and streakier (aren’t we all?), and lacks his black cap and bib. I like her subtle plumage a lot, and if there had been just a little more of her in the photo it would probably have headed today’s post.