Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Woodland Hide Part 2 - Mid April 2013

Blue Tit 
So with my feeding station up and running the next step was to sit back and let the birds flock in. Well maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration but having found a comfortable stool to sit on inside my lean-to hide I was well set. With the fishing season fast approaching on the 1st May and a weeks holiday booked on the 19th April, I had to make sure I could cram in as many visits as possible during the first two weeks of April before having to remove my feeders for the fishing season.

Disaster however struck almost immediately as on the monday morning as I managed an hour in the freezing cold hide at 6.00am. Once settled I turned my Canon 7D on to notice that the memory card wasn't being read by the camera, so I had a fiddle and a blow out of the slot, still nothing. Camera-less I returned home and investigated further, if anyone has a camera with a CF Card slot I would caution you to be so careful when removing and inserting memory cards, I somehow heavy handidly managed to bend one of the central pins resulting in needing a new Card slot and a £168 bill from the Canon recommended repairers! Ouch!!!!!!

But enough about my camera dramas two weeks before holiday, luckily I had the trusty EOS 550D that I keep for shooting landscapes. Big lens attached and I was back in business. The sunshine even decided to show itself for a short while, and as I had a couple of hungry Great Tits visiting my mossy log to feed on the Peanuts and Sunflower hearts hidden in various out of sight crevices. I made full use of the gorgeous orange cast the sun created off of the drying reed and grass by the stream edge in the background.
Great Tit

A frequent visitor to the station all throughout the day was the Moorhen, such a skulking species of bird very cautious to come out into the open, and any slight movement or noise and the birds would disappear back into cover. At times 3 individual Moorhens where visiting for dropped seed. I'm guessing the close proximity of the River Test and the stream that runs in front of the hide is a good vessel for arriving and departing quickly.

As I mentioned in my previous post I couldn't be happier with the amount and diversity of bird species that were visiting my feeders after just a couple of days, the Marsh Tits where a real treat and although not quite as bold as the commoner Blue Tits & Great Tits, they did give some great views. The only problem being the backgrounds in the photographs where a little cluttered. More cropper work needed!

Marsh Tit
As unexpected visitors go I had a few over the course of the week, a Grey Heron on a couple of occasions took quite the liking to my clearing by the river and tried an incoming landing, spotting me sat in my hide at the last second before bailing out. Landing gear trailing as it flew off. A couple of Little Grebe bombed up and down the stream quite regularly often calling a good 50 - 60 yards down stream and within seconds surfacing unexpectedly on the stream right in front of me.

The highlight with out a doubt however was the tell tell call of a Kingfisher followed by the iridescent flash of blue and aqua as it darted by. I live in hope that I might be able to place an attractive perch on the streams edge and get some shots of one our most loved birds. But back to what birds I could actually photograph, having left some seed in the crevices of the log a couple of days later when I next returned to the hide I found that the entire log had almost been stripped of moss. 

I'm not sure if this was the smaller birds looking for nesting materials, work of the Cock Pheasant who had been strutting his stuff around the station or maybe the handy work of the pair of Jays that visit when I haven't been there. I had seen them on most occasions flitting around the edge of the clearing but to cautious to visit when I was in residence.

My camera had also found its way back from the repairers so I was quite happy as the thought of not having it for my 'Scottish Holiday' left me feeling quite ill!

After discovering that getting shots of birds on certain perches wasn't as easy as I anticipated I did a little bit of research and come to the conclusion I needed a more attractive appealing food source, so on a lunch break from work I had a trip to Pets at Home and come out with a lot of large meal worms. Live bait!

It's fair to say the new bribe worked and I got some lovely shots of the Long-tailed Tits and Blue Tits that were easily the most frequent and numerous visitors.
Long tailed Tit
Blue Tit

The most unexpected visitors came on my last session in the hide however, having emptied the remains of my meal worms on to the ground beneath the feeders, I had a rather larger bird swoop in from above me, to this day I am even pretty sure it was sat on top of my hide. A female Kestrel dropped in and started feeding on the meal worms. 

Having been a little surprised and having nearly feel off of my stool, I managed to move my lens around and aim towards her on the floor no more that 3 ft away. Knowing that the shutter would most likely give away my position I managed two shots, one to turn her head and the second you see below, before she flew off through the trees with a beak full of mealworms.

Female Kestrel
So having managed some nice shots that I was pleased with in a short couple of weeks, I am really looking forward to setting it all up in the autumn and making full use of 5 or 6 winter months and some hungry birds. Modification ideas are already clogging up my mind and I am hoping to include a reflection type pool of some kind on my table platform too.

Here are all the species I have seen from within my lean-to, I never dreamed I would see so many.

Blue Tit
Great Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Coal Tit
Marsh Tit
Great spotted Woodpecker
Grey Heron
Little Grebe

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  1. Great stuff, looking forward to the next instalment ��

  2. Beautiful birds, but the last one is superb.