Thursday, March 27, 2014

... and more puddles

Another go at the raised puddle brought 2 new species for the 'drinking' albums. Any guesses for this one?

It's interesting how just a small change in angle changes the view, providing an abstract of the woodland.  The yellow in the top corner comes from the celandine which are carpeting the floor - tilt the camera up a bit and over the top of the infinity branch the local squirrel could be seen burying the peanuts it had pinched - does it look a bit furtive?

The collared dove was one of the new species, and the infinity branch is a definite improvement,
but it highlights one of the challenges of snapping birds drinking.  They don't hold position and you have to be quick to adjust focus points quickly to try and keep the head sharp and to frame the shot. None of the above shots are quite right - either not as pin sharp as I'd want or framed right.  At present there just aren't enough birds coming down to get many chances, but if we get a dry spell I'm sure it will pick up.  Hopefully they'll land on the right spot though.

So did you guess the first bird?  Drinking species 26 - treecreeper.  It was a bit nervous at first, but eventually settled for long enough ..... and again I hadn't got things quite right, with a piece of branch obscuring the reflection.

Finally a real surprise - my first chiffchaff of the year (still haven't heard one) posing with lunch.

Overall progress, and I'll get there.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Back to puddles

A few years ago I spent a couple of seasons lying next to some woodland puddles.  Not the best environment in terms of backgrounds, but 24 species made it fun, and there were plenty of photos - you can see them here.  What I did find though was that rain just killed the action.  If the birds had no trouble finding a drink/bath they didn't use the puddles, so although I had thought about revisiting the site this winter the overall sogginess suggested it wouldn't be worth it ..... that and the fact that some other photographers found the spot 2 years ago and trashed it by cutting back the vegetation.  It might have helped the snapping but it removed the security - birds drinking and bathing tend to be twitchy, no doubt feeling vulnerable.
However in our local wood I had made a raised drinking pool modelled on the one David Whistlecraft showed me at his hide in Norfolk - here.  As this was next to our feeding station I hoped it would have more chance of bringing the birds down.  Early days, but some success.  Hopefully the treecreeper and some of the larger birds will come while I am there as they gain confidence in the the 'hide' (tent!).  Since these snaps I've 'improved' the infinity branch.  Maybe a chance to try again this weekend.

I also made a small puddle at my other woodland feeding station - an old plastic bin lid dug a few inches into the ground as I can't use a raised one here.  I was pleased to find that the birds are using it.  I have found, as you can see from some of the snaps, that I will need to be more forensic in my tidying up, especially of the pine needles which get disturbed too easily, and can stick up adding a third leg to at least one snap.  Apologies if you spot some rather basic removal of bird droppings - I just did this quickly in Lightroom.  Something else to remember for future tidying!

I have found some old pond liner and will try and make this puddle a bit bigger, with a lower front lip or higher water level, but as I have said before it's a small space and I can't make a clear background, so close-ups it will remain. 
Some more shots in the Picasa albums