There are times when I drive literally hundreds of miles and get back thinking I'd have seen more had I stayed in my garden. To possibly improve this theory, I have started to create a pond, so when weekends and the gradually brightening evenings allow, I will be digging and shaping that idea. As a result, the last weekend I spent most of my time on that, and as it happened with the weather as it was, it was more productive than driving round aimlessly hoping for something to point the camera at.
That said, Saturday afternoon brightened up a bit, and I zipped down to see the little owls. Was just enough light left on the side of the tree facing me, and just enough of an owl visible to take a shot, and it gave me time to munch a sandwich and mull over where to head.
Whitacre Heath was chosen, mainly because I hoped to see some redpolls. The light is admittedly better there in the morning, but I didn't have access to a Tardis, and besides, it had been cloudy earlier.
On the feeders by the carpark, chaffinches, blue and great tits fed, plus below, a rabbit was nibbling on the grass until I opened the car door. Heading to the woodland hide, I checked the trees for any lesser spotted woodpeckers, often seen around now, but nowt on show sadly.
Reducing the lens from 700 to the basic 500mm, allowed for more light through it and hence more of a chance of a decent shutter speed, as the light was already changing when I had set up.
Reed buntings, though not as many as in previous years were around, as were lots of blue and great tits. The great spotted woodpecker visited the suet feeder frequently, and after about half an hour, a small flock of lesser redpolls arrived, much to my delight.
They dropped down, one by one to the nyger seed feeder, and as they approached, I tried to get some shots. The light wasn't great and with a wide shutter setting, it was important to nail the focus on the bird's eye (or face, if it's moving quickly!).
They're such lovely looking little birds, so vibrant from the front, but well hidden when they turn their back to you.
Problem was, they often perched too close for me to focus on them, so I had to simply sit and admire them.
When the light started to fade, I applied the "5 mins more" rule to good effect, when a treecreeper dropped down to have a look around the foot of a small tree by the pool. Great little birds to watch, as they scurry up and down tree trunks. I shall have to seek out a nest in the local woods this spring, to get some more shots.
After it flew off, I headed home, and Sunday, well that was a wash out, but at least Operation Pond was started.