First, find your goldcrest

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R and I did gardening today. Have I mentioned that I hate gardening? Probably not, because I’m very stoical, and almost never talk about myself – but now you know: I hate gardening. However, I hate a garden that looks like a rubbish tip fractionally more than I hate doing something to repair the situation, so this morning R and I found ourselves out front, Sorting Things Out. After two hours, and several barrow-loads, we were pale and trembly with exhaustion (at least, I was), and precisely half of the front garden was tidy(ish).

The front garden is about a twentieth of the size of the back garden….

Time to move house….?

Anyway, while we were out slashing and ripping, I heard the little owls calling in the orchard across the road, so after we’d finished work I took the camera and staggered round there to see if I could spot them. I couldn’t, and by now they’d stopped chatting to each other, but as it’s over a year since I managed to photograph them, and I’ve only heard them a few times since then, I was happy to know that they’re still around. I do now have permission to go into the orchard, but I decided against doing that today in case I disturbed them and caused them to move elsewhere.

Instead, I decided to go in search of the goldcrest. I first blipped this tiny chap about five weeks ago, and then saw him (her?) several times over the following fortnight; almost every time I walked through this field he was there, though usually too deep in the hedgerow and in too poor light for me to get a photo. But then…. nothing. I even paid special goldcrest search visits to the field, but couldn’t find him, and given the weather, and his size, I was very afraid that he’d succumbed to the cold.

But today, there he was – still quite difficult to snap because he’s in almost constant motion, but the light was finally good enough for a decent shutter speed, and I managed several reasonable shots – of which this is my favourite. I spent about quarter of an hour stalking him up and down the hedgerow, and provided I didn’t move too fast or come too close he went about his business and ignored me – but of course, the risk/benefit analysis is different for these tiny creatures than it would be for a bigger bird: they need to eat almost constantly through the cold months if they’re going to survive. So as soon as the LCD screen told me that I had a couple of well-focused images, I went away and left him to get on with his hunting in peace.