For the past few weeks I’ve fallen in love with photography even more than I was before. My new camera has now arrived but the adapter I need to attach it to my lens has been out of stock for weeks, so the camera’s still in the box for now!
Luckily for me I’m still borrowing my friend’s camera and I’ve had it slung across my back on every one of my walks. Winter is my favourite season – wildlife is still abundant in the colder months and there are some particularly special overwintering birds to enjoy.
A prime example of a stunning winter bird is the brambling, and I was absolutely thrilled to see one this week! As I scanned a crowd of coal tits, robins and chaffinches my eyes casually brushed past this special winter visitor minding its own business. This resulted in a comedy double take from me. I only had time for a couple of shots before the brambling hopped off the branch. I scanned around but didn’t see it again, although I was more than happy to get even a brief glimpse.
Soon after that the light started to fade and it was nearly time to turn the camera off for the day. I was making my way back to the car when I spotted a last minute red squirrel bounding across the clearing. Luckily despite the gloom of late afternoon there were some lovely sunset colours behind it which complemented its fiery fur.
It’s easy to get a bit jealous of all the snowy wildlife photos buzzing about social media at the moment. I’ve had a few dustings but nothing like the drifts that have settled further south.
But even these light snowfalls are stunning to see and still manage to transform the landscape with both sight and sound. The pristine white is the most obvious change but there’s also a very specific silence that accompanies snow, as if nature is pausing to admire it too.
Over the past week or so, long tailed tits have suddenly become one of my favourite birds. They’re ridiculously photogenic and for such tiny fluffballs they have so much character! I usually hear long tailed tits before I see them.
After a combination of high pitched squeaks and cheeky raspberries from above they suddenly all appear at once, barrelling around in one group. The other day I saw a group of twenty individuals in the same tree and they made an absolute racket!
And most recently, I had a fantastic sunrise walk down to the harbour to see some overwintering ducks. Sunrise wasn’t until 8:45 (another excellent thing about winter) so I could saunter down to the harbour in time for golden hour.
Waves were crashing against the sea wall so all the gulls and ducks had come in to shelter in the calmer water. As well as a very vocal heron and a gang of eiders there was this beautiful pair of long tailed ducks, which only visit Britain during winter.
I lay down on my front – no doubt getting funny looks from the fishermen – so I could get almost eye level with the long tails. I’d seen a couple of distant males before but never a female so it was fantastic to see them both so closely.
Isn’t winter just the most magical season? For me this is the highlight of the wild year, where walks are filled with crunchy frost, golden leaves and with a bit of luck, some snow. Even without snow though, there are some stunning birds to see during winter and I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks bring.