A Touch of Red

A Touch of Red
A Touch of Red
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/100 ISO 400
Yesterday afternoon I gazed out of my top floor window, out across the sheep fields, the normally lush green grass of the furthest field, the one just over the river, was now a sheet of pure, rippling, bronze. The Great Ouse banks had well and truly burst forth shedding gallons of water out across the pasture. Monday's foolhardy walk would not even have been possible! 

Today when I headed out onto the patch I assumed all would be the same or worse so I was preparing to photograph some floods. Instead as I entered the enclosed paddock the grass was coated in a thin layer of crisp white frost, it made for a very odd sensory experience as I walked through the short grass, each of my steps were at the same time crunching through the icy frost and squelching as I sank into the sodden muddy mess below.



A Touch of Red


Approaching the river, while the fields around me still held plenty of water, it was much less than previous days, the large, lake like, puddles had dissipated, absorbed into the ground, the field that I had watched swans swimming was now back to a lush grassy plain once more. It is amazing what one dry night will do.

I was out early and the sun was still breaking through the thin, early morning, cloud, creating that wonderful golden glow; the golden hour of summer, that lasts through the day sometimes in winter, as the sun casts her morning light across the world. The back, and wings, of a passing Little Egret appeared orange in this glorious light, and I felt relaxed as I walked along the river.

All around me Song Thrush were in full song with Blackbirds providing the harmonies; Long-tailed tits foraged amongst the high branches and Black-headed Gull searched the fields; The local Rooks called out their lonely, lamenting caws from the overhead wires while tiny Wrens were trilling away in the undergrowth. Things really are strange at the moment when a crisp January day seems like the beginning of spring.

A Male Blackbird resting after a burst of song
A Male Blackbird resting after a burst of song
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/30 ISO 320

Finches Galore


Opposite the camp site lakes, there is currently a flooded area below the tall trees, and beyond this, and over the fence is a large area of spindly weeds (sorry no idea what plant they are), these are currently covered in seeds. 

As I passed these today I spied a small gathering of finches busily picking away at these seed heads, feeding frantically amongst the golden brown plants. Spotting 5 or 6 Goldfinch, I wondered weather they would allow me a little closer, and then two smaller finches flew in, and joined them in the feeding frenzy. Closer inspection revealed them to be Common (or Lesser) Redpoll. Now as regular readers will know usually I only see Redpoll flying over so I decided I'd try and get closer to these birds.

Slowly I inched my way forward, my boots deep in the cloudy flood waters, inch by inch I approached, trying to remain hidden from view behind one of the larger trees I finally got within range of a photograph. At first distant and beautifully back lit by the sun, but eventually, after being given the run around by these flighty little finches (and nearly getting in too deep to the flood!) I got a few photos to be proud of.

First Redpoll shot
First Redpoll shot
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/100 ISO 400 (cropped)

Redpoll - I love the colours of the background here
Redpoll - I love the colours of the background here
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/125 ISO 400 (cropped)

Backlit Redpoll
Backlit Redpoll
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/1000 ISO 400 (cropped)

Redpoll in the light
Redpoll in the light
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/250 ISO 400 (cropped)

There are actually two Redpoll here
There are actually two Redpoll here
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/200 ISO 500 (cropped)

Redpoll Feeding
Redpoll Feeding
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/200 ISO 500 (cropped)


The now three Redpoll and several Goldfinch were not alone though; A stunning male Bullfinch put in a brief, but colourful, appearance; several Reed Buntings and Chaffinch were also joining the seed feast; Around them in the trees, 3 Treecreeper rapidly climbed the trunks; A Great Spotted Woodpecker searched for grubs in the high branches; Long-tailed tit, Blue Tit and Great Tit flew in and out of the weedy patch; and a lovely Robin perched on a fence post to serenade me with his song.

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/500 ISO 500 (cropped)


Eventually the peace was shattered as a female Sparrowhawk stealthily flew in and alighted in the branches over looking the weeds, this sent the finches and tits off in a flight of panic.

The excitement over I decided I had better go and see what duck were about, as much as I wanted to stay with the weeds in case the finches were to return. heading East once more I carried on, stopping only to count another flock of Redpoll that flew into the trees surrounding the lakes (6 this time - I saw more Redpoll today than I have EVER on the patch before!), and photograph a rather tame robin.

A Very Friendly Robin
A Very Friendly Robin
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/250 ISO 500


Out on the water, I was able to find very little of interest in among the multitude of Wigeon and Teal, there were of course the usual Shoveler, Pochard and Tufted Duck, but no sign of the recent pintails (although they must have been there as they were reported about an hour after I had left the site). The only interesting ducks I managed were 9 Goosander.

Goosander (Male and Female) in Flight
Goosander (Male and Female) in Flight
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/2000 ISO 500 (cropped)


Last Hurrah


It's funny my efforts always start to dwindle as I am on the homeward part of my journey, today I was back tracking my steps just in case! But as always I was feeling less enthused the closer to home I got but just before passing under the aqueduct again my mood was lifted by the echoing drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, yet another sign that spring is on its way.

Walking up passed the old lock I paused to capture some photos of the local Goldfinch flock before finally heading off on the last stretch home.

Goldfinch feeding on Teasels
Goldfinch feeding on Teasels Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/400 ISO 500 (cropped)

Goldfinch feeding on Teasels
Goldfinch feeding on Teasels
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/400 ISO 500 (cropped)


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4 comments:

  1. Lovely post Ashley conjuring vivid images of a bright, crisp winters day. I saw daffodils in full bloom Wednesday (the day subject of my latest scribble), but as I write we are in the midst of driving sleet/snow and biting northerlies. Winter has raised its head and reminded us that spring is yet some way off. I like your redpolls, it really is a red letter day when you can see one nowadays. To think that when we moved into our home 30 years ago they bred in the garden and were common on the heathland half a mile up the road. None can be found anywhere within a 10 mile radius today. Keep blogging, it keeps us all invigorated 😀

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, it is crazy how so many plants and birds are confused by the weather, they are in for a sharp shock soon sadly, with the cold heading our way.

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  2. Lovely photos as ever, I think I shall become a regular visitor to your blog!

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