The peanut thief

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I braved the vicious wind this afternoon, and walked the entire perimeter of the water course at Croome. This netted me some interesting photos, including a group of wintering wigeon and the resident grey heron in flight; though I failed miserably to capture any shots of the sparrowhawk that was startled into flight when I almost tripped over it (in my defence, I was walking straight into the wind at that point, and had my head right down to protect my face from the icy blast, and I was at least as surprised as the bird when it took off right in front of me). It also netted me very tired legs, and a feeling that today’s 12,000 steps might discourage me from carrying out tomorrow’s plan of walking around Draycote Water. I may, of course, bound out of bed like a spring lamb come the morning…. but then again, I may not.

When I’ve processed my files I’ll put a few of my other photos from today on Facebook, but right now this is my favourite shot of the day. It was taken from the bird hide in the shrubbery, where I was waiting in the vain hope that the nuthatch which had touched down momentarily and then disappeared again might make a return visit. I’d been photographing small garden birds against the background of a dark conifer, so I had the ISO and shutter speed fairly high; when I saw this squirrel, and it saw me and froze, I just had time to swing the camera and take three frames before it jumped and was gone, and of the three this happened to be perfectly focused and well exposed. I’ve tweaked the contrast and colour balance, and given it a square crop for impact, but it’s recognisably the same photo it was to begin with. I’d love you to look full-screen, if you have the time.

By the way, I’m not bragging – just celebrating something that for me happens only once in a blue moon!