About time I added something to this blog! With Christmas rapidly approaching, free time is getting harder to find, especially when the weather can so often ruin any chance to go out with the camera. I have spent a few evenings going through old sets of images, processing those which were shelved or too similar at the time to air, including a few from Northants, when we were treated to some wonderful afternoons photographing short-eared owls.
But on Saturday it was supposed to be sunny and not too cold. A scan of the rare birds on various sites showed little of interest within a sensible distance, so I headed down to Wychbold, or precisely the garden centre opposite Upton Warren's sailing centre (by the Flashes). After there had been 46 waxwings present during the week, when I arrived there was just a lone bird helping itself to the berries on the trees lining the fence.
Of course, as soon as I wandered over and set up, it flew off, to a poplar tree behind the sailing centre.
That gave me a brief chance to natter to some friends who were already there. It wasn't long through before it returned to feed, and I set myself up hoping to get some shots of it against a blue sky backdrop.
Kindly the waxwing hopped down from the top and out along a branch to reach some of the berries on the edge of the tree. Then it was a case of timing the shots to when the bird had grabbed a berry, and hoping it would play catch with it, before eating it... or more often than not, dropping it!
With only a light breeze, the branches remained still, so getting sharp shots was a doddle, and I had time to switch between landscape and portrait for shots, depending on how the waxwing was positioned.
It would occasionally fly off for a while, to digest the berries, before returning, and continuing its quest to strip them from the trees.
It wasn't long before the majority of togs and birders left, but I was soon joined by Keith, and then later by Bob, in his freezer suit. He'd already bagged a fair few delightful shots of the flock down at Hartlebury trading estate, but is never one to refuse further opportunities.
Eventually, just after lunchtime the bird flew off and didn't come back immediately. A birder wandering along mentioned he'd seen one around the back of the truck stop, so we strolled over, and sure enough, this was where the bird had been vanishing to, and was sat in a bramble / berry bush, almost invisible if you hadn't heard it calling. Photos were impossible as it didn't stray, until that is, it flew back to where we'd just been!
Bob opted to stay for more pics - I chose to head elsewhere. I wanted to see some other thrushes, maybe get pics of redwings and fieldfares. With nothing particular in mind for a location, it was a magical mystery tour, following my nose wherever it wanted to go. We (that's me and my nose) went over to Holt, past Grimley and then out into the sticks from there, where we eventually came upon a grassy meadow, with dozens of the birds feeding. Well done that nose.
The light by then was low, so getting shots of the birds trickier than I'd hoped, and the flock often relocated when vehicles or cyclists went by. I stuck at it, and got a few shots.
Then, from out of the woods nearby flew a green woodpecker, which landed on a tree pretty close! Unfortunately there were a couple of branches blocking a clean view, and rather than climb further up the trunk for me, it chose to fly off to the ground slightly further off, to feed.
I hardly ever seem to get shots of these, so I grabbed a few, even if the light was mostly gone.
When that flew off, I thought it was best to head back, and perhaps try the same spot again, should another weekend soon be blessed with bright conditions and free time...