Monday, September 19, 2011

Southbound for the Winter

I popped out the other day for a brief session along the local coast. It was one of those outings where I did not have a particular target species in my sights and so it was just a general walk around to see what could be encountered. On my local coast there are usually some birds around to photograph, particularly waders, as long as you make your visit at the right state of tide. Also given that its autumn you never know what southbound migrants you may stumble upon.

As I wandered along the concrete embankment that forms the sea defences, I bumped in to one of the local birdwatchers and we chatted for a while to see if he had come across any interesting birds recently. As we talked, a movement further along the wall caught my attention as a North Wheatear landed. A feathered cue that it was time for some photography :).
The birds were looking tidy in the warm colours of their fresh autumn plumage. However, I think I still prefer the colours of the spring birds, which really add a splash of much need colour to the still dormant landscape, when they first arrive locally in mid-March.
The attractive patterns created by the rear view of a male bird.
As the sun broke through the clouds four more birds arrived. The burnt orange colour of the birds glowed in the late afternoon sun as they temporarily paused on the southward journey to Africa.
The concrete sea defence structures appear to offer them a temporary substitute, and probably a reminder of their rocky upland habit that they had recently left. They would occasionally drop down to snatch another passing insect.
Given the birds seemed so relaxed, I decided to try and see if I could crawl up close to a bird that landed nearby on the concrete embankment. After a slow a careful commando crawl, much to the bemusement of the local passing walkers, I was up very close to the bird with a nice low shooting angle.
Whilst photographing this bird at close quarters, I noticed it had what appeared to be a small piece of 'mud' stuck to its lower bill. However, on examining the photos on my return home it turned out to be a small beetle, a stowaway on a free trip south.

Wishing these birds safe passage on their long arduous journey ahead. I would like to think that maybe our paths may cross again when they will be travelling back through the area next spring.


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