Spring Stunner

April 17, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I've recently been bemoaning the poor run I feel I've been on when it comes to bird photography. A trip to Dorset this weekend for Dartford Warblers was a success in that we saw plenty (and I also saw my first ever Firecrest) but we came home pretty much empty handed when it came to photos. I also took a walk to see the local Dippers this weekend. Again, a success in that I saw them but getting a photo was not to be. Today I was after a shot of a Wheatear. They'd been trickling in over the last week or so with local sightings increasing. I had two locations in mind and headed to a local common first. I parked the car, got my bins out and the first thing I saw....yes...a Wheatear! Well, two actually. Both females. Could I get within shooting range though? Nope. They were off in a flash and I only relocated one of them and it was again off very quickly. Nevermind. So I tried the many Skylarks. Again, no joy. It then started to rain. It was now that I had the nagging feeling that today was going to be another one of those days and that I should've stayed at home tucked up in the comfort of my nice, warm, cosy bed. Perseverance is the key in this game though so I decided to carry on with my plan and head to my next chosen location - Blakehill Farm in Wiltshire. There'd been a good number of sightings over the last few days so I was pretty confident of seeing a Wheatear or two here but getting a photo...well...you've got to be in it to win it.

After parking the car I had a quick coffee and a bite to eat before walking along the main track up the hill before following it around towards the main plateau. I stopped every ten yards or so to scan the fence posts but nothing until the track started descending. I picked out a female Wheatear next to two Linnets and then a fairly drab looking male. The next ten minutes saw me slowly walking down the track testing the comfort zones of the two birds I'd found. One was fairly confiding and I got some ok shots but then noticed a stunning male in full breeding plumage. This was what I'd hoped for so it was a case of again being very patient and approaching the bird in a non-threatening manner. It was fairly flighty to start with but eventually relaxed a little. I took a few shots, moved forward a few paces, took a few more shots and so-on. After a while I was stood with this stonking bird no more than a few metres away. At one point it moved towards me and I was actually too close to be able to focus! It popped back onto the post it had come from and allowed me to fire off plenty of frame-filling shots. The poor run had suddenly turned into one of those massive highs that make the pain and frustration worthwhile. Suffice to say, I came home a very happy boy! 

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