Sunday, 17 May 2009

Whinchats & Meadow Pipits

It was a good day for birds but not such a good day to picture them.

I heard my first Cukoo of the day only a mile from home at Hopefoot, in the woodland skirting the Otter Burn. This was followed by a Buzzard post-perching at Hopehead, and Oystercaters, Lapwing and Curlew in the pastures near Craig, on route to Coquetdale.

I have a favourite stopping place beside a small wet heather moor just beyond North Yardhope; here, in spring and summer, I always look for Whinchats and am seldom disappointed. There was an active pair there today, both perching conspicuously on prominant twigs of heather or on the wire stock fence on the moor's southern boundary. All the while, Cuckoos were calling from woodlands to the north and south.

I tried digiscoping some pictures of the Whinchats from the open car window using a bean bag to support the fieldscope and camera. The birds were probably one hundred and fifty yards away at this point and it was no surprise that the pictures were unsuccessful. Afterwards, I tried to get closer, covering the tripod, fieldscope and camera with some camouflage scrim in an effort to break up its outline, and my own, as I moved slowly through the heather towards the birds. I managed one average picture before they took off.

Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
A female Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)

At mid-day, a Meadow Pipit settled in the grass very close to me. It was carrying food to its young in a nearby nest. During the afternoon, I watched it and its mate return regularly to the nest with food.

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)

The return journey to Redesdale followed the Holystone Burn and the River Coquet, with a quick stop to view a toddler Lapwing in the fields near Holystone Grange, and then the Grasslees Burn to Billsmoor Foot and Elsdon.


Anonymous said...

These are lovely photos Emma. I rarely see either of these species.

Springman said...

This sounds like a great day of birding and picture taking. Your words are as picturesque as your photography. I love the difficulty of getting a bird picture just right. It is the the culmination of good light, stealth, patients, camera savy, luck and local knowledge amoung other factors. I guess thats why the challenge is so intriguing! Great post! Happy WBW!

suzspring23 said...

You have a lovely blog and your photography is breathtaking!